Friday, January 20, 2012

TasteLive, December 20th.

In celebration of TasteLive moving into a new building in downtown Santa Rosa, they hosted an opening night party. Since I couldn't join the party in person, the great folks at TasteLive sent me and a selected few bloggers a sampling of wines that will be poured at the tasting room. During the festivities, Joel Quigley interviewed the winemakers and/or owners of each of these wines while we peppered them with questions. The venue was crowded and the atmosphere was great, I think each of us who viewed from afar really did wish we were there.

This month marks the official opening of The Wineyard, located at the Santa Rosa Vintners' Square. In its past life, the facility was a big strip mall. (Re)Construction began in 2011 on a new "urban wine village", and many of the materials used in outfitting each of the venues is recycled, be it barrel staves for decoration or even the bar in the tasting room. From what I can tell, the Santa Rosa Vintner's Square will be a pretty cool place to hang out at in 2012. The list of the wineries located there is listed below:
D'Argenzio Winery
Krutz Family Cellars
Sheldon Wines
Atascadero Creek Winery
Flocchini Winery
Jazz Cellars
Shone Farm Winery (The winery is part of Santa Rosa Junior College)

I liked the fact that this tasting didn't have any cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay, rather, some "back seat" varietals (and pinot noir) that may not get the coverage of the former two grapes but are just as important to California's wine industry.

Without further ado, here's the tasting notes for the wines we bloggers got to taste:

2010 Shone Farm Sauvignon Blanc: The label also says "Estate Grown, Block Seven, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County". Very precise, specific..and academic, no? No surprise then that this winery is part of Santa Rosa Junior College. Immediately this wine shows it's stripes as a sauvignon blanc. Unfortunately it appears to be made in the New Zealand style. And it's a bit under-ripe too, with lots of asparagus, whiffs of ammonia, and freshly cut grass on the nose. Hints of grapefruit hide behind those volatile methoxypyrazines, and a bit of minerality that you have to look hard to find. On the palate it's got some bittering notes, a green, stemmy quality, and the barest traces of grapefruit and lime juice. Refreshing due to it's acidity, but not something I'd want more than a glass of.

2006 Flocchini Andrea La Rue Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast: I didn't know what to expect from this pinot noir. All too often, Sonoma Coast pinots are over-oaked and juiced with syrah to pump up the flavors. Luckily that trend is falling by the wayside. This Flocchini doesn't taste like it has any syrah added and the oak treatment is minimal. The bouquet is a melange of cherry and strawberry, baking spice, campfire, and a dusty earth note. Flavors of red fruit mingle with earth and tannin to create a very nicely balanced wine that has benefited from four years in bottle. I was impressed with the acidity present too, it kept the body of this pinot light and balanced against the fruit and tannin.

2008 Atascadero Creek Zinfandel Russian River Valley: This zinfandel comes from the Haun Ranch, outside Healdsburg. There's 90% zin with a smattering of other red grapes, and the zinfandel vines go back to 1948. The bouquet is surprisingly complex, with notes of anise, mixed berry preserve, mint, and a touch of heat from the alcohol. I picked up a medicinal scent that seemed to meander throughout the bouquet too, but I couldn't pin it down. For people who like big, juicy zinfandels, this is your wine. The mixed berry comes through, as does that medicinal thing I picked up on the nose. Mild tannin, and a very nice smooth finish. At around $28 a bottle it's extremely well priced and something I would love to pair with barbecue.

2007 Jazz Cellars Las Madres Vineyard Carneros: I'm glad a syrah was included, especially a 2007. Carneros to me is a strange region, you see vineyards growing side by side that really shouldn't. For example, pinot noir, syrah, zinfandel, and sauvignon blanc. It's quite confusing. But a lot of the time, it just works. Like in this case, the team at Jazz Cellars put together a delicious syrah. Aromatically this 2007 Jazz is all smoked meat, black cherry, plum skin, and milk chocolate, with just a touch of a green stemmy quality and a tickle of alcohol. On the palate, well integrated fruit and oak, a touch of pepper, and some beef jerky notes all combine for a nice mouthfeel. Smooth, integrated tannin creates a nice framework for the fruit and savory notes. The alcohol is nearly imperceptible compared to the nose, which given the 15% listed, is impressive. At $34 a bottle it's certainly not cheap but the quality you get is wonderful.

Four wines, three of which were quite good and the sauvignon blanc just didn't do it for me. Still, guests at The Wineyard got to try some delicious wines and if this is indicative of the lineups that'll be poured each week, I predict much success for the Santa Rosa Vintners' Square going forward.

As always, I thank Cailyn McCauley and Joel Quigley for inviting me to participate. 2011 was my first year doing TasteLive events and I had a lot of fun. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, sorry for clogging up your Tweet-stream on multiple occasions! If you are a winery looking to do a TasteLive event, contact Cailyn or Joel at CreativeFurance Marketing.

These wines were media samples.

Beau Carufel

1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy following the tweets, I learn from all that you pick up in the bouquet etc.