Wine of the Week: 2010 Breggo Cellars Gewürztraminer Ferrington Vineyard

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Breggo Cellars Gewürztraminer Ferrington Vineyard.

The Winery

Breggo Cellars is located in the City of Booneville in Anderson Valley AVA, which is north (about 70 miles) of Napa Valley in Mendocino County.  It is owned by Cliff Lede (pronounced “LAY-dee”) of the Cliff Lede Vineyards and Poetry Inn in Napa Valley, where Lede has been very successful producing Bordeaux varietal wines.

As the saying goes “Great wine starts in the vineyard”.  And a great vineyard, start with having the grape varietal best suited for the location of the vineyard.  Breggo is focused on varietals that do well in cool climate Anderson Valley – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Syrah.

The Wine

Gewürztraminer (pronounced as “guh-Verts-trah-Meen-er”) literally means “spicy grape” due to its gobs of exotic, spicy (clove and allspice) fruit flavors including lychee, citrus and peach.  It can be made in dry or sweet styles.  It’s typically best drank within 3-5 year of vintage.   The grape thrives in cooler climate locations, so the Anderson Valley is a great place to grow the grape.

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Ferrington Vineyard, owned by Kurt and Heather Schoeneman, who purchased the vineyard in 1997.

This wine underwent whole cluster pressing to tank and settled for 24 hours. Two-thirds was fermented in neutral French oak barrels, while one-third was tank fermented in stainless steel. No malolactic fermentation was permitted.

photo (49)

My tasting notes follow:

Light pale yellow color with intensely aromatic exotic aromas of lychee, stone fruits, lemon peel, and spices. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with apricot, white peach, citrus, and spice flavors. Surprisingly vibrant acidity. Long finish. 13.1% abv.| SRP – $25

Rating: A-; A wonderfully refreshing, dry, yet exotic Gewürztraminer that I’d purchase again!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

TGIF Bubbly! 2012 Yorkville Cellars Sparkling Petit Verdot Brut Rosé

My wife and I usually make it a point to drink sparkling wine on a weekly basis.  It’s typically Friday night…thus “T.G.I.F. Bubbly”  It’s a celebration of sort, to the end of the work week.  We switched it up a bit this week, because we always have a sparkling wine for Thanksgiving.  We chose the 2012 Yorkville Cellars Sparkling Petit Verdot Brut Rosé for this week’s sparkling wine. 

The Winery

Yorkville Cellars is located in Yorkville, California in Mendocino County. Yorkville’s claim to fame is two-fold.  They are the only winery I know where all 8 of the Bordeaux varietals are estate grown and then offered as separate varietal winesAnd their two vineyards are both certified organic – the oldest of which has been certified organic since 1986. 

My wife and I have visited Anderson Valley three times over the last several years and we make sure drop in at Yorkville Cellars each time because we enjoy the wines.  It’s fun to try varietal bottlings of the lesser known Bordeaux varietals like Carmenere, or Petite Verdot, but our favorite has been their best red Richard the Lion-Heart. On our last visit, we tried a delightful Sweet Malbec.  I highly recommend stopping by Yorkville Cellars if you’ve visiting Anderson Valley. The wines are wonderful and fairly priced, and you’ll enjoy their diverse offerings.

The Wine

The 100% estate grown grapes for this wine are sourced from Yorkville Cellars’ Rennie Vineyard, which is located in front of its tasting room. The vineyard is certified organic, and planted to six of the main red grapes originating in Bordeaux, France: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  The vineyard was planted in 1990.

The wine is a blend of 87% Petit Verdot, and 13% Cabernet Franc.   Sparkling Rosé produced from primarily Petit Verdot (or other Bordeaux grape varieties for that matter) is scarce.  Petit Verdot is an aromatic grape, and in this wine it add some intriguing aromas not typically found in sparkling wine.  When young Petit Verdot has aromas that can be likened to banana, but in this wine it also seems to adds other intriguing aromas.  I’d recommend trying it in a red wine glass rather than a sparkling wine flute to get the full impact of the aromas.

The wine is produced using traditional method (Methode Champenoise) whereby  the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle.

TGIF Bubbly; 2012 Yorkville Cellars Sparkling Petite Verdot Brut Rose

2012 Yorkville Cellars Sparkling Petite Verdot Brut Rose

My tasting notes follow:

Appealing pink color with an orange hue and tiny beads of bubbles. It shows captivating strawberry, raspberry, banana, and a kiss of tropical aromas. On the palate, it has a creamy mousse, and approaches off-dry with tart raspberry, strawberry, and ruby grapefruit flavors. Lingering finish. – (89 pts)

Rating:  B+ : This wine has an intriguing aromatics, and is very food friendly.  

Pair with: We really enjoyed this with our Thanksgiving meal.  It’s a very food-friendly bubbly that  seamlessly adapted to the diverse spices, textures, and taste we enjoyed from appetizers through the main course.  Snag some for the upcoming holidays!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Sample provided by winery

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!  Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

#DrinkPink Rosé of the Week: 2012 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé

It’s that time of year… Yes, it’s Rosé season!. With that in mind, I’ve embarked upon a series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé.

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.

Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah.  They also produce this Rosé, and an interesting, food friendly and outstanding wine named “P2″ which is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.

Their beautiful tasting room is located in Healdsburg. The winery sits atop a hillside with a breathtaking view of the Russian River Valley. Here’s a pic from my most recent visit…

copain View

The Wine

The fruit for this Pinot Noir-based Rosé is sourced from the cool-climate Anderson Valley.   is the perfect companion to a summer evening, indeed.

#DrinkPink Rose of the Week; 2012 Copain Tous Ensembe Rose of  Pinot Noir

My tasting note follows:

Salmon color with a copper hue, it exhibits  appealing peach skin, red fruit and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and fresh with a soft texture, along with delightful strawberry, honeydew, cherry flavors and a mineral undertone. Lingering finish.

Rating:  B+: Pinot Noir makes a great Rosé.  Copain makes small quantities of this delightful wine, so you’ll have to look for it.  It’s well worth the effort. >>Find this wine<<

Pair with: This wine works well as both an aperitif, and at the table.  Try with grilled fish paired with a salad.

Sample purchased for review 

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!

Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved

Wine of the Week: 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard.

Winery

Phillips Hill Winery is a small boutique (~1,000 cases/yr) winery focused on producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer from cool climate vineyards located in Anderson Valley. Phillips Hill Winery is located on Greenwood Ridge above Anderson Valley, in the Mendocino Ridge appellation.  I was introduced to Phillips Hill when the winery was recommended to me while I was tasting at Toulouse Vineyards earlier this year.

Phillips Hill

Toby Hill, a native California is the Owner/Winemaker of Phillips Hill. He was formally trained in the Arts.  With a BFA from California College of the Arts, Toby attributes his artistic talent to the Phillips side of the family.  His intense study and mastery of composition in the abstract has been translated into the delicate balance of making wine. From immersion as a practicing artist in New York, followed by later experience as an Architectural Color and Plaster business owner in San Francisco. In 1997 he purchased some land in the Mendocino Ridge Appellation overlooking the Anderson Valley. He built a house and adjacent art studio and kicked back for a time.

He got his start in winemaking after a local winemaker decided not to begin a brand and offered him four barrels of an unfinished 2002 vintage from Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche in Mendocino County. Ultimately that led him to his new passion and personal re-invention in wine country.

What started as an opportunity to express his work on a wine label became a new artistic obsession for an expression not only on the bottle, but in the bottle as well – a transformation from the art of the visual to that of the sensory.

Phillips Hill wines strive for “old meets new world” style with elegance, finesse, and lower alcohol levels.  The day I visited, only reds were available for tasting. They were sold out of their Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.  I was very impressed by the wines I tried.

All the Phillips Hill Wine bottles labels features the artwork of Owner/Winemaker Toby Hill.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Toulouse Vineyard. The wine was aged 11 months in French oak (33% new, 33% 1 year, 33% seasoned).  The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.

2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Ruby color with aromatic dark cherry, red plum, brown sugar, spice, damp earth aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied silky smooth and well-balanced with cherry, wild raspberry, and spice flavors. Long finish; 14.2% alcohol, 275 cases produced, $40 SRP

Rating: A-: This is an outstanding wine that is a great expression of the grape.  I wish I’d purchased more, and I can guaran-damn-tee you next time I’m in Anderson Valley I will!

