WINE REVIEW: 2016 Ovis Cabernet Sauvignon, High Valley, Lake County, CA ($64)
by Andrew Chalk
Appearance: Ruby almost opaque core with rim turning garnet;
Nose: Raspberry and blackberry fruit., Earthy, forest floor notes. Barrel notes.
Palate: Velvet tannins. Medium plus acid. Long fruit-driven finish;
Ovis is a new high-end line of single vineyard wines from Shannon Ridge. There is so much to say about this project that I have reproduced their press release below. My summation would be that Shannon Ridge is producing some of the most interesting wines in Lake County. As Napa becomes increasingly non-viable as a wine producing area due to land prices and other costs, neighboring areas, represented by Lake County, take on increased significance as alternative sources of grapes.
Shannon Ridge Family of Wines Introduces OVIS
New label pays homage to the flock of sheep that work the vineyards
Lower Lake, CA (November 12, 2019) – Shannon Ridge Family of Wines is proud to introduce OVIS, a collection of premium small-lot wines from our estate vineyards in Lake County. The 2016 selection consists of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Suggested retail pricing is $60.
"I believe these are the finest wines we've made," says Clay Shannon, President and CEO of Shannon Family of Wines. "We sourced the fruit from our top single-vineyard blocks. It took us three years to find the best lots for this program."
It’s no secret that Shannon is a farmer first. His love of protecting mother earth and cultivating the land informs every movement at Shannon Ridge. And the key to his success is the Ovis Cycle.
OVIS (Latin for sheep) pays homage to the flock of sheep that help control the cover crops and weeds in the vineyards. The sheep and the dedicated Great Pyrenees guard dogs are the foundation of Shannon's sustainable farming practices.
Under the protection of the dogs, Shannon's flock of over 1,200 sheep pick their way through the vineyards, eating leaves, suckers, and excess foliage from the grapevines. As a result they produce natural fertilizer, enriching the soil. By controlling weeds and cover crops the sheep also provide natural protection from wildfires.
"We’re cultivating and nurturing a way of life that reduces our need for fossil fuels and herbicides," says Shannon, "and produces amazing grass-fed lamb and wool products for local businesses as far as Sacramento and San Francisco. The vineyards feed the sheep, the sheep feed the vines, lamb feeds the people, people drink the wine and wear wool." This cyclical farming systems brings a new vitality to the land for future generations to enjoy.
OVIS collection wines were barrel aged 28-30 months in predominantly French oak barrels, and further aged for 8 months in the bottle. OVIS is currently being rolled out in major markets nationwide.
Round Mountain Vineyard 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon High Valley (1,618 cases)
Urgency Vineyard 2016 Cabernet Franc Red Hills (131 cases)
Rolling Knolls Vineyard 2016 Petit Verdot Red Hills (194 cases)
Betsy's Vineyard 2016 Petite Sirah High Valley (525 cases)
Bottle shots, fact sheets and wine samples available upon request.
About Shannon Ridge Family of Wines
The Shannon family is committed to preserving their land, not only for the great vineyard sites but also for the bear, elk, mountain lions, eagles and other creatures which live there. Of their approximately 2,500 acres, only about 45% have been converted to vineyards. The balance of the land has been preserved for the wildlife which wanders through the property from the expansive wilderness areas adjoining the ranches. The vineyards were carefully planned out, leaving corridors open to migrating animals and protecting sensitive nesting areas.