Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Report from ... the Sonoma Wine Affair – September 18, 2008

The California wine show is a huge undertaking for any wine fan – there’s lots of wine from lots of producers … enough to make your head spin (an not just from all the wine you’re going to consume). So with the Sonoma Wine Affair, which came to town September 18, the folks in America’s largest wine producing state made it easier to take a smaller sip out of California. Twenty-four producers from the region showed off 3 to 4 wines each, so with numbers like that it gave you a fighting chance to try all the wines. I would say I was able to wrap my palate around 90% and here’s what I found.

Best Winery of the Day …
Zin fans should rejoice because Seghesio was just the table to be trying wines at this afternoon. Three Zinfandels ranging in price from $24.75 to $45.75 and made from grapes ranging in age from 10 years to over 100 (vines planted in 1895 and 1896). The Zinfandel Sonoma County will be released in Vintages come October, while the Old Vines and Home Ranch aren’t currently available, but keep you eyes open for these wines or call up your buddy down in the US and find out if he/she can get some. Sure the Home Ranch is $45.75, but it is so flavourful and worth every penny … perfect for ribs and other bbqed fare.

Looking for more Zin …
Pezzi-King is the place to go. Not available in Canada (yet), if there is any justice in the world this winery should have (hopefully) found an agent by the end of the day. While the Sauvignon Blanc was pretty standard the Sonoma Zinfandel ($25) and the “Old Vines” Zinfandel ($36) – made from 75 year old vines … is spectacular, especially for the price. Concentrated fruit and a sweet mouth feel before it moves into high-and-dry gear on the finish.

Other Wineries and Wines of Notes …

Arrowood Vineyards
2002 Sonoma Beau Melange Syrah - $29.95 – November in Vintages – rich, smoky, black pepper and spice with a hint of licorice.

Blackstone Winery
2006 Merlot, Sonoma County Reserve - $23.95 – beautiful big black fruit, plumy and jammy with black raspberries and good tannins.
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - $15.00 – mostly blackberries – good value.
2007 Sauvignon Blanc - $17.95 – nice crisp citrus notes with some gooseberry and good acidity.

Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards and Winery
2005 Merlot, Chalk Hill - $70.00 – very, very, red berry with a dollop of cinnamon.

De Loach Vineyards
2006 Zinfandel - $15.95 – November in LCBO – a steal of a Zin with plumy, cola notes, and a touch of raspberry and strawberry jam, this one’s just plum tasty (no pun intended).
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
2004 Blanc de Blancs - $26.95 – in Vintages – good bubble for a good price, nice toasted apple taste and intoxicating smell.

2006 Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir - $22.95 – January in Vintages – very Californian Pinot with an easy red fruit nose, mainly cherry and raspberry, with a good finish.

Rodney Strong Vineyards
2005 Symmetry Meritage – smoky, oaky, bittersweet chocolate, dark fruit, cassis and quite dusty on the finish.

Trentadue Vineyards
2004 La Storia Zinfandel, Alexander Valley - $35.00 – rich and fruity with the typical jammy and plumy aspects of Zin you have come to know and love.
NV Port Chocolate Amore, Alexander Valley - $28.55 / 375ml – this high alcohol port wine (18.5%) is made with a touch of chocolate and it really comes through in both the taste and smell; the chocolate wraps itself around a bit of cherry and spice for good measure … Almost too easy going down – this is what we used to cal “panty remover” – and I know that’s not politically correct, but nothing’s that fun ever is.

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