ANDERSON VALLEY – A Relaxed Paradise

Named after Walter Anderson whose sons first viewed the valley in 1851, it is bifurcated by Highway 128 that wends its picturesque, two-lane way northwest from Cloverdale in northern Sonoma County to the Anderson Valley and then to the Mendocino coast. This fairly narrow valley is hemmed in by steep evergreen covered hillsides. Its fifteen mile length varies from about one to one-an-a-half miles wide and is home to over two dozen wineries along with orchards, cattle, and sheep. But most enjoyably the Anderson Valley is relaxed in a way reminiscent of Napa in the 1960s and Sonoma in the 1970s. If you go in the fall or winter the fruit stands will offer you a wide variety of apples and pears and ciders because Anderson Valley is not yet a grape dominated monoculture. If you go in the spring or summer there will be warm days and cool nights. And year around you will find wineries where you will be greeted by friendly people, often the winemakers themselves.

The Anderson Valley wineries also organize two wine festivals. In February is the International Alsace Varietals Festivals and in May the Anderson Valley Pinot Festival. (There is also a beer festival in May and it would be possible to attend the beer festival on one weekend, visit the wineries and the coast for a week and go to the Pinot Festival the next weekend.) However, festivals bring increased visitation which some of the long time residents believe damages the relaxed feel they treasure and they would like to put a chain across the highway to preserve that ambience.

Though most of the wineries are small and the options for lodging and eating are limited, that should not discourage you from visiting. Indeed, the setting and the quality of the wines on offer should be an extra inducement to visit. A visit now is easier than in years past as more of the wineries have tasting rooms that are easy to visit and often you will find a winery principal or winemaker in attendance. And, with the exception of a few of the larger producers, most often the tasting rooms are both relaxed and not crowded. Finally, while you may need to make an appointment to visit some of the smaller wineries especially in the off season that is easily done and assistance and additional information can be found at www.avvwines.com or by email at info@avvwines.com.

Anderson Valley is cool because of its proximity to the ocean and the breezes that blow through the valley. This results in wines that lower alcohols and higher acidity than many from other areas in California. The wines also tend to have less weight or, if you prefer, less density, and most vintners have not pursued the trend that began in the 1990s for a bigger, richer, more extracted style. This means that the wines are often better pairings with food.

Notes on some of the wines and wineries follow but if you have the chance, I encourage you to visit the Anderson Valley and learn about the fine wines, lovely setting, and friendly people.

 

Handley Cellars

After graduating from U.C. Davis, Milla Handley began her winemaking career working with Dick Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood. After a three year apprenticeship, she moved to Anderson Valley where she worked with Jed Steele at Edmeades. In 1982 she obtained a bond for a winery and began making wine under her own name underneath her home on Guntly Road near the western end of Anderson Valley. (She later sold the house to Bob and Claudia Klindt who use the now expanded cellar to produce Claudia Springs wines.)

Handley Cellars is normally considered to be the third oldest winery in Anderson Valley.* Whether that is the case depends on how you count but the numbering has no affect on the high quality of Handley wines. The first wine was a 1982 Chardonnay with a North Coast appellation made with fruit from the Anderson Valley and Dry Creek Valley. Later came Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling wine and after a trip to Burgundy, Pinot Noir. Handley now has over thirty acres of estate vineyards, some of which are certified organic. It also purchases some fruit.

Now celebrating the winery’s 30th Anniversary, it continues the tradition of making wines which reflect the vineyards and Handley emphasizes equally winemaking and viticulture to achieve “wines of place.” Lots are treated individually and plantings are matched to the soils that differ from vineyard to vineyard and even within a single vineyard. As Milla says, even after thirty years making wine in the Anderson Valley “the learning process can be slow” and “I’m still learning to understand the complexities of the Anderson Valley.”   All of Milla Handley’s wines reflect that learning process and all are carefully crafted and amongst the finest produced in Anderson Valley.

Notes on some of the current releases follow. If you are not familiar with Handley wines you should make an opportunity to try them. If you can’t find them locally, contact the winery: www.handleycellars.com. And note that some of these wines are now being offered at reduced prices on the website and some of Handley’s offerings are only available at or directly from the winery. Don’t delay, they will all grace your table and enhance the meal.

The 2003 Brut, Estate, Anderson Valley, $30, 12.5% alc., 892 cases, is a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay. The Pinot was fermented and aged in stainless steel, the Chardonnay in neutral French oak. Aromas of toast and nuts introduce flavors of lemon, apple, peach, and a hint of guava before a medium-broad, medium-long finish with persistent citrus notes. It has good acidity and mousse and a lively palate feel. Lovely alone, it also pairs well with foods and is an outstanding example of an Anderson Valley, California style sparkler.  Very Good and bargain priced.  

 

                                                                                                  

The 2010 Chardonnay, Estate Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $22, 12.3% alc., 704 cases, spent five months in French oak barrels and puncheons, 19% new. A nose of honeysuckle, lime peel, melon, mineral, and a hint of oak introduces flavors of lime, melon, green apple, mineral, and a touch of brown spice accented with good acidity and a touch of tannin. The broad, medium-long finish shows some creamy lemon. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good.

The 2010 Chardonnay, [Ukiah], Mendocino County, $20, 13.5% alc., 616 cases, replaces the Chardonnay which Handley made from a vineyard it owned in Dry Creek Valley and sold in 2009. This permits continuation of the winery’s tradition of making two distinctive Chardonnays with each reflecting its vineyard source. Lemon, lemon peel, apple, pear, toast, and floral notes introduce flavors dominated by bright lemon and green apple with zippy acidity before a long, broad finish with a creamy texture. Well integrated, structured, and balanced. Very Tasty.

Fifty percent of the 2011 Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley, $18, 13.5% alc., 888 cases, spent three months in old oak and the result is a wine with spice and floral aromas with touches of banana before creamy textured flavors of spice, soft orange, and mild honey laced with nice, moderate acidity. The medium-broad, medium-long finish shows persistent spice underlain with honey notes. Even with its honey notes, the wine is dry and well put together. Tasty.

The 2010 Pinot Gris, [Helluva, Romani, and Navarro Vineyards], Anderson Valley, $18, 14.4% alc., 855 cases, has a light nose of floral, lemon, and orange blossom. Round, mouth filling, bold flavors of lemon and orange with a hints of mineral and sweetness and good acidity finish medium-broad and medium-long with the addition of key lime. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Good to Very Good.

