I love a good rosé. I’m also very picky about my rosé. From pale pink to deep salmon, a rosé of pinot noir can be all over the map, but generally speaking, it is delicious.
It’s that time of year again! BBQs, corn on the cop, and, suddenly – the summer is over and it’s Labor Day. Boo! Except that every year, Labor Day signals the Wine Country Weekend extravaganza in Sonoma County!
This event is a local tradition, and many a la carte items sell out early. Foodies who love wine will have even happier taste buds as more than 200 Sonoma County wineries, grape growers and chefs are preparing for the three-day festival.
From Friday, September 2nd through Sunday, September 4th, wineries all over Sonoma County will participate, culminating in the annual Taste of Sonoma on Saturday, and the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction on Sunday. For me, as an observer, and never an attendee, the highlight of this weekend is the Taste of Sonoma County at MacMurray Ranch. This property sits smack dab in the middle of Russian River Valley, and is known for it’s Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. And yes, Father really did know best when Fred MacMurray bought this property as an escape from Hollywood to raise his young family in 1941. The property itself has been farmed since the 1850s and is steeped in local history.
Some other highlights of the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend lunches, dinner parties and BBQs include:
- Arrowood Vineyards & Winery Dinner Party – Dine poolside to live acoustic guitar at the Arrowood Estate Guest House with Winemaker Heidi von der Mehden while experiencing a harvest sunset. Arrowood’s philosophy of producing classic varietal wines with grapes grown exclusively in Sonoma County will be featured while library wines and rare vintages from the cellar are poured. A five-course dinner will be prepared by one of Sonoma’s favorites: the girl + the fig restaurant.
- DaVero Farms & Winery Dinner Party – Guests will enjoy the bounty of DaVero’s certified Biodynamic farm with Owners Ridgely Evers and Colleen McGlynn who will tour and taste with wine and olive oil while introducing the fascinating practice of Biodynamic farming. Chef Christopher Greenwald, a renowned Sonoma County rising star, will build a meal from the abundance of DaVero and neighboring farms.
- Hidden Ridge Lunch –An unforgettable picnic in a breathtaking high-altitude vineyard with Proprietors Lynn Hofacket and Casidy Ward awaits guests. Designed to thrill the adventurous explorer, this experience begins with a four wheel-drive tour of the mountaintop vineyard – a place so steep, so well developed so interesting that it has been described as “really that amazing.” Chef Duskie Estes of Zazu lends her formidable culinary talents to create a seasonally inspired meal perfect for the Hidden Ridge Vineyard wines.
- Keller Estate Dinner Party – The remarkable summertime scenery of Keller Estate’s vineyards and olive groves will set the tone at this dinner hosted by Keller Estate Winemaker Jacqueline Yoakum and Chef Joey Ray. Keller Estate is a true Estate: from vine to bottle everything is done on the property – and the result is a lineup of wines that are deeply expressive of their individual terrior.
- Little Vineyards Family Winery BBQ – Little Vineyards Family Winery promises a fun, sunny Sunday barbecue at their Glen Ellen winery. Little Vineyards’ rare and small lot wines will take center stage, pairing perfectly with a variety of grilled treats, while the winery’s beautiful property provides an inspiring backdrop for a relaxed afternoon of simple pleasures.
- Stone Edge Farm Lunch – Known for dedication to sustainable farming, Stone Edge Farm produces both the outstanding wines and the heirloom vegetables and olive oils that will be featured at this al fresco meal. Winemaker Jeff Baker will pair wines with each course created by Winery Chef John McReynolds for an unparalleled experience of field-to-table dining. Hors d’oeuvres in the vineyard will lead to a shady meal overlooking the bountiful gardens and vineyards.
With more than 170 wineries pouring thousands of wines, and over 60 local chefs whipping up divine pairings, Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch delivers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for oenophiles and foodies alike. Informative and entertaining wine seminars, lively cooking demonstrations, get-your-boots-dirty vineyard tours and so much more make for an enchanting afternoon enjoying the best of Sonoma County living.
The event tickets are pricy at $150, but well worth it to have a one stop shop. But wait! Visa Signature will offer cardholder $55 off ($95 Taste of Sonoma Tickets). Highlights of this day include Sommelier Star Tours – where you can taste a region, pair some food, or meander a varietal. There are several to choose from so check them out here.