Pair with: Lobster bisque, paella, or coq-au-vin come to mind!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail-Day 2

Last week I posted about our first day of wine tasting in Anderson Valley (“A.V”).  We stayed overnight at the Anderson Valley Inn, nice clean choice for budget minded travelers to Anderson Valley (heads up…no TV…but there is WiFi).  It’s centrally in Anderson Valley minutes away from Hendy Wood State Park with its majestic redwood trees.  It’s also across the street from Scharffenberger Cellars, and a stones throw away from  Libby’s Mexican Restaurant, the best Mexican restaurant I’ve  never been to (Everyone raves about it, but both times we’ve been to Anderson Valley, it’s been closed for the Winter. Note to self – next trip to A.V.go in Spring, Summer or Fall!

When we were on the road just in front of the A.V. Inn, we saw a “Rivers Bend” sign.  We were curious and decided to check it out. “Rivers Bend” turned out to be a retreat center. Along the way, I spied this gorgeous view of fog hovering above the valley floor…It’s a great example of the tremendous beauty of the Anderson Valley!

Side road fogAfter our little adventure, we decided to make the 10 minute drive to Booneville to get some breakfast at the Booneville General Store, a wonderful, if a bit pricey,  place for breakfast, lunch or picking up some picnic goodies…
boonville general store

About the time we’d finished breakfast, the wineries were opening. Time to get down to pleasure!

Our first stop of the day was Navarro Vineyards, a family-owned winery that has been growing grapes, making wine and producing non-alcoholic grape juices in the Anderson Valley since 1974.  Navarro has a diverse lineup of wonderful wines that are reasonably priced.

Navarro is where we were introduced to Boontling, a jargon ostensibly spoken only in Boonville. While we were tasting we were offered small samples of some great local cheeses from Pennyroyal Farm including:

  • Laychee (Boontling for milk) – a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk
  • Boont Corners – an aged raw goat milk cheese
  • Bollie’s Mollies (Mollies is the Boontling word for female breasts) -  a dense, surface ripened lactic curd cheese with a light blue mold

All the cheeses were yummy, paired wonderfully with the wine we tried, and are available for sell in Navarro’s well stocked deli case!

navarro tasting room

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow with grapefruit and melon aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and dry with grapefruit, and stonefruit flavors. 12.4% (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with stonefruit, and hint of honey aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied fresh, and lively with apricot, and citrus flavor. Medium finish. 13.7% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Gewürztraminer - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow color with aromatic lychee, citrus, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light/medium-bodied and dry with citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish. 13.5% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Pale yellow-green color with stone-fruit and tropical fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and off-dry with peach, apricot, and mineral flavors. Blend of 42% Riesling, 33% Gewürztraminer, and 25% Pinot Gris. My favorite wine to enjoy with my Spicy Seafood Gumbo!12.4% (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir “Méthode à l’Ancienne” - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, raspberry, earth and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium/full-bodied, balanced, and smooth with cherry, raspberry, mushroom, and baking spice flavors. Long finish. 14.1%(91 pts.)
  • 2010 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir- USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, raspberry, plum and spice aromas. On palate, it’s light/medium-bodied, and balanced with tart cherry, raspberry, and spice flavors. 13.7%  Great value at $20! (89 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Riesling Cluster Select Late Harvest - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light golden color with apricot, pear, honey and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, sweet, and clean with apricot, pear, honey and cinnamon flavors. Long finish Great dessert wine!10.1 % (91 pts.)

Our next stop was Toulouse Vineyards, a “boutique” winery founded by Vern and Maxine Boltz. Vern is a retired Captain from the Oakland Fire Department.  The Boltz purchased a bucolic 160-acre site approximately one mile from the town of Philo.

In 1997 Vern cleared the land, prepared the site, planted 17 acres of Pinot Noir grapes, and named the vineyard Toulouse. By 2002, they were making wine.

They subsequently purchased an additional 160 acres adjoining the rolling hills of their property which now encompasses 320 acres. They recently opened a beautiful (relatively) new tasting room on the property.

We ended up going to Toulouse based on the recommendations of several local folks, who are usually a great resource for recommendations about wineries to visit in my experience.

toulouse wines

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Very pale straw yellow color with citrus, apricot, and white peach aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and balanced with apricot peach and citrus flavors. Medium-long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Riesling Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow-green color with citrus, tropical fruit, stone fruit and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with stone fruit, spice, citrus and a hint of pineapple flavors. Medium-long finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Gewürztraminer - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow-green color with honeysuckle, pear, citrus and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and dry with stone fruits, citrus, pineapple and spice flavors. Long finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé of Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale pink color with strawberry and cantaloupe aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied with good acidity and strawberry flavors. Short/medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, baking spice and a hint of cacao aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, cedarwood, and smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s medium/full-bodied with cherry, spice and earth flavors. Medium long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with blueberry, cherry, spice and a hint of licorice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth and well-balanced with cherry, blueberry, and cinnamon flavors. Medium/long finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Lautrec - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with blueberry, cherry, smoke, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with blueberry cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Deep ruby color with cherry, caramel spice and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and fruity with cherry, blueberry and spice flavors. Long finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Petite Sirah - USA, California, North Coast, Redwood Valley - Opaque magenta color with blackberry and tobacco aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied and well-balanced with blackberry, and blueberry flavors. Medium/long finish (88 pts.)

Next up was Phillips Hill (recommended by the Tasting Room attendant at Toulouse), a small (~1,000 cases/yr) winery specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

  • Phillips Hill

Toby Hill is the Owner/Winemaker of Phillips Hill. He’s a formally trained artist who started the winery after a local winemaker decided not to begin a brand and offered him four barrels of an unfinished 2002 vintage from Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche,

What started as an opportunity to express his work on a wine label became a new artistic obsession for an expression not only on the bottle, but in the bottle as well – a transformation from the art of the visual to that of the sensory.

They are definitely striving for more Old World style wines with elegance, finesse, and lower alcohol levels.  Only reds were available for tasting the day we visited, as they were sold out of their Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.  Each bottle label features his artwork.

Phillips Hill Wine Bottles

Phillips Hill Wine Bottles featuring the artwork of Owner/Winemaker Toby Hill

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Boontling - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
    Ruby color with earthy cherry, and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s light-medium bodied with blueberry, cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish.13.8% (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Wiley Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, earth and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and elegant with cherry, pomegranate, and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. 13.8% alcohol (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with fresh, mixed berry, cranberry and sandalwood aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, smooth, and balanced with cherry, blueberry, and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.2% alcohol (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Light ruby color with cherry, cranberry and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and elegant with fresh cherry, and blueberry flavors. Medium-long finish. Young. 13.9% (91 pts.)

Our next stop was Goldeneye Winery.  Goldeneye was established after Duckhorn Wine Company (Yes – the same company that produces of one of Cali’s most iconic Merlots) purchased the former Obester Winery in 1997.  They proceeded to plant 57 acres of Pinot Noir (the Confluence Vineyard),and have since added additional Anderson Valley vineyards such that they now own 220 acres of estate vineyards. They source  fruit from both estate and non-estate vineyards.

goldeneye sign

What sets Goldeneye aside from most wineries is the sheer beauty of the place, and the sit down tasting “experience” they offer. The tasting room had been remodeled since our last visit a few years ago.  They have one of the most beautiful vineyard views I’ve ever seen (the pic below doesn’t do it justice). I think of it as their back yard.  Can you just imagine sitting out there enjoying a picnic or just relaxing with a glass of their wines?  Heaven!

goldeneye patio view

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Gris Anderson Valley Split Rail Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Very pale golden green color with apple, and melon aromas. On the palate , it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with vibrant acidity and apple and peach/melon flavors. Medium finish 14.1% alcohol (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Migration (Duckhorn Vineyards) Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley - Medium gold color with apple, pineapple, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full bodied, smooth, and creamy with very good acidity, and apple, and pineapple flavors. Long finish. Aged in 100% French Oak for 10 months. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Gowan Creek Vineyard – Lower Bench - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with earthy black cherry, raspberry, and lanolin aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, creamy and well-balanced with black cherry, raspberry, and blueberry flavors. Long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir The Narrows Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with fresh earthy, strawberry, and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth, and well-balanced with cherry, raspberry, and savory flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Gowan Creek Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark ruby color with wild cherry, plum and Asian spice aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, lush with plum, cherry, and spice flavors. Long finish. 14.5% alcohol . Aged 16 months in French oak. (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Duckhorn Vineyards Pinot Noir Migration Bien Nacido - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley - Garnet color with black cherry,strawberry, and a hint of cassis aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied, young but smooth with black cherry, strawberry, and spice flavors. Medium finish. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark ruby color with cherry, plum and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with a dark cherry, blueberry, and spice flavors. Smooth well-integrated tannins. Medium+ finish. 14.5% alcohol.  Aged 16 months in french oak (91 pts.)

