A Donkey and Goat Winery: Berkeley Garagiste

Wine Reviews and Travels by Mike Potashnik, Publisher, International Wine Review

During a recent visit to California, I stopped off in Berkeley to visit a young and highly promising winery called A Donkey and Goat. This tiny garagiste winery is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Tracey and Jared Brandt. The Brandts learned their winemaking from Eric Texier, a négoce who produces premium wines from purchased grapes in the Macconais and the Rhone. The winery sources grapes from diverse vineyards in the Sierra Foothills of El Dorado, Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge , McDowell Valley and the Chalone appellation. The wines are hand crafted with attention to detail. They are terroir-driven with both personality and balance. The winery produces about 2000 cases annually and the following are my notes from the wonderful wines I was able to taste.

A Donkey and Goat 2006 Fenaughty Vineyard Syrah, El Dorado ($35) 90 Opaque ruby with attractive aromas of plum and blackberry fruit, violets and black pepper. Lush mouthfeel with ripe juicy black fruit, excellent balance, rounded tannins, and a long lasting finish. A beautiful wine.

A Donkey and Goat 2006 Three Thirteen, California ($35) 88 A blend of Syrah, Mouvedre and Grenache. Medium dark ruby purple in color with spicy strawberry and red fruit aromas. Fresh and flavorful with ripe red and black fruit on the palate including notes of pepper and spice. This is lovely and versatile wine which you would enjoy with bistro food.

A Donkey and Goat 2006 Vielle Vignes Mendocino Ridge ($37) 92 A wine sourced from up to 100-year old high altitude field blends of Syrah and Petite Sirah. Exhibits an opaque ruby purple color and aromas of black fruit, minerals, black pepper and violets. Rich and flavorful spicy black fruit on the palate with a silky smooth mouthfeel, mature tannins with some grip, and a long satisfying finish. A terrific wine that will likely improve with age.

A Donkey and Goat 2005 Syrah Reserve Brosseau Vineyard Chalone ($55) 91 Opaque ruby purple. Reveals aromas of high-toned black fruit and toasty oak. It spends 36 months in 2-year old oak barrels and is silky smooth on the palate with ripe concentrated black fruit flavors and black pepper notes. The wine reveals purity of fruit, elegance and balance with ripe gripping tannins on the finish.

Donkey and Goat 2007 Tamaraindo Rousanne, El Dorado ($26) 88 Yellow gold. Aromas of white peach with a citrus note. Rich and flavorful on the attack, with less intensity of fruit on the mid-palate, and good balance and acidity on the finish. A wine showing freshness and delicacy and is a welcome new white Rhone-style wine.

For more in-depth analysis and tasting notes on California Syrah, check out the i-WineReview’s issue 4 and issue 12..

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