Wines of California – Napa and Sonoma

We’ve come to the end of the road of our California tasting classes. And what a way to end the series. So many stunners in Sonoma and Napa! I’m itching to go back out there to taste again. I’ve only been a couple times to Napa, and not Sonoma, but now that we’ve had some years of wine appreciation behind us, it might be fun to go back again, nevermind the crazy tasting prices. 🙂

Some of the favorites:

Sonoma County
11 wines in the line up: 6 whites, 5 reds

2012 Inman Family Wines Brut Rose Russian River Valley $52
Apples, strawberries. Nice minerality and acidity

2012 Amapola Creek Chardonnay Jos. Belli Vineyards Russian River Valley $50
What an amazing nose! Freshly mown grass, honey, round finish. Someone said “drawn butter” and would pair it with scallops. Yums

2011 Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay De Brye Vineyard Sonoma Valley $90
Big nose. Not as lemony as the Patz and Hall chardonnay we had right before this. Minerals, but of wood. Acidity in the back of the mouth, but not razor sharp like that Patz. Overall, a very nice wine (we’d tasted this before in another tasting), but hard to justify that price tag

2011 Three Sticks Winery Pinot Noir Silver Eagle Vineyard Russian River Valley $60
“Full of shist”. Tobacco, cherries, mint, cola. Soft, round, juicy. Loooong finish.

Bill’s quote of the night: “Il descend dans la gorge comme le Bébé Gésu en pantalon de soie.” Or, in English: “Goes down the throat like Baby Jesus in silk panties.”

2011 The Donum Estate Pinot Noir Estate Vineyard Carneros $70-$80
Not one of the favorites that evening, but I included it here because Donum has otherwise been consistently one of our favorite Pinots. We’ve really enjoyed labels from their 2008, 2009, 2010 vintages. However, this one disappointed – much more tannins, higher acidity than we expected from this. Metals, some stinky cheese in the nose, with hints of strawberries and tea in the mouthfeel. Bill explained after that 2011 was a bad year for them. They tried to hang the fruit on the vines a bit longer but got hit by rain. So they actually declassified all the lots except for 2.

2009 COBB Pinot Noir Joy Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast $66
Minerals, acidity, stinky cheese. Orange and sea. Tannins

2011 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $30
Hot, toasted marshmallows. Pretty tasty.

Napa Valley
10 wines in the line up; 3 whites and 7 reds

2013 Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc “Soliloquy” Oakville $25
Metals, minerals, mint leaves, melony. Nice acidity with long finish

2012 Nickel & Nickel Chardonnay Truchard Vineyard Carneros Napa Valley $60
Cheese in the nose, little bit of lemon. Beautiful nose. Round, fresh. Light in the mouthfeel but long finish

2000 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch Oakville $100
Someone in the group, Robert, not of the wines, donated this bottle from his cellar. It’d cost just a fraction of the price when he picked it up eons ago, which is super cool. Someone said “Wrigley’s spearmint gum” – spot on description! Metals, fruit, soft. Delicious

2005 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $90-$105
Someone said, “Dirty in a good way”. Yup, can definitely get the earth in that one. Along with spices, plum, cassis. Sweet finish. Just a hint of cigar and spice in the back of the nose.

2011 Newton Vineyard Merlot Unfiltered Spring Mountain $60
Bright, soft. Can definitely get that structure of Cabernet in this one (21% CS). Lots of acidity

2009 Au Sommet Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak $250
Initial taste: pretty good. Fruit, fruit, fruit! Bright, smooth tannins. But at that $250 price tag, not something I’d be excited over.

But a half hour later: POW! OMG. So much more complex in the nose and mouth. Layers of soft stem smells, premium tobacco leaves, earl grey tea. Oh my. I still can’t get over the flavors in this one. Definitely worth that price tag now.

Winemaker – Heidi Barret of Screaming Eagle fame

2010 Quintessa Red Blend Rutherford $150
Before the Au Sommet fully opened up, this was the favorite of the evening. Sex, seductive. Tomatoes.

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