2019 White Blend by Peterson Winery, Healdsburg CA
Equal parts Vermentino, Verdelho, Vernaccia.
Nose is a little shy up front with primary earthy notes of damp, grassy fields. slightly under-ripe strawberries, white cherries, citrus. Swirling vigorously intensifies the old dusty sedimentary leather. I like a white wine that shows earth notes like this.
Body is dry, slightly viscous and greets with a touch of crisp acidity which adds good tension. These complement each other nicely. Slightly under-ripe strawberries and white cherries carry over nicely. A touch of white pepper. A certain tartness emerges towards the finish. I can’t tell if it’s minerality or from skins. Almost like a lemon zest. It slowly coats the palate. Good mild to medium finish.
This is a slow sipper. The blend brings great dimension and body. An understated, dry, terroir driven blend. This winemaker presents a serious, straightforward wine, without frills or pretenses. Well worth a look for those curious to understand this region and its expressions.
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Pinot Noir (Wholer Vineyard – Russian River Valley) by Sojourn Cellars, Sonoma, CA
Dark ruby color. Aromatic nose with red berries, raspberries and that all too familiar Sonoma Dirt up front. This is where my mind goes every time I think of Sonoma Pinot – the dirt. Damp earth mixed with dry grass/hay. Sometimes more forest floor, sometimes more mushroom, open field as is the case with this one. Swirling vigorously adds a touch of red vines licorice. The entire bouquet intensifies. Almost intoxicating. Love it!
Body is balanced right down the middle, front to back. A soft plush mouth feel greets the palate with light raspberry, touch of strawberry all wrapped in a weighted, silky texture. Tannins are barely noticeable and secondary, providing just enough structure. A gentle spice warmth gradually emerges towards the back as the body fades, leaving behind subtle bitter cola. The two gently coating the lips. And just like that, with little fanfare, the show is over. Time for another sip!
I love what Sojourn is doing with their Pinot Noirs. You can’t go wrong here. Great, faithful Pinot from Sonoma. Highly recommend. You won’t be disappointed!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Chardonnay (Charm Acres – Sonoma) by Pali Wine Co. Lompoc, CA
Another quick look today at a nice little Chardonnay. Sometimes simple done right is all you need. Clean, crisp, shy nose, good fruit, and a touch of that iconic earthy Sonoma leather. Great slightly weighty, slightly creamy body. Restrained acidity, zesty finish. Unpretentious. Not abstract nor extreme. Modest doses of complementary characteristics. Good balance. Serve this one super chilled. A great go-to Chardonnay by a team known for some really great wines! Nicely done folks!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Carignane (Mancini Ranch – Russian River Valley) by Reichwage Winery, Sebastopol CA.
Soft gentle nose with ripe cherries and raspberries up front. A sweet floral nectar like essence permeates the nose. A wet wood leather undertone. Very nice, if not luxurious.
Nose can be a bit misleading. Body is bone dry. Greeting with firm, slightly acidic attack. This has the effect of stretching and opening up the palate, bringing good tension. This quickly gives way to red berries and cherries, albeit restrained, light and crisp. An unobtrusive wood further softens the expression, giving it a somewhat plush, luxurious mouth feel. Thin, crisp, firm but unobtrusive tannins quickly precipitate upon the stage, holding firm across the entire experience. Hints of cola, and citrus lemon linger about as the stage fades away leaving my lips dry, edges tingling ever so subtly with white pepper.
We continue exploring this Winemaker’s work. What caught me from the beginning was the level of finish his wines show. This one is no exception. A lighter bodied Carignane. Subtle, nuanced, perhaps a Pinot lover’s interpretation. I like it! Nicely done Max!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Rosé of Tempranillo (Clarksburg) by Passaggio Wines, Treasure Island, San Francisco
Crisp, clean, slightly weighty, viscous mouth feel. Crisp dry, firm finish. Good balance. Dry cherries, raspberries and gentle floral aromas.
Perhaps my shortest review yet but for good reason. I was under the illusion I could actually pull it off in the hot tub. Needless to say it’s a challenge to do anything other than just kick back with this Rosé by one of my favorite winemakers off the beaten path. A perfect way to end the week. Nicely done Cindy!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Rhapsody by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma
Grenache (42%) Carignane (38%) Mourvedre (20%) Santa Ynez Valley.
Subtle red cherry, blackberry, subtle raspberries, hint of cocoa, subtle moist earthy wood, mushroom so faint you’d likely miss it. The bouquet is definitely floral in expression. As it breathes, cherries intensify, along with red vines licorice and touch of cedarwood. Red cherry turns to ripe dark cherries.
Body is balanced from front to back. Bright sweet cherries, raspberries are further enhanced by crisp refined caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak. A slightly viscous mouth feel. A touch of sweet citrus develops towards the back reminiscent of Meyer lemon with a drop of honey. By this point the body dissipates completely leaving the palate and lips slightly moist.
I have been following this vintners collection for well over a decade. I think of their tasting room as a library. Always and exercise in wine education. While I mostly obsess over their age worthy Pinot Noirs, it’s always nice to indulge in his vision with other varietals. I highly recommend stopping by our 2020 Winemaker of the Year next time you’re in Sonoma. You won’t be disappointed.
