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Savante



 

 

 

 

 

Portugal Wine Reviews

By Harold J. Baer, JR
Photo by Vanessa Kelly

(The notes list the wineries in the more-or-less east to west order a visitor would encounter them.)

Foursight Wines

Londer Vineyards & Winery
Mariah Vineyards
Elke Vineyards
Breggo Cellars
Jim Ball Vineyards
Goldeneye Winery
Scharfenberger Cellars
Toulouse Vineyards

Baxter Winery

Drew Family Cellars
Black Kite Cellars
Navarro Vineyards
Lazy Creek Vineyards
Roederer Estate

Handley Cellars

Philo Ridge Vineyards
Esterlina Vineyards
Claudia Springs Winery
Harrington Wines

Foursight Wines

Winemaker Joe Webb assisted by Kristy Charles, his charming spouse, produce annually 800 cases of wine from their estate vineyards. The wines are well worth a special trip and if you can’t find them, the winery will ship: www.foursightwines.com

The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Charles Vineyard, Mendocino, $20, 200 cases, saw no oak casks and has intense, inviting aromas of grass, melon, apple, and forsythia before zippy, juicy flavors of the same plus grapefruit and notes of spice and a touch of astringency. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. This is a big, food friendly, well balanced, structured, and integrated Sauvignon Blanc. Very Good.


The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Charles Vineyard, Mendocino, $18, 200 cases, saw no oak casks and has intense, inviting aromas of grass, melon, apple, and forsythia before zippy, juicy flavors of the same plus grapefruit and notes of spice and a touch of astringency. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. This is a big, food friendly, well balanced, structured, and integrated Sauvignon Blanc. Very Good.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Charles Vineyard, $38, was matured in 75% two-year-old and 25% older French oak. It has lovely cherry, sweet raspberry which is almost candy like but not sugary, strawberry, and a hint of vanilla on the nose. All continue as flavors accented with light, dry tannin and finish long and medium-broad. This is a lighter style, well balanced, structured, and integrated Pinot. Based on how previous vintages have developed, it should become bigger, lusher, and more layered with additional time in the bottle.

In contrast, the 2007 Pinot Noir, All In, Charles Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $46, was aged in 21% new French oak. Round aromas of smoke, cherry, anise, earth, and red and black currant repeat as flavors with the cherry almost tart and shot through with good acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. It needs another year or so in the bottle to develop and open. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Good to Very Good.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, “Clone 5”, Charles Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $49, 97 cases, was matured in French oak, 50% new, and has effusive strawberry jam, cherry, cranberry, light smoke and light white pepper on the nose. All continue onto the palate which adds good acidity and fine, dry tannin and everything flows to the end of the medium-broad, medium-long finish. Medium bodied, well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

Londer Vineyards & Winery

This is another small producer. It sources grapes primarily from a number of Anderson Valley vineyards. The winemaker is Rick Davis who also makes Calstar Cellars wines. If you can’t find the wines, contact the winery: www.londervineyards.com

Londer makes two Chardonnays from different vineyards. While many drink Chardonnay and other whites quite cold, if that is how you drink yours, the oak will dominate. So drink them at about 60° F. (as is also best for most dry whites) and they will be nicely balanced.

The 2007 Chardonnay, Kent Ritchie Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, $42, 283 cases, completed malolactic fermentation and was matured in French oak, 38% new. Aromas of pear and smoky oak introduce juicy lemon, green apple, pear, mineral, and some oak flavors before a long, broad finish. Well put together. Very Tasty.


The 2007 Chardonnay, Corby Vineyards, Anderson Valley, $35, has a nose of mineral, green apple, and oak which continue as flavors with the additions of lime-lemon, grapefruit, and a touch of tannin. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $35, matured in 30% new French oak and was bottled unfined and and unfiltered. It opens with cherry, spice, dried cranberry which is not sweet, and smoky oak. Mouthfilling flavors of cherry, sweet cranberry, raspberry-strawberry jam, nice spice, and some smoky oak are laced with fine tannin finish medium-broad and medium-long.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Ferrington Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $50, 228 cases, was aged in French oak, 38% new, and has aromas of brown spice and cherry syrup. Juicy flavors of cherry, raspberry, cranberry, and strawberry are ripe but not sweet and are accented with good acidity and light tannin which carry through the broad, medium-long finish. It has good presence and body and will complement food. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Paraboll Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $54, 591 cases, has a light, sweet accented nose of sweet earth, cherry, and blackberry that continues as flavors with the additions of fine tannin and juicy acidity. The medium-long, medium-broad finish adds a touch of pepper. This is a big, bold, well put together Pinot. Tasty.
The 2006 Pinot Noir, Estate, Anderson Valley, $48, 490 cases, has attractive vanilla, cherry, plum, smoky oak, and currant aromas. Bright, juicy flavors of the same are laced with light, almost dry tannin and a bit of alcohol showing underneath. It finishes long and broad.

