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.

At the Circus

I have no idea why, but the bottles from the Garsa line from Solomon Wine Company always make me think of a circus. Perhaps it’s the bright label colors and designs or the pink wine in this bottle, but whatever the case may be, I think circus.  We plucked a bottle of the 2006 Garsa Rosado de Sangiovese from our basement the other night.  I purchased this when I visited Murphys, California last October. I can’t remember the price and I don’t see it on the website, but I want to say it was around $14-$15?  It had a real cork closure and clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume.  We enjoyed it after dinner while rocking in our new Adirondack chairs that we picked up on our TN vacation. Oh yes, I said rocking. And on our front porch no less. We’re positioning ourselves to become crotchety old folks who yell about the damn kids in the street ;)

On the nose I found strawberry, cherry, black cherry, a hint of cedar, raspberry, and black cherry candy like the blowpops they used to make, though I’m not sure they have that flavor any longer….I haven’t had one in years.  In the mouth, the cedar on the nose seemed to follow through with spice, pepper, raspberry, currants, black cherry, cherry, and other red fruit.  The wine showed as crisp with nice structure, and served the warm evening well.

That’s Amore!

We had bratwurst for dinner last night and I thought sausage=fairly light red wine.  So I pulled a bottle of the 2005 Camellia Cellars Sangiovese from the basement.  I probably should have had a beer…it seems like a more natural match with bratwurst, but a you know by now, wine is my thing, so wine it was.  I purchased the wine at Camellia Cellars on one of last year’s CA trips but I can’t remember what I paid, it had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 13.3% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found strawberries, red cherries, raspberries, spice, milk chocolate, pencil lead, and flowers.  In the mouth I got bright red fruit, strawberries, red cherries, spice, and red berries.  Overall, I found the wine to be bright and juicy with great acidity.  I think this would make an excellent pizza wine and I will be serving my second bottle with one of my homemade pizzas.

Seven Year Old Sangiovese

And boy does it taste good! I purchased this bottle of 2001 Deerfield Ranch Sangiovese from WineQ in one of my recent club shipments. It costs $21.99 through WineQ (free shipping if you spend $35!), had a real cork closure, and clocks in at 13.6% alcohol by volume. It hails from the Clear Lake area, specifically from the Roumiguiere Vineyard. The winery made 645 cases of this bottling and it has swept up a ton of awards!

Cherry, strawberry, flowers, leather, spice, and earth jumped out of the glass. The wine was very fruit forward and the nose was definitely dominated by the cherry and strawberry. In the mouth the wine was also full of fruit. The cherry was the prominent flavor, with roses and strawberry also showing up.

The wine had just a little tannin, it’s drinking perfectly right now and was incredibly smooth after very little time in the glass. I really enjoyed this bottle of wine, and were it not for the fact that I can only get a few more WineQ shipments before it gets too hot here and there are lots of other WineQ wines I want to try, I would certainly be adding more of this to my Q!

First Soup of the Season!

The wine for the evening was a 2004 Seghesio Sangiovese. We picked this bottle up when we visited Seghesio last spring. This was Matt’s favorite bottle at Seghesio and we took home 3 bottles.

We paid $28 for this at the vineyard, it had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume. A fun fact from the back of the bottle states the Seghesio is the oldest grower of Sangiovese in America.

On the nose I found black cherry, currants, sweet flowers, and cloves. I really like the aroma on this bottle of wine. In the mouth the wine was smooth. The flavors were spicy, with floral notes and an overall sense of fresh fruit. Juicy black fruit, cherries, and leather were the predominant flavors.

I served the wine with the first soup of the season! Yay for fall!! I made Sarah’s (who writes the blog Beadimous) Zuppa Toscana, which became our favorite soup last winter. It’s a chicken stock/broth based soup with Italian sausage, bacon, potatoes, kale and cream. Delicious and a fairly good match for the lighter fruit flavors of this Sangiovese. I’m very glad we’ve got a few more bottles of this hanging around.

On the Town Again

With Matt’s Uncle Bruce in town, we found ourselves out and about again this week. The museum he is involved with here was having an opening event and Bruce invited us along. At the event, which was very well done, a Renwood Sauvignon Blanc was served, a nice surprise and departure from the flabby Pinot Grigio or oaky Chardonnay you usually find.

After the event, we headed out to one of our favorite local Italian places, the Odeon Cafe in Dupont. To our surprise, we had to wait for a table, I guess it’s getting more popular as we used to just waltz in and sit right down. We waited at the bar and ordered a bottle of 2004 E All Omo Il Vino Toscano Sangiovese.

The wine had a real cork closure, was 12.5% alcohol by volume and cost $54 for the bottle. I also wrote down that it had a pretty label and drew a picture of it. Which, given my very limited artistic skills, is quite amusing, but from what I can interpret it is two fairies (or angels) holding up a shield. Right. Another beef with restaurants and wine. The glasses were warm. I mean, I’m happy you clean your glasses, but I do not want them directly from the dishwasher. And the wine itself was warm, so I took Joel’s (of Wine Life Today and Vivi’s Wine Journal fame) advice from my post about warm wine in restaurants and requested an ice bucket to stick the bottle in. Our server brought one with no problem and our wine was saved! (Though he did try to take my wine out of the bucket after only about 2 minutes, but I put it right back in again.)

As for the wine, on the nose I found oak, black cherries, dark fruit, spice, earthiness and leather. In the mouth I would describe the wine as dense and dark, with spice and dark fruits, blackberries, cherries and currants. The tannins were big and I think the wine could definitely age for quite a while.

Everyone had something different for dinner, but I do sometimes like to pair an Italian wine with Italian food. Matt had lobster ravioli with a tomato cream sauce, Bruce had gnocchi with cream sauce and bacon and I had the 4 cheese fettucini. The wine was actually a nice complement to the cream sauce and I thought the pair was pretty good. We’ll be back to the Odeon Cafe again as the food is always reliably good and the prices are decent. The wine list needs some help though. It’s not very long or diverse and the prices are mostly in the upper $40s and above!

A Bottle of Red

Leftover turkey and sides, which gives me another chance to try pairing wine with the turkey. And yet again, I’m led to the conclusion that there’s just no great wine that will pair well with it all. Oh well, it gives me yet another excuse to try more wines!

Sunday night’s was a 2003 Alexander Valley Vineyards Sangiovese. We picked this bottle up at Alexander Valley Vineyards this summer for $20. We had a great time at the vineyard. We were the only people there and our server was great. He spent a lot of time chatting with us and even gave us a nifty corkscrew when he found out we were on our honeymoon. Came in handy when we got to LA and really needed a bottle of wine!

Back to the wine. It had a lot of strawberry jam on the nose and more strawberries in the taste. Very full in the mouth. A bit unfinished at the end. It will definetly improve with age. I’d keep it around for a few more years to let it round out. The finish smoothed as it aired out and I was reminded once again that I really need to make more use of the decanters we got as wedding presents.

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