Our last stop of the day was Zina Hyde Cunnignham Winery, located a few doors away from the Boonville General Store.

There was a great selection of wines, but after tasting nearly 30 wines already, and with a long drive in front of us we opted to only try three.

Zina Hyde Cunningham has a long history in Mendocino County.  It started in Mendocino County in 1865 when Zina Hyde Cunningham brought his vision of producing the very best wines from his winery and vineyards.  Today, Zina Hyde Cunningham is owned by Steve Ledson of Ledson Winery and Vineyards in Sonoma zina hyde cunningham tasting room sign

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Zina Hyde Cunningham - USA, California, North Coast - Strawberry red color with strawberry, peach and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, between dry and off-dry and fresh with strawberry, peach and spice flavors. Medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Zina Hyde Cunningham Carignane - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Dark garnet color with black cherry, cocoa, and tobacco smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied with cherry, and ripe strawberry flavors. Long finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Zina Hyde Cunningham Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby red color with brown sugar, cranberry, and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and balanced, and silky smooth with raspberry, cranberry, vanilla and baking spice flavors. Medium/long finish. (90 pts.)

Whew! After a full day of the 4 S’s (Sniffing, Swirling, Sipping and Sipping) we had our fill of Anderson Valley.

My winery of the day…Goldeneye! But all the wineries we visited offered very good to excellent wines, and we walked away with wines from all the wineries we visited.

Anderson Valley is a great wine tasting destination that deserves your attention.  I highly recommend.  Until we meet again in the not too distant future!

Have you visited Anderson Valley?  What wineries would you recommend for our next visit?

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Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Day 1

My wife and I took and overnight to trip to Anderson Valley last month.  It’s been several years since we’d been, but our last trip there was a real pleasure and we’ve been looking forward to returning.  

“The Anderson Valley is located in the rolling hills of the coastal region of Mendocino County…Known for our world class Pinot Noir and Alsace Varietals, we offer a great wine tasting destination.” 

There are more wineries now, but Anderson Valley, which is located in Mendocino County, is still one of the most beautiful areas to go wine tasting.  Outdoor beauty abounds with rolling hills, flourishing forests, and stunningly beautiful coastline nearby.  Anderson Valley is overlooked as a wine travel destination, and that’s a shame in my book.

There are 24 wineries in the Anderson Valley, including 2 sparkling wine houses. You’ll pass through three appellations as your travel through the valley.  Traveling west on Hwy 128 you will enter the “Yorkville Highlands”.  As you cross into Mendocino County, continuing north you enter the “Anderson Valley” appellation. The “Mendocino Ridge” appellation is on the ridge tops along both sides of highway 128 further north.

Our first stop was in Yorkville Highlands at Yorkville CellarsThe only known winery where all 8 of the Bordeaux varietals are estate grown and then offered as separate varietal wines. Yorkville recently celebrated 26 years of certified organic farming. 

Yorkville Cellars

Their white wines come from their Randall Hill Vineyard behind the tasting room. The reds from the Rennie Vineyard in front (pictured below)

