On February 2nd, Black Kite and Saxon Brown winemaker Jeff Gaffner, joined the Tasting Panel on Zoom to cover 9 of his new release wines.
We really enjoyed our session with him. Jeff began his career at Chateau St. Jean, under the tutelage of renowned vintner Richard Arrowood, who Jeff credits with teaching him the importance of being as passionate about growing the grapes as making the wine.
Jeff launched Saxon Brown in 1997. It is named after his favorite female literary character, from Jack London’s Valley of the Moon. He started it to focus on small single vineyard bottlings reflecting his preference for elegantly structured, well-balanced and age worthy wines. Jeff calls Saxon Brown his R&D brand. It allows him to take winemaking risks and experiment with ideas that he wouldn’t try with his clients’ production.
We were first introduced to Jeff via his impressive work at Black Kite Cellars. Jeff joined Black Kite as their consulting winemaker in 2005. As noted above, Jeff is as passionate about growing grapes as he is about making the wine. We also found out that Jeff really likes how wind effects the grapes and vineyards.
As you will see below, Jeff makes many terrific Pinot Noirs from its Kite’s Rest Vineyard in Anderson Valley. The terroir at the three levels of the vineyard are all so very different. This results in distinct and noticeably different wines in the separate bottlings. They have also recently planted a new vineyard on the Sonoma Coast called “Jasper Freestone.” Its young wines are also very impressive. You can read about the entire winery’s story and history here.
Below is a summary of all the impressive wines that we covered with Jeff. The links are to our full reviews. If you are interested in ordering these wines, you find a few of them via your favorite wine shop or fine dining restaurant. The rest are available for order via the Black Kite and Saxon Brown websites.
Black Kite 2019 Chardonnay “Gap’s Crown” (Sonoma Coast) $62 (KWGTP 93)
Black Kite 2019 Pinot Noir “Jasper Freestone” (Sonoma Coast) $82 (KWGTP 93)
Black Kite 2019 Pinot Noir “Redwoods’ Edge” (Anderson Valley) $65 (KWGTP 92)
Black Kite 2019 Pinot Noir “River Turn” (Anderson Valley) $65 (KWGTP 94 )
Black Kite 2019 Pinot Noir “Stony Terrace” (Anderson Valley) $65 (KWGTP 92.5 )
Black Kite 2019 Pinot Noir “Kite’s Rest” (Anderson Valley) $54 (KWGTP 93)
Black Kite 2019 Pinot Noir “Gap’s Crown Vineyard” (Sonoma Coast) $70 (KWGTP 93 )
Black Kite 2019 Pinot Noir “Angel Hawk Anderson Valley” $90 (KWGTP 95.5)
Saxon Brown 2019 Pinot Noir “Fighting Brothers” (Sonoma Coast) $60 (KWGTP 92)