Not to be outdone, the winery lunchyes that start on Friday promise to be amazing. I will be stuck at a user conference, but you can choose to attend a lunch with your favorite winery and winemaker among the Sonoma countryside.
$85 for lunch, wine and some great times is a steal! (Some winery locations are sold out)
There are also some fantastic winemaker dinner lined up! $160 gets you an evening with wine, food, and local winemaking stars. (Some winery locations are sold out)
Sonoma Wine Country Weekend benefits local charities that benefit children, students, farm workers and people in need, so you can once again – drink for charity!
I hope I”ll see you there!
Ok normally i would NEVER ever ever say Cali. But, Biggie Big is calling my name, and since we’re in Virginia sweating our asses off, I thought it was appropriate as we taste the 2010 Sivas Sonoma Sav Blanc.
This is a VERY grassy and green pepper wine. It is 68% Sonoma Valley and the rest of the fruit comes from Russian River; it is 100% stainless steel fermented and is aged on the lees. For $14 it could be a great summer quaffer, but it’s too grassy for me.
Ah, Sonoma. That illustrious wine growing region to the north. Oh the delicious pinot, zinfandel, and other wines created there! Well, here in San Francisco, sometimes it’s hard to get up there. Traffic, time, gas, etc.
Fortunately for us city dwellers, Sonoma is coming to the city! This week, through a series of tastings and events, the wines of Sonoma are being showcased here in the city.
Starting tomorrow, the Grand Tasting at the Westin St Francis, over 200 wines from 100 wineries and growers will be poured. Here, you can explore over 200 Sonoma County wines from 13 regions hand picked to show off the diverse terroir and winemaking styles. Tickets are $55, but you can get a discount if you use your VISA Signature card! There is also a special VIP room ($65).
On Thursday, Forks & Corks will be at the Firehouse at Fort Mason. Eighty wines will be paired with five of our best food trucks: An the Go, Brass Knuckle, El Porteno Empanadas, Japa Curry and the Crème Brulee Guy. Tickets are $75 ($50 with the VISA discount, or $40 using code SPECIAL).
For those who like a little less formal of a stating, Vin12, who does monthly wine tastings at urban locations, is hosting a tasting on Friday at SLOANE for $25. Featured wineries include Ceja, Gloria ferrere, Roessler, and Tin Barn.
I hope to see you out and one or more of the events!
Ding, ding, ding went the bell
Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings as we started for Huntington Dell.
The iconic sounds of Judy Garland in Meet Me In St. Louis.
Ah the images of a red trolly, rambling down the street. we’re lucky here in San Francisco, we have vintage streetcars from around the world on parade. We’re also lucky because we live so close to Red Car Winery. Red Car Winery was founded by Carroll Kemp and Mark Estrin way back in 2000, with only 50 cases of syrah. Now, 11 years later, there are four Red Car wines, and two other labels – Trolley and Reserve.
With a flair for the dramatic, Hollywood producer Carroll and screenwriter Mark bring us great grapes and great wine. Today I opened the 2009 Trolly Pinot Noir. 2009 was an interesting year, and I was a little aprehensive when I opened the bottle. That said, several of my
blogging friends (NorCal Wine) have been up to the winery or to a winemaker dinner (yes YOU Dallas Wine Chick Melly!) and they were all h the wines. i must say, I am really enjoying this pinot myself.
Bright and bold without being over extracted, this Pinot Noir is great on it’s own or with food. Tons of bright cherry and cranberry, with a hint of raspberry, and strawberry on the back end, the spice box nutmeg and tannins also fill out the back of the palate. There is a touch fo brown sugar with tons of spice as well. This is my kind of Pinot Noir! The grapes are sourced from the cool coastal vineyards, and they show the high acidity of the Sonoma Coast fruit. That balances out nicely with huge black Cherry flavors, followed by floral notes of rose petals. An hour after opening, it is really developing nicely in the glass and the earthy mushroom characteristics come otu to play. This is clearly a Sonoma Pinot Noir, with rich cherry and dark red fruit, as well as plum flavors; it’s rich but not overblown, and I really like it!
At $48, it’s not exactly budget, but it’s a lovely wine and if you should see it on the market, you should BUY it.
These wines were brought to be on a bus by Malm Communications. I think we need to get Mia a trolley!
Benziger Family Vineyards sits inside an eruption cauldron, part of Sonoma Mountain, in Glen Ellen. One beautiful early fall day, they took on a group of bloggers and showed us the VIP treatment and gave us a nice education and tasting lesson behind the scenes.
Here at Benziger, the practice of biodynamics builds up the biological capital every year. Building a closed ecosystem, the winery has created its own terroir through the careful management of the land, and the balance of nature and farming. Eliminating the use of synthetic chemicals and starting more natural methods like crop rotation, composting, and natural insect and pest control changed the ecosystem.
We started our day taking a tram tour around the property, where we had several stops where Mike Benziger, Kathy Benziger, and
Next, we wandered down to the insectary, where Colby explained how the introduction of beneficial insects helps keep the farm in balance. While in the insectary, we sipped on some 2008 Estate Sauvignon Blanc Paradiso de Maria, Sonoma Mountain while a Praying Mantis came to sit atop our bottle. I tasted lemons, cream, grapefruit, with a whiff of petrol on the nose, as well as chalk and hay. It had a great acidify and was lively with granny smith apple flavors. 500 cases of this wine were produces from a one acre block that was dry farmed with minimal intervention. The wine was fermented on native yeast, which I always enjoy because I think it provides such a unique factor to every barrel. It was fermented in 100% stainless steel barrels sur lie and was delicious!
After the gardens, we moved on to the compost pile. Yes, the compost pile. Unfortunately, i didnt’ have any wine with me at the time, but luckily enough, it did NOT smell like my kitchen bucket. Mike Benziger explained to us that there are no magic tricks when making great wine. Benziger vines havfe very deep root growth on the property, which in part is caused by a change in the irrigation strategy. Deep roots allow for more stability int he vines. According to Mike, biodynamics is the best fine tuning system for nature, to make the best wine. The compost piles are actually kept separate for each block, and they are put back on the land where they came from. This adds to the closed ecosystem and prevents any cross contamination from occurring.
Our next stop was the water treatment facility, which is a series of ponds that are aerated at the back of the property. This is a man made wetland, which acts as a natural filter and helps to recycles and resue 2-4 million gallons (yes kids that’s a LOT of water!) annually.
Before we moved in to the cave to taste smoe with, we stopped by the crushpad to see their new sorting table. As it was in the middle of crush, we saw the line in action. this new vibrating sorting table allows the workers to sort out the duds, so they are only having to pull out the obviosuly flawed items. The stems and unripened berries are shaken off the table automatically.
At this point I was getting pretty thirsty so I was excited to go in to cave to meet Rodrigo Soto, the newest member of the team, and the winemaker for the Signaterra line. He is also the force behidn the new sustainableity program called Farmign for Flavors, which Rodrigo envisions as a single philosphi[phy of growing for all Benziger growers. This program allows a Benziger farming philosphphy to permiate all their growing family members, and produce wine of consistant quality in a sustainable way.
Inside the cave, we were met by Rodrigo, where we tasted some of the new Signaterra lineup. Signaterra is the new flagship line from Benziger, whose mision it is to make the best wines possible from vineyards that are fully managed by Benziger. These wines are built to reflect each property, which are farmed with different philosphies, depending on the land, but inclde organic practices, biodynamics and sustainable growing.
We started with the Signaterra Shore Farm Savignon Blanc. This RRV wine was grassy and green on the nose, witkh lemon grass. I tasted grapefruit, grass, meyer lemon, and a touch of honeysuckle with floral notes. It was zesty with a slight spritz of lime., gren apple and gree pear. We also tasted the 2007 Pinot Noir, Bella Luna Vineyard. This has spicy plum, black cherry and Dr. Pepper on the nose, followed by black cherry, figs, bleu and black fruit and dark rich vanilla on the palate. It was a BIG pinot and i really enjoyed it. On the long finish, I tasetd nutmeg,and white pepper. I have reviewed this wine previously at the all pinto event, and it’s fun to see both the similariites and differences in my impressions.