The 2008 Riesling, [McFadden Vineyard in Potter Valley and Cole Ranch], Mendocino County, $18, 12% alc., 408 cases, has evolved with a restrained bouquet of sweet grapefruit, touch petrol, pear, almost ripe banana, and a hint of nuts. Round, mouth filling flavors of grapefruit-lemon-lime and mineral are touched with a hint of sweetness and finish long and medium-broad. The wine is almost lush with good body and presence. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good.

The 2010 Brightlighter White, Anderson Valley, $15, 14.2% alc., 301 cases, spent 10 months in French oak, 23% new. A blend of 51% Gewürztraminer and 49% Riesling, it was made entirely in stainless steel. Aromas of spice, apple, cinnamon toast, rose face powder, and floral introduce broad, light bodied, intense flavors of citrus and spice with creamy notes. It finishes long and broad. Well put together, it is an excellent value for an everyday white that will pair nicely with many foods. Very Tasty.

(Brightlighter is a term in the local dialect known as Boontling. It refers to people from the city who visited Anderson Valley.)

Handley produces four Pinots Noir. Each was handled differently and reflects its source. The 2009 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $32, 14.2% alc., spent ten months in French oak, 23% new. Aromas of earth, red and black cherry, brown spice, and mineral repeat as round flavors laced with moderate acidity and fine tannin. The finish is long and medium-broad sharper and persistent spice. Well integrated, balanced, and structured. Very Tasty.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Mendocino County, $25, 14.2% alc., was aged in French oak, 19% new, for ten months. It opens with black cherry, blueberry, smoke, sweet cola, and lavender before soft flavors of the same plus rhubarb and cranberry and spice at the sides all shot through with good acidity and fine, dry tannin. It finishes broad and medium-long. Well structured, balanced, and integrated, it will be even nicer with another year or so in the bottle to smooth out the tannins. Tasty.

The 2006 Pinot Noir, Holmes Ranch, Anderson Valley, $40, 14.0% alc., 715 cases, was matured in 39% new French oak for nine months. A bouquet of lapsang souchong tea, unsweetened chocolate, and Bing cherry precede juicy flavors of cherry, cranberry, rhubarb, spice, and black tea laced with good acidity and a significant amount of fine tannin before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. This is a big, assertive Pinot that is easily drinkable now but will improve with more time in the bottle. Good to Very Good.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, RSM Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $52, 14.2% alc., 266 cases, was aged in French oak, 37% new, for ten months. A nose of earth, cherry, chocolate, raspberry, lavender, and a hint of oak leads to bright, juicy flavors of the same plus spice at the front and great acidity and very fine, integrated tannin. On the broad, long finish the chocolate becomes mocha. This is an elegant, balanced, integrated, and structured Pinot that needs another three to five years in the bottle to develop, open, and begin to show at its best. Excellent. (The name of the vineyard honors Milla Handley’s late husband Rex Scott McClellan.)

The 2009 Ranch House Red, North Coast, $16, 15.0% alc., 350 cases, is a blend of 54% Syrah, 33% Zinfandel, and 14% Pinot Noir. Aged in French, American, and Hungarian oak, 30% new, for nine months, it has aromas of blackberry, currant, coffee grounds, and some smoky oak. Sweet accented flavors of blackberry, currant, cherry, and raspberry hard candy are accented with fine dry tannin and nice acidity and finish medium-broad and medium-long with the ground now dark roast coffee and everything underlain with oak. A well put together, everyday red.

The 2007 Late Harvest Riesling, Mendocino Ridge, $29/375ml., 10.5% alc., 245 cases, has 24.3% residual sugar with acidity to balance and keep the wine fresh and not cloying. Floral, honey, apricot, and a hint of spice on the nose introduce flavors of the same with nice richness before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well structured, integrated and balanced, it is good now but give it five or more years in the bottle to mature and gain in richness and depth and it will be Excellent.                         

(*The question of numbering depends upon where you place Edmeades. Husch Vineyards holds the first bond issued for an Anderson Valley winery with its first plantings in 1968 and Navarro has the second. Dr. Donald Edmeades planted his vineyard earlier and established a winery but it was never successful and an even earlier vineyard was planted by Italian Swiss Colony though its winery was not located in the valley. Ultimately, most of Edmeades fruit was sold to others, primarily Parducci, and in 1988 the winery and vineyards were sold to Kendall-Jackson. As of May 2012, a sign at the winery’s driveway states that it will reopen soon. Thus, no matter how you count, Handley is certainly the third oldest continually operated Anderson Valley winery and everything else is just history probably of interest to geeks.)

Foursight Wines

Bill and Nancy Charles are longtime farmers in Anderson Valley. In 2006 they along with daughter Kristy Charles and her husband Joseph Webb founded Foursight and produced its first vintage. The winery now makes about 1,000 cases per year. This small total production means that unfortunately you probably will not find the wines at your local purveyor. That is his loss but you can get them from the winery; it will ship: www.foursightwines.com.

The 2011 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Estate, [Charles Vineyard], Anderson Valley, $25, 14.1% alc., 176 cases, is Foursight’s first “pink” wine. Made entirely in stainless steel with the grapes left in contact with the skins for a brief after an initial pressing and then pressed off as a traditional rosé (i.e. not saignée). It has aromas of wild strawberry, apple, and white peach before juicy, crisp green apple and almost ripe strawberry that finish long and medium-broad. Just the thing especially for summer drinking but not to be overlooked during the rest of the year. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Charles Vineyard, Estate, Anderson Valley, $20, 14.3% alc. 205 cases, has a nose of herb, grass, pear, floral, and apple. Lemon, apple, grass, and herb flavors are laced with good acidity and finish broad and medium-long and ultimately smooth. Well integrated, balanced, and structured. Tasty.

The 2010 Semillon, Charles Vineyard, Estate, Anderson Valley, $28, 14.3% alc., 75 cases, was barrel fermented with wild yeast in 25% new French oak and all completed malolactic fermentation before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Soft floral, white peach, soft apple, and carambola aromas introduce round, almost creamy flavors that become tart and juicy and finish medium-broad and truncated. Well put together and “suitable for vegetarians and vegans” as no animal products were used in its production.