Yorkville cellar view

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Yorkville Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Very pale straw color with grapefruit, citrus and apple aromas. On the palate, it light-medium bodied, fresh and smooth with grapefruit, citrus and green apple flavors. Medium-finish. Barrel fermented and aged 13.5% abv (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Yorkville Cellars Sémillon Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Pale golden yellow color with honeyed citrus and stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s dry, and fresh with citrus, pear and sweet yeast flavors. 13.5% Organic grapes (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Yorkville Cellars Eleanor of Acquitane Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Pale straw yellow color with honeyed grapefruit and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and smooth with grapefruit, lime and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish. Blend of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. 100% barrel fermented in small French oak barrels. Organic grapes. 13.5% abv (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Malbec Rennie Vineyard Yorkville Highlands - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Garnet color with dark cherry, cassis and pomegranate aromas. On the palate, its medium bodied and balanced with cherry, raspberry, and a bit of blueberry flavors. Medium finish. Organic grapes. 13.0% abv(88 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Petit Verdot Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Carmine color with earthy red fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and slightly tannic with cherry, plum and spice flavors. Medium finish. Organic grapes. 13.5% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Deep garnet color with cherry, herb and a hint of chocolate aromas. On the palate, it’s a lighter style Cab that’s well-balanced cherry, chocolate and a bit of spice flavors. Medium finish. 13.5% Organic grapes(89 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Richard the Lion-Heart Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Deep garnet color with raspberry, tobacco, cherry, and cedarwood aromas. On the palate, it’s balanced with good acidity and cherry, barrel spice flavors. Long finish. 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Carmenere, 5% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. 13.5% Organic grapes (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Yorkville Cellars Malbec Sweet Malbec Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Unique wine. Fire engine red color with fruity cherry, strawberry and plum aromas. On the palate, surprisingly not overly sweet – more off-dry, and a bit frizzante with fresh ripe strawberry and cherry flavors. Very nice chilled. 10.5% Paired very nicely with an almond cookie (88 pts.)

Yorkville was a great first stop.  I really enjoyed their wines, and the variety they offer.  Plus the wines offer very good value.  They had the most surprising wine of the day – the Sweet Malbec.  It left me delightfully surprised because it wasn’t cloying sweet like so many dessert wines.  We picked up a bottle of their newly released Sparkling Malbec.  Look for my review soon!  They also provided us with a helpful “Highway 128 Tasting Room Suggestions” summary. Not only did it recap the what wines to look for, and tasting room hours, most importantly it noted the Mile Marker for the wineries.   That’s important to know in Anderson Valley, otherwise it’s easy to blow by a winery!

Our next stop was Breggo Cellars.  I was introduced to Breggo in a round about way.  We were doing some tasting in Napa a couple of years ago at Cliff Lede Vineyards.  While we were tasting through their wines (fabulous Cabs!), we were offered a taste of Breggo Cellars Syrah – It was fantastic!

It turned out the Cliff Lede owns Breggo Cellars. After much success with Bordeaux varietals at his eponymous winery, he became interested in Pinot Noir and Alsatian varieties.  He established Breggo Cellars to pursue his interest.

Breggo

The Breggo tasting room is beautifully rustic, though a bit on the small side given how fabulous the wines are.  We were there on a relatively slow day and the tasting room was full. I bet things get cozy during high season!  I bet that when the tasting spill outside onto their beautiful patio (pictured below)

breggo view

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Riesling Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Medium golden-yellow color with aromatic, peach, pear, mineral and honey aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied with vibrant acidity, and dryish with peach, citrus, and mineral flavors. Long finish. 12.8% abv. (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Gewürztraminer Ferrington Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light pale yellow color with intensely aromatic exotic aromas of lychee, stone fruits, lemon peel, and spices. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with stone-fruit, citrus, and spice flavors. Surprisingly vibrant acidity. Long finish. 13.2% abv. (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley  Pale lemon-green color with peach, mineral and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with great acidity. It shows flavors of peach, apricot, and citrus with a medium-long finish. 14.2% Interesting fermentation process. According to Breggo…”A blend of lots fermented in a 200 gallon concrete egg, 900 gallon French oval, small neutral French oak barrels and stainless steel tank. No malolactic fermentation was permitted.“ (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Chardonnay Savoy Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley  Light lemon-gold color with creamy lemon, pear, and buttered honey aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, with a great mouthfeel, and balance. It shows pear, citrus, and honey flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.2 % abv.   According to Breggo…”Aged 18 months sur lie in 60 gallon French oak barrels – 53% new (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
    Ruby color with earth, cherry, and pomegranate aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, supple, and well-balanced with cherry, plum, spice and a hint of brown sugar flavors. Long finish. 14.1 % Aged thirteen months in 60 gallon French oak barrels – 48% new (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir Donnelly Creek - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, and lavender aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and plush with black cherry, cranberry, and plum flavors. Long finish. 14.3 % (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Medium garnet color with aromatic cherry, dried herb, and a hint of mint aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and silky smooth with round cherry, plum, and baking spice flavors. Long finish.  (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Breggo Cellars Syrah Alder Springs - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Garnet color with complex earthy, fig, cherry liqueur, and anise aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with well-integrated tannins and blueberry, plum, cacao, and spice flavors. Long finish. (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Breggo Cellars Zinfandel Dupratt Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark garnet color with exotic blackberry, dark chocolate, and spice aromas. On the palate, it medium-full-bodied with surprisingly good acidity. It shows flavors of blackberry, raspberry, plum, and spice flavors. Long finish. 15.8% abv, but drinks more like 14-14.5% (90 pts.)

