2011 Kelley & Young Wines Kathleen Rose

Mission Codename: Truth in Love

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Kelley & Young Winery, and secure an ample quantity of their fantastic 20011 Kathleen Rose. A Bordeaux style Rose that is worthy of our exacting Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Kelley & Young Winery

Wine Subject: 2011 Kathleen Rose – Robert Young Vineyard

Winemaker: Jim Young

Backgrounder: The Wine Spies are always on the hunt for the best wines that we can find. When it comes to Rose, we are exceedingly difficult to please. Today’s wine comes to us from one of Agent Red’s favorite wine families, the Young’s who own Robert Young Winery, a Sonoma County winery that produces some of the finest wines Red has ever tasted. For today’s wine, Agent Red visited with Kathleen Kelley Young, for whom the wine was named. He tasted her Robert Young Vineyard 2008 Kathleen Rose, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot,and fell in love with it.

The fruit for today’s wine comes from the world-famousRobert Young Vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. The Wine Spies first became fans of Robert Young wines nearly five years ago. When our field agents fed us early intel that Jim Young (CEO of Robert Young Winery) had collaborated with his wife, Kathleen, to craft their own wines from family fruit, we dispatched Agent Red to investigate immediately. Read his tasting notes and mission report below.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Medium salmon hues, with perfect clarity and perfect, even coloration, from core to edge. After a hearty swirl, the wine settles quickly, leaving behind tall, slow-moving columns of tightly-clustered tears.

Smell – Sweet and complex with balanced sweet aromas of bright cherry, fresh young stawberry, pink grapefruit, guava and starfruit. As it warms, the wine reveals additional aromas of white nectarine, white peach and pink flower petals.

Feel – Soft, round and slippery at the tip of the tongue, this wine then settles onto the rest of the palate. Bright and fresh, the balanced acidity drives flavors to the far corners of the mouth.

Taste – Sweet young strawberry, pink grapefruit and yellow raspberry meld with fresh lime, sweet-tart cherry, starfruit, pink rose petals, flint and a the faintest hint of subtle dried herbs.

Finish Ultra long and full of sustained flavor, the wine starts sweet and then goes softly tart and then, finally, softly flinty. Bright acids push flavors around the palate all the while. At the very tail end, a hint of the most subtle spice appears for a brief instant.

Conclusion – Hands down, this Rose is the best we have featured this summer! This is ultra high praise, too, for we have showcased some rather remarkable wines. This delicious wine shows the great complexity of a Bordeaux-style Rose, but without any of the harshness you might expect from a French Rose. This wine is, instead, loaded with wonderful, authentic, exotic fruit, minerals and hints of mineral and subtle spice. We give this fantastic Rose our heartiest Wine Spies recommendation. At today’s price – or a higher price – this wine will not disappoint.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Jim Young

DATE OF BIRTH: April 23rd 1952

PLACE OF BIRTH: Healdsburg, California


CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 34 years as Vineyard Manager with Robert Young Vineyards. CEO, Robert Young Vineyards & Estate Winery. Owner, Kelley & Young Wines since 2006

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I like to let the grapes speak for themselves – wine making should begin in the field – I try not to over work the wine and let the fruit show through

SIGNATURE VARIETAL: We’ve only just begun so I don’t really have a “signature” yet – I have 12 varietals to play with in the vineyard – each one has a voice and we’re still trying to figure that out

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: After growing grapes for almost 35 years for other wineries finally branching out to make our own wines on a professional level.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Partner in opening Robert Young Estate Winery

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “A balanced vine makes the best wine”


AGENT RED: Greetings, Jim. We are thrilled to be showing your Kathleen Rose today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

JIM: Thank you, Agent Red. We’re happy that you love our wines so much!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

JIM: as a grower I always wanted to learn how the vineyard influenced what was in the bottle

RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

JIM: at UC Davis and 30+ years of home winemaking

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

JIM: I like my wines to be fruit forward and juicy so I let the vineyard and grapes show through in the wine and try not to over manipulate during the wine making process

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

JIM: I’ve followed many wines over these many years – probably no one wine or winemaker in particular – but a compilation of many

RED: How long have you been making wine?

JIM: 38 years – but commercially only 7

RED: Who do you make wine for?

JIM: I make the wine for ourselves and the consumer

RED: Tell me, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?

