I spent the last weekend barrel tasting at some Anderson Valley winery tasting rooms, a guest of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association. By Friday, I will have taken the VERY RAW notes below and, with a little polish and serious editing, will turn in something tighter to run in Thursday, August 7’s Ukiah Daily Journal as a finished wine column.
I’ll provide all of the pictures below and let my editor use what she prefers. I’ll delete use of the F-bomb, still quite intact below, and try to paint a mini portrait of each place I visited. I would love to return and write some single winery spotlight columns.
Anyway, I thought I would give my online readers a glimpse into how a column is created, with a before (these notes, cut and pasted directly from my tablet) and after (the column I’ll post after it is published).
2013 ZERO New Oak Pinot delightful! bright notes! fruit showing well.
33-35 whole cluster, 13.3-13.5 alc, 2-7 year barrel. Bottle 27 and 28 of August.
12, 13, 14 all easy to make, un memorable because of no challenges.
2013 Charles Vineyard Pinot – Same wine but with 33% new oak
Little higher tannin with 2/6 barrels new, makes acid (brightness) less perceptible. Oak offers or brings out a smoky note. Firmer. Paired with Salumi straightens this right out, demonstrating once again the incredible food pairing magic found with Pinot. Instant yum.
2013 Foursight Clone 05 – Pommard 05 on 50% new oak.
Showing the herbal undertones that make for a memorable sinuous vinous Pinot.
Kristy Charles, Joe Webb.
Anderson Valley, where oaks meet redwoods, with grapes providing the bridge.
2012 Marguerite Vineyard Pinot woody, green (in a good way) cherry fruit, pretty straightforward. Dry farmed above the Holmes Ranch, good acidity.
2013 Estate Pinot (AV) – Could be wine, close to finish. Drinking great.
Watermelon Gazpacho is fanfuckingtastic, but mushroom and Pinot are the better pairing.
2013 Testa Primativo Philo Ridge’s first Primitivo. Stands up nicely to the intensely spicy gazpacho. Recipe in pic.
K.C. Is the caterer. McClure Fred and heather’ winery Chef.
TR Mgr Jill initially overwhelmed by tasters. Carboy samples of the Mysteriös are being bottled as we speak and released Nov. Greg made, NV, 2011 and 2013. Zin, Merlot, Grenache, Syrah blend. Lush, juicy, bright, yummy, fun. $45
slope sandy loam nutrient poor, nutrient added through irrigation. Incredibly low vigor, crappy land, so we plant incredibly densely, per vine yield is super low, but high skin to pulp, 4000 vines per acre, yield ends up good, and flavors are ideal. 1000 case per year. Moving forward, all the sparkling will be estate. Bubbly is done right here
Dan: 60 Noir 40 Gris white blend. 2013 is so similar to 2012, 2011 was miserable. Lush juicy stone, pear, grapefruit, lovely acid to fruit.
Bubbly, williamette Valley. Bright mineral steely fruit, clean crisp, refreshingly delicious.
Two vintage Solera with three vintage due September. 2011-2013 Solera is gorgeous. Rich, ready, cherry berry fruit, layers of flavor, Herb, twenty kinds of yum.
Doug Stewart, founder and previous owner of Breggo
I work for a place that makes the best bubbly in the county, and I have tons at home, and I don’t have a winemaker’s salary but a Hopland tasting room manager’s salary, so finding myself buying a bottle of Lichen’s Bubbly tells you all you need to know about how good if is.
Washed glass with water…2012 Pinot Noir Blanc. Still white from Noir. Floral perfume, surprisingly sharper edge in mouth than nose suggests, crisp, pear apple .
2012 Pinot Gris grapes from Mary Elke. Spice, mellow, round. A touch of funk nose and finish.
2013 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir. Dry. Lovely salmon color, same funk.
Jerry Garcia and Dawg mandolin David Grisman’s Shady Grove playing. Pizza tapes?
Pizza is from San Marzano. Salt, tomato, cheese, crust. Delicious enough it doesn’t need meat, but a touch salty. The crust was great, even without topping, similar to a air pocket blessed sourdough or pretzel, this was an artisanal bread all by itself.
Didn’t find any barrel action.
Free bottles water, immaculate bocce courts, lavender, pet friendly fenced poop pen for dogs, really just super enjoyable place to visit.
Greenwood Ridge Vineyards
2012 hundred point Pinot Noir – same as 2012 GRV estate below, but with 7 months longer in new French oak. “Allen makes his Pinot more in the traditional manner, less fruit.” – Buzz (Best name ever.)
2012 was good, but 2013 was perfect. We picked early because the grapes were just ready then.
2013 GRV Pinot Noir bottle sample of barrel pull, lovely vibrant burgundy color. Dry cherry, pepper spice. No idea when will be bottled…”in the next year, I suppose” – TR Gal
2012 GRV Pinot Noir green, mildly astringent, herbal, firm tart cherry.
Hurray for Buzz, the great TR guy at GRV, who called me on my inland Mendo focus, not enough love for 128. I told him about my mission statement from early on, to write about the area Wine Spectator ignores. He nodded his assent that a Wine Spectator cover for Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is greater than a focus on inland Mendo in an inland Mendo newspaper. I’m just been trying to cast a light on an area that otherwise gets no press.
Barrel Samples poured by Travis Scott
2013 Vittorio Vineyard Primitivo, Redwood Valley perfume, fruit,
2013 Vittorio Petite Sirah, remarkably soft, light for a Petite.
2010 Vittorio’s Selected Red Table Red (finished wine example)
Vittorio is an early generation Testa family member.