Foursight produces three Pinots Noir from its estate vineyard. Each is different and all are worth the effort to find. The 2009 Pinot Noir, Zero, Charles Vineyard, Estate, Anderson Valley, $38, 13.5% alc., 360 cases, derives its “Zero” because the wine saw no new oak. (The barrels used are not neutral but are two years and older and impart a slight, oak note.)  Fermented with wild yeast, it shows cherry, raspberry, red currant and earth on the nose. All repeat as fresh flavors with good acidity, very fine tannin, and just a hint of oak. It finishes long and broad. This use of no new oak yields a wine with pure fruit and subtle oak. There are few Pinots made this way and if you haven’t had one, you should make a special effort to try this one. Not only is it Very Good but it will give you an additional insight into the benefits or detriments (your palate, your choice) derived from the use of new oak.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Charles Vineyard, Estate, Anderson Valley, $46, 13.5% alc., 405 cases, was aged in French oak, 15% new, and not racked during aging. It opens with dark cherry, plum, black raspberry, and a touch of smoky oak. All continue onto the palate and are laced with good acidity and moderate tannin before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. The wine is not sweet but has nice, bright fruit and is well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, “All In,” Charles Vineyard, Estate, Anderson Valley, $46, 14.1% alc., 407 cases, was aged in 20% new French oak. It was made with the same method, clones and blends (but with 20% new French oak) as the 2009 wine but the weather was warmer in 2007 which, among other things, yielded grapes with more sugar at the same level of flavor development. Floral notes of violets accent blackberry, currant, black cherry, and rhubarb flavors plus light oak and some leather before juicy flavors of the same laced with good acidity and fine, dry tannin. All carry through the broad, medium-long finish. Well integrated, balanced, and structured. Very Good.

 

Londer Vineyards

Larry and Shirlee moved from Albuquerque to the Anderson Valley when Larry decided to semi-retire from his practice of ophthalmology and take up winemaking. Shirlee traded in running optical shops to become the winery’s sales manager. They searched for property and after a visit to the Anderson Valley, decided that is where they wished to be. While others questioned how they would manage the change from Albuquerque to the middle of nowhere, the venture has proven a success and both have become quite settled into the quiet, rural atmosphere of the Anderson Valley.

Londer currently produces nine wines with a concentration of Pinot Noir. Like most other Anderson Valley wineries, all of its wines are small productions but the winery will ship: www.londervineyards.com. Notes on the current releases follow.

The 2009 Dry Gewürztraminer, [90% Ferrington, 10% Valley Foothills vineyards], Anderson Valley, $24, 14.1% alc., 387 cases, was made entirely in stainless steel. A nose of brown spice, earthy notes, honeysuckle, and jasmine introduce mouth filling, juicy flavors of spice, lemon, apple, a bit of mineral, and a touch of astringency all shot through with good acidity before a broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Tasty.

The 2009 Chardonnay, Corby Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $30, 14.1% alc., 469 cases, was matured in French oak, 20% new, and 50% of the wine completed malolactic fermentation. Aromas of allspice, apple, and tangerine precede flavors of lemon, allspice, apple, and pear with good acidity. The long, medium-broad finish shows a lot of spice at the sides. Well put together. Very Tasty.

The 2010 Chardonnay, Ferrington Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $30, 14.4% alc., 340 cases, was handled the same way but is quite different. It opens with pear, apple, lemon, and a buttery note which repeat as flavors of the same fruit with smooth textures and good palate feel just touched with a bit of tannin. The broad, medium-long finish has particularly persistent lemon. Nice body and presence, well integrated, balanced, and structured. Good.

The 2009 Chardonnay, Kent Ritchie Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, $39, 14.1% alc., 283 cases, completed malolactic fermentation and was aged in French oak, 40% new. A big, forward nose of Golden Delicious apple, lemon, lemon peel, and toast leads to fresh, clean, juicy flavors of the same with great presence and creamy palate feel. Everything carries through the long, medium-broad finish that adds a bit of spice. Well balanced, integrated, and structured. Very Good.

As with Londer’s Chardonnays, each of its Pinots is different and reflects the source or sources of its grapes. The 2010 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $30, 14.3% alc., is a blend from four vineyards. It spent 9-10 months in French oak, 30% new, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Still tight, it has aromas of blackberry, cherry, and smoke before fairly light flavors of the same with fine tannin and good acidity. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long. It needs another year or two in the bottle to open and develop at which time it will be bigger and should also show some earth. Well put together and easily drinkable now.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $30, 14.3% alc., was handled the same way as the 2010. Aromas of earth, blackberry, cherry, and smoke introduce juicy, bright flavors of lovely sweet fruit accented with fine, gripy tannin and good acidity. Everything continues in the medium-broad, medium-long, persistent finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Corby Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $40, 14.4% alc., 119 cases, was matured in 20% new French oak. A nose of earth, raspberry, cherry, and blackberry precedes flavors of the same plus cranberry, spice at the front and down the center and everything laced with light, dry tannin and nice acidity. Fairly light bodied, it finishes medium-broad and medium-long and could almost pass for a big bodied rosé.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Paraboll, Ferrington Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $48, 14.2% alc., 379 cases, was aged in French oak, 40% new. Earth, cola, black raspberry, cherry, red currant, and mineral on the nose leads to juicy flavors dominated by cherry, black raspberry, and red currant accented with light tannin before a medium-broad, somewhat truncated finish. Well integrated, structured, and balanced.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Ferrington Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $48, 14.4% alc., 196 cases, has a big nose of cherry, raspberry, sweet cranberry, spice, and light smoky oak. All continue onto the palate which adds light tannin and nice acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. A lighter bodied style that is drinking nicely now and should be even nicer with a couple more years in the bottle.

