This day brings with it a load of anticipation. We connected with my wife’s cousin Kim and she agreed to join us for our adventures of the day as well as adding a couple of her own. She had arranged, through another winery connection, to get to sample wines at location new to her as well. And we got to enjoy a very intimate tasting at one of her wine clubs with the winemaker as our host. It was a truly awesome day . . . so let’s get started.
We decided to start at the southern most point of our adventure, near Sonoma. Our first stop of the day was Viansa-Sonoma Winery. The property was much larger and grander than I had realized. What a wonderful surprise.
2014 Arneis – A spunky white wine that starts with honey and pear on the nose and is tart but smooth in its texture, along with a refreshing finish.
2013 Vino Rosso – This house blend is a combination of Cab Sauv, Syrah and Sangiovese. Quite jammy nose and a very Cab Sauv aroma. The flavors are homogenous, meaning nothing really takes center stage . . .sort of . . ok. And it finishes dry.
2012 Barbera – It starts with an earthy nose, a bit brambly as well. Medium body and a smooth mid palate. Great texture and a moderately dry finish.
2012 Sangiovese – A Deep fruity nose starts this show. A very bright, silky mid palate and finishes slightly dry . . .Very nice.
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Light aromas on nose of nice dark fruit. A mild, smooth mid and dry finish with a touch of spice from the Cab Franc included as a blend.
2013 Primitivo – A Fruit Bomb in the nose. Satiny smooth mid, excellently integrated tannins. It finishes dry and lingers quite long.
Our next stop was just up the road about 1/4 mile to Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. This property was also much grander than I had originally imagined . . .much like a Tuscan Villa, perched on a hill overlooking the vineyards. Just a wondrous site.
2016 Gilia – Made from Vernaccia grapes, and because of strict naming conventions, was named after one of the ladies of the Jacuzzi family. I got peaches and lemongrass on the nose. Aromas very much like Viognier, light body and nicely balanced.
2014 Aglianico – Nice dark berries hit your nose, and a silky smooth mid. Flavors carry over quite well from the promise. Very easy drinking.
2013 Nebbiolo – Cherries and black fruit on the nose with a dry but smooth mid.
2014 Dolcetto – Chocolate and a hint of red fruit greet your nose. Light body and smooth mid, with raspberry flavors continuing to the dry finish.
2014 Barbera – Dark berries on both the nose and the palate, silky mid and mildly dry at the finish.
2015 Primitivo – A bit of a brambly nose but a silky mid palate. Awesome fruit flavors and extremely nice . . .this guy was 16.5% alcohol, but I never knew. That strong alcohol burn wasn’t apparent at all.
2014 Nero D’Avola – The most important grape in Sicily . . Deep dark fruit on the nose, satiny mid, dry but not too dry and great carry through flavors.
2014 Estate Merlot – Super dark, plum nose, med-heavy body, very smooth mid and an excellent finish, and just a touch dry. This one went home.
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – Blueberries on the nose along with the traditional dark fruit, silky mid, quite dry but great structure.
2014 Moscato – Lightly floral and semi citrus mid. very nice
2015 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo– The 2nd most heavily planted grape in Italy after Sangiovese . . . Red berry nose, good solid fruit in the mid, med-heavy body and quite dry.
2014 Valeriano – Blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Barbera, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. . . .Very nice blend of red and dark fruit aromas, though it does smell a bit green. Very silky and a great texture.
Our next stop was literally across the road at Cline Cellars . . . Have you ever had one of those feelings, where you are second guessing a decision, then discover . .to your amazement . .A TREASURE? THAT is what Cline Cellars was for me. Their wines were luscious and bold, fruit- forward and excellently balanced.
2015 Nancy’s Cuvee – A sparkling Chard/Pinot Noir blend . . .Bright, crisp nose, slightly effervescent and finishes dry.
2016 Cashmere White – Floral and crisp peaches and pears grace your nose. Bright but subtle flavors . .very refreshing.(Muscat Canelli, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier)
2016 Mourvedre Rose’ – These 100 yr old vines have produced grapes that give a Jolly Rancher Strawberry aroma on the nose, clean and very pleasing. Virtually no dryness on the finish. This a great patio wine.