Light, super easy to drink, herb garden and berry patch, 13.5% alc.
All French Oak Barrels at Handley. About $1,400 each.
Exclusive Tasting Menu
Chocolates that pair with reds
Barbeque on the patio
Many happy people in them lovely, cool, comfortable tasting room.
Phillips Hill – Must Return for a feature!
Buildings are an old apple drying facility
2013 Oppenlander (Comptche – 10 miles east of Mendocino) Pinot Noir – spectacularly drinkable right now, if a tiny bit green. Cherry, spice, herb, will be bottle Mar/Apr 2014. The extra time in barrel will yield: Acid and brightness will integrate and structure will become more silky. Aromatics will become more pronounced.
1,400 cases all in.
At Phillips Hill, they pick at lower Brix, have higher acid, the fruit is there, but the alcohol is lower; instead of a higher alcohol wine that overpowers food, this wine – the 13.5% alc 2011 Oppenlander still has earthy floral tobacco notes, plenty of character. Completely unfair, because it is finished, not a barrel sample, but best wine of the day.?
Toby was welcoming. Pointed out how lovely the open air tasting was, the breeze making moot the 100 degree temps everywhere else.
Margot Federkiel, asst winemaker was my pourer and a wealth of helpful info and passion.
The Apple Farm
>>>>Travis Scott at Handley sent me on to Phillips Hill where I tasted my day’s favorite wine and where I asked Toby if I could come back for a more comprehensive tasting. Margot at Phillips Hill sent me on to The Apple Farm where I bought a case of Bates & Schmitt organic apple juice. That’s how you do it!
2013 Zinfandel, Peril Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge – more integrated. The Gianoli is good, but I like this better. Edges have been softened. Rounder, but less distinct.
2013 Zinfandel, Gianoli Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge – fruit slightly muted in nose, but nice weight coming on, depth, roundness, dark as opposed to bright, brambly raspberry, spice
2013 Syrah, Perli – black pepper, first and foremost, then vegetal and herbaceous undertone supporting dark fruit.
Lamb burger – way yummy. Thank you!
Pasta salad – basil, sun dried tomato, goat cheese, orzo, zucchini, hazel nut, , sherry olive oil.
2010 Perli Zin – perfume, lighter styled, not over powering, almost delicate.
2011 Champ de Reves Pinot Noir 14.5 certainly lighter than the Zins and beastly Syrah, brighter balanced candied cherry, light herb…at least that is what I’m getting after the fully flavorful lamb slider.
Shyla poured barrel samples and brought out food. Best, most engaging member of the staff.
Beautifully manicured property, one of my favorite winery views anywhere, terrific food, interesting wines.
Gowan’s Oak Tree
I bought a mixed bag with 4 different squash, a dozen ears of white corn, a bag of mixed fruit, plots, plums, peaches, and apples, and a bottle of water. The water is always good on a 100 degree day tasting wine.
What a comfortable tasting room, wine barrel stools and tables, everyone can sit and relax. Thoughtful.
2013 Pommard 04 (heat sterilized version of the 05). Oh, I get why my favorite Pinot at last year’s Mendo Wine Comp was from Toulouse. Deep, gnarly, cheery fruit with a sexy hint of green, herbal, loamy, a beautiful Pinot in the barrel.
Vern knows the Pommard is showing great, but having separate lot Pinots makes for separate open bottles for tastings and isn’t ideal for a smaller winery…but he might bottle a barrel of this. Look for it.
Vern Boltz, owner, winemaker, was as cordial as his tasting room was comfortable.
2013 Valenti Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, 4 miles from coast, 12.5% $48 the brown sugar on your breakfast oatmeal. Light, light, light in mouth, soft, not quite enough fruit or depth today.
2013 Weir Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands $48 30% whole cluster fermentation leading to redder than the previous wine’s more purple color. Okay, liking this one more, better more expressive fruit while still elegantly light. Candied cherry and rose petal.
2013 Langley Vineyard, Anderson Valley $48
These three will be bottled later in 2014 and ship May 2015. Cranberry, strawberry, and finally cherry…lighter end of the spectrum fruit flavors, but a nice little basket of mixed fruit, a little herb and floral and earth in support of fruit. Well integrated.
Claire and Phil Baxter doing the pouring.
BricChickXan was here, we talked about our love of more elegant wines. Baxter is making them. Turns out, we both enjoyed some 2011 vintage treats amidst the cries of Hugely Overextracted Overoaked Oversugared High Alcohol Fruit Jam Bomb fans.
2013 Boonville Barter, more CA styled, $20 everyday wine – ready to drink in Oct or Nov after Sep bottling, simple, direct, bright cherry noted.
2012 Boonville Barter bottled deeper with age, and a teeny bit of funk…or that could be the sweat of the people in this little hot box of a tasting room. A surprising depth and complexity, considering the straightforward simplicity of the 2013.
2013 Blue Diamond picked two weeks earlier, more Burgundian, focused more on dirt than fruit. 35% new oak, 11 months on oak. 2 years in bottle before release. Loved this. One of the nicest wines of the weekend. Hard candy cherry fruit
2011 Blue Diamond – Holy fuck, this has a dose of that funk that Pinot is known for. I have tasted, by and large, some pretty funk free wines over the weekend, but I’m finishing on one with tons of unapologetic edge. No apologies needed, this is some seriously flavorful juice, with a showing of slightly more vinous tinged cherry and strawberry fruit.
Great Gris packaging, boxless bag, greener and possibly avoid the stigma.