The 2007 Pinot Noir, Londer Estate Vineyards, Anderson Valley, $48, 14.4% alc., 615 cases, was matured in French oak, 30% new, and was held for an additional year in the bottle before release. An elegant bouquet of earth, blackberry, cherry, blueberry, overripe strawberry, black tea, and smoky oak introduces big, mouth filling flavors of the same with wonderful mouth feel and presence. Everything carries though the medium-broad, medium-long finish. There is lots happening and the wine richness does not upset the overall balance and it retains its elegance. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

The 2009 Sweet Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley, $35/375 ml., 12.5% alc., 6% residual sugar, 100 cases, is not an ice wine. Rather, the grapes are picked very ripe and then frozen before pressing. A nose of honeyed spice before flavors of pineapple, apricot, white peach, honey, and spice has a medium-broad, medium-long finish that fades and then returns. The sugar is well balanced with the acidity and the impression is a moderately sweet wine. Give it another five or so years in the bottle and it will gain in richness and depth. Tasty.

Breggo Cellars

Breggo which was founded in 2000 by Douglas and Ana Lucia Benitez-Stewart with the purchase of 207 acres in Anderson Valley was purchased in 2009 by Napa Valley’s Clif Lede. The wine is now made by Ryan Hodgins who replaced founder Douglas Stewart. (Breggo means sheep in the local Boontling dialect and is appropriate because the vineyard property previously was a sheep pasture.)

Like other Anderson Valley wineries, most of Breggo’s wines are small productions. If you can’t find them locally, the winery will ship: www.breggo.com. Notes on some of the current releases follow.

The 2010 Pinot Gris, Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $28, 14.1% alc., 315 cases, was barrel fermented in neutral French oak and did not undergo malolactic fermentation. A floral, baked pear, and mandarin nose introduces big, intense flavors of pear, quince, spice, and a touch of vanilla before a long, broad finish with persistent spice and quince and a touch of astringency. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Tasty.

Breggo produces several single vineyard Pinots Noir and one that is a blend from several vineyards. Each is distinctive and all are made in Breggo’s big, ripe style. The 2009 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $38, 14.8% alc., is the fifth vintage of this wine. Aged in French oak, 44% new, for ten months, it opens with mostly cherry and  pomegranate plus notes of cinnamon and anise. Round, mouth filling, flavors of sweet—almost hard candy—cherry, cinnamon, and blackberry plus a touch of dark plum are laced with light, fine tannin and nice acidity before a medium-broad, truncated finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $55, 14.5% alc., 395 cases, spent fifteen months in 63% new French oak. Aromas of black cherry, tobacco, cedar, and brown spice introduce a lean, focused, spicy palate with everything from the nose plus fine, dry tannin and good acidity. The finish has persistent spice down the center and tobacco at the back top. Well put together and very interesting. Good.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Ferrington Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $55, 14.4% alc., 440 cases, was aged in French oak, 56% new, for fifteen months. A nose of cherry, spice, Damson plum, and some smoky oak introduces bold, bright flavors of cherry, raspberry, rhubarb, and lots of sharp spice accented with fine tannin and good acidity before a long, broad, spicy finish. Well integrated, structured, and balanced. Good.

 

Goldeneye Winery

 

In 1990 Dan and Margaret Duckhorn decided to expand their portfolio beyond the Bordeaux varieties they had long grown and made at their eponymous winery in Napa Valley. They decided that they wanted to make Pinot Noir and after looking at property in Russian River Valley and other Sonoma area, they purchased what had been the 85-acre Obester Winery property in Anderson Valley. The first vintage was 1997 from the Confluence Vineyard and they have added additional vineyard property since then. The winery now produces Pinot Noir, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, and Gewürztraminer under the able direction of Zach Rasmuson who has been the winemaker since 2003.

Goldeye’s wines are widely available but if you can’t find them locally, contact the winery: www.goldeneyewinery.com.

The Pinots are made in a big, dark, rich, round style. The 2009 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $55, 14.5% alc., was aged in French oak, 70% new, for sixteen months and is still somewhat closed. Aromas of earth, cherry hard candy, plum, currant, and smoke introduce mouth filling flavors of the same plus spice all laced with soft acidity and very fine, round tannin. The long, broad finish has the spice floating around and through the fruit. Well balanced, structured, integrated, it will benefit from another two to three years in the bottle. Good.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Gowan Creek Vineyard, Estate, Anderson Valley, $80, 14.5% alc., was handled the same way but is bigger, denser, and richer with an attractive nose of sweet earth and cherry, blackberry, black raspberry, cocoa, strawberry, smoke and herb. Rich, round flavors of the same plus oak are shot through with smooth tannin and moderate acidity and finish long and broad. If you like big, dark, rich Pinots, this is among the best you will find. Well put together and easy to drink now, it will improve with more bottle age. Very Good.

 

Migration

 

Duckhorn has also established a second Anderson Valley label, Migration where it makes Pinots Noir from both the Anderson Valley and the Russian River Valley and Chardonnay from Anderson Valley, Russian River, Sonoma Coast, and Santa Maria Valley. If you can’t find some of these well crafted wines, contact the winery:  www.migrationwines.com

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $34, 14.5% alc., spent ten months in 25% new French oak and has brooding dark fruit aromas of strawberry, black raspberry, cedar, leather, cola, and earth. Flavors of the same are smooth and rich with good presence, fine tannin, and soft acidity. The finish is long and medium-broad. This is a very rich, round, fruit driven Pinot. Very Tasty.

Drew Family Cellars

Jason and Molly Drew established their eponymous winery in 2000 at the top of Mendocino Ridge on the road that leads from Anderson Valley to the town of Elk on the coast. The winery is surrounded by its vineyards but Drew also purchases fruit from the Valley and surrounding ridges and hilltops and produces fine wines with the well met goal of reflecting the vineyard sources. Both Jason and Molly have extensive experience in the industry both in California where Jason has worked at St. Supéry, Carmenet, Babcock, and Navarro and Molly at Joseph Phelps, Luna, and Corison where she was Assistant Winemaker. They both also spent time in South Australia and in addition to his viticulture from UC Santa Cruz, he has an advanced degree from University of Adelaide. Their experience and study is reflected in quality of their wines and, if you don’t know Drew wines, you should definitely make an effort to make their acquaintance.

As with most of the Anderson Valley wineries, Drew’s total production is small. You may not find its wines on the shelf of your favorite shop but you should not let that stop you from enjoying these well crafted and delicious wines. If you can’t find them locally, contact the winery: www.drewwines.com. As with many wineries it also has a wine club so you will not miss out on its future releases and if you are in Anderson Valley, you don’t need to venture up the narrow winding road to the winery to taste the wines. It has a tasting room in Philo.