As we moved in to the beautiful special events room, we stopped to sip the Tribute, 3 Blocks and de Coelo pinots but I will need to decypher my notes to tell you about those. My suggestion is, go see for yourself! Kathy, Mike, Colby, Rodrigo and Jessica outdid themselves. On this, my 2nd visit this year, and 2nd visit in over 10 years, I remain impressed and delighted by the wines.
Head up to Glen Ellen, enjoy a tour and a bottle!
Wine, tour, and lunch were provided by Benziger. No bloggers were hurt in the writing of this article, except maybe David H’s pride by this lovely Brokeback Vineyards pose. Cheers!
Early in September, my friend and fellow blogger, Chris Oggenfuss of Vintuba and also Benziger Family Winery tweeted something about a day of pinot up at the farm (winery). Far be it for me to miss a pinot party, so off I went to Glen Ellen to visit Benziger, something I hadn’t done in many year s.I must say, in the past I had been somewhat disappointed in their winemaking efforts, being one of the stops I’d always take out of town visitors. Sure, the tram tour was cool adn the garden was delightful, but there was something just off about the wine. Fast forward 10 years and WOW! I had NO idea that they were up to some awfully good tricks up on that hill past Jack London State Park!
The Spotlighton Pinot Event focused on 5 premier offerings of pinot from Benziger, paired with some simply divine cheeses. Chris generously comped me my tasting tickets, and the staff were gracious and welcoming and poured and poured and poured!
The star of the event was Signaterra, Benziger’s new project headed by Rodrigo Soto, a Chilean import who is working wonders. Signaterra wines are the next step for Benziger’s farming philosophy (more on that in another post) and new journeys in wine from premier Sonoma-appellation vineyards. Signaterra’s magna carta is about integrating the right resources of the Earth, the inescapable forces of Nature, and the attentiveness of Man into a distinctive wine.
2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – The cool climate of the Sonoma Coast and Carneros vineyards kept sugars low and complexity high, while a long growing season stretched the harvest over three months. The net yields were lower, with more concentrated flavors of bright juicy raspberry, dark spicy notes of cola bark and spicy earth with stewed figs. There were also lovely flavors of deep dark cherry. I also felt a slight spritz that needs to mellow slightly, and it looked like it was unfiltered. I really enjoyed this wine and for $26 it has fabulous QPR and is an absolute BUY.
2007 Signaterra Giusti Ranch Pinot Noir – is from the Russian River Valley, and earned my #1 spot in this tasting. It was rich and luxurious, with dark figs and black fruit, followed by black cherries, black raspberries and cola syrup. The rich fruit had a back note of cinnamon, and a hint of mushroominess forest floor. It was $49, but wroth every penny and is a STRONG BUY.
2007 San Remo Vineyard Pinot Noir – is another Russian River example. This vineyard is in the heart of the Russian River region, and this area is known for it’s bold and elegant pinots, and the cool climate is perfect for Pinot. The granite soils offer excellent drainage, and is currently practicing sustainable farming techniques. The winds that sweep through the valley reduce the vigor of the vines, and keep the yield low, producing intense clusters. This wine had a lot of bright cherry, earthy mushrooms, bright red fruit, and nutmeg, with a tinge of rhubarb and cranberries. It was a big pinot but still delicate, and a slightly bitter finish of nutmeg. This wine was completely different than the Sonoma Coast Pinot, and it was my 3rd place wine. If you are feeling a splurge, go BUY this at $49.
2007 Bella luna Vineyard Pinot Noir – is a classically cool climate pinot. It had bright raspberry fruit, a dusty layer of spice, and an earthy finish. Bella Luna is in the redwoods, and is a cool region. It’s on the extreme Sonoma Coast, less than 10 miles from the pacific, which keeps the acids in check adn guards against the high temperature swings inland. This wasn’t my favorite, but you should try it for your self.
