It came down to this. When Charlie Dollbaum wanted to start his own commercial winery, after making homemade wines for years, he turned to a friend, Dick Keenan, who had what he thought was an excellent vineyard. According to Dollbaum, an oncologist, he "begged" Keenan, an attorney, to sell him his grapes. The begging paid off. The two formed a partnership, starting Carica, a small winery in Sonoma, with an impressive pair of new releases worth trying.
The wines come from the Kick Ranch, owned by the husband-and-wife team of Keenan and Kathy McNamara. The Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County Kick Ranch 2006 (720 cases, $24) is fresh and vibrant, with concentrated peach, mango and lime juice flavors that are long and persistent.
The Syrah Sonoma County Kick Ranch 2005 (120 cases, $42) is rich and intense, with an elegant mouthfeel and spicy, peppery wild berry notes that linger on the finish.
The winery (pronounced CARE-i-cah) takes its name from the fig trees (Ficus carica) that surround Kick Ranch, a 42-acre vineyard on the west side of Spring Mountain, which divides Napa and Sonoma counties. Among clients who use the Kick Ranch name: Paul Hobbs, Rosenblum and JRE, owned by John Eppler. Grapes include the aformentioned varieties along with Viognier, with plans to add Grenache, Cinsault, Counoise and Mourvèdre.
Both the Hobbs and JRE Syrahs were excellent, the Rosenblum’s bottlings of Syrah and Petite Sirah showed even greater richness and concentration.
They're worth checking out.
Arshavir Kouladjian — Los Angeles, California — February 5, 2008 7:38pm ET
Dana Nigro — New York, NY — February 5, 2008 7:49pm ET
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