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Wine Banter Tasting Line-Up September 2017

Harvest Time in Sonoma County

Aug 30, 2017
by John Haggard, Sophie's Cellars

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As we move into the beautiful Fall and harvest time in Sonoma County, here are four very different selections from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.

Kellermann Rose of Zinfandel Russian River Valley 2016 With a stainless-steel fermented production of approximately forty-five cases, this old vine rose of zinfandel is the first rose of zinfandel I have ever tasted that exhibits distinctive, unique qualities such as baked peach and mid-palate displaying hints of savory rhubarb, finishing with a subtly bitter watermelon rind quality. I found the wine to be exceptionally well-crafted and a superb sipping rose. Enjoy now through 2018. All Kellermann Wines are unfined and unfiltered. For more information, visit: kellermannwines.com.

A soon to be new release from La Pitchoune is their barrel-fermented pinot gris. This pinot gris exhibits a very viscous lime throughout the palate, co-mingled with lemon-zest, pineapple and subtle mango on the finish. Racey acidities in this wine create what will be a superb food wine from oysters on the half-shell to seared rare scallop, halibut, ling cod or your favorite poultry dish. Enjoy now through 2020. For more information, visit: lapitchounewinery.com.

Russell Estate Syrah Russian River Valley 2013 This small 2-acre vineyard produces syrah somewhat similar to that of the Slaughterhouse Vineyard up in Cloverdale. The distinction between the two would be the Russell Estate syrah is not as gamey nor oily “salami” on the finish and exhibits flavors of plumb, dried prune without being sweet. With an abundance of iron which is absorbed directly into the berry, it leads to a mid-palate and finish of very high iron like that of red meats and, in fact, is the perfect companion for barbecued beef and venison. This wine is ready to drink – it’s a 2013 just starting to come into its own and will easily cellar over the next five years. The Russell family owned and run vineyard is on a hilltop in the middle of the family ranch, some two hundred plus acres off Westside Road. For more information, visit russellwine.com. 

J. Rochioli Estate Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2015 An exquisitely well-crafted chardonnay with bright broad acidities throughout the palate. Meyer lemon is co-mingled with flavors of quince and hints of pear. Another year of aging or cellaring for another seven will tame some of the broad acidities and produce more of a flan creamy quality to the wine. This would be best served with poultry and white fish. Enjoy now through 2024.

J. Rochioli Estate Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2015 This pinot noir exhibits a lot of spicy cinnamon notes – well-infused oak, with dried cherry and dried plum – this pinot noir also will benefit with an hour or more of decanting. Wild fennel through the mid-palate and finish. A great pairing for salmon fillet or gamey duck breast Enjoy now through 2024.

The Rochioli Winery is also along Westside Road and well worth a visit, though it’s always best to call ahead. The family planted their pinot noir vines back in 1968 and consistently produce some of the finest wines in the Russian River Valley, and perhaps, in California. While their wines are limited and highly sought after, the family has long insisted that some be kept back both for the fortunate visitor who passes by or local businesses and restaurants. For more information, visit www.rochioliwinery.com.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair: Reminder: it’s the 43rd Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Friday October 6 to Sunday, October 8th. The Harvest Fair is a wonderful opportunity to experience some of Sonoma County’s great artisan wines paired with local foods. There are chef demonstrations and wine seminars and a host of culinary events. With over 100 Sonoma County wineries participating (with over 300 wines), even the most experienced connoisseur or novice is sure to find a new favorite. The fair is also a great place to taste local brews and ciders too, or how about the “cheesy beer school”! For more information visit harvestfair.org.

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