The 2007 Sweet Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley, $35/375 ml., 117 cases, is made by freezing the grapes before pressing. The resulting wine has 8% residual sugar and 12.3% alcohol. Aromas of honey, spice, and pear repeat as flavor with an added touch of apricot and good acidity. The finish is medium-broad and very long. It has excellent acidity to balance the sugar and is not at all cloying. Well structured, integrated, and balanced, it will be better with another decade in the bottle. Good.

Mariah Vineyards Another small producer of wines well worth the search, but unlike most Anderson Valley vintners Mariah makes only Zinfandel and Syrah. If you can’t find the wines, contact the winery: www.mariahvineyards.com

The 2006 Syrah, Mendocino Ridge, $24, 384 cases, spent twenty months in 42% new French oak. Jammy blackberry, black cherry, and plum leads to flavors of the same plus a significant amount of pepper, tooth coating tannin, and bright acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

In contrast, the 2006 Syriah Syrah, Mendocino Ridge, $26, 51 cases, was aged for twenty months in older French oak and opens with big, jammy aromas of blackberry, black cherry, and cocoa. All repeat as velvety textured flavors laced with smooth tannin and nice acidity. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long. Very Tasty.

Elke Vineyards Mary Elke now makes about 2000 cases annually up from the 325 it made in 2003. Still, Elke is a small producer and, in addition to her desirable wines, she makes about fifty cases of organic apple juice each year. If you can’t find the Elke wines locally or you are not at New York’s Union Square Café or one of the other East or West coast restaurants where they are on the list, contact the winery: www.elkevineyards.com
The 2008 Chardonnay, Anderson Valley, $19, 275 cases, opens with fresh green and red apple, pear, and sweet lemon on the nose. All repeat as round, soft, almost creamy textured flavors that finish medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. It will go nicely with lighter foods.

The 2008 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Donnelly Creek Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $15, 250 cases, has light, dry strawberry and cherry aromas before flavors of Queen Anne cherry accented with hints of strawberry and spice. Nicely bright and fairly long.

The nv Pinot Noir, Boonville Barter, North Coast, $15, is Elke’s everyday red made from whatever is available after her other wines are made. The current release is all 2008 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir with nice earth, cherry, strawberry, and cranberry notes from start to finish. It is smooth and soft with exceptionally light tannin and nice acidity and finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Well put together and a Good Value.

The 2008 Pinot Noir, Donnelly Creek Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $26 spent ten months in new and used oak opens with earth, smoke, cherry, raspberry, and floral aromas that repeat in the reverse order as clean, fresh, medium-bodied flavors laced with soft acidity and tannin. The long, medium-broad finish adds a touch of spice. Well balanced, structured, and integrated and bargain priced.

In contrast, the 2007 Pinot Noir, Blue Diamond, Donnelly Creek Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $38, 650 cases, spent eleven months in French oak, 30% new. Soft smoke, earth, cherry, sweet cranberry, raspberry, and red currant introduce nice, medium-bodied flavors of the same with the additions of some sharp spice, good acidity and fine tannin. Well structured, balanced, and integrated, it will pair especially well with a wide range of foods. Very Tasty.


Breggo Cellars

Douglas Ian Stewar,t ably supported by his wife An,a is making some of the most sought after Anderson Valley wines. Indeed, some of the current releases may be sold out by the time you read this. Still, you might get lucky, so contact the winery and, at the very least, get on its list: www.breggo.com

The 2008 Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley, $25, is an off dry, Alsatian style wine that was fermented two-thirds in oak and one-third in stainless steel. Aromas of spice, apple, grapefruit, and grapefruit peel continue as big, juicy flavors accented with a sweet note and great acidity before a long, broad, nicely dry finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Excellent.


The 2008 Pinot Gris, Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $25, has a nose of rose, talc, sweet apple, and a hint of pear. All repeat as flavors with the additions of ruby grapefruit and good acidity and finish long and medium-broad. Well put together. Tasty.

A tank sample of what will be Breggo’s first release of a Chardonnay from this vineyard, the 2008 Chardonnay, Alder Springs, Anderson Valley, $38, 170 cases, shows a wine with great fruit: citrus, apple, mineral, a nice sweet note, some oak, and nice breadth and length. It was fermented, aged, and completed malolactic fermentation in French oak, 50% new. It will be released in Fall 2010.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $42, spent eleven months in 40% new French oak and opens with cherry, soft earth, rose, blackberry, cranberry, and strawberry before clean, smooth, medium-bodied flavors of the same plus light, smoky oak, good acidity, and fine tannin. All carry through the long, medium-broad finish. The wine has good intensity and presence and is well balanced, structured, and integrated. Tasty.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Ferrington Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $55, 390 cases, spent fourteen months in French oak, 50% new, and has aromas of spice, cherry, cranberry, blueberry, strawberry, and smoky oak which repeat as flavors with nice weight and laced with good acidity and very fine tannin before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Enjoyable now, it will benefit from another three to five years in the cellar to develop and open. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Very Good.

