The Taste of Mendocino was put on by the Associate of Mendocino County Grapegrowers at the Golden Gate Club at The Presidio in San Francisco. The wine producers of Mendocino represented all of the 11 approved and pending AVAs in the larger North Coast appellation. The sub-AVAs are: Anderson Valley (Sept 1983), Cole Ranch (May 1983), Covelo (March 2006), Dos Rios (Nov. 2005), McDowell Valley (Feb. 1987), Mendocino (July 1984), Mendocino Ridge (Dec. 1997), Potter Valley (Nov. 1983), Redwood Valley (Feb 1997), Sanel Valley (pending), Ukiah Valley (pending), and Yorkville Highlands (June 1998). I noticed that the wines coming out of Potter Valley and Redwood Valley are showing quite a bit of complexity and layered aromas and flavors — keep an eye out for wines coming out of these sub-AVAs.
The event had 65 wineries presenting their wines from the trade and medias consideration. I was only able to taste a few of the wines at the event. Overall, the quality of the wines were quite good and fairly consistent. The value for money factor is very good for the Mendocino wines in general — keep an eye out for them!
I was able to taste the following wines:
A Donkey and Goat Winery: 2008 Grenache Rose – McDowell Valley ($10.64 / 168 cases); It was a very nice light bodies and balanced Grenache Rose. 2007 Syrah – Broken Leg Vineyard ($24.61 / 245 cases); It was big, meaty syrah that was quite pleasant. 2006 Syrah – Perli Vineyard ($37 / 48 cases); this was a serious syrah and worth giving a try. It was fun to catch up with Tracey Brandt as she and her husband starting making wine at Crushpad just slightly before I did. We had met several times at the old Crushpad location on Bryant.
Anthill Farms Winery: The distributor for Anthill Farms was pouring at the event. The Anthill Farms wines are very impressive. The wines are some of the best examples of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir you will find. The folks at Anthill Farms are making some impressive wines — seek out this wine to try it and share with good friends!
Bink Wines: The winemaker, Deborah Schatzlein, was pouring the wine at the table — always nice to meet the winemaker! I tried just the 2005 Pinot Noir – Weir Vineyard ($40 / 300 cases) which was very enjoyable! It has improved in the bottle since the WBC last year where they were pouring it at the live blogging event.
Brutocao Cellars: I tried several of the wines being poured and enjoyed all of them. I can strongly recommend the 2006 Pinot Noir – Estate ($26 / 1770 cases) [It did very well in the 7th Annual Pinot Noir Summit blind-tasting -- more details to come in the near future.] and the 2005 Coro – Estate (50% zinfandel, 20% sangiovese, 15% barbera, 15% syrah). Coro is blended wine that can only be produced in the Mendocino area and must have at least 40% zinfandel and a maximum of 70% in the blend, 2nd Tier Varietals: Percentage of any ONE not to exceed Zinfