Posts Tagged ‘Russian River Valley

26
Apr
11

saturday at martinelli winery

So, it’s Saturday we got up early to partake in the free breakfast fare at our hotel before heading off to Sonoma for our visit to Martinelli Winery. I had my route all mapped out and so off we went. After our first encounter with Mayacamas mountain roads last year it was decided that we’d head down and around and then up the 12, however my GPS had other ideas and continued to force me over to the 101 via 116. Now, this was our first time venturing into Sonoma beyond Sonoma Square, so in the end I let my GPS be the guide. But soon enough the large red barn of Martinelli revealed itself from behind the trees and we knew we had arrived.We were scheduled for their VIP tour at 11:00am and we eventually arrived at just about 20 past! We were warmly greeted and taken to the tour already in progress. The day was beautiful, warm and sunny with some morning clouds still hanging around, but no rain in sight! The tour started at the foot of the Giuseppe and Luisa vineyard. We were then taken over towards the crush pad where they talked about their process of harvesting, processing, and making of the wines, interlaced with wonderful family stories.


We tasted a lot of fantastic wines, 8 or 9 in total if a recall but our favorites were the 2009 “Vigneto di Evo” Zinfandel, which was a big bold and juicy zin, with tones of black fruit flavours and just the right amount of sweet tobacco spice. The tannins are really quite smooth and help to round this juice out. It’s a great entry-level bottle (only $30 and 627 cases produced) for those who love a darn good Martinelli zin!


We enjoyed our’s back at the hotel!

Our other favorite was the 2008 “Zio Tony Ranch” Pinot Noir. This pinot brings both power and grace to the table. The nose is warm and welcoming with notes of baking spice mingling with aromas of red cherries and plum. The palate is treated to a full-bodied array of ripe raspberry and black cherries. Once this one opens up the tannins really integrate into the whole structure and are smooth and silky. The finish reveals the hints of vanilla-oak from a year of sitting in 75% new French Oak barrels with it’s gross lees and lasts forever! We saved our bottle for Easter Diner and had it with a traditionally prepared Spiral cut ham that was marinated overnight with pineapple and 7up and then slow roasted with a brown sugar glaze. The pairing, in my opinion, was divine!

All of the wines were fantastic but then again with Helen Turley and Bryan Kvamme behind the winemaking you really can’t go wrong! If you’re ever out that way you really need to pay them a visit!

15
Apr
11

A reflection on a visit to Fog Crest

I have been back in Chicago for almost two weeks now, yet my mind and my soul (and my heart) are still on that warm and sunny hillside in southern Russian River Valley. I’m standing with my family at the head of a row of Chardonnay vines looking out over the valley sprawling before us into the sunny distance. The rows upon rows of vines – just at the point of bud break – roll and undulate in parallel unison with the land. There’s a gentle afternoon breeze whispering softly through the pine trees on the hill behind us that cools the back of my neck. I can smell the warm earth under my feet and the glass of Chardonnay we’re drinking suddenly becomes the perfect summation of where we are. What could be better than the perfect wine at the perfect moment? It is soul soothing and spirit lifting when such a connection is made between the wine lover, the wine and the land where it came from. That, to me any way, is the essence of true terroir – it is a connection, it is a transportation of mind, spirit and soul, and in some cases of body. Everything makes perfect sense. Everything becomes crystal clear and the wine not only tells a story but draws you in and makes you a part of the story to the point where the story becomes yours – yours to continue and to share.

13
Apr
11

2008 Fog Crest Laguna West Pinot Noir

2008 Fog Crest, Laguna West, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Spicy red berries, blackberries and cherry cola (ala Dr. Pepper) on the nose with hints of vanilla oak and baking spices. Lovely medium bodied palate full of darker fruit cola flavors balanced by a silky smooth tannic structure, warm oaky notes and ribbons of white chocolate that lead into a long and satisfying finish of chocolate covered strawberries. There’s a nice level of acidity that keeps the overall character of this pinot on the lighter more elegant side to pair well with lighter dishes while still remaining bold and confident enough to hold up to more robust dishes.*

We had the first bottle with pasta shells with spinach, homegrown sun-dried tomatoes, roastrd whole clove garlic and peas in an arrabiata sauce and the match was made in heaven.