In contrast, the 2007 Pinot Noir, Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $55, 275 cases, which was handled the same way has effusive cherry, blackberry, white pepper, earth, and clove on the nose which introduce broad flavors of the same with good acidity and very fine tannin. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long and the wine will also benefit from more bottle age to develop, open, and show at its best. Very Good. BEST WINE.

Breggo also produces two Syrahs. They are available only at or directly from the winery.

The 2007 Syrah, Anderson Valley, $30, 380 cases, opens with black cherry, tobacco, soft pepper, and maple bacon before juicy flavors of the same plus oolong tea, fig, fine tannin, and brisk acidity. It finishes long and medium-broad. It needs another three to five years in the bottle to be at its best but is enjoyable now. Well integrated, balanced, and structured. Good.


Quite different is the 2007 Syrah, Alder Spring Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $35, 120 cases, which has an intense nose of blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, and pepper. All continue as rich flavors laced with good acidity and firm tannin and finish long and broad. The wine has great breadth and presence but, like the previous wine needs more time. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Good.


Jim Ball Vineyards

Jim Ball Pinots are made in a lighter, elegant style with a significant amount of well integrated oak. If you can’t find them locally, contact the winery: www.jimballvineyards.com

The 2006 Pinot Noir, Signature, Anderson Valley, $35, 650 cases, is the first release from Jim Ball. A very attractive bouquet of earth, cherry, blackberry, sweet cranberry, floral, and sweet smoky oak continues as clean flavors accented with nice sweetness and acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Overall, it shows light bodied, clean, pure fruit and is well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good.


The 2007 Pinot Noir, Signature, Anderson Valley, $45, 800 cases, was matured in French oak, 60% new, and opens with cherry, light blackberry, a green note, and oak. Bright raspberry, cranberry, cherry, and rhubarb flavors plus oak finish medium-broad and medium-long. Nicely done


The 2007 Boonville Pinot Noir, Milleridge Ranch, Anderson Valley, $45, 600 cases, spent fifteen months in 70% new French oak. A nose of smoky oak, cherry, quite ripe, almost baked blackberry, then cranberry and more oak introduce sweet accented flavors of the same plus some spice at the front center and light tannin. The medium-broad, medium-long finish has some persistent, jalapeño-like spice. Well integrated, balanced, and structured. Very Tasty.


Goldeneye Winery

Goldeneye has just completed a new winery and office structure. Always one of the top Anderson Valley Pinot producers, this new structure should allow it to continue its string of fine releases. Goldeneye also has a relaxed and sophisticated tasting room which perhaps reflects its ownership by Napa Valley’s Duckhorn Winery more than its Anderson Valley location that was previously Obester. Still, if you are in the Valley do not fail to stop, relax, and enjoy the wines and the ambience.

Goldeneye makes several Pinots Noir. Here are notes on three of the vineyard designated releases.

The 2006 Pinot Noir, Confluence Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $75, has attractive floral, cherry, cranberry, and sweet smoke aromas before flavors of cherry, strawberry, cranberry, black raspberry, spice, and light, smoky oak plus fine, grainy tannin and good acidity. It finishes medium-broad and medium long, has nice presence and body and is well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good.


The 2006 Pinot Noir, Gowan Creek Vineyard, $75, has a round, earthy, black cherry, blueberry, spice, smoky oak, clove, and roasted almost charred meat nose. Big, round, mouthfilling flavors of the same laced with smooth, very fine tannin and moderate acidity finish medium-broad and medium-long with the addition of pepper. Well put together. Good.

The 2006 Pinot Noir, The Narrows Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $75, is quite different with a bouquet of dried leaves, mushrooms, blackberry, black cherry, currant, and dried Herbes de Provence. All repeat as big, mouth filling, sweet accented flavors with nice richness, very fine, smooth, dry tannin, and nice acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well integrated, structured, and balanced. Good.

Just one more note: Goldeneye will be releasing a new Vin Gris and a Migration Chardonnay. Look for them.


Scharfenberger Cellars Now owned by Roederer which purchased it from its Japanese owners who had renamed it Pacific Echo, it is best known for its sparkling wines though it also produces still wine.
The 2005 Blanc de Blancs, Anderson Valley, $30, 800 cases, is Chardonnay and completed malolactic fermentation. Aromas of lemon and toast introduce fresh, crisp, lemon, toast, and green apple flavors with an interesting baked apple texture at the edges. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.

The nv Brut, Anderson Valley, $20, is a blend of 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay. A toasty, lemon, lychee, and mango nose plus a hint of plum continues onto the palate before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well integrated, balanced, and structured.

The nv Rosé, Anderson Valley, $25, is 54% pinot Noir and 46% Chardonnay. Aromas of cherry, strawberry, and plum repeat as slightly sweet flavors laced with good acidity before a medium-broad, truncated finish.

Scharffenberger is one of the few California producers of sparkling wine in extra dry and crémant styles. The nv Extra Dry, Anderson Valley, $21, 500 cases, is fairly big and round with apple, lemon, toast, and a touch of yeast from start to finish.
The nv Crémant, Anderson Valley, $25, 593 cases, is a blend of 47% Pinot Noir and 53% chardonnay. Aromas of yeast, bread, light lemon, green apple, tart pineapple, and a hint of peach continue as flavors with just a hint of sweetness and finish medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.
Toulouse Vineyards Vern Boltz, the owner and winemaker at Toulouse, crafts small amounts of several wines. He is a retired fireman and a visit to his “rustic” winery is well worth the time both to see his operation and to taste his well made wines. If you can’t find the wines contact the winery: www.toulousevineyards.com

The 2009 Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley, $24, 400 cases, has aromas of spice, apple, pear, and almost ripe pineapple which continue as flavors and through the medium-broad, truncated finish. Well put together, it needs time to develop. Tasty.


The 2009 Riesling, Anderson Valley, $24, 300 cases, is an off dry style with a light nose of grapefruit and sweet apple before smooth textured flavors dominated by grapefruit and apple with a bitter note at the back. The finish is long and narrow at the front and broad at the back.

The 2009 Muscat, Anderson Valley, $24, 150 cases, is an Orange Muscat made in a dry style. It opens with floral, spice, and pear which introduce round, smooth-textured flavors of spice, pear, and baked apple that finish medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Nicely done.

The 2009 Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley, $24, 400 cases, shows mostly apple on the nose before round, mouth filling flavors of apple, spice, pineapple, and pear. The finish is broad and medium-long. This is a fairly big bodied Pinot Gris and should be very popular.

The 2009 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $24, 450 cases, has aromas of cherry and strawberry hard candy plus notes of raspberry. All continue as just slightly sweet flavors and finish medium-broad, medium-long, and persistent. Straight forward and popularly styled. Tasty.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $42, spent twelve months in French oak, 37% new. It opens with earth, blueberry, blackberry, and a touch of smoky oak on the nose. All repeat as flavors with the additions of sharp spice and light, fine, smooth tannin. The medium-broad, medium-long finish has persistent pepper spread across the top of the tongue. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

Quite different is the 2007 Pinot Noir, Estate, Anderson Valley, $50, 560 cases, that was matured for twelve months in French oak, 50% new. Aromas of rose, cherry, blackberry, earth, and smoky oak introduce zippy, juicy cherry, black raspberry, earth, smoky oak, and pepper flavors. The pepper is particularly persistent on the medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well integrated, balanced, and structured. Good.
Baxter Winery Baxter is a very small, Mendocino Ridge based winery. All of its wines are made in neutral oak. The Pinots spend twenty months in barrel and are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Toulouse Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $45, 250 cases, has effusive, inviting aromas of cherry, blackberry, smoke, spice, leather, earth, and strawberry. All repeat as flavors with more spice, very fine tannin, and good acidity and carry through the medium-broad, medium-long finish. Quite restrained with lovely fruit, good balance, structure, and integration. Good to Very Good.


Quite different is the 2007 Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard, Mendocino, $60, 300 cases, has a big, rich, intense nose of black cherry, blackberry, smoke, spice, leather, and boysenberry. Juicy, mouth filling flavors of the same are accented with great acidity and very fine tannin and continue to the end of the medium-long, medium-broad finish. Well integrated, structured, and balanced. Very Good. BEST WINE.

The 2004 Syrah, Eaglepoint Ranch, Mendocino, $30, 175 cases, spent three years in neutral oak. Big, round, forward aromas of earth, meat, blackberry, and currant continue as flavors laced with fine tannin and nice acidity and finish medium-broad and medium-long. The wine has good body and is well put together. Very Tasty.