Breggo should be at the top of your list when you plan a trip to Anderson Valley in my book!

Our final stop of the day was Roederer Estate, one of two sparkling wine houses in Anderson Valley (the other being Scharffenberger – also owned by Roederer).  We love sparkling wine, so we always leap at the opportunity to do some tasting of bubbly!

Roederer Estate It was our first time at Roederer.  It is an absolutely beautiful estate with an equally beautiful tasting room!  It’s a must stop if you enjoy bubbly!

gigi roederer

My tasting notes follow:

  • N.V. Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light golden straw color with plentiful, persistent stream of tiny bubbles, and sweet yeast, fresh cut green apples aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied with soft texture, zippy acidity, between dry and off-dry with sweet green apples, a bit of pear, hazelnut and vanilla flavors and a shortish finish. 60% Chardonnay/40% Pinot Noir (89 pts.)
  • 2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with bread crust, baked apple, and hazelnut aromas. On the palate, it shows a delicate mousse with baked apple , hazelnut, and hints of burnt sugar and mineral flavors. Long finish. 12.1% alcohol.  Blend of  52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir, 4% aged reserve wine (vintage ’99)” (92 pts.)
  • 2002 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with buttered toast, apple, hazelnut, and a bit of citrus aromas. On the palate, it has a delicate creamy mousse with baked apple, hazelnut, citrus, and mineral flavors. Medium+ finish. Tasted from 1.5L bottle (91 pts.)
  • N.V. Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light salmon color with brioche, red fruit aromas. On the palate it’s medium bodied with a creamy mousse, and strawberry, raspberry, and apple flavors. Medium finish. (89 pts.)

As is often the case when one goes tasting at sparkling wine houses, there are also still wines to be tasted.  And that’s the case at Roederer.

All in all we had a magnificent first day of wine tasting (and eating) in the Anderson Valley! My winery of the day?Breggo Cellars!

The last time we visited  a few years ago was also during Winter.  After this time we told ourselves we have to go back in the Spring or Summer when the weather is warmer!

Look for my Day 2 recap of our Anderson Valley wine tasting adventure next week!

 

T.G.I.F. Bubbly; 2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut

This week’s sparkler is produced by Roederer Estate, owned by Louis Roederer Champagne, which is renowned for producing the luxury Champagne Cristal. Besides various holdings in France, the Roederer group also includes Scharffenberger Cellars, another sparkling wine house in Anderson Valley.

The California operation is located in Anderson Valley, north of the Napa Valley.  While Anderson Valley may not have the cachet of Napa, or Sonoma, I’ve found the tasting rooms to be more intimate, the locals are more friendly.  It’s picturesque and beautiful wine region.

The Anderson Valley is cooled by the nearby Pacific Ocean, and the seemingly omnipresent bank of fog.  The region is home to a wealth of cool climate grapes especially Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Alsatian varieties like Riesling,Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris. Since Pinot Noir,and Chardonnay thrive there, the region produces some impressive sparkling wines.

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Anderson Valley last week. We dropped in at Roederer Estate.  What a beautiful property.  Ironically, our last visit was during winter a few years ago.  We tasted some great wine, and told ourselves we’ve got to get back to the areas during another season! We’ve got our eye on the 16th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, or maybe during Harvest.

2003 Roederer Estate  L'Ermitage Brut

2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut

My tasting notes follow:

Pale straw yellow color with bread crust, baked apple, and hazelnut aromas. Persistent bed of tiny bubbles. On the palate, it shows a delicate mousse with baked apple , hazelnut, and hints of burnt sugar and mineral flavors. Long finish. 12.1% alcohol – 92pts

Rating: Highly Recommended – Fantastic bottle of California bubbly.  This is world-class bottle of bubbly I would love to see blind tasted against Champagne!  And it’s a relative value too when compared to top of the line offerings from a few of it’s Napa, and Sonoma competitors. 