2016 Pinot Noir – Earthy and light fruit on the nose, medium body with a nice moderately dry finish.
2015 Ancient Vines Zinfandel – Another 100 yr old vineyard . . .Producing grapes with a great dark fruit aromas with a hint of vegetation. Satiny soft mid palate and a mouth coating finish. Luscious.
2015 Cashmere Black Magic – Beautiful red fruit nose, satiny mid and great structure with little to no dryness at the lingering finish. Going home with me.(Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache)
2015 Farmhouse Red – Bright red boysenberry on the nose, silky soft mid and a solid structure (very light but the texture is distinctive, yet not over powering) Also going home with me
2013 Bridgehead Zinfandel – Bright blackberries and toasty vanilla nose, Silky mid and a great finish.
2014 Heritage Zinfandel – Robust dark fruit nose and super smooth. excellent structure and a superb finish. More like dessert than a main course.
Cline Cellars was a lovely surprise. We were on a bit of a time table, so I didn’t get as much time as i would have liked to view the grounds and the facility. And next we had 2 more fun surprises, courtesy of cousin Kim.
MacRostie Winery is different from most of the places we had planned to visit. It is primarily a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producer. And what had been arranged was a sit-down tiered tasting of their Chardonnays in horizontal as well as their Pinots in the same fashion. Something we hadn’t really done before. We’ve done several vertical tastings of the same wine from different vintages. So this should be fun and interesting.
2016 Clockwise Sauvignon Blanc – This was presented as our “walking up to the tasting room” wine. It was delightful. Aromas of grapefruit, quite light and crisp and it finished very nicely, very refreshing. A great start . .
Each of the Chardonnays and the Pinots we were to taste were to give great representation of terrior, soil, elevation, coastal influence, moisture, heat, etc.
2015 Sangiocomo Chardonnay – Light citrus and vanilla nose, bright acidity and stone fruit on the finish.
2014 Wild Cat Mtn Chardonnay – Mineral and earthy notes on the nose, evident minerality in the mid along with the crisp fruit and a nice finish.
2015 Charles Heintz Chardonnay – Beautiful citrus nose, tart in the mid with that citrus as well as currants, peaches and lemons. Very elegant.
We then moved on to Pinot Noir.
2014 Wild Cat Mtn Pinot Noir – Bright red fruit, silky mid, light body and a rather abrupt finish. The flavors just disappeared.
2015 Glass House Pinot Noir – Not quite as robust as the previous, but still nice fruit on the mid, with a smooth average finish.
2015 Thale’s Vineyard Terrace Block Pinot Noir – Much lighter nose but more fruit in the mid and a much better finish.
Suffice it to say, I am a bit spoiled by our Oregon Pinots . . .it’s a bit unfair to judge these fine purveyors harshly . . . .but I do enjoy Oregon Pinots more than these.
Our final stop for this day was at Colagrossi Wines . . . a small urban production house in Windsor. I wasn’t fully prepared for the great wines we were about to sample. Craig Colagrossi was our host and he was so gracious. The wines he produces are superb and very deserving of tons of accolades.
2014 L’inizio – A white blend of Viognier, Rousanne and Grenache Blanc. Nice stone fruit and honeysuckle on the nose. The flavors didn’t carry through for me. A bit unremarkable.
2013 Russian River Pinot Noir – Brilliant dark fruits and great structure. A well-balanced warm, lingering, slightly spicy finish.
2015 Russian River Pinot Noir – This one was brighter and concentrations were on the red fruit. Silky smooth mid, hints of baking spice and a bit of pepper. Really nice long finish. Going home!
2014 Vino Rosso – (Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc) Red berries and blueberries on the nose. Silky smooth mid with a bit of spiciness and baking spices. Nice lingering finish. Also going home.
2015 Russian River Zinfandel – Bursting with dark fruit aromas, and the promise is kept on the mid palate. Baking spices accentuate the long, lingering finish.
2015 Sangiovese – Gorgeous nose of a magnificent blend of berries, silky mid and a fantastic finish. Going home.
We finished off this visit with some barrel tasting of a grape I’d never heard of before. I understand that it is usually used just as a blending grape.
Ciliegiolo (pro. Chili Jolo) . . Bright fruit aromas, the mid flavors fade a bit but the tannin structure is great. He blended this with about 5% Sangiovese and BAM . . . .The Sangio filled out those missing notes in the mid and it really came together nicely. Looking forward to trying this once it is blended and bottled. Should be awesome.