It doesn't happen often enough, but every once in a while a wine speaks to you. In a lineup of a dozen or more wines, at a dinner party so crowded with and food and conversation that there is no room for reflection, the wine in your glass suddenly says: Hey, pay attention. I have something to say.
So it was when I first tasted Jason Kesner's wine — specifically his 2009 Rockbreak Chardonnay — a wine I would describe not by its amount of oak or acidity or balance of flavors, but by its ability to make you pause, by its profoundness. I had to find out where it came from and who made it.
And then it made sense. For years, Kesner was the man responsible for growing the highly sought after grapes of Hudson Vineyards — a name you see on labels alongside the likes of legendary Chardonnay producers Ramey and Kistler.
Kesner eventually started making his own wine — pressing a few barrels of the coveted fruit — and now, in addition to his burgeoning brand, he is the assistant winemaker for Kistler as well. I recently had the chance to try some of Kesner's Pinot Noir and found myself as equally enraptured with the 2011 Vadim's Watch from a cool site on the Sonoma Coast. It's anything but delicate — the wine has backbone, but it's also beautiful. And, like the Rockbreak, its intangible specialness defies the standard descriptors. It's just one of those wines that reminds you why you fell in love with wine in the first place.
Kesner Wines are available directly from the mailing list and at select retailers:
Courtney Humiston is the sommelier at Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg where she leads a wine list that includes over 500 labels from Sonoma County. Each week she will be selecting a Bay Area wine for 7x7 readers.