Jason purchases all of the Albariño available locally and produces a fine example of wine from this grape whose origins are in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. (The grape is known as Albariño in Spain and Alvarinho in Portugal where it is often labeled Vinho Verde.) One-half of the 2011 Albariño, Valenti Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $25, 12.4% alc., completed malolactic fermentation. Very bright, it shows lemon, green apple, mineral, and water chestnut from start to finish. The palate flavors are juicy with good acidity and just a hint of salt and the medium-broad, medium-long finish adds touches of spice and lemon zest. Here is a wine to have with your shell fish or even suckling pig. Crisp, thoroughly enjoyable, and well put together, the only drawback is that Jason cannot make more—more fruit is simply not available. Indeed, production is so limited that the Albariño is not even listed on Drew’s website. Still, if you contact the winery, you probably can find some. Do it!

The 2010 Pinot Noir, Morning Dew Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $48, 13.5% alc., 165 cases, spent eleven months in French oak, 30% new, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Cherry, earth, smoke, plum, cranberry-rhubarb, and spice on the nose introduces flavors of the same are initially sweet and then become crisp and bright with the additions of unripe strawberry, very fine tannin and good acidity. The medium-broad, medium-long finish shows more spice. The wine is austere and has great structure and will mellow and develop over the next three to five years. Well balanced and integrated, it is a wine to pair with food where each will complement the other. Very Good.

The 2010 Pinot Noir, Tafryn & Calder, Anderson Valley, $38, 13.6% alc., 309 cases, is a three vineyard blend. The vineyards all have low yields and each has different clones and rootstocks. The Balo Vineyard contributes 48%, the Valenti Vineyard 40%, and the Wiley Vineyard the remaining 12%. Each was made separately and matured for eleven months in 15% new French oak.  It has aromas of black cherry, plum, blackberry, forest floor, mandarin peel, and herbs. Flavors of the same plus, strawberry and spice are laced with very fine tannin and food acidity (though less than the Morning Dew). Everything carries though the medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated, it is easily drinkable now but will be even better if you give it another three years in the bottle. Very Good.

These Pinots Noir are definitely different but are equally good. Whether you prefer one over the other or simply choose them to complement different foods is simply a matter of personal preference. It is also notable that past vintages of these and other Pinots released previously are available directly from the winery at its website.

Balo

Until 2009 Balo sold all of the Pinot Noir from its 7.5 acres of estate vineyards to other vintners. Beginning with the 2009 vintage, it employed Jason Drew as winemaker to make Pinot Noir and Rosé of Pinot Noir from some of the fruit while selling the rest. As with his own wines, Drew’s wines for Balo reflect the vineyard sources in addition to the preferences of owners Michele and Tim Mullins. Current production is under 500 cases with plans to expand in the future. The wines are well worth looking for but because production is so limited you probably won’t find them at your local shop. So contact the winery, it will ship: www.balovineyards.com.

The 2011 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $21, 13.5% alc., 50 cases, was made with the saignée process, saw no oak and was aged for six months in stainless steel. An attractive nose of strawberry, cranberry, citrus, and a hint of earth repeats on the palate with bright fruit, juicy acidity and the citrus becoming  lemon-lime before a broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

The 2010 Pinot Noir, [Estate], Anderson Valley, $40, 14.1% alc., 250 cases, was fermented with native yeast, spent eleven months in French oak, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Big, rich, forward aromas of cherry, blackberry, and currant repeat as flavors with an accent of oak and laced with very fine tannin and good acidity. Everything continues through the broad, medium-long, persistent finish. This is a big, rich style of Pinot Noir and it is well integrated, structured, and balanced. Very Good.

Phillips Hill Winery

About half way up the hill on the climb to Drew is Phillips Hill buried down a narrow dirt driveway. Its first release was from the 2002 vintage but it was not what Toby Hill had expected. He had graduated in the late 1980s with a BFA from the California College of the Arts and gone to New York to use his artistic talents before returning to San Francisco to work as an architectural colorist. In 1997 he moved north and purchased property in the Mendocino Ridge AVA.

When a local winemaker decided not to finish wine from the Oppenlander Vineyard and offered it to Tony, a new winery was born and he went from a designer of wine labels to winemaker and artist. His artistic background still comes to the fore when he describes his approach to winemaking as being in touch with the grapes just as a painter might describe creating a painting as “don’t paint the painting let the painting paint you.” That background in the arts is also reflected on the winery’s labels and its quite distinct website.

Phillips Hill’s tasting room is in Boonville but if you can’t get there the winery will be happy to ship you some of its quite tasty offerings: www.phillipshillestaates.com.

The 2011 Chardonnay, Ridley Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $30, 13% alc., 50 cases, saw no oak or malolactic. A light nose of lemon, apple, mineral, and floral introduces crisp flavors of lemon and green apple before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Fairly light bodied with moderate acidity, it is well put together and could be just the thing to pair with your next meal of fish or shellfish.

The 2011 Gewurztraminer, [Husch Vineyard], Anderson Valley, $18, 14% alc. 120 cases, opens with light spice and grapefruit before juicy flavors of grapefruit, grapefruit peel, green apple, and spice that finish medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $38, 13.8% alc., 380 cases, was aged for eleven months in French oak, 35% new. Aromas of barnyard, earth, cherry, red plum, cola, and touches of spice introduce flavors of the same with fine tannin and nice acidity. It finishes broad and medium-long. Overall it is lean, restrained, well structured, and fairly light bodied with good flavor intensity. Tasty,

The 2010 Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard, Comptche, Mendocino, $42, 13.9% alc., 325 cases, spent eleven months in French oak, 40% new. Still tight, it shows earth, cherry, raspberry, and black currant on the nose before round flavors of the same fruit followed by earth and smoky oak and accented with very fine tannin. The finish is long and medium-broad with a good dollop of spice. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.

Ii contrast, the 2008 Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard, Comptche, Mendocino, $38, 14% alc., 600 cases, which was handled the same way has a bouquet of smoke, oak, cranberry, currant, and beet, Round, mouth filling flavors of the same but in the reverse order and with spice at the front are laced with fine tannin and moderate acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Bigger than the 2010 release it is nicely done and not treated to decrease the smoky influence of the fires in the area which affected the grapes.