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Benchmark Tuscan Blend (Sonoma) by Umbriaso, San Francisco, California
Deep dark (but clear) burgundy color. Out of the bottle this wine is recognizable with great sense of place – Sonoma. Subtle earth notes of damp woody forest floor and cherry cola. Not as pronounced as in more terroir driven varietals from this region such as Pinot Noir but unmistakable. I love this kind of fidelity. Crisp slightly ripe dark plum skins of the Syrah and a sweet citrus from the Sangiovese play second fiddle. Swirling unlocks hints of red vines licorice. A nice crisp, clean, beautiful aromatic nose.
Body is balanced from front to back. Fairly dry with great fruit characteristics. A slightly weighted mouth feel greets the palate immediately. Restrained plum and mild citrus acidity part immediately. One precipitating into thin crisp unobtrusive tannic structure, the other transitioning to light bright berries. The later quickly dissipates leaving behind a subtle cola as the tannic structure grows in intensity. This marks the transition to a finish dominated by a dry, fine grit tannic grip and the faintest hint of spice. Not a single trace of the body remains. Just my lips parched shut.
This wine shows great execution. Clean, crisp, delineated with a great sense of place. You don’t have to look very far to find a hidden gem. Mr Hayes has been pouring his art on Treasure Island for a while now. There’s a little Winemakers’ Co-operative out there I highly recommend you visit. It’s called Treasure Island Wines. On any given day you can find an Artisan quietly pouring wines crafted with an obsessive attention to detail. This my friends, is what wine really is about.
Last week I had a chance to sit down and catch up with one of my all-time-favorite Vintners, Roger Roessler of Roger Roessler Wines. On the menu was lunch at Della Santina’s in Sonoma, a family owned and operated Tuscan soul food experience. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you stop by. To top it off, we were joined by our distinguished host, none other than owner and founder ‘Danny’ who shared endless stories from his upbringing in Italy to his exploits in San Francisco. What a special treat to share a meal with over a century and a half of knowledge and life experience.
We paired appetizers with with a Vermentino from Italy. Main course with 2004 Pinot Noir (La Brisa) from Roger’s private reserve and a Nebbiolo from Langhe!
By age 21, Roger had opened his first restaurant. He spent the following two and a half decades or so in the business of opening restaurants across the country. After accumulating what I would imagine a wealth of experience in the culinary and service industry Roger decided to dive into the wine world and share his passion for Pinot Noir with us. Taking a step back, this now seems like the logical thing to do. Food an all it’s nuance eventually must be paired with Pinot Noir. The highly personalized service and attention to detail carried over from all those years in the culinary and server industry.
I have been following Roessler wines for well over a decade now and can trace my profound appreciation for Pinot Noir back to that first visit to the Roessler tasting room just off the square in downtown Sonoma. I scoffed at the idea that anyone could pour 16 different Pinot Noirs and they’d be discernible. Boy was my young palate in for the lesson of a lifetime.
Roger is a Vintner in every sense of the word. Roger Roessler Wines, a small boutique gallery winemaker in the truest form. Unshackled by any traditional estate. Over the years he’s sourced grapes from some of the most coveted vineyards as well as other small hidden gems you’ve probably never heard of. He’s also owned a few over the years. Bringing together a small team of passionate individuals around a singular mission – to bring you good Pinot Noirs faithful to their origins.
The Roger Roessler lineup reads like a compendium of Pinot Noir from up and down the pacific coast. A visit to their understated tasting room makes for a nice, focused quiet study. In one stop you can explore the various nuances of this varietal’s expression from one region to another. This is precisely why Roger Roessler Wines was picked as the 2020 Winemaker of the Year. They have played no small part in my journey through wine. I’m pretty sure you won’t be the same after a visit either.
Thank you for bringing us all those great vintages all these years Roger. I look forward to many more! Happy Birthday!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) by Amrita Cellars, Santa Rosa, CA
Nose is very shy. Every note is little more than a whisper. Crisp raspberry, bright red berries overlay a subtle wet woody grassy turf. Red vines licorice eventually emerge as it breathes.
Body is balanced from front to back. Greeting with a very soft, silky mouth feel. Berries carry over albeit very restrained. Subtle citrus and cola like linger. Faint shadows of structure precipitate as the body fades into clouds and whiffs of the different notes. This show continues, slowly diminishing until there’s very little left on the palate but faint dusty grit and candle flames worth of warmth on winter night.
This is an very nice take on the classic Burgundian style of Pinot. It is very subtle. The average palate would likely find this too abstract and nuanced. However for the intermediate to advanced palate, it should prompt focus and quiet appreciation. I can also see this showing well as a chillable red. I think it’s impressive that such a small artisan wine can show such nuance and subtlety. Nicely done Sunny!
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Sunny, owner/winemaker would like to invite you to taste his small batch production artisan wines. I think you should too, especially if you enjoy California Pinot Noir. You can order yours via their website Amrita Cellars (amritacellars.com) and use Promo/Discount Code WS2022 to get 10% off your order. A great opportunity to support a small artisan winemaker and explore another hidden gem off the beaten path. Be sure you share your thoughts and tasting notes with me.