We met and tasted with Joe Briggs, owner and winemaker of August Briggs Winery. Some of the wines we tasted were discussed on postings a couple of months ago. What was great about this meetings was just the conversation that took place with Joe. He's a very laid back and upfront guy. It was fascinating to hear him talk about his relationships with his growers. The most successful and those built on handshakes and mutual respect. In good times his growers don't demand price increases, in hard times he doesn't demand price decreases. Vines take time to grow. Wines take time to mature. Time slows down and the world shrinks. As Joe says, Napa is really a very small community of growers and winemakers. Word gets around. The fact that he places an emphasis on hand delivering payments for grapes rather than just dropping a check in the mail says volumes about his style.
We tasted the new release of Petite Meunier which is grown adjacent to the winery in the Frediani vineyard. He makes it in the manner of its cousin, Pinot Noir, but the wine is dark musty cherries with a spicy finish. It shows its warm Calistoga heritage, but is unique and delicious.
He sources Pinot Noir from a grower that is in the overlap of the Sonoma Coast appellation and the Russian River Valley. In special years Joe bottles the wine as Sonoma Coast. In other years it is blended with the Russian River appellation. 2007 was special. The initial impression of sappy wild cherry fruit leads into a dark earthy finish. Like a Gevrey Chambertin morphing into a Nuits St. Georges. Very nice!