2007 De Coelo Terra Neuma Pinot Noir – more of a classically Burgundian wine, this was the last of the pinots I tasted. It was quite a departure from the bold cherry juice of the Signaterra, and the bright raspberry spice fo the Sonoma Coast, and is Benziger’s flagship reserve wine. The rocky soils that are spitting distance from Bodega Bay are idea for Pinot Noir, which loves the cool foggy temperatures. in the Terra Neuma, i tasted sweet Bing cherries, a touch of rosemary, nutmeg and bright red fruit all with a subtle earthiness and mroe restrained flavors. this wine is a splurge, but if you’re upf rot eh $69, it would be a great wine with cranberry sauce at your Thanksgiving Table. BUY
The lesson here of course, is have an open mind – go back and visit a winery you haven’t been to in a while. Try the wines again. Things change, things mature. The focus on the Benziger efforts after the sale of the Glen Ellen label, have produced outstanding results. I can’t wait to go try some of the other wines and this will be a regular stop (avoiding the busses of course!)
Thanks again to Chris and Benziger for a fun filled Pinotlicious day! For more on Benziger, Signaterra, and thier wines, stay tuned for The Benziger Blogger Follies!
Where does the time go? The Second Annual Winebloggers Conference has already come and gone, and I am left wondering “what the heck was that bus that rolled over me “.As one of the voices behind the curtain of the WBC Scholarship, and as a huge cheerleader, proponent and fan of the WBC, I am pleased, shocked, elated, bummed, and catching my breath after the weekend.
On our first day, the rag tag Twisted Crew (@sonadora, @thebeerwench, @winehiker, @eljefetwisted, @ryanopaz, @gabriellaopaz, @houstonwino, @winewonkette) and I pulled up to the Flamingo after fighting what seemed to be an eternity in Central Valley and Infinion drag racing traffic followed by the usual Friday flow in to Santa Rosa. Arriving at 12:30 or so, I didn’t spend much time with the sponsors, something which I regret doing. Partially because many of them were familiar to me, partially because I was just plain exhausted due to unfortunate events the day before, I found my fellow people and sat down to eat some lunch.
I was excited to see so many of my friends, both those that I know in person and those that I knew only online, as new recruits tot he WBC posse. After catching up, albeit breifly, with some regulars, I was circulating the room trying to spy new faces while inspecting their name tags without looking like I was completely crazy. Fortunately, I caught up with a few new regulars.
After lunch, we attempted to do the speed tasting sessions, but well for reasons so many have discussed, it failed. Miserably. Like died on the operating table failed. In its stead, we heard about the Wine Blogger Awards. Unfortunately, I had purposely planned to skip this male dominated prom king style popularity contest, and moving it up unfortunately resulting in people not being there to accept thier awards. Eventually the wireless supposedly turned back on but as I tried to tweet my tasting notes, the wireless only stayed up for 10 seconds at a time, I gave up and just enjoyed the wines. Sorry folks, no tasting notes from me.
After the speed tasting, we beat a hasty retreat to our short but sweet annual Anti-Conference BYOB session in the small space at the front of the hotel. We did get to enjoy a large plethora of wines from attendees, and I really look forward to this time to meet new folks, try new wines, and just have a good time in an unstructured way.
Not wanting to miss a beat, we then made our way out to the pool for a very crowded very crazy Sonoma Grand Tasting. Not wanting to get crushed in the milee I pretty much avoided this, and found a spot at a table with Wine Biz Radio’s Randy Hall, his wife Jen and her amazing goat cheese, as well as some fellow bloggers. There, we shared some wine, I opened some wine,
Chritophe (@cork_dork) from Titus opened some wine, and we made our own tasting. PS for next year, PLEASE do no try to squeeze 250 people in to a space meant for 50, it just doesn’t’ work. I am sorry I missed many great wines, but I count myself lucky that I have tasted many before so didn’t really feel like I was losing out. It was just too much of a mosh pit to really enjoy your self and so instead, I opted to find an empty poolside table and sit with my buds catching up. Jen, Randy Hall’s wife, had brought some of her homemade goat cheese to share and with some wine to sip on, we snacked and chatted the afternoon away.
Oh – I forgot to mention. During all portions of the Speed Tasting and Sonoma Grand, I was readily accosted for my unusual jewelry of Wie BLogger Bling. It looks like my ribbons and charms were a hit, yet again! Yes, t
his was the idea, and I am pleased that so many of you enjoyed the camradierie of being a Naughty Wine Minx or saying tot he world Screw It! More WIne! That was the intention behind the blogger bling, as there were so many people I didn’t know and knew I wouldn’t get a chance to meet; I was pleased that it afforded me the opportunity to have random strangers become aquaintances via a common love of all thing wine and silly.