*Just a sidenote on these tasting notes for the second bottle, which was poured through our Vinturi aerator into the decanter while the first bottle was decanted without the use of the Vinturi. The first glass of the first bottle was still a bit tight but did open up nicely after a half hour or so…just in time for dinner! The first glass from the second bottle was amazingly smooth, like the last glass from the first bottle, and only got better as it sat in the decanter.

05
Apr
11

Fog crest vineyards

The Highlight of the weekend for us, hands down, was Fog Crest, sitting on the hill off Occidental Road in the Russian River Valley! After being stopped by a fill-in postal worker wanting a signature for a package, we continued down a gravel drive that wound its way through the vineyards.


There we were greeted by Jim Manoogian, one half of the husband/wife owner/vintners team! It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 70’s and barely a cloud in the sky! He started us of with the first of two Chards and then walked us down to the vines where the chard grapes are grown and bud break was in full force.

We tasted both the 2007 Laguna West and 2007 Estate Vineyard Chardonnay. The Laguna West was a richer and rounder chard with lush pear falvours intermingled with hints of peach and baking spices that led into a nice mild and toasty hazelnut finish with a pleasant touch of crisp acidity. The Estate Vineyard chard was a bit more old world in style exhibiting lemon floral and soft hazelnut aromas on the nose that led into a palate of crisp apple and citrus notes on a cool base of minerality and nuanced oak flavours. The finish was warm and bright with just the right amount of cool acidity

We then headed back to the barrel room to taste the pinots. With glasses in hand Jim lead us over to the upper estate pinot vines, where he talked about their pruning process and how they will eventually drop double buds.

Here we tasted the 2008 Laguna West Pinot Noir that welcomed you in with a warm and spicy nose with notes of dark and bright cherry cola. The palate was rich and smooth with a base of silky smooth tannins supporting a chorus of ripe red berry fruit flavours accompanied by nuances of anise and lush plum. The finish added more dark fruit and cola flavours that tapered slowly off with light acidity.

Once we were hooked Jim then capped off our tour with a barrel tasting, or thieving as he called it! My very first! He treated us to a preview of their 2010 Upper Estate Pinot Noir that was barreled last October. Though it was still young with lots of green notes you could tell that this was going to develop into a very lush and complex wine as it was already exhibiting the signature berry flavours and soft structure of the 08 Laguna West.

After all was said and done we walked away with two bottles each of the 07 Estate Chard and the 08 Laguna West Pinot and I guarantee we will be ordering more! If you get a chance I highly recommend that you try to visit them! http://www.fogcrestvineyard.com/

15
Nov
10

Pinot Days Chicago 2010

If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending one of these events, either here in Chicago or elsewhere, I highly recommend that you do! For the nominal fee of $50 one is offered over 300 different Pinots from close to 70 different wineries from the Central Coast all the way up to Willamette Valley! I have to admit that one can be a bit overwhelmed when entering for the first time; the Festival Hall at Navy Pier is huge and the buzz in the air, electric! But with a game plan it quickly becomes very welcoming and when you reach a table almost intimate as well. I was quite pleasantly surprised that, despite the large number of attendees, the wait to get to a table was not at all bad. So, our game plan was to hit all the wineries that we just had to taste and then fill in the gaps after that and it worked quite well.

By the end of the even we had tasted nearly 50 different Pinots but I’m only going to talk about the highlights and the standouts. In no particular order of course.

Our first stop was at J Vineyards where they had two Pinots to try. First was their 2007 RRV, which was smooth, elegant and structured, showing spiced cherry flavors and silky tannins. The second Pinot was their 2006 Single Vineyard, which was bigger in body and flavours but had more savoury earth notes that added that extra dimension.

