A Visit to White Crane

Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” That sentiment seems to be reflected as “Taste humbly and pour a great wine” when you visit the White Crane Winery. A small white building, hardly bigger than a two-car garage, sits at the end of a gravel drive. The modest trappings give little hint that within the walls are poured some awesome wines.

White Crane Winery
5405 Greenville Road
Livermore CA 94550
(925) 455-8085
Friday through Sunday. Noon to 4:30pm
$5 tasting fee

We recently visited White Crane to refresh our memories (and palates) of their wines. The White Crane Winery is set back from Greenville Road, just past Bent Creek. The Porta-Potty in the parking area is your only rest room, so we typically visit White Crane first or second on our day’s tour. Parking is a bit free-form, too, but don’t be bashful — just tuck your car out of the way and everybody will be happy. It was a fine autumn day, so the views were wonderful, the grapes were ready for harvest, and the winemaker was in a great mood. Nick Nardolillo, the owner and winemaker, was pouring for us. This pretty much ensured a good time. Nick is a wealth of information about his wines, his neighbors’ wines, and the Livermore wine scene in general. And also as usual, he was offering barrel tasting of a soon-to-be released red.

The White Crane Winery produces a number of wines under the Winery 21 label. Their Sparkling wine is a favorite in value-prices bubbly, but Nick was completely out of stock. Sigh. We did taste the Winery 21 Cabernet Sauvignon and found it to be light with a dry finish. Some of us detected notes of a bacon omelet. And this was our first tasting of the day!The Winery 21 Chardonnay was herby with some vanilla notes, with maybe a hint of green apple. Judi found a touch of Allspice in the background.

We moved on to the White Crane labeled wines. The 2006 Merlot was a big hit. Made from Carneros grapes, this is a fruit-forward Merlot that’s very smooth and drinkable right now. I thought of blackberries hiding in the finish. We bought a bottle to somehow cram in the wine fridge.

We enjoyed the 2006 Petite Syrah, with a leathery nose and hints of cherry. Lots of fruit in this one! Then Nick poured a 2009 Pinot Noir that was not on the tasting menu. This was a surprise on a number of fronts. First, I didn’t remember a Pinot Noir coming out of White Crane before. Second, wow, this is a punchy Pinot! A great addition to the wine list. One came home with us, just aching to find a spot in the wine fridge.

Nick also brought out a Claret for us to try. This blend of cab, syrah, merlot and petite syrah was very smooth, nearly floating across the tongue. I’m not usually a big fan of Clarets, but this one was a big hit with all four of us.

Then, on to the PORTS! We started with the 2006 Chardonnay Port. This was very pleasant, with a light and fruity approach, then that wonderful port finish. Yum.

We wrapped up with the Vintage Port. This is a blend of Portuguese grapes that come together to create a nearly effervescent mouth feel. Nice fruit and and great finish. Only wish I had room left on my Port shelf. Maybe next visit? I love the ports but seem to accumulate them faster than I can drink them. The winter cold season should turn that trend around.

We had a quick barrel taste before we left. We’ve purchased futures from Nick before, and really benefited from the great pricing and the sense of anticipation.

Then we were off. A quick belly rub for Bacchus, the winery dog, and we headed off to our next winery.


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