JIM: Our vineyards in Alexander Valley include 12 different soil types and is time proven to have an ideal climate in which to grow many grape varieties

RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

JIM: Try to get an internship at a winery and get as much experience as possible – get your feet wet before you jump in.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

JIM: Sonoma Cuisine – grilled salmon, pork, vegetables and fruit – this month we’re featuring a Peach Glazed Grilled Pork Chop in our monthly newsletter that is absolutely wonderful. The Madrona Manor features this wine with a tomato salad with fresh mozzarella and its great just to sip – chilled on a hot afternoon.

RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

JIM: That I’m an accomplished woodworker. My wife and I live in a Victorian house on the ranch that was once owned by my Great Uncle Warner. In 1985 I started a 2 year restoration and remodel of our 130+ year home. Much of the trim for the project was reproduced on site by hand.

RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

JIM: Sauvignon Blanc, Rose’ and Chardonnay. They just go with so much of our Sonoma County fresh cuisine

RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

JIM: I recommend that people choose the wines thatTHEY like to drink – trust your palate –and don’t be afraid to try different wines.

RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

JIM: One wine? – that’s why we have variety in life – it’s the spice of life

RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?

JIM:What vineyard practice makes the best wine? There isn’t any one practice that makes the best wine, however, I feel the most important vineyard practice is growing a balanced vine. By that I mean, a vine that has the proper amount of fruit to leaf ratio, with adequate but dappled sunlight exposure throughout the vine canopy, and not overly stressed or over irrigated.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

JIM: Thanks, Red. Cheers!

Please enjoy the following mission recap, in which Agent Red tells the story of his affiliation – and infatuation – with today’s winery:

With today’s mission, I feel as though I have come full circle. I feel satisfied and complete. Sure, that has something to do with today’s amazing Sauvignon Blanc – but my feelings go way deeper than that.

It all started when I was a junior Operative. And when I say junior I mean completely and utterly green.

The winery was Robert Young Vineyards, my target wine was their fabled Scion. It was my very first mission. Ever – and I while I was nervous at first, I quickly became comfortable.

After what was a rather protracted surveillance and two undercover missions to the winery (in disguise), I was ready for my first formal infiltration.

I moved in, perhaps a little too aggressively, on the winery’s director of sales. We had a great meeting and in less than 15 minutes I had negotiated a sizable allocation for our Operatives.

I left the winery filled with confidence and exuberance. I called HQ to report in and Agent White congratulated me. Boy were those the days.

We scheduled a showing of the wine and send out a dispatch to our early-in Operatives, giving them a preview alert about this great wine to come. And that’s when the call came in. The winery, bless them for this, had run out of the wine. The showing was off!

The highs and lows experienced that week were exquisite. And, thank goodness, never replicated since.

I did experience a wonderful high recently when my phone rang and there, on the other end, was Kathleen Kelley Young of Kelley! Just a few days before, the W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) had issued an alert about this very same winery. It was a short message alert, a Beta-level alert which was important, but I was backlogged with plenty of Alpha tasks.

It was after speaking with Kathleen for a while that I made the connections in my mind… Young… Of course! Jim Young… Yes! Her husband, the Young in the nameKelley & Young, is that Jim Young! Right, from Robert Young!

So, I told Kathleen my story and then she told me hers. Hers is actually far more heartwarming than my own. Certainly, I am passionate about wine. Kathleen and Jim’s passion? Well, that goes way beyond.

For this couple, wine is life and romance and more. It is an enhancement and a vessel for love. Before you accuse me of over romanticizing, you must to at least one of the following: 1) Taste today’s awesome wine, and 2) Spend just a few minutes with Kathleen. Her zeal for finding the soul of the vineyard is both relentless and pure. Her attachment to the land and love of the vineyards are visceral.

With regard to the wine, well, one sip was all I needed to know for certain that this was the finest wines I have ever tasted. Coming from me, a spy that is incredibly hard to please with many white wines, that is the highest praise.

Kathleen and Jim have made this wine from the finest fruit available in the Alexander Valley – or elsewhere for that matter. Their dedication to the vineyards, first, and the winemaking second, shines through in each tender sip.

When I asked Kathleen who Jim makes the wine for, without a moment of hesitation and with a flashing grin on her face, she answered, “He makes the wine forme!” Knowing what I do about Kathleen, I know that she is so deeply into wine that Jim had his work cut out for him. And, guess what? He absolutely nailed it.

Today’s wine is special to me in so many ways, but primarily because it is so great.

Cheers to coming full circle. Cheers to Kathleen and Jim for bringing today’s great wine into the world.

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