The 2009 Boontling Pinot Noir, Mendocino, $24, 13.8% alc., 640 cases, spent eighteen months in French oak, 30% new and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. A blend of fruit from vineyards in the Anderson Valley and Comptche it has a light nose of mostly cherry and raspberry with hints of forest floor and strawberry. All repeat as bright flavors accented with smoke and very light tannin before a medium-broad, truncated finish. A straight forward Pinot for everyday drinking.

The 2010 Pinot Noir, Two Terroirs, Mendocino, $40, 250 cases, was made with fruit from the Anderson Valley and Mendocino Ridge AVAs. Still tight is has juicy raspberry, cherry, rhubarb, and almost ripe strawberry flavors with fine tannin and good acidity. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated, it is fairly light bodied but everything you expect from a Mendocino Pinot is there. Very Tasty to Good.

Navarro Vineyards & Winery

One of Anderson Valley’s pioneer wineries, Navarro continues to produces a wide range of well made, modestly, often bargain priced wines that it sells direct to consumers. Currently there are fourteen releases and many, including other vintners, find them as the perfect go to wines especially for everyday drinking. If you haven’t had them, go to its website: www.navarrowine.com, and order yourself a selection or choose from one of their sampler packs. They also offer grape juices for the under aged and for those who don’t drink wine but might like to experience what the grapes taste like right from the vine and some condiments.

The 2009 Chardonnay, Première Reserve, Anderson Valley, $25, 13.6% alc., has a bouquet of vanilla cream, quince, and lemon before assertive flavor of the same but in the reverse order and with an added note of cinnamon. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.

The 2009 Chardonnay, Mendocino, $17, opens with apple and citrus before juicy, round, mouth filling citrus dominated flavors accented with nice acidity and a broad, medium-long finish. Well put together. Tasty.

The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvée 128, Mendocino, $18, 13.7% alc., was fermented and aged in large French oak ovals for six months. A light nose of sweet grass and toast introduces flavors of grass, lemon, lime, and melon laced with zippy acidity before a medium-broad, truncated finish with a sweet note. Nicely done.

The 2010 Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley, $19, 13.7% alc., was fermented and aged for seven months in oak ovals. Light apple and toasty oak on the nose introduces fairly rich, juicy flavors of apple, nuts, and oak before a medium-broad, medium-long finish.

The 2009 Gewürztraminer, Estate, Anderson Valley, $19, 13.6% alc., was fermented in oak ovals. A spicy and tropical fruit nose continues and repeats on the palate. The medium-long, broad finish has more spice which persists and increases. Mouth filling and round, it would be a nice choice with ham that is always a challenge to find a good match. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty to Good.

The 2010 Muscat Blanc, Estate, Anderson Valley, $19, 13.5% alc., 460 cases, has a floral nose of honeysuckle and orange blossoms. Bright, juicy floral and sweet green apple flavors have nice acidity and finish medium-broad and medium-long. The wine is dry and has a nice spicy note.

‘The 2011 Rosé, Mendocino, $16.50, 13.6% alc., 640 cases, is 100% Grenache. Aromas of strawberry and strawberry guava precede flavors of strawberry, cherry, and lemon that are ripe but not sweet. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Light bodied but with nice acidity that makes this a refreshing rosé. Tasty.

The 2010 Navarrouge, Mendocino, $14, 13.8% alc., is a blend of 39% Syrah, 33% Zinfandel, 26% Pinot Noir, and 2% other reds. An attractive nose of cherry, raspberry, plum, and blackberry repeats as juicy, ripe but not sweet flavors with the additions of lots of peppery spice, light tannin, and good acidity. The medium-broad, long finish has lingering spice. Well put together. Very Good. BEST BUY.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Mendocino, $19, 14.3% alc., was aged in seasoned French oak for ten months. Nicely forward aromas of dark cherry, blackberry, cranberry, and smoky oak lead to round, smooth, sweet accented flavors of the same with an added note of spice at the front. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long and the overall impression is of fresh, sweet fruit balanced with good acidity and fine tannin. Well put together.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Méthode à la Ancienne, Anderson Valley, $29, 14.2% alc., has sweetly ripe cherry, plum, raspberry, and spice aromas before round, broad, flavors of the same plus cinnamon, good acidity, and fine, smooth tannins. Everything carries through the medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well integrated, structured, and balanced. Very Tasty.

The 2009 Zinfandel, Old Vine Cuvée, [Young, Lovers’ Lane, and Eagle Point vineyards], Mendocino, $27, 14.9% alc., comes from vines that are 60-80 years old. Light pepper, plum blackberry, and raspberry aromas before flavors of the same with notes of ollalieberry and more pepper and plum are accented with soft tannin and good acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well done. Good to Very Good.

The 2009 Syrah, Mendocino, $27, 14.2% alc., 395 cases, shows cherry, dark chocolate, black olive, cinnamon, and fresh pine lumber on the nose. Juicy flavors of the same are laced with nice acidity and fine tannin before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated.

The 2009 Gewürztraminer, Late Harvest, Anderson Valley, $19/375 ml., 11% alc.,  647 cases, has 8.1% residual sugar with enough acid to balance the sugar and allow the wine to be sweet but not cloying. Indeed, after a nose of pineapple, honey, apricot, and mango which continue as fresh flavors, it finishes long and medium-broad. Well put together, you can drink it now but if you wait another three to five years it will develop more richness and weight. Good.

In contrast, the 2006 Gewürztraminer, Cluster Select, Late Harvest, Anderson Valley, $59/750 ml., and 29$/375 ml., 10.3% alc., 21% residual sugar has a golden color, a nose of spice, honey, and vanilla, and sweet, thick flavors of the same plus orange and apricot. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. The sugar is nicely balanced with enough acidity to keep it from being cloying but not to diminish the sweetness. Good.

The 2007 Riesling, Cluster Select, Late Harvest, Anderson Valley, $59/750 ml. or $29/375 ml., 10.3% alc., 21% residual sugar, opens with an apricot, tangerine, peach, honey, and pineapple bouquet. Very sweet and rich flavors of the same are shot through with great acidity that balances the sugar and everything carries through the medium-broad and medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. It is Very Good now and will be even better with another five years in the bottle.

