Harvest has finally wrapped up so now we have more time to take advantage of everything the fall season has to offer! As this was our first totally open weekend since the beginning of August, we decided to explore the coast and fall foliage in the vineyards.
We have had a couple of days of rain over the last week so the coast is electric green! If you have never had a chance to explore the coast of Sonoma and Marin Counties, you need to put it on your list. Endless miles of beautiful coastline and breathtaking views!
One of the best parts of heading to the coast are all of the amazing seafood restaurants. This weekend, we stopped by Fishetarian for lunch. They have the most delicious fish tacos in Norcal as well as an array of fresh, local seafood.
We rounded out the weekend exploring the changing foliage in Healdsburg. Ridge Vineyards‘ property is putting on a magnificent display of color right now. An awesome way to wrap up Sunday afternoon!
The longer I live in Sonoma, the longer my list of favorite wineries in Sonoma County grows. Unti Vineyards easily makes the list and is located on Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. They craft well-made wines and throw some pretty fantastic release parties! Brandon and I attended their last release party and picked up some wine to bring home with us. Among our stash was a bottle of Unti Barbera that we decided to uncork last week.
Unti Barbera is inky in color and opens with cherry and floral aromatics. Although the wine is a bit hefty in alcohol, it is relatively balanced on the palate. There are bright notes of cherries, plum, and spice surrounded by hints of earth. Drink young and pair with foods like sausage pizza! ($30, 14.7% alcohol)
I am a huge fan of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and there are an increasing number of winemakers producing balanced, beautiful Pinots from the region. Some of the best wines will definitely cost you well over $50 but there are also a number of relatively inexpensive wines that are incredibly delicious. Failla Wines has been a long-time favorite Pinot producer of ours and Failla’s 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot is a great value at around $35.
Failla 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir begins with aromas of bright, red berries, spice, and flowers. On the palate, the medium-bodied wine is fresh and incredibly easy to drink. There are tastes of ripe, red fruit and hints of earth supported with bright acidity. A delicious Pinot Noir that will inevitably disappear too quickly! (13.9% alcohol)
Ever have one of those nights where you are lucky enough to have a whole bottle of wine to yourself that you just can’t pull away from? This was the case for me last weekend when I opened up a bottle of 2012 Broc Cellars Carignan. I am a big fan of Broc Cellars and ran across the newly released Carignan at a local wine store in LA. I grabbed a bottled, poured a glass when I got home, and then soon after poured another one!
100% Carignan from Alexander Valley in Sonoma. Partial carbonic maceration. Native yeast fermentation. 12.8% alcohol with a retail price of around $22.
The aromas of this Carignan are really enticing. There are bright notes of sweet cranberries and raspberries surrounded with floral elements. The palate instantly won be over with fresh, vivid flavors of strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries There are also hints of white pepper and a bit of earthiness. This is everything I am looking for in a Carignan. Pure, lively, and really hard to stop sipping!
During the Wine Bloggers Conference a couple of weeks ago, our palates were bombarded with 100s of wines. Over the course of the weekend, a few wines really stood out from the rest; one of them being 2008 Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards.
Thralls Family Cellars is the project of winemaker and owner Ed Thralls. Ed has a really cool story surrounding his journey to become a winemaker. After being a bit unfulfilled by a successful career in financial technology, he began pursuing his passion for wine by making it in his garage in Atlanta. Ed followed his passion cross-country to Sonoma and now produces both Pinot Noir and Syrah for Thralls Family Cellars.
100% Syrah from Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County. The wine was aged 19 months in a 50% new/50% 1 year old (Zebra) barrel before bottling in May 2010. There was minimal intervention in the winemaking process. 13.8% alcohol and a retail price of $34.
Thralls Syrah pours an intense blackish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers rich, enticing aromas of blackberries, smoke, and lavender. The palate is smooth and nicely structured with tastes of ripe blackberries, plum, black pepper, and sweet tobacco. Well-made, sophisticated, and balanced!
