August West

Owner(s) Gary Franscioni, Howard Graham, Ed Kurtzman
Web site www.augustwestwine.com
 
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August West

August West is a partnership formed in 2003 between winegrower Gary Franscioni, business man Howard Graham, and winemaker Ed Kurtzman. The name is from a Grateful Dead song, Wharfrat, in which August West is down and out and drinks a lot of “Burgundy.” The winemaking is essentially the same as for the wines of Freeman Winery & Vineyards (Ed makes the wine at Freeman, Roar and for his own label, Sandler), but the grapes come from different sources and only two coopers are used.

Ed is an unassuming guy which belies his accomplishments. He is a graduate of the enology program at Fresno State University and has had extensive winemaking experience including stints at Bernardus, Chalone and Testarossa before joining Freeman and launching August West.

There are three Pinot Noirs: Rosella's Vineyard and Sierra Mar Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands and Graham Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The wines are sold through a mailing list and limited retail distribution. Production is 1,000 cases annually. Syrah and Chardonnay are also produced. 415-225-2891.

Reviewed Wines

2011 August West Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.64, 215 cases, $32. Clones 667 and 777, Swan and Calera selections. Aged 11 months in 10% new, 40% 1-year-old and 29% 2-year-old French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry liquor, dark red berries, toasty oak, and tea leaf. Light, elegant and slightly savory, with flavors of cherries, cola, leaf and vanillin oak supported by mild balanced tannins. Tasted twice. Decent. Reviewed March 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 August West Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., ph 3.62, TA 0.66, 406 cases, $32. From Rosella’s, Sierra Mar and Soberanes vineyards. Aged 10 months in 12% new, 59% 1- year-old and 29% 2-year-old French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromatically alive with scents of purple grapes and plums with a hint of spice and brioche. Full-bodied flavors of plum and boysenberry with a hint of spice and smoky oak in the background. Juicy and vibrant with firm tannins. A solid appellation wine. Good (+). Reviewed March 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 August West Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.79, TA 0.60, 167 cases, $45. Clones 667, 777, 828 and 23. Aged 10 months in 71% new and 29% 1-year-old French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of Bing cherries and smoky oak. Mid weight flavors of cherries, raspberries and baking spices. Nicely balanced and easy to like, finishing with a kick of fresh cherries. Very good. Reviewed March 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 August West Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.68, 382 cases, $45. Clones 113, 667 and Pisoni. Aged 10 months in 50% new, 44% 1-year-old and 6% 2-year-old French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of cherry pie glaze, spice and sandalwood. Middleweight array of dark red fruits, most prominently strawberries. The most elegant and redfruited of the Santa Lucia Highlands’ wines with modest tannins and a strawberry-infused finish. Not a powerhouse, buy oozes charm. Very good. Reviewed March 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 August West Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.63, 129 cases, $45. Swan selection and clone 23. Aged 10 months in 66% new, 17% 1-year-old and 17% 2-yearold French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black cherry, spice and vanilla. Fairly intense and concentrated dark red berry and cherry fruit with complimentary oak in the background on the mid palate, finishing with some oak-laced, fruit-driven power and a rush of tannins. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the aromatics still had not appeared and the wine still displayed muscular tannins. This wine should benefit from cellaring at least a year. Good. Reviewed March 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 August West Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 162 cases, $45. Yields 1-1.5 tons per acre. Picked October 1, the latest ever for this vineyard in this cool growing season. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very fragrant with aromas of fresh cherries, red berries, spice and toasty oak. Engaging flavors of black cherries, cola and dark chocolate in a middleweight style. Very smooth on the palate, finishing with respectable fruit intensity on the finish. The very ripe flavor profile reflects a warmer Russian River Valley site. Very good. Reviewed April 4, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 August West Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 373 cases, $45. Picked October 16, latest picking date in 9 vintages. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. The nose is both fruity and savory offering herb-imbued, pie cherry aromas. This wine is a stand out with its tasty core of dark, perfectly ripe red berries caressed by soft tannins, displaying a seductive and satiny mouth feel, and finishing with a bright cut of acidity. Intensely flavored, yet light on its feet. The whole package. Reviewed April 4, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 August West Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 122 cases, $45. Vineyard planted in 2007 making this the first bottling. Swiss clone Mariafeld 23. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black plum jam and black currents with a bit of stem. Full-bodied and rugged, with a luscious core of dark raspberry and Hoison flavors and an earthy undertone. The fruit is impressive, but currently tightly compressed in tannins. Lacks expression and refinement now and will benefit from more time in the bottle. Good. Reviewed April 4, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 August West Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $28. August West is a partnership between Gary Franscioni, Howard Graham and winemaker Ed Kurtzman. · Aromas of cherry tart, baking spices and a hint of oak. Moderately intense and concentrated with flavors of cherry pie filling, berry compote, cola and oak. Very smooth on the palate with soft tannins. Solid but not exciting. Good. Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 August West Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $50. · Medium garnet color in the glass. Charming scent of red cherries accented by gentle oak toast. Fruity and tasty with a pleasing fullness on the palate. Harmonious with gossamer tannins and a good grip of acidity. A solid, but not emoting wine now but should improve over time. Good (+). Reviewed August 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 August West Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 695 cases, $48. · Moderately light crimson in color. Also shy nose showing demure red fruits, a little funk, herbs and a whiff of alcohol. Plush red fruits with spice and brown sugar on the palate. Easy to drink. Reviewed May 26, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 August West Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 477 cases, $48. · Very shy aromatics but pleasant strawberry and cherry scents after intensive swirling. Decent red and black fruits with an earthy bent. Zippered up and unyielding on this day. Reviewed May 26, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 August West Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

118 cases · This is a flamboyant sucker with opulent fruit that jumps out of the glass and floods the mouth. It is fat on the palate and enhanced with deft wood and brown spice. Despite its prodigious fruit, there is ample acidity to balance everything out. Reviewed November 26, 2006 ARTICLE »

2005 August West Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

406 cases · This Pinot is still closed from recent bottling. We took it to lunch and over time it began to blossom and strut out some unctuous Pinot flavors. It is similar to the Freeman wines, but with a little more dark fruits and structure typical of this vineyard. The 2004 vintage of this wine was a knock-out and this one should follow in step when ready to drink. Reviewed November 26, 2006 ARTICLE »