Gems in My Glass . . . September 2015

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Sonoma, Tasting Notes (1 Comment)

2015 Sonoma County Harvest Fair Wine Competition

Judging the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair Wine Competition this month was invigorating, stimulating and clearly reinforced the bountiful goodness, or better said, greatness, of Sonoma County wines.  The highlighted wines below were among the Double Gold Award winners from my panel.  A Double Gold (GG) award goes to wines receiving a Gold vote from each of the judges on the panel.  Many GG and Gold medals were awarded.  You can view the full medal tally by visiting www.harvestfair.org (click on the Drink tab, and then Award Winning Wines).

J Vineyards & Winery Cuvee 20 Brut NV; Russian River Valley, California:  Alluring aromas and a dynamic tiny bead will have you hovering over the glass as if in a dream before the wine meets your lips.  Crafted of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this precise and vivacious sparkling wine showcases creamy pears, spiced lemon bars, crisp apples and crème brûlée melding harmoniously through the persistent finish; let the celebration begin! SRP:  $28   www.jwines.com

Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards 2006 Extra Brut Reserve Cuvée; Carneros, California:  Wow; floral and yeasty aromas join well delineated layers of freshly baked bread, apple pie, brown spices and a zesty splash of lemon zest dancing on the palate.  This wine teems with purity, complexity and fine balance.  An exhilarating stream of tiny bubbles lingers from the first sip to the memorable last one.  SRP:  $47 www.gloriaferrer.com

Balletto Vineyards 2014 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir; Russian River Valley, California:  Scents of a delicate rose bouquet fill the senses with this elegant dry Rosé.  Delighting the palate are pretty flavors of strawberries and Rainer cherries, citrus blossom and a touch of herbs.  Perfectly balanced and crisp, with brisk acids keeping the wine remarkably bright and refreshing.  SRP:  $18   www.ballettovineyards.com

St. Anne’s Crossing Winery 2014 Zinfandel Rosé; Dry Creek Valley, California:  Here is a brilliantly expressive, unabashed dry Rosé that completely engages the senses.  Layers of red raspberries, succulent red plums and savory spice accents fill the mouth.  Well balanced with lively acidity, this savvy wine is every bit as juicy and full flavored as one could desire from America’s sweetheart grape.  SRP:  $18   www.stannescrossing.com

Kelley & Young Wines 2014 Robert Young Vineyards Nuit de Young; Alexander Valley, California:  This very sophisticated dry Rosé boasts elements of fresh cherries, blueberries, cranberries, a tinge of graphite and tea spice on the nose and through the flavorful palate.  Crafted of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it is complex, well structured and beautifully food friendly.  The texture is smooth, the balance spot on, and the engaging finish leaves you wanting more!  SRP:  $32 www.kellyyoungwines.com

Kobler Estate Winery 2014 Bacigalupi Vineyards Chardonnay; Russian River Valley, California:  An intensely aromatic Chard opening with tree fruits and hints of vanilla exciting the senses.  Spilling onto the palate are delectable flavors of spiced apple and pear compote, warm buttered toast and vanilla bean accents.  Full bodied and well composed with a lasting aftertaste.   SRP:   $46 www.koblerestatewinery.com

Pezzi King Vineyards 2013 Reserve Chardonnay; Russian River Valley, California:  This well balanced Chardonnay broadcasts perfumed floral aromas.  It fills the mouth with flavors of delectable creamy lemon custard, caramelized bananas, a touch of oak and citrus blossom accents.  Nicely structured with a smooth texture, it remains lively through the long finish.  SRP:  $36 www.pezziking.com

Kunde Family Winery 2014 Reserve Chardonnay; Sonoma Valley, California:    Full bodied and confident, this dazzling Chardonnay draws you in with aromas of fresh picked apples and a kiss of citrus.  Creamy and well crafted, it is brimming with pear, apple and key lime pie flavors that interlace with brown spice and underlying cedar notes.  The captivating finish is bright and extended.   SRP:  $45   www.kunde.com

Gustafson Family Vineyards 2011 Heritage Tree Vineyard Zinfandel; Dry Creek Valley, California:  Aromas of licorice and ripe berries engage the senses with this mouthwatering Zinfandel.  On the palate are well defined layers of wild berries, chocolate covered cherries, vanillin, anise and cloves that entwine in harmony.  There is a purity about this wine that shines, and it offers good lift throughout.  SRP:  $32 www.gfvineyard.com

DeLoach Vineyards 2013 OFS Zinfandel; Russian River Valley, California:   Here’s an enticingly aromatic, firmly structured Zin that tantalizes the senses.  Rich and lip-smackingly delicious, it is chock full of juicy boysenberries, warm, cinnamon-scented blackberry pie, savory spice and oak nuances.   Lush, dense and smartly balanced with a persistent aftertaste.   SRP:  ~$35 www.deloachvineyards.com