An unusual offering will be the 2005 Carignane, Mendocino, $30, 150 cases. A barrel sample shows a wine that will be intense and dark with black fruit, floral, earth, and herb aromas and flavors. Put your name on the list now! www.baxter winery.com

Drew Family Cellars Located on the top of the Mendocino Ridge, Drew makes several wines, all in small quantities, all worth a special trip to find. If you can’t find them, contact the winery, it will ship: www.drewwines.com.
A barrel sample of the 2009 Albariño, Anderson Valley, $NA, show a wine with attractive green apple, mineral, and lemon aromas. Flavors of the same are creamy textured and just touch with a slight bitter note before a long, medium-broad finish. This is a new world style Albariño that was barrel aged sur lie in neutral oak and completed malolactic and was then transferred to stainless steel.

The 2008 Pinot Noir, Valenti Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, $36, 362 cases, was matured in French oak, 30% new, and opens with earth, violets, redolent black cherry, blackberry, smoky oak, and white pepper. All repeat as flavors with the pepper at the sides and good acidity and body and light, fine tannin. It finishes long and broad. Nicely bright, well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good.

The 2008 Pinot Noir, “Fog Eater”, Anderson Valley, $36, 382 cases, also was aged in 30% new French oak and has aromas of spice, earth, cherry, cranberry, and rhubarb. Round, smooth flavors of cola and mineral are followed by everything from the nose and are laced with light, fine tannin and moderate acidity. The medium-broad, medium-long finish shows more cola. Well integrated, structured, and balanced. Tasty.

Black Kite Cellars

In 1995 Donald and Maureen Green purchased forty acres of property above the Navarro River. In 1999 four acres were replanted to Pinot Noir and two additional blocks totaling eight acres were planted. The first release was from the 2003 vintage. The three blocks produce four wines: one blend from the three vineyards called Kite’s Rest and three vineyard designated wines of about 200 cases each. All are very high quality, small production wines and are worth a special effort to find. If you can’t locate them, contact the winery: www.blackkitecellars.com
The 2008 Pinot Noir, Kite’s Rest, Anderson Valley, $42, 883 cases, has a very appealing nose of cherry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, and light smoky oak. All repeat as flavors with the additions of spice, fine, dry tannin, and good acidity. The medium-broad, medium-long finish shows particularly persistent peppery spice. Light to medium bodied and well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

Navarro Vineyards Navarro is one of the oldest Anderson Valley producers and its wines have demonstrated a continuing commitment to quality and moderate pricing. The owners also continue to experiment with clones, rootstocks, and other viticulture practices. Perhaps among the less expected findings are that rootstocks make more difference than grape clones in the final wine and that more heat and direct sunlight increase the amount of tannin in the wine.
Navarro sells most of its wines directly from the winey and has an active wine club. www.navarrowine.com, tel. 800.537.9463.
The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvée 128, Mendocino, $18, has a very light nose dominated by dried grass before crisp lime-lemon and yellow fig flavors which finish with a hint of spice at the sides.

The 2008 Muscat Blanc, Anderson Valley, $19, opens very floral with additional peach which introduces round, viscous lemon, peach, and dried, ripe but not sweet, apricot flavors before a broad, medium-long finish. The wine is dry, well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

The 2007 Chardonnay, Première Reserve, Anderson Valley, $35, has aromas of pear butter, apple butter, citrus, and spice before flavors of lemon, pear, apple, filbert, and spice accented with zippy acidity before a medium-broad, truncated finish. Well put together.

In contrast, the 2007 Chardonnay, Mendocino, $17, is aged is older French oak and has a nose of apple custard. Flavors of mostly lemon and apple are light bodied and fresh with a hint of sweetness. The medium-broad, medium-long finish adds light spice at the sides. Well done and a Good Value.

An unusual offering, the 2008 Edelzwicker, Anderson Valley, $13, is a blend of Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Pinot Gris with just a dollop (2%) of Muscat. A nose of floral, spice, crisp apple, and Bosc pear continues onto the palate where the fruit is first and flavors have a slight sweetness well balanced with acidity. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Well put together, this would make an almost perfect wine for a warm afternoon on the deck or for a picnic or to pair with spicy food. Very Tasty. BEST BUY.
The 2008 Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley, $19, was fermented in French oak ovals and sur lie aged for seven months. Soft, round, sweet fruit aromas of apple, grapefruit, pear, and light spice continue as flavors with more spice and finish medium-broad and medium-long. It needs more time in the bottle to develop and open and is a Gewürz’ to accompany food. Well put together. Good.

The 2007 Navarrouge, Anderson Valley, $14, has light, fresh, cherry, Latakia tobacco, sweet rhubarb, and blackberry aromas before nicely bright, juicy flavors of the same fruit which finsh medium-broad and truncated. Well put together. BEST BUY.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Mendocino, $19, is all Anderson Valley fruit. A light but nicely rich nose of cherry and blackberry with a hint of oak introduces clean, fresh flavors of the same with a touch of spice at the sides and well integrated fine tannin. It finishes broad and long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated, it will serve well as an everyday Pinot (In some years the Mendocino Pinot Noir also contains fruit from Ukiah).