After the Grand Tasting, we made our way in to the dinner session, where I had a tizzy of a time finding not only a seat, but a seat at a table where I at least recognized one face. I know i know, I was going to mingle, but even this cowgirl gets the “I’m shy” blues and wanted a friendly face. I sat down with my favorite Cellar Rat Alan Baker, and we had a great time trying our wines and catching up, while I went table hopping to poach different wines. The table layout was that most tables were hosted by a winery, and we had a few of their wines plus others on our tables. Since I wanted a variety, I found Brad Cooper’s table (@bradinator) and poured a nice big taste of his Black Cloud Pinot Noir. WOW! Who knew such beauty came out of of British Columbia in a bottle! (Hey, @winebard stop throwing things at me).
Even though I was operating at 45% sanity, both physically and mentally, after dinner I wandered in tot he after hours tasting hosted by Russian River Winegrowers. I was please to see many wineries I knew here, and was able to taste some more treats, and chat with the locals on what was new. In there, I met up with Julie from Windsor Oaks, whom I’ve written about before here. Julie is a pioneer in the industry and is working hard to make sure that she is in tune with not only bloggers, but with what her customers want and need. I was so pleased to get a gift of their Unoaked Chard, which is just a lovely treat. Anyone in the area, MUST stop by and try their wines! They will welcome you as one of their own, and the wine is pretty good too ;-).
I tried and tried to stay up for the after after after party but I just couldn’t do it. My body and my brain gave out. I’m sure I missed out on a lot and I’m bummed, but well, Saturday was another day!
(How long til WBC 10?)
You’re the Rhone that I want! That’s the theme for this year’s Hospices du Rhône event, and it’s a great one. To tie in with this annual extravaganza, Twitter Taste Live is doing a multi-national, multi-coastal, multi time zone tasting event that you can be a part of!
It all kicks off at 7pm local time, on Friday – April 17th.
Then we move across the pond to the East Coast, where Joe Roberts, the ONE the ONLY 1winedude, will host live from Wine Riot in Boston at 7pm EDT. They will be tasting:
- Rutherglen The Alliance (Viognier/Marsanne) 2006
- Fireblock Grenache 2004
- Four Vines The Peasant (Grenache) 2006
- Bonny Doon Le Vol Des Anges (Late Harvest Roussanne) 2007
Then we move out West. Out here the cowboys of the wine industry will be in multiple locations, at 7pm Best Coast Time! Oops sorry, I mean PDT.
- A tweet-up will be happening at ESATE Restaurant in Sonoma. For the bargain price of $12 and a bottle of Rhone wine, you too can join the crowd and tweet live from Sonoma!
- If you can’t make it to one of the live event, you can host your own! If you can’t host your own, you can taste alone. Pick one, pick a few but pick something!
Hope you can join us and and I look forward to Friday!
The west coast posse will be tasting:
- Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas Blanc 2007
- Tablas Creek Mourvedre 2006
- Kinton Syrah 2005
- Verge Syrah 2006
- Yangarra Estate Shiraz 2006
For all the details and to RSVP. please head over to Twiter Taste Live. You don’t need to be a wine blogger, or a wine snob, you just need a Twitter account and a Hospices du Rhone wine! See you in the Twittersphere at 7pm YOUR time on Friday, April 17th.
The weekend before last, I spent my 2nd weekend up in Dry Creek & Russian River Valley, searching for some new wines and trying to impress my blogging buddies Matt, Robbin, Joe & Amy. Also along for the ride were Shana and Liza, my regular drinking buddies.
Everything started out innocently enough, with a requisite trip to Truett Hurst to pick up our glasses. From there, we headed over to Pappietro Perry, who is making some mighty fine pinot noirs that I really enjoy. Jim, the up and coming wine social media man about town, joined us, and we wandered in to Amphora with our winemaking blogging friend Patrick of Iridesse Wines. Now, I have not been to Amphora in quite a long time, and as luck would have it, another favorite Lush, Patrick had an inside scoop. We headed in to the VIP tasting, and were given a whirlwind tour of their offerings. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of wine now being presented and will have to go back.
From Amphora, the posse invaded Michel-Schlumberger, and availed ourselves on Judd’s hospitality once again. At this point, we were a bit of a mixed bag, since we kept losing cell reception and Amy & Joe were meandering around the countryside somewhere north of Occidental trying t meet us. Shana and her crew were sidetracked at Kokomo, so we just continued on our way, drinking through the amazing Dry Creek Pinot that MS has. Additionally, their Bordeaux blend in barrel as well as the finished versions were stunning.
After MS, it was across the driveway to Mounts Family Winery where we had to give Lana a big shout out. Since Shana and I were there the weekend before, we had some idea of what they were pouring, but after tasting the Malbec again, I decided to split a case of futures with Liza. The malbec is something Mounts has only done once before, and it was delicious. I am SO excited to taste the finished thing!
Since it was getting late, and we had a date in town for Twitter Taste Live, we hightailed it to the Front Street Five, where Patrick’s wife Genevieve was pouring at Camelia. Since it’s a collection of smaller wineries, I dragged my friends in to Holdredge, where John treated us to a barrel room raid. I have been going to Holdredge for years, and really love their pinots – but this was my first secret taste of Strawberry Fields and The Other One; these are John’s special blends that are mostly for personal consumption, but he was offering a few futures for special customers. Next to Holdredge, we had a few minutes, so we went back to Hudson Street Wineries, a new coop tasting room that I talked a bit about here. Sine it was last in the day, we had more time to chat and drink.
Saturday ended with a drinking fest at Palette Art Cafe, who warmly welcomed a VERY merry group of slightly tipsy wine bloggers for Twitter Taste Live – Passion for Pinot. Earlier in the day, Judd has graciously contributed his Humanitas Gaps Crown Pinot, as well as Michel-Schlumberger Dry Creek pinot, to taste along with the official wines of Gainey, Sonoma Coast, and Willakenzie. Below are some of my short but sweet tasting notes from that session:
- Sonoma Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir 2005 – juicy raspberries slightly under ripe, spice, rich, juicy
- Gainey Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2006 – Amy said she would do it in a dark alley! Subtle, darker plum and smoke. Deepest darkest cherry chocolate!
- WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir 2007 – Bits of tobacco leaf, interesting earth. Darker vegetation
I really want to thank Pallate for being willing to take us on, on a Saturday night. The service was as fast as we could expect for a 15 person order in a small cafe, and they waived their corkage fee on our TTL wines. The rest of the wine we slurped that night were opened for only $12 each, and the dishes ranged int eh $6-15 range, making it an economical centrally located casually elegant spot for dining in Healdsburg. I didnt’ get a chance to look at the wine list, but judging by the glasses on the table before I arrived, there were no complaints. Stop by and check it out!
Sunday was a wee bit of hair o’ the dog, since most of us had not slept very much the night before. However, since we were at an annual event, we had to go! We started out at Windsor Oaks, which I described here. Next, we meandered out Eastside Road to Copain, which was a return visit for me, but well worth it for the views and the Rhone reds.
After Copain, we headed down the river to Joseph Swan, which I love for its rustic setting and fun with geology and terroir. On hand, the resident geologist told us a lot about the land, and how it impacts the flavor of the wines. We were tasting zins side by side, and could really get a feel for how the soil impacts the flavors of the wine – even if the vineyards are less than 1 mile apart. After Swan, we went down to Sunce, which is a requisite stop for the food, and their mystery bottle game. I rather enjoyed the Barbera and picked some up to add to my collection.
About the time we were ending up, Patrick called us and invited us up to Chateau Felice. Barry & Phyllis Rogers, Genevieve parents, own the property, and generously let us in after the official end time for some tasting and chatting. Chateau Felice is located in the Chalk Hill AVA, nestled in rolling hills. I was hard pressed to find a favorite wine here, because they were all absolutely lovely. However, I did end up with half a case of futures as well as 3 distinct Bordeaux blends that I will savour. Please go see them up at the Chateau! Make sure you call for an appointment first, but it will be well worth your time to do so. The wine was truly spectacular, and the hospitality was even better.
Having survived this barrel soaked weekend, I needed about a week of sleep, but I’ll be back at it tomorrow when we live to drink some more!