Matrix Winery 2013 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir; Russian River Valley, California:  This generously fruited wine opens with aromas of a mixed floral bouquet and wild berries.  It’s plush, velvety and full of black cherry, spiced marionberry pie, toffee and boysenberry jam at the core.  Underbrush, tinges of herbs and oak spice weave deliciously on the palate.  A full bodied, well balanced and mouth filling Pinot Noir.  SRP:  $52 www.matrixwinery.com

Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards 2012 Vine Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir; Russian River Valley, California:  Deeply hued and complex, this aromatic Pinot Noir is lush and juicy.  Sweet black cherry and black raspberry fruit meld with earthiness and exotic spices, and hints of toasty oak provide a complementary underlying note.  Well placed acidity keeps it bright, and the finish is focused and satisfying.    SRP:  ~$46  www.sonomacutrer.com

MacMurray Estate Vineyards 2013 Winemaker’s Block Pinot Noir; Russian River Valley, California:  In this glass a classy Pinot Noir awaits.  Provocative forest floor aromas set the stage for the burst of flavors exciting the palate.  Black cherry, raspberry, exotic tea spices, licorice and subtle oak spices integrate like a finely woven fabric.  Silky refined tannins and lively acidity keep the wine in precise balance. SRP:  $60 www.macmurrayestatevineyards.com

Congrats to each and every Sonoma County producer who earned medals from this year’s competition.  I encourage all to take advantage of tasting these well made award winning wines before they sell out!

 

Gems in My Glass . . . June 2011

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Sonoma, Tasting Notes

The delightful jaunt through Sonoma Coast wine regions continues this month with more delightful palate pleasers:

Patz & Hall 2009 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay, Carneros: The captivating citrus and stone fruit nose completely draws you in, and this Chardonnay is equally compelling on the palate. Juicy white peach and crisp pear flavors with a thread of minerality and dash of spice intertwine from start to finish, showcasing quite a stunning package, and the purity of fruit and uplifted acidity simply shine.

La Follette 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: Aromas of freshly harvested cherries and spice aromas float enticingly from the glass. Elegantly structured and balanced with a silky mouth filling texture, this wine joyfully awakens the palate. Nicely integrated oak weaves through the focused red fruit and minerality at the core, and the finish is round and full, holding the pleasing flavors firmly.

Merry Edwards 2009 Cooper Smith Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley: Attractive earthy, dried cherry notes on the nose make way for concentrated cherry and wild berry fruit accented with savory spice expanding fully across the palate. Rich, dense and complex, with fruit and acid in perfect harmony. The deft handling of quality oak from the Francois Ferre barrels is evident through the lingering, memorable finish.

Sojourn Cellars 2009 Rogers Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: Provocative mushroom and red cherry notes wow the nose and really capture the essence of this variety. Velvety smooth, deeply layered and beautifully balanced with red cherries, black raspberries, a hint of truffles and accents of anise and spice sumptuously filling the mouth. A well-crafted wine that finishes strikingly with impressive length.

Freestone Vineyards 2007 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast: Barrel fermented in French oak; here is a plush, full bodied Chardonnay with panache. Aromas of buttered toast and citrus flecked fresh apples remain consistent with the flavors on the palate, and savory spice and minerally accents add complexity. Attractively balanced with a creamy texture offset by buoyant acidity and a lively finish.

Balletto 2009 Pinot Gris, Russian River Valley: Gorgeous aromas of fig compote and flowers jump from the glass and harmonize beautifully with the honeydew melon, citrus and apple flavors that dance on the palate. Bright, crisp and satisfying from the first sip through the last one; a wonderful example of Pinot Gris.

Siduri 2009 Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir, Green Valley: Tantalizing aromas of warm cherry cobbler and fruited tea lead to gobs of decadent red and black fruit sprinkled with a dash of spice, and smoky, earthy notes entwining attractively and gliding seamlessly across the palate. Full bodied yet displays both power and grace. Nicely integration toasty oak tops off the pretty package.

And lastly, although not from the Sonoma Coast Appellation, a lovely wine (which I tasted the same evening I enjoyed the Keefer Ranch PN) produced by a “sister” winery of Siduri. Novy Family 2010 Blanc de Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley: Here’s one to surprise your wine savvy friends with – a still white (not blush colored) Pinot Noir that opens with floral aromas and greets the lips with subtle orange and delicate cherry notes boosted by brilliant acidity. This is a fresh summer quaffer, and nice as an aperitif or paired with fresh shellfish anytime.

Gems in My Glass . . . May 2011

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Sonoma

A jaunt through the captivating Sonoma Coast Appellation uncovered remarkable new discoveries along with noteworthy wines from producers who have pleased our palates impressively for years. 

Sipping multiple vintages of Merry Edwards Winery’s captivating Pinot Noir surrounded by the picturesque vineyards at Meredith Estate was a brilliant example of great wine starting with quality fruit, and of terroir recognition in the New World. Merry, and husband Ken, have cultivated impressive vineyards here on rich, loamy Goldridge soil and the focus on fruit development really speaks for itself in the wines. The 2007 and 2009 vintages as well as a barrel taste of the 2010 vintage reveal definite site specificity. Each glass was brimming with concentrated raspberry and black cherry fruit layered with licorice, tea box spice, wild mushroom and forest floor notes, a touch of vanilla and nicely integrated oak. The generous fruit is lifted by bright acidity, and each vintage exemplified the gorgeous velvety mouth feel that one simply can’t resist! The lasting finish of Merry Edwards Winery’s Meredith Vineyards Pinot Noir was also consistent through the vintages, hanging long and lip-smackingly delicious.

Kanzler Vineyard 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir opened with raspberry jam and appealing earthy aromas melding beautifully with ripe black cherry, fresh baked pie spice and a touch of anise on the palate. Layered and complex with nicely integrated oak; a classy, elegantly structured cool climate Pinot Noir. 

Balletto Vineyards and Winery’s 2009 Burnside Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, also grown in rich, loamy Goldridge soil, opens with inviting red fruit, red licorice and vanilla notes joining harmoniously with juicy cherry fruit at the core. Subtle hints of earth and spicy white pepper notes add dimension to this palate pleasing, smoothly texture Pinot Noir.

Embracing the air, soil and vines of the densely spaced (4×4), meticulously tended to Sonoma Coast MK vineyard was an experience to remember. Winemaker Paul Sloan passionately articulated the focus on nature and viticultural techniques to which he and wife Kathryn are conscientiously devoted. The synergy of their organic and biodynamic practices, fine-tuned trellising and canopy management, green pruning and scrupulous attention to sun exposure and hand harvesting methods shows through impressively in the glass. Four vintages of Small Vines Wines Sonoma Coast/MK Pinot Noir – 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 all showcase purity, depth and a silky texture with a true sense of terroir. Each vintage showcases red raspberry and Bing cherry aromas and flavors blending harmoniously with woodsy, forest floor and sandalwood spice notes alongside a fine thread of minerality lingering throughout. Impeccably balanced wines that finish with elegance and persistent length; a great example of natural practices and careful vineyard management leading to a stunning treat for the senses.

Kosta Browne’s 2008 Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir is dazzling with its fragrant lavender and spice aromas beckoning you into the glass. Rich, complex and full bodied, this wine broadens expansively on the palate with black cherry, exotic spice, forest floor and black licorice notes intertwining deliciously through the long, decadent finish. 

At DuNah Vineyards, proprietors Diane and Rich DuNah and winemaker Greg La Follette expressed that their vineyards, planted to Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, also thrive in the rich Goldridge soil. A taste of their 2007 Estate Chardonnay really pleased the nose with its buttered toast and mineral notes highlighting the crisp apple and pear aromas and flavors that expand richly on the palate. This unfined, unfiltered Chardonnay truly captures the essence of this variety. Nicely balanced and complex, finishing brightly with a kick of spice. Two vintages of DuNah’s Pinot Noir (2006/2007) open with fresh herb and pretty violet aromas that lead to inviting layers of juicy cherry, bay leaf and woodsy forest floor notes. Greg shared that the angle incidence of the sun is very important up here. Clearly attention to detail in the vineyards shows through with their rich yet lively wines that are well balanced and nicely structured with good acidity holding up the generous fruit. 

A soul pleasing, envigorating stroll through the Freestone Vineyards property perched at an elevations from 200 to 500 feet and seven miles from the ocean enlivens the senses. The sandy, loamy Goldridge soil and the influence of the morning coastal fog lifting to warm sunny days are ideally suited to these 60 planted acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Employing biodynamic practices, Freestone’s Pinot Noirs showcase purity, balance and scrupulous attention to detail in the vineyards. The 2009 Pastorale Vineyard Pinot Noir boasts satisfying aromas of a fresh bowlful of raspberries and cherries and the flavors remain consistent with spices and herbs, a touch of earth and a splash of cherry cola unraveling delicately across the palate. A very refined, well balanced, elegant Pinot Noir. The equally delightful 2009 Quarter Moon Pinot Noir is brawnier with juicy wild cherry, black cherry raspberry and herbal scents and flavors melding richly with black licorice and earthy, forest floor notes. Chewy, dense and full bodied with firm tannins that suggest cellar worthiness. 

Any one of these impressive wines will convince you to seek out Sonoma Coast appellation wines; and stay tuned for more shining examples in months to come!