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!