At the Domaine Chandon table we were surprised with a 2008 still Pinot Meunier from their Carneros vineyards. This was my first time having a Pinot Meunier and a single varietal still wine and I was very, very impressed. Deeper in colour and darker in fruit profile, this wine exhibited a rich and lush palate that had wonderful earth tones, structure and balance.

Right nest door to Chandon was DeLoach who not only offered up four of their best Pinots they also offered a barrel taste of their newest vintage, which hasn’t gone to market yet. You could tell it was still quite young but it was still quite smooth even with the green wood notes that hovered in the mid-palate.

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I had to make a stop by the Goldeneye table as they were part of our wine makers class last year at Just Grapes and the 2006 Anderson Valley they were pouring did not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination! It was a classic style Pinot with w hint of old world using only French oak casks (35% new and a the balance being seasoned no older that two seasons).

Okay, let’s talk Merry Edwards! They had two offerings: the 2007 Sonoma Coast, which was basic but not boring but the 2007 Flax Vineyard, Russian River Valley Pinot was outstanding!

Next door was Martinelli, which offered up their 2007 Lolita Ranch Russian River Valley and my personal fav on that table the 2008 Moonshine Ranch Russian River Valley, which was as the rep (A Martinelli herself) said, “It’s like Christmas in a glass!” Which could not have been a more accurate statement. It had this lovely deep ruby colour and a nose full of warm baking spices that led into a palate of spiced red berries and cranberries and finished warm and spicy, with really smooth tannins.

Failla was one of the newer wineries and by no means an underdog. Their Pinots from Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley were exceptional!

The last one I’m going to talk about was hands down both mine and my girlfriend’s favourite of the night! The Fog Crest 2008 Laguna West, Russian River Valley Pinot was rich with cherry and plum flavours balanced by warm spicy notes. Soft tannins provide wonderful structure and the finish lingers on and on with dark fruit and cola notes! Fog Crest got it’s start in 1998 with South/East facing slopes and sandstone soils that provide the ideal growing conditions for Pinot and Chardonnay. So, if you haven’t had the pleasure of trying Fog Crest I highly urge you to do so.

http://www.fogcrestvineyard.com/

After nearly four hours of tasting it was time to eat so we finished the night off at Cafe Iberico for some amazing Tapas and a bottle of the 2006 Campo Viejo Crianza, Rioja!

Pinot Days is, as I said, an amazing event that should be attended by everyone and anyone who loves West Coast Pinots! I know we’ll be going back next year!

14
Jun
10

just a 2008 Wine Guerrilla in the room

From Saturday night.
2008, Wine Guerrilla, Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, 2008

Blend 86% Zin ( from MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg), 14% Petite Sirah (from Forchini’s Russian River Vineyard )

ABV 16.5%

Retail $19.99 (Whole Foods)

Spicy nose with dark cherry, dried fruits and licorice. Medium-bodied with rich red fruits and finely textured tannins. There is a subtle hint of tartness that’s not too acidic or puckering but along the lines of a juicy plump black cherry or cranberry. Light notes of toasty oak also play a part. This one is brighter in nose and palate than the Dry Creek Valley bottling from the Goat Trek Vineyard, Though this one has hints of dried or stewed fruits it’s the tartness and red ripe fruits that take center stage. However, there is still a supple richness to the mouthfeel to help balance the rest…think creme fresh with fresh raspberries and blueberries. The finish lingers on for some time. There is quite a lot going on here with layer upon layer of flavours and textures, which peel back one after the other to reveal another dimension to the overall picture.

After 24 hours: More concentrated aromas of dark dried fruits emerge on the nose and palate. The acidity and tartness mellows allowing the supple tannins to come forward a bit more and the finish becomes smoother and richer with subtle note of chocolate joining the chorus. Overall this is a pretty complex and nuanced wine for the money developing a nice balance after a good decanting.