Lazy Creek Vineyards

Lazy Creek was founded in 1973 by Hans Kobler and his wife Theresa. Best known for his Gewürztraminer that always ranked among the best made in California, he also made Pinot Noir beginning in the 1980s. The Pinot was a lighter style but it was well balanced and structured and was a delightful addition to a meal. He also made Chardonnay and a Red Wine produced from the fruit that did not go into the Pinot. All the fruit came from estate vineyards and the wines were well made and bargain modestly priced. When Hans retired the winery was sold to a young couple who ran it until they sold it in 2008 to Ferrari Carano.

The purchase by Don and Rhonda Carano brought with it the ability to invest substantial amounts of money in new facilities which, when completed, will include a new winery, new equipment, and caves. This will mean that a visit to Lazy Creek will lose its rustic and adventuresome character though, for legal reasons, the two track road in cannot be expanded so some of the past will be retained. The flip side is the improvements to the winery should insure its continued viability and allow current winemaker Christy Griffith to produce ever better wines.

The vineyards are sustainably managed and with the goals of ripe fruit making lower alcohol wines. Production is still quite small so it is unlikely the wines will appear at your local shop. However, the winery will ship: www.lazycreekvineyards.com.

The 2009 Riesling, Anderson Valley, $24, 13.4% alc., 151 cases, spent three months in neutral French oak. Aromas of grapefruit, lemon, petrol, and a hint of bergamot repeat as crisp flavors shot through with good acidity. The medium-broad, medium-long finish adds light spice at the sides. The 2010 should be released soon but there will be no 2011 because the fruit wouldn’t ripen.

The 2009 Gewürztraminer, Estate, Anderson Valley, $22, 13.8% alc., 200 cases, was fermented and aged in neutral French oak. Aromas of spice, floral, and soft, sweet grapefruit introduce big, bold, juicy flavors of the same. The long, broad finish has persistent spice. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

The 2011 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Estate, Anderson Valley, $18, 12.5% alc., 300 cases, was fermented and aged sur lie in stainless steel tanks. A nose of strawberry, cherry, sweet rhubarb, and a hint of earth precedes crisp, juicy flavors of the same plus a touch of lemon. The acid is good and there is virtually no tannin. It finishes long and broad. Well put together. Very Good.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Estate, Anderson Valley, $42, 14.2% alc., 809 cases, shows earth, dark cherry, blackberry, iris, herb, and cinnamon on the nose. The broad, smooth palate adds a touch of spice, fine round tannins and nice acidity. Spice shows at the sides and front center of the long, broad finish. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Very Tasty. A preliminary barrel sample blend of the 2010 Pinot indicates that it will be brighter and somewhat lighter than the 2009 with almost hard candy like cherry.

Roederer Estate

Founded in 1982 as the California outpost of Champagne Louis Roederer, this winery sparklers are very much in the style of its Champagne parent. Made the same way as the Louis Roederer wines, while they reflect the California fruit, they are the most French of the California sparklers. All the wines are made only with cuvée (the first pressing). The remaining juice is used to make still wines or is sold. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks.

Arnaud Weyrich has been the winemaker since 2000 moving from France to Anderson Valley with his wife and children. A graduate of Montpellier he has an considerable experience with Roederer, Louis and Estate. He has also worked with Groupe Promodes a multinational retail company where he was responsible for quality control of the company’s private label products: wine, spirits, and fruit juices. At Roederer Estate he is oversees 600 acres of vineyards which are managed applying sustainable farming principles. Of those acres 90 are farmed organically and 22 are farmed biodynamically though as winemaker he does not practice the more extreme parts of the biodynamic regimen—no sleeping naked in the vineyard.

I have used the common designation of non-vintage that is also used by the winery on its tech sheets. Arnaud prefers multi-vintage as a more accurate description because the wines are blended that way to insure consistency.

The nv Brut, Anderson Valley, $21, 12% alc., is approximately 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. Aged at least two years on the yeast, it has aromas of toast, citrus, pear, and spice. Crisp and juicy flavors of the same with a creamy note finish long and medium-broad. Very good bubbles, depth, and presence in this toasty, yeasty sparkler that is well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good to Very Good and a good value.

The nv Brut (Magnum), Anderson Valley, $46/1.5 L., 12% alc., reflects the difference in aging in the larger format. That difference results because the yeast forms a thinner film on the inside of the bottle and the result is a softer wine with additional mineral notes and a longer, more persistent finish. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Very Good.

The nv Brut Rosé, Anderson Valley, $28, 12% alc., is 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. It also spent at least two years on the lees. The rosé character is gained by making a still Pinot Noir with extended maceration and adding about 5% of it to the blend before the second fermentation. While more labor intensive that a saignée approach, Roederer believes the extra work produces a wine with more finesse.  The result is a sparkler with a nose of toast, lees, citrus, and raspberry before fruity, raspberry, currant, lemon, and toast flavors that finish long and broad. Elegant but austere it is smooth and surprisingly delicate with long lived bubbles. Well put together. Very Good.

The 2003 L’Ermitage, Brut, Anderson Valley, $44, is 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir including 4% of reserve wines. A Tête de Cuvée wine that is not made every year it spends at least five years on the yeast and the added wine liquor was aged in French oak casks for five years. In addition, the wine is held for an additional six months after disgorgement before release. The result is a wine with a bouquet of brioche, tarte tatin, citrus, and hints of apricot. A creamy mouth feel and the addition of a touch of vanilla make for good concentration of flavors while maintaining elegance and fine mousse. It finishes long and broad. Lovely now if you like your sparkler with more age this one has the structure for that and the wine will gain caramel and honey notes with more time in the bottle. Excellent.

The 2003 L’Ermitage, Rosé, Anderson Valley, $70, 12% alc., 618 cases, is equal amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with 3% of the total being aged reserve wine that was aged for three years. A bouquet of crisp fruit: raspberry and cherry and then brioche flips as the wine warms and opens. Creamy textured flavors of the same plus some hazelnut with good body and bubbles finish medium-broad and very long. It has lovely delicate pink salmon color that will fade with more time in the bottle as the yeast absorbs color. Elegant, well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

Roederer Estate also produces small quantities of Pinot Noir Rosé, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

Scharffenberger Cellars

John Scharffenberger founded this eponymously named winery in 1981 with the goal of producing high quality sparkling wines. He sold the winery in 1998 and the new owners changed the name to Pacific Echo. That venture was not a success and in 2004 the winery and vineyards were again sold; this time to Roederer which makes its Roederer Estate wines at its facility several miles west. After the purchase by Roederer, the Scharffenberger name was reclaimed.

