Tasting the Russian River

On the first night of the Wine Blogger Conference, the Russian River Valley Winegrowers hosted an “after” party. This was probably one of my favorite events of the conference this year. I’ve been really enjoying many of the wines I’ve been seeing coming out of the Russian River Valley recently, so I had hoped to try many different things at this tasting. Alas, it was late at night, palate fatigue eventually settled in, and I didn’t get to taste as much as I had intended. A good excuse to head back to CA, right? ;) What I did taste was worth the effort, and many of the wineries had the owners and/or winemakers present to chat with us, which is always a fun time.

2006 Acorn Sangiovese: strawberry, bright fruit, pepper, spice, earth, leather, red fruit, raspberry, cherry, nice acidity, spice.

2006 Acorn Cabernet Franc: deep strawberry aroma, fresh raspberry, spice, bright, red fruit, pepper, blue fruit, tannins.

2006 Acorn Axiom Syrah: Red berries, fruit forward, cedar, spice, raspberry, creamy fruit, round, pepper, floral, roses, red fruit, strawberries, tannins.

2006 Acorn Heritage Zinfandel: Smoky, pepper, blackberry, spicy, chocolate, red berries, bright fruit, nice fruit.

2007 Freeman Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: Leather, funk, eucalyptus, mint, herbal, raspberry, dirt, black currants.

2007 Freeman Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir: Dirt, earth, berries, red fruit, raspberries, little barnyard, tart red fruit.

2006 C. Donatiello Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: Fantastic nose. Brown sugar, raspberry, black cherry cola, vanilla cream, herbs, slight milk chocolate, red fruit, nice structure.

2001 Joseph Swan Syrah: Perfumey, violets, very aromatic, roses, deep black plums, spicy, meaty, chewy, anise, pepper, plums, smooth, integrated.

2007 La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: Smoky, pepper, raspberry, cranberry, cola, floral, vanilla cream, bright red fruit, tart fruit.

I missed many of the wineries that poured at this event. However, it was markedly less crowded than the Sonoma Grand Tasting earlier in the day, which I would guess was related to it starting at 10pm. I stayed to the end, but I got caught up talking to folks so I didn’t work my way as diligently and rapidly through the offerings as I normally would have. All in all, a nice line up of wines and a good incentive for me to spend some more time in the Russian River Valley.

A Small Acorn

Grows a big wine.  I finally decided to sacrifice one of my bottles of Acorn wine…really, a big sacrifice since I love the wines so much, I hate to see them go! But it’s all in the name of good wine, right?  On our visit to CA in ’08, we made an appointment at Acorn and LOVED everything we tasted.  I’ve written about our visit there, and I believe I wrote about the 2005 Medley as well.  Today I bring you the 2005 Acorn Axiom Syrah.  This wine was my favorite the day we tasted and we bought two bottles.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 15% alcohol by volume, and cost me $32 at the winery.

On the nose I found pepper, charred meat, fresh cracked pepper, red berries, black berries, cinnamon, spice, and vanilla bean.  In the mouth I got tart red fruit, red berries, red plums, anise, spice, and earth.  The fruit showed as very tart, with lots of bright red fruit.  The wine is juicy and delicious.  I’m glad I have another bottle.

Visiting Acorn Winery

We stopped by Acorn Winery on our last day in Sonoma at the recommendation of Patrick and Genevieve. If you’d like to make a stop at Acorn, you’ll need to call and make an appointment as they don’t (or at least they didn’t) have a tasting room open to the public. We called the morning we wanted to visit and had no problem getting a tasting later that afternoon.


Acorn has been in the hands of the current owners since 1994. All of the wines are made from estate grown grapes and all the wines are field blends. The grapes come from 26 acres of the Alegria Vineyards and the annual production is about 2800 cases.

2005 Medley- A blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cinsaut, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Mouvedre, Viognier, and a bunch of Muscat varieties. Raspberry, red cherries, peppery, nice fruit, well done. Matt loved this one, Acorn places a 3 bottle per customer limit on it and we took home 3 bottles.

2005 Sangiovese- Black cherry, plum, smoky, leather, toasted vanilla, mocha. We took home one.

2005 Heritage Vines Zinfandel-Vines planted in the 1890s. Smoky oak, peppery, plums, black fruit.

2005 Axiom Syrah-Vanilla, black cherries, earth smoke, red fruit, vanilla bean. Delicious, my favorite. Two bottles came home with us.

While we only tasted four of the current offerings, Acorn makes many other varieties. I would love to go back when they are tasting some of the other ones. The line up we did taste showed fantastically well, and I wish we could have taken home even more than we did, but we were trying to limit ourselves to no more than 6 bottles from a single winery so that we could bring home a greater selection. Next trip!

…And the Kitchen Sink


We’re all in the mood for a me…wait, that’s melody, not the 2005 Acorn Vineyards Medley, our wine for the night. The wine hails from the Alegria Vineyards and literally contains every grape and the kitchen sink. For starters, it cost us $28 at the winery, clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and is closed with a a real cork. Now the grapes…no percentages, but at a minimum, it’s got a bit of: Zinfandel, Syrah, Cinsaut, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvedre, Viognier, and 6 Muscat varieties. Is that ever a blend or what? In the glass, the showed black as ink, with just a little tinge of redness around the edges.


On the nose I found sweet dark fruit, blackberries, vanilla, spice, cream, cedar, oak, cherry, and plum. I loved the nose and had to drag myself away from it lest Matt finish the wine before I even got a chance to taste it. In the mouth I got most red fruit. The wine showed cherries, very tart cherries, perhaps bing cherries?, baking spice, raisins, and dried orange peel.

Overall, the wine seemed well intergrated, though the tannins indicated that it has some time left to age on it. For Matt, the Medley represented the wine of the trip. Acorn limits you to buying 3 bottles at a time, and we bought all 3 that they let us. We’ll let the other 2 mature a but more in the basement before we crack open another one!

Bud Break!!!



So I guess this confirms my status as a total wine geek (as Lenn just asked about), but I have never seen bud break before so I was super excited to be in Sonoma for it this year! We didn’t see any on our first two days, but finally, on the 3rd day (March 18) we witnessed it! These shots were taken at Acorn Winery where Patrick told us we should definitely not miss a tasting (and I agree, highly recommend the place.) These are, if I remember correctly, the Sangiovese vines.

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