Ever have a wine that leaves you still thinking about it a few days later? That is what I have been doing ever since I uncorked a bottle of Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Noir this past Saturday night. I am a huge Grenache fan and winemaker William Allen’s 2012 Grenache is exactly the type of Grenache I look for. It’s an absolutely beautiful wine!
100% Grenache from Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River. 50% whole cluster. Unfined and unfiltered. 13.3% alcohol and a retail price of $38.
Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Noir pours a cranberry color in the glass that seems to sparkle when the light hits it. The wine has a beautiful nose that features aromas of rich, yet delicate red fruit. It is a light-bodied wine with poised structure. There are refined tastes of cherries, cranberries, strawberries, and hints of spice. Elegant with vibrant acidity, this is one of the best domestic Grenaches I have had this year!
A few months ago, I visited Cartograph’s tasting room in downtown Healdsburg and had the chance to sip through many of their wines. When we got to their 2012 Floodgate Vineyard Gewürztraminer, I have to admit, I wasn’t prepared to like it so much. I haven’t had too many domestic versions that I would care to sip again. To my surprise, Cartograph makes a wonderful Gewürz more similar to what you would find from Alsace.
100% Gewürztraminer from the Russian River Valley. 13.8% alcohol. 185 cases produced. Retails for $24.
Cartopgraph’s 2012 Floodgate Vineyard Gewürztraminer is loaded with beautiful aromas. There are intoxicating notes of orange blossom, lemon, minerals, and peach. The palate is elegant and dry with bright tastes of citrus, lychee fruit, and peach. Surprisingly complex and full with plenty of acidity. I really dig this wine!
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Healdsburg Square, definitely stop by Cartograph. Great atmosphere, wonderful people, and excellent wines!
Are you dreaming of taking a vacation to wine country? If so, we have a great giveaway to bring you today from our friends at Underground Cellar!
Here is what you and 3 friends will get to experience if you are the winner:
GRAND PRIZE DETAILS
– Stay at the luxurious Villa Terra Nova located in the heart of Sonoma wine country
– Behind-the-scenes private tour of Iron Horse Vineyards, by winemaker David Munskgard
– VIP chef’s dinner at award-winning “the girl and the fig” restaurant
– Roundtrip airfare, luxury transportation, and many other surprises!
I started to convince myself that I really did not like Zinfandel. Every time I uncorked a bottle, the only adjectives that came to mind were big, jammy, fruit bomb, or overpowering (most of the time, all of the above). Thankfully, as with most things in life, there are exceptions to every rule. This time, the exception comes from Broc Cellars.
100% Zinfandel from Sonoma County. Naturally made with 12.7% alcohol. Retails for $26.99.
Broc Cellars 2012 “Vine Starr” Zinfandel opens with aromas of black cherry, earth, and black pepper. The palate is elegant and vibrant with fresh flavors of dark fruit, anise, black tea, lavender, and spice. Flavorful, refined, and compelling. Throw everything your taste buds know about Zinfandel out the window…this stuff is awesome!
On Wednesday evening, I had the chance to get together with several other bloggers and taste through three Dry Creek Valley Field Blend Zinfandels on Twitter. This tasting was particularly cool because the winemakers behind the Zins were simultaneously hosting a live Q&A on BrandLive. The tasting was super informative as it was awesome to hear the winemakers’ perspectives on their wines and the region in general. Here are the tasting notes from the Zins we sampled.
Ridge 2011 Lytton Springs
A blend of 82% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, and 2% Carignane with earthy tastes of black fruit and licorice. Healthy acidity and quite graceful for a Zinfandel. The standout of the tasting for me. (14.4% alcohol, $38)
This wine is composed of 75% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 10% Carignane, and 5% Mourvedre. It had the most pronounced oak influence (yet still not overpowering) as well as tastes of rich, dark fruit and hints of vanilla. Not my style but easy to see how it would appeal to a lot of wine drinkers. (14.9% alcohol, $43)
Dry Creek Vineyard 2011 Beeson Ranch Zinfandel
Aromas of dark fruit and spice are found in this field blend of 85% Zinfandel and 15% Petite Sirah. The palate is smooth and balanced with black fruit, licorice, and a lengthy finish. Nicely done! (13.5% alcohol, $38)