Quite different is the 2007 Pinot Noir, Méthode à l’Ancienne, Anderson Valley, $29. It opens with cherry, sweet smoky oak, blackberry, and black plume before juicy, medium bodied flavors of the same underpinned with nice oak and laced with fine tannin and good acidity. Everything carries through the long finish which is narrow at the front and broad at the back. Nicely done.

The fruit for the 2007 Zinfandel, Mendocino, $19, comes from vineyards near Ukiah. Aromas of smoke, bramble, cherry, currant, black raspberry, and cranberry repeat as intense but not heavy flavors that finish medium-broad, medium-long, and persistent. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good.

The 2006 Syrah, Mendocino, $25, has a nose of blackberry, soft pepper, light earth, and dried plum all accented with a sweet note. All continue as juicy flavors with the additions of baked Montmorency cherry and a hint of oak plus light, fine, dry tannin. The finish is medium-long and medium-broad. The wine is medium bodied and well structured, integrated, and balanced. Good.

While the 2006 Gewürztraminer, Cluster Select, Late Harvest, Anderson Valley, $35, needs more time to develop, open, and be at its best. This is simply a splendid sweet Gewürztraminer to pair with dessert or enjoy by itself. A bouquet of honey, spice, peach, apricot, pear, and apple flows onto the palate which shows even more spice and where the sweetness is well balanced with acidity. The finish is long and medium-broad. Excellent. BEST WINE.

Lazy Creek Vineyards

Lazy Creek is now owned by Ferrari Carano and its winemaking is in the capable hands of Christy Griffith. New ownership has allowed an infusion of money which led to improved facilities including a tasting room. The entrance is still down a two track dirt drive which has not changed in any meaningful way for at least the last twenty years. Thus, getting to the winery is yet another chance to experience the rustic nature of the Valley. At the same time, the chance to get away from the highway, see the property, and try the wines is worth whatever effort it takes.

Lazy Creek is a small producer and you might not find its wines locally but the winery will ship: www.lazy creekvineyards.com

The 2007 Gewürztraminer, Estate, Anderson Valley, $22, 600 cases, has floral, spice, apple, and sweet white grapefruit on the nose. All repeat as juicy, bright flavors and finish medium-broad and medium-long with just a hint of bitterness. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good. BEST WINE.

The 2007 Riesling, Anderson Valley, $24, 200 cases, opens with grapefruit, apple, and spice which repeat with the addition of lemon as juicy, bright flavors and finish medium-broad and medium-long. Well put together. Very Tasty.

The 2008 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $18, 150 cases, has aromas of earth, strawberry, cherry, and a touch of spice. All continue as creamy textured flavors and finish long and medium-broad. A nice choice for a warm afternoon on the deck well chilled for your picnic.

The nv Anderson Valley Red Wine, Anderson Valley, $21, is a Pinot Noir that was aged in French oak, 15% new. It opens with smoke, cherry, currant, and oak before creamy textured flavors of the same plus strawberry but with the smoke and oak last. The finish is medium-broad and truncated.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Estate, Anderson Valley, $35, 600 cases, matured in 30% new French oak and has a light nose with nice sweet fruit: cherry, raspberry, cranberry, and rhubarb. Bright, juicy, mouth-filling flavors the same are ripe but not sweet and are accented with good acidity and fine, grainy tannin. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long with spice at the front center. While easily drinkable now, it needs another few years in the bottle to develop and show at its best. A well balanced, structured, and integrated Pinot to pair with food. Very Tasty.

The 2006 Pinot Noir, RPB, Estate, Anderson Valley, $46, 136 cases, is Lazy Creek’s Reserve bottling. A bouquet of smoky oak, blackberry, black cherry, and leather introduces juicy, forward flavors of the same fruit laced with good acidity and dry, grainy tannins before a medium-broad, truncated finish. Well put together.
The 2007 Syrah, Anderson Valley, $28, 630 cases, was co-fermented with 0.25% muscat canelli. Intense dark fruit aromas of blackberry, plum, black raspberry, and black cherry repeat as flavors preceded by blueberry and accented with light tannin and nice acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

Roederer Estate Perhaps the closest to a Champagne made by any producer outside of France, Roederer Estate sparklers are not only high quality and well made but well priced. If you can’t find them, contact the winery: www.roedererestate.com
Roederer prefers the label “multi-vintage” but here the notes will use the more common “non-vintage” term.
The nv Brut, Anderson Valley, $20, is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. It was aged for six months in oak and spent a total of 2.5 years on the yeast. Big, bright aromas of bread, yeast, pear, and nuts introduce big, bright, juicy lemon, green apple, nuts, and bread flavors accented with lively acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

In contrast, the nv Brut, Anderson Valley, $45/Magnum, spent three years on the yeast and has a softer, floral and yeasty nose before very big, round lemon, lemon peel, green apple, and bread flavors that finish medium-broad and medium-long. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Very Good.

The nv Rosé, Brut, Anderson Valley, $27, is 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. Its color is achieved by the addition of 4% red wine (Pinot Noir) to the blend before the second fermentation. Soft citrus, strawberry, and red grapefruit aromas introduce round, crisp, almost creamy textured flavors of the same. The medium-broad, medium-long finish is quite persistent. Well put together. Good to Very Good.

Roederer’s top of the line offerings are L’Ermitage and L’Erimage Rosé. They are its vintage dated, Tête de Cuvée sparklers which spend even more time on the yeast before disgorgement and then additional time in the bottle before release.
The 2002 L’Ermitage, Brut, Anderson Valley, $43, is 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir. The dosage was also from the 2002 vintage and wine liquor aged for five years in French oak. A rich bouquet of baked apple, brioche, dried apricot, and a touch of vanilla carries onto the palate as big, round, rich, mouth-filling flavors that are bright and crisp with excellent depth before a broad, long finish. Excellent. BEST WINE.

If you prefer your sparklers with the character which more age gives, the 2000 L’Ermitage, Brut, Anderson Valley, $80, is even better. It is much the same as the 2002 but shows more bread and a hint of butterscotch and adds apricot on the finish.

The 2003 L’Ermitage Rosé, Anderson Valley, $65, 618 cases, is 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir of which 3.9% is aged reserve wine. A nose of yeast, bread, apple, and hazelnut introduces almost creamy feeling flavors of the same plus strawberry and hints of cherry and apricot. All carry to the end of the long, medium-broad finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

Handley Cellars Long time vintner Milla Handley continues to release a large number of well crafted wines. Unique among Anderson Valley vintners, Handley also owns vineyard property in the Dry Creek Valley. That allows it to offer an even greater range of wines. The winery will ship if you can’t locate the offerings at your local shop. www.handleycellars.com
The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Handley Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $15, opens with grass, grapefruit, and passion fruit before flavors of grapefruit, grass, lime, meringue, and a touch of astringency. All carry through the medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated and it will go nicely with food. Tasty.

Eighty-seven percent of the 2007 Chardonnay, Handley Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $20, was fermented and aged in oak and 48% completed malolactic fermentation. Light aromas of apple, pear, cream, and tangerine introduce creamy textured flavors of the same plus spice at the front center and all accented with good acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well put together.

The 2007 Zinfandel, Redwood Valley, $20, spent 8½ months in French and American oak. A rich, ripe nose of jammy blackberry, black raspberry, cherry, and fig repeat with the addition of spice at the back, good acidity, and a significant amount of fine tannin as juicy flavors that finish medium-broad and medium-long with a persistent juicy character. Well structured, balanced, and integrated. Good.

Quite different is the 2007 Zinfandel, Gianoli Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, $25, 339 cases, that spent eight months maturing in French and European oak, 31% new. Effusive aromas of violets, blackberry, black raspberry, black cherry, dark chocolate, and smoke repeat as spicy-peppery flavors with the additions of blueberry, fine tannin, and good acidity. The long, medium-broad finish is persistent with especially prominent pepper. Well integrated, balanced, and structured. Very Good and bargain priced. BEST WINE.

Philo Ridge Vineyards Philo Ridge produces fewer than 1000 cases annually and while perhaps best known for its Syrah, its other wines are definitely worth a search. If you can’t find them, contact the winery: www.philoridge.com
The 2008 Chardonnay, Mendocino County, $12, saw no oak and did not undergo malolactic fermentation. Nice, sweet, crisp apple, pear, and lemon aromas continue as smooth flavors that finish medium-broad and medium-long. A lighter style to accompany lighter foods. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.

The 2006 Zinfandel, Mendocino County, $19, spent about sixteen months in oak and the final blend contains 5% each of Syrah and Petite Sirah. It opens with forward smoke, blackberry, black cherry, and a hint of vanilla on the nose before medium-bodied flavors of the same accented with fine tannin. The Medium-broad, medium-long finish adds persistent pepper. Well structured, integrated, and balanced.

In contrast, the nv Vino di Mendocino, Mendocino County, $12, is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Carignane. Medium sweet aromas of cherry, blackberry, and plum introduce bright, juicy, fairly light bodied flavors of the same before a finish that adds pepper at the front middle. This is a well put together, fun, everyday red to have with your pizza or ‘burger. BEST BUY.

Esterlina Vineyards  
The 2008 Dry Riesling, Cole Ranch, Mendocino County, $19, has a very light, grapefruit dominated nose before flavors of grapefruit and lemon accented with brisk acidity. It finishes long and somewhat narrow. Well put together.

The 2008 Riesling, Cole Ranch, Mendocino County, $19, is made in an off-dry style with sweet aromas of grapefruit, apple, and pear which continue on the palate where they are just slightly sweet and balanced with nice acidity before a broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.

The 2007 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, $25, opens with oak over apple and lemon before soft flavors of the same that finish medium-broad and truncated.


The 2007 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $45, opens with earth, spice, smoky oak, cherry, blackberry, and rhubarb on the nose. Smooth textured flavors of the same are sweet accented and laced with fine tannin. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long. Well integrated, structured, and balanced.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $45, is quite different with a nose of smoky oak, cherry, cranberry, and blackberry. The fruit is not sweet on the palate and has a very light body before the medium-broad, medium-long finish.

The 2005 Merlot, Cole Ranch, Mendocino County, $22, has aromas of blackberry, cherry, and smoky oak. Bright, juicy, shallow flavors of the same are accented with light tannin and finish medium-broad and medium-long. Straight forward.


The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lazy S Vineyard, Alexander Valley, $45, has a bouquet of vanilla smoky oak, blackberry, currant, and sweet leather. Juicy flavors of the same fruit and oak are laced with tooth coating tannin and finish medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated, it will benefit from another couple years in the bottle to moderate the tannin. Very Tasty.

The 2006 Mario’s Gran Rojo, Sonoma County, $25, 533 cases, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Restrained aromas of sweet blackberry, black cherry, a hint of earth, and smoky oak repeat as juicy but not sweet flavors with the additions of a charcoal note and light, tooth coating tannin. The finish is long and medium-broad. Straight forward for everyday drinking. Very Tasty.

Claudia Springs Winery Claudia Springs is another smaller producer of Pinot and Syrah from Anderson Valley and Mendocino Ridge and Zinfandels from Redwood Valley. The Pinot and Syrah are in a lighter and lower alcohol style than some others and pair nicely with food. All are small productions and if you can’t find them, contact the winery: www.claudiasprings.com

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Estate, Anderson Valley, $28, 372 cases, opens with very nice, bright, forward, earth, cherry, blackberry, cranberry, and smoky oak aromas before lively, juicy, bright ripe but not sweet of the same red fruits accented with light, fine tannin. It finishes long and medium-broad with some spice down the center and an added touch of baked blueberry. Well put together. Very Tasty.


The 2007 Syrah, Perli Vineyards, Mendocino Ridge, $22, 108 cases, has a ripe, soft nose of meat, black cherry, currant and blackberry. Juicy and fairly light bodied flavors of the same are laced with fine tannin and good acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

The 2007 Zinfandel, John Ricetti Vineyard, Redwood Valley, $24, has light, sweet, smooth aromas of blackberry, chocolate, and black cherry. All repeat as ripe but not sweet flavors shot through with bright acidity and light tannin. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Well integrated, structured, and balanced. Tasty.

Quite different is the 2007 Zinfandel, Nate’s Vineyard, Redwood Valley, $24, that opens with very appearing black cherry, blackberry, and plum. All repeat as bright, juicy flavors with the additions of pepper, great acidity, and very fine tannin. The pepper increases and is nicely persistent in the medium-long, medium-broad finish. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Very Good.

Harrington Wines

Harrington produces wines from various areas in California. Notes on a few of its Pinots Noir follow. The wines can be ordered direct: www.harringtonwine.com

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, $45, spent ten months in French oak and opens with sweet accented cherry, blackberry, smoke, and earth on the nose. All repeat with the addition of pepper at the front as smooth textured flavors that finish medium-broad and medium-long with increasing sharp pepper. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.


The 2007 Pinot Noir, Lund Vineyard, Carneros, Napa Valley, $40, 258 cases, was aged for ten months in French oak, 30% new. Aromas of earth, violet, blackberry, black raspberry, a hint of mushroom, and smoke introduce big, round, mouth filling, smooth but not heavy flavors of the same laced with moderate acidity and light tannin. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Well put together and it will be popular.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $40, 227 cases, matured in French oak, 25% new, for ten months. Effusive raspberry, cranberry, red currant, and floral aromas precede juicy flavors of the same plus cherry, light, fine tannin and good acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Brosseau Vineyards, Chalone, $45, 201 cases, spent ten months in French oak and shows blueberry, boysenberry, plum, and cherry aromas laced with spice. Smooth, almost soft flavors of the same are fairly light bodied but have good acidity and light tannin. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long with cherry candy flavors. Well structured, integrated, and balanced.

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