The wines of Calder: focusing on California’s heritage varieties


Calder is the label of Rory Williams, son of John Williams of Frog’s Leap. Rory’s day job is running the vineyards for this respected Napa winery that his dad set up. He named his own project after his middle name, Calder, and the focus is on the heritage varieties of California. In his hands, these make very exciting wines. Rory says he was inspired by the old Inglenook Charbonos (and in particular sharing a 1964 with his dad), and Frog’s Leap must be just about the only winery to have recently planted this variety, which is the same as the Bonarda of Argentina.

Calder Charbono 2017 Napa Valley, California
This is from Rossi vineyard in Rutherford, which was planted Frog’s Leap Winery in 2008. The two hectares of Charbono are dry-farmed, organically grown, and head-trained in the old style. Destemmed, wild ferment, aged two years in used oak. Very fresh and bright with lovely pure fruit showing good acidity. Fresh, fine and salty with sweet, fine black fruits and hints of spice and olives. Very expressive. 95/100

Calder Carignane 2016 Mendocino, California
This comes from two old Carignan vineyards in Mendocino: 75% from the Rovera Vineyard, 25% from the Cemetery Vineyard. The two lots were fermented and aged separately for 11 months (11% new oak), and then combined and aged for a further two years in barrel (11% new oak). Ripe, lush, sweet and open with broad cherry and berry fruit. There’s a salty edge here, and also some olive notes. 93/100

Calder Petite Syrah 2016 Napa Valley, California
13.3% alcohol. From the Leeds-Pesch Vineyard in Rutherford, planted in 2007. Whole bunch ferment then three years ageing in neutral French barrels. This is fabulously intense with vivid bold black blackberry and black cherry fruit. Fleshy and full, this is inky and textural (has a high pH of 3.93). Lovely harmony and power here. 95/100

UK agent is Nekter

Find these wines with