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one works well as work both as an aperitif (Kettle-style potato chips, and seasoned popcorn are coming to mind), or main courses like sushi, sashimi, shellfish, lobster mac and cheese, or roast chicken. Even pair with a light dessert like shortbread cookies, or fresh fruit!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.1% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: > CaliforniaNorth Coast> Anderson Valley
  • Varietal(s): 52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir, 4% aged reserve wine (vintage ’99)”
  • Cooperage: Aged 5.5 years in French oak cask + at least 6 month in bottle
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $47
  • Cases produced: 5,251
  • Drink: Now – 2015
  • >>Find this wine<<

Wine purchased for review

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Wine of the Week: 2005 Goldeneye Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

My Wine Of The Week for November 3rd-9th is the 2005 Goldeneye Pinot Noir Anderson Valley.

The Winery

Goldeneye winery in the was founded in 1996 by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn of Duckhorn Vineyards, producers of one of Napa Valley’s most iconic Merlots.  The winery is located in Philo, which is located in the Anderson Valley in western Mendocino County.  Essentially, their vision for Goldeneye is to make terroir driven wines equal in stature to their Merlot.

“At Goldeneye, in the heart of Anderson Valley, we focus on elegant Pinot Noirs and small production wines from the extensive palette of flavors offered by our estate vineyards”

While focused on Pinot Noir, they also produce a Vin Gris of Pinot NoirGewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris.

For a vineyard perspective, Goldeneye has more than 200 acres of estate vineyard planted to Pinot Noir, with more than 20 distinctive clones. For a complete profile, click here

If a  winery being ecologically sensitive is important to you, Goldeneye is one of a handful of California wineries that has earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council®.

My wife and I discovered Goldeneye on our return trip from the Mendocino Crab Festival several years ago.  We saw this gorgeous property and decided to drop-in.  I’m glad we did. We had one of the best tasting experience we’ve had a Goldeneye.  It’s a sit-down tasting in a very tastefully decorated elegant living room with a stunningly beautiful view of their patio, vineyards and Redwood trees.

 The Wine

My wife and I have been holding onto this bottle of wine for nearly 4 years!  During our tasting we discovered that this was one of the wines (along with the 2007 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc) served at President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration lunch (click here for menu).  We purchased a magnum (our first) with the intent of opening it on  Election Night 2012.  With that in mind, I tucked into the back of the wine fridge (out of sight…out of mind!)

2005 Goldeneye Pinot Noir

On Election night we invited friends by to share the wine and catch some must-see TV – the election results. I must confess, I was a bit concerned that the bottle may have been corked, or the wine might be getting on in age (according to Cellartracker, a crowd sourced wine review and cellar tracking tool, the drinking window is 2008-2012) I’m pleased to report the wine is drinking beautifully!

My tasting notes follow:…

Medium garnet color with damp earth sweet cherry, and spice aromas. . On the palate it’s full-bodied, fresh and silky smooth with ripe cherry, hints of cranberry, spice and raspberry. Long finish. – 90pts

We enjoyed the wine (and the election results) immensely!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 15.2% alcohol.

Closure: Cork

AVA: >CaliforniaNorth CoastAnderson Valley

Varietal(s): Pinot Noir

Cooperage: 16 mos. in oak, 75% new; 1 yr in bottle

Retail: $112 (1.5L)

Cases produced: Unknown

 

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What’s Your Favorite Wine Tasting Region In California?

I recently asked myself…”If you had to limit yourself to one wine-tasting region in California, which would it be?  As I pondered the pros and cons of a few of my favorite wine tasting regions, I realized there were many factors that would influence my decision.  Things such as (in no particular order)…

  • How long does it take to get there?
  • What’s are my favorite styles of wine, and are they done well in with the region?
  • Can I go Sparkling Wine tasting?
  • Top of mind favorite wineries?
  • How’s the food scene? 
  • How’s the traffic?
  • What’s been my experience when I’ve gone tasting there?

 There were more than a few other factors too.  In fact, the more I thought about it, the more challenging it because, if for no other reason there are so many wonderful wine tasting regions in California.

What about you?  Here’s your chance to sound off!  If YOU had to pick one wine-tasting region in California as your favorite, which would it be?  Take the poll below, and/or leave me a comment!  Holler!

Photo courtesy of Melvin Yulo

What say you?


Oh…my final answer?  Sonoma!