This symbiotic relationship between Scharffenberger and Roederer Estate will mean that Roederer can use the Scharffenberger winery to make still wines under both labels and the Roederer facility can make sparkling wines for both.

Tex Sawyer has been the winemaker at Scharffenberger since 1989 which has allowed for a consistent approach and style. The sparkling wines are fruit driven and well crafted as are its still wines.

The 2005 Blanc de Blancs, Mendocino County, $30, 800 cases, has a very light nose of toast, apple, and lees before crisp lemon and apple flavors with some oak. The medium-broad, medium-long finish adds lemon peel. The wine has nice bubbles. Straight forward.

The nv Brut, Mendocino, $19, is a blend of equal amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Very light toast and apple on the nose introduces big, intense apple, lemon peel, lemon, and unripe pineapple flavors before a medium-broad, very truncated finish.

The nv Extra Dry, Mendocino County, $25, 500 cases, has flavors of sweet apple, baked lemon, lemon peel, and pineapple which continue through the long finish that broadens at the back. Straight forward.

The nv Crémant, Mendocino County, $25, 576 cases, is 50% each of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Floral, sweet lemon, cream, toast, and lees aromas repeat as cream soda like flavors. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long. Well put together. Tasty.

There are also small amounts of 2008 Chardonnay, 2006 Pinot Noir, and 2008 Syrah available from the tasting room.

Lula Cellars

Lula is named after the winemaker/owner’s maternal grandmother and the winery is now in its second year of production. It produces small amounts four wines but as of May 2012, two were sold out. Future plans are to increase production to a total of about 1400 cases beginning with the next releases.  It sells all of its wines direct to the consumer so contact the winery: www.lulacellars.com. Notes on its current Pinot Noir and Zinfandel follow.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, [Hansen Vineyard], Mendocino Coast, $39, 14.3% alc., 500 cases, was aged in French oak for eighteen months and opens with attractive black cherry, blackberry, black raspberry, mushroom, leather, and earth aromas. All repeat with the addition of peppery spice as fairly bright flavors laced with good acidity and fine tannin before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Medium bodied and well balanced, structured, and integrated. Tasty.

The 2009 Zinfandel, [Talmadge Bench, Ukiah], Mendocino, $28, 14.6% alc., 500 cases, is the first release of this wine. Still tight with a nose of raspberry and cherry before round flavors of the same with moderate tannin and acidity before a medium-broad, truncated finish. Straight forward and well put together, this is a medium weight Zin’ that will pair well roasted meats.

There is still some wine available from the 2008 vintage. It definitely reflects the fires from that year which give the wines a definite smoky character. If you like that, they will go well with whatever comes off your grill.

Claudia Springs Winery

Bob and Claudia Klindt founded Claudia Springs Winery in 1989 establishing it in (or perhaps more accurately under) the house previously owned by Milla Handley. The wines are made from the Klindt [Estate] Vineyard and fruit sourced elsewhere in Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge, and Redwood Valley AVAs and the winery’s total staff is Bob and Claudia. All of the wines are produced in small quantities and the winery’s total production is 2,000-2,500 cases annually. While you may not find them locally, it is worth the effort to find them. Fortunately, the winery will ship: www.claudiasprings.com.

The 2010 Viognier, Lolonis Vineyard, Redwood Valley, $24, 14.2% alc., 245 cases, has a soft nose of lemon-lime before flavors of the same with added notes of mandarin, nectarine, and spice. It finishes long and medium-broad. Overall, it is crisp with good body and presence and is well put together. Good.

The 2009 Pinot Noir, Klindt Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $24, 14.3% alc., 245 cases, has a light nose of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and oak. Round, juicy flavors of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and oak are laced with fine tannin and good acidity and are fairly light bodied. The finish is medium-broad and truncated. Nicely balanced and integrated.

The 2007 Zinfandel, [Valenti Ranch, Vassar, and Ricetti Vineyards], Mendocino County, $24, 14.4% alc., 292 cases, has a rich, ripe bouquet of currant, blackberry, clove, cedar, and a hint of vanilla. Medium bodied flavors of the same plus pepper are laced with very fine, light tannin and nice acidity and finish long, broad, and lingering. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.

The nv Zinfandel, Blend 4, Mendocino County, $18, 15.8% alc., 210 cases, contains some Petite Sirah in the final blend. Aromas of white pepper, menthol, chocolate, and black raspberry continue as flavors with the additions of cherry, raspberry, fine tannin and moderate acidity. The medium-broad, medium-long finish has more pepper which is now black. There is plenty of extraction here so the fruit covers the alcohol and the wine is not hot but remember that a six ounce glass of this wine contains almost one ounce of alcohol or as much as two ounces of 98 proof distilled spirits.

The 2009 Zinfandel, Valenti Ranch, Mendocino Ridge, $24, 16.7% alc., is big and powerful with a nose of blackberry, plum, toasty oak, and oregano. All repeat as flavors with the additions of cranberry and rhubarb before a medium-broad, medium-long, persistent finish. The fruit is fresh and the alcohol adds sweetness and, as with the Blend 4, there is enough fruit to hide the alcohol.

The 2009 Vittorio’s Secret, Redwood Valley, $35, 14.9% alc., 185 cases, is a blend of 63% zinfandel, 19% Petite Sirah, and 18% Carignan. Aromas of chocolate, blackberry, black raspberry, pepper, and cedar continue as flavors with the addition of chocolate at the end and all accented with fine tannin. The long finish broadens at the back. Well put together. Very Tasty.

The 2009 Primitivo, Vittorio’s Vineyard, Redwood Valley, $26, 17% alc., 155 cases, opens with cherry, raspberry, cranberry, pepper, and plum. Round and light bodied on the palate with the same flavors as on the nose, it is accented with light tannin and soft acidity. The medium-broad, medium-long finish has more pepper and shows some alcohol.

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One Response to ANDERSON VALLEY – A Relaxed Paradise

  1. Massimo says:

    Very nice!!!!!!!!!!

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