|Greg La Follette
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Tandem Greg La Follette is an icon among California winemaker circles. Educated at University of California Davis, where he obtained a Masters in Food Science and Technology, he trained under wine masters such as Tchelistcheff and Kongsgaard and was one of the first winemakers bringing attention to the “true” Sonoma Coast (at Flowers Vineyards & Winery). He has consulted on numerous new winery launches including Londer Vineyards and James Ball Vineyards, both in the Anderson Valley, and has contributed his expertise on the international stage as well. La Follette was recently the consulting winemaker at De Loach Vineyards. He has designed and redesigned fourteen wineries worldwide and was the consulting winemaker for the new University of California Davis teaching winery. His own Tandem label sources from vineyards that represent long-standing relationships. La Follette helped plant Keefer Ranch Vineyard when he was the winemaker at Hartford Court. He provided much of the bud wood for Van der Kamp Vineyard in Sonoma Mountain. La Follette has a long standing relationship with Sangiacomo vineyards. He was the first to recognize the potential of Ritchie Vineyard when he first brought grapes into Flowers several years ago. Recently, he has developed an interest in the Manchester Ridge AVA of Mendocino County.
Tandem was sold in 2009 to Pete Kight, a successful Atlanta businessman who also owns Quivira Vineyards & Winery and Torbreck Vineyards in Australia. The infusion of cash will allow La Follette to buy and develop some vineyards and not worry about sales. He planned to focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
His style tends to be big and bold with wines that are well-oaked and initially tannic. They benefit from some cellar time after release. La Follette calls his wines "earthy" and "savage." He uses only natural fermentations, basket presses, and never filters his wines. He uses milk tanks for fermentations which are wide and shallow, producing a thin cap and allowing gentle punch downs.
La Follette moved on several years ago and founded his namesake label as well as becoming the winemaker for Ancient Oak Cellars in the Russian River Valley. As far as I can determine, Tandem Winery is no longer in operation.
2007 Tandem Hawk’s Roost Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
15.1% alc., pH 3.69, 184 cases, $54. Entirely from Mariafeld clone (UCD 23). Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak. · Moderately deep garnet color. Oak char is prominent on the nose and obscures the underlying fruit. A well-endowed, generously extracted wine with a thick core of dark stone fruits, blackberries, beef and tar. Plenty of tannin still to shed. The alcohol is well hidden. The finish leaves an oak hangover. Will improve with time in the cellar, but will always be an oaky wine. Decent (-). Reviewed October 29, 2009 ARTICLE »
2007 Tandem Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $54. · Deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Charming perfume of black cherries, plums, grapes and exotic flowers adding notes of mocha and roasted nuts over time in the glass. Darkly fruited with heaps of black cherry and plum flavors and an underpinning of savory herbs and oak. Juicy and vibrant with a polished tug of acid on the finish. A charming wine with impeccable balance. Very good. Reviewed January 22, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Tandem Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Chardonnay
14.9% alc., $54. · Golden yellow color in glass. Aromas of exotic flowers, lemon, peach, pear, vanilla and seasoned oak. The flavors echo the nose with added notes of oak spice and brown butter. Clean, crisp and supple in the mouth with perfect integration of oak and alcohol and a lasting aromatic finish. An exceptional wine that is among the best Chardonnays I have every sampled from California. White lightning. Very good (+). Reviewed January 22, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Tandem Auction Block Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 916 cases, $60. Composed of the best barrels of the winery’s best vineyards including Manchester Ridge, Sangiacomo Sonoma Coast, Silver Pines and Hawk’s Roost. Aged 11 months in 18% new French oak. · A constantly changing array of cherries, roasted nuts, oak char and cedar on the nose. The delicious black cherry core is accented with a cola and pine note. This one grows on you in the glass, taking on more charm as time passes. Each time you take a sip it gets better and better. Still has some tannins to shed and will benefit from aging. A remarkable wine that sneaks up on you. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Tandem Silver Pines Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.9% alc.,851 cases, $60. Located at 980 feet elevation in a wind tunnel from the Petaluma Gap on Sonoma Mountain farmed by Norm and Carol Silverman. Mariafeld and Pommard clones. Aged in one-third new French oak for 11 months. · Oak-kissed black cherry scents are very lovely. On the palate, there is a healthy attack of loamy dark fruits including rhubarb. Like all good wines, it picks up steam with time in the glass. A fruit-driven wine of admirable balance which drank beautifully the next day from a re-corked previously opened bottle. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »