Wine Talk

Snooth User: outthere

It's Sonoma County Wine Country Weekend, anyone going but me?

Posted by outthere, Aug 29, 2013.

I'll be at Taste of Sonoma on Saturday at MacMurray Ranch. Napagirl, you've been quiet on this event. Are you staying home this year? This is the event of the year around here. Over 200 wineries pouring 700+ wines paired with food from over 60 chefs from the best restaurants in the County.

Wine served under huge tents labeled by appellation, RRV, Dry Creek, Aexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Sub appellations under their respective tents. If you are going make sure you get there early. It turns into a zoo later in the day.

Anyone else attending?


Reply by JonDerry, Aug 29, 2013.

Just another great event I'll have to miss...look forward to hearing about it.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 29, 2013.

Well, it's the event of the year that is open to the open to the public.  But all those wines are new and highly available, unlike some Mirassou Late Harvest from the '60s. 

Only problems I see are it is so massive, and you have to start drinking so early.  (Really, I did not stop at Merrie Edwards at 9:30--I'm serious, the coffee has to have cleared my mouth before I start on wine.)

This is one of NG's favorite events, but things get busy this time of year for those of us with kids still in school.  I hope we can get a joint report, but OT, we're counting on you as the embedded reporter in Sonoma.

Reply by outthere, Aug 29, 2013.

That Late Harvest was impressive for its age wasn't it?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 29, 2013.

I thought it was like a ripasso wine in its richness, while still being quite dry for a late harvest.  Still had firm acids to carry it along, too. Definitely one of the most interesting and tasty wines of the night.  There were quite a few that were interesting but not as tasty.  Still, not a spoiled bottle in the group. 

What a run of events that would be if I came up.  Not sure my palate would ever recover.  Depending on what else is happening, maybe I'll go up solo next year.  I think that's too big an event for my mate.

Reply by outthere, Aug 31, 2013.


We had a plan, get in early, get out early. It seems like a lot of people had the get in early plan. In years past we would show up around 11:15, park close and hit the tent before the crowd built. Well not this year. The front parking lot filled up as we approached so we parked across the road and hoofed it in. The place was a zoo from the moment we arrived but we still had a plan.
We started at the Russian River Valley tent. There we tasted at;
  • Gracianna - The weather was warm so the 2012 Kiwi's Blend Sauvignon Blanc was the wine of choice and it did not disappoint. Great notes of grapefruit, lemongrass and lime on the nose. Light bodied with citrus zest and snappy acidity. Excellent. SB of the day.
  • Next was Inman Family Vineyards where winemaker Katthleen Inman was pouring a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and OGV Pinot Noir. The Pinot Gris was lacking in acidity and was just kinda plain. The Chardonnay was rich and creamy with nice tropical fruit notes. The 2009 OGV Pinot Noir was the star of the lineup with a nice funky nose, big black cherry and cranberry fruit with a long finish of dusty tannins and black cherry.
  • Joseph Swan was right next door. They were pouring a RRV Pinot, the Trenton Estate Pinot and a Chardonnay. The Trenton Estate stood out but with the ambient temps rising the wines didn't show as well as they could have. No Zinfandel or Syrah which was a disappointment. Mixed results here unfortunately.
  • At the Petaluma Gap table they poured a number of Pinots and one Syrah. The Pinots included Clary Ranch, Keller Estate, Fog Line and a couple others. the Keller Rstate stood out among the Pinots with a signature Sonoma Coast nose of truffles and Asian spice. The Syrah was a Clary Ranch of which I expected more. The nose was great but the palate and finish were flat.
  • Limerick Lane was pouring a Pinot, a Sonoma County Appellation Zinfandel and an estate Zin/Syrah/Grenache blend. The Pinot was overcome by the heat of the day, the Zinfandel was nice but nondescript while the ZSG labeled "1023" was a 2009 vintage and was all there with nice dark fruit, good structure and a lovely floral/peppery finish. Look for this. Plus they had a slight chill on their wines knowing the heat would have an effect on how they showed. Nice touch that paid off royally.
  • Siduri/Novy was pouring a Pinot and Syrah among others The Pinot was a bit heavy for me. While I have really enjoyed Siduri wines in the past the last few times I have tasted them they seem a bit too flabby for me. Palate shift? Possibly. The Novy Syrah was a 2009 Christensen Vineyard that was very nicely done.
  • Last stop in the tent was Wren Hop. I ran into winemaker Russell Bevan as we arrived at the tent and we chatted for a bit before he went off to pour. He was not at the table when we arrived but his signature was all over the wines. Russell is a member of the flavor camp. No whimpy  wines here. Both Pinots 2011 "Wisdom and Chaos" and the 2011 "Winters Demise" had big extracted color, big chewy fruit but wonderfully balanced with lifting acid and stemmy tannins. These are upper end @ $62/bottle but showed well for their style.
We bypassed a lot of tables due to the crowds and the pourers doing nothing to keep the lines moving. Would have enjoyed a stop a Papapietro Perry, Valdez Family, Gary Farrell, Fort Ross among others but it just wasn't in the cards today.
The next tent was Sonoma Valley
  • Barbed Oak was pouring a wonderful 2011 Chardonnay. Aromas of pears and green apple abounded. Medium weight with great citrus notes and creamy texture. Their winemaker, John Raytek, is a rockstar who has made a big name for himself with Ceritas and Liocco. I didn't taste the Pinot because I have had it in the past. Great but I had lots to taste today so I passed.
  • Dava tasted at the Cline table while I hung out at the Ravenswood table shooting the breeze with Joel Peterson and tasting their Old Hill Zinfandel. What a great conversation we had. Joel is so approachable and can go on for days. We discussed the wines from last weekends Old Vine Offline and his spark plug winemaker son Morgan. Probably the highlight of my afternoon.
  • Enkidu was next where I tasted the Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc which is my and winemaker Phil Staehle's favorites of his lineup which include some great Pinots, Syrahs, Cabs, Zins and Rhone Blends. Nice operation, quality wines.
  • Three Sticks caught my eye simply because of the name which was the nickname of the winery/vineyard owner Bill Price III when he lived in Hawaii. The locals didn't do well with Jr's or the III's so they called him Three Sticks. His Durell Vineyard is legendary in the Sonoma Valley. Today they poured two Cardonnays. One was unoaked, stainless fermented and aged in a concrete egg, the other had neutral french oak treatment. Both had identical noses while the stainless wine was crisper with nice minerality. The other chard showed more body. Standout wines in a sea of offerings. Theirs was the only business card I came home with today.
  • Last but not least in the Sonoma Valley tent was Westerhold. Russell Bevan is the winemaker and was manning the table when we walked up. He poured me backwards and started with the 2008 Extended Elevage Syrah. A knife and fork wine if there ever was one. Not for the faint of heart or the anti flavor wine elite. Big bruising fruit, huge texture, massive mouthful of dark chewy Syrah goodness with powerful mouth drying tannins that went on for days. Pass the defibrillator please! The 2009 Estate Syrah was a mere rosé in comparison. Westerhold won the Hospices du Rhone Syrah blind tasting two years in a row. Quite an achievement. Russell is another rockstar winemaker who recently took over the reigns at the storied Chateau Boswell in St Helena. He is turning heads with every vintage and every variety he lays his hands on. His Bevan Cellars Sauv Blancs are killer, his Pinots scream big fruit with balance and his Bevan Ontogeny is a cult wine.
Still two tents to go and my palate was starting to get fatigued. But next was a Dry Creek and all the wonderful Zinfandels!
  • Beeline to Mauritson to taste the Dry Creek Appellation Zin and the Rockpile. Both were approaching feminine on the palate which was a nice change of pace after the Westerhold tasting. Great fruit, minerality, soft tannins. What a joy to drink.
  • Next was Bella where I tasted two wines but could not say which two they were. Was I getting tipsy? I remembered them being big brutes with big fruit, lots of spice but lots of fruit.
  • We made a point of stopping at Mutt Lynch because they are dog lovers and donate a portion of their wine sales to Dog Rescue. They also make their wine on the property of a friend/grape grower of mine so I wanted to try them out. They poured a Zin, Primitivo and Petite Sirah. All 3 were extremely enjoyable but by this point I was a mess. I was trying to find more water and food than wine. Seems like this happens every year.
We then moved over to the Alexander Valley tent but by then I was done.
  • I had little left in the tank so I went straight to the Seghesio table where I was rewarded with their Venom Sangiovese, Cortina Zinfandel, Monte Rosso Zinfandel and Home Ranch Zinfandel. Oh baby!
There were tables in between the wine tables where local chefs were serving small plates, desserts and appetizers. Lots of great stuff like the mini Monte Cristo Sandwiches from Thomas Schmidt of John Ash and Co, Curried Chicken and Tandoori Nan from Sizzling Tandoor but the bite of the day was the deep fried crispy Pork Belly atop Watermelon Cubes with Wasabi and an Asian Soy drizzle made by the El Dorado Kitchen of Sonoma. OMFG!
In early out early. We're were home by 2pm after walking through the Marketplace and tasting a various ice creams, Limoncello drinks, craft beers from Lagunitas and Third Street Ale Works, food from various sundry vendors and a nice air-conditioned shuttle ride back to our car. Only 1 picture taken as my iPhone went dead early on. Cheers all!
Glorious day at MacMurray Ranch. Russian River Valley straight ahead. Sonoma Valley to the left. Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys behind
Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 1, 2013.

Great post, my friend.  I don't know if I mentioned it, but the Home Ranch Zin from Seghesio was a sleeper at Project Zin.  I've gotten accustomed to Seghesio hitting the mark on Zins, but being a little predictable.  But it's that ability to reproduce greatness in the SVDs that marks them. 

Glad you liked the Mauritsons.  We'll work some trades if you are interested between his very small production SVDs and some of your Carlisle.  It's not really fair that he has mad skills and his brothers and he own the best property in probably the best place there is to grow Zin.  But here's a hint:  Older Seghesio Rockpile Zins are SVDs from one of Mauritson's best Rockpile patches.  Now that Seghesio has been sold, the deal is off, and Clay will use all the grapes.  Buy as many Seghesio Rockpile Zins as you can find from older vintages and you won't be sorry. 

It was trending very hot in Nor Cal today, sorry that all  the winemakers didn't spot that and keep the wines chilled.  Things might cool down this week, but right now, everything is getting pretty warm.  To that end, I dropped hundreds of figs today in hopes I can get the remaining several hundred to ripen in this glorious weather. We've got another few weeks of summer to get all this fruit in, and either turn it to wine in the case of grapes or save its summery goodness in the case of tomatoes, figs, stone fruits and the like.  Events like this one make us realize how lucky we are.  Thanks for sharing this.

Reply by napagirl68, Sep 1, 2013.

OT!  One of my fav shows...   No, we did not make this year :-(    Sounds like a great lineup, and as the date approached, I have to say that I thought of you and your family.  I am sure a grand time was had by all.   I am going back now to read your notes.  I always found it was so plentiful that I lost my tasting discrimination at some point.   But great, nonetheless, of course.  You are very lucky to live so close... maybe we will meet at Foxy's  in Oct...

Reply by napagirl68, Sep 1, 2013.

That's a lot of wine!

And thanks for the tasting notes.  I did notice the show getting super crowded last  time I went. That part wasn't fun.  But a great show, nonetheless.  Thank you for the awesome tasting notes..... 

Reply by JonDerry, Sep 1, 2013.

Thanks for the notes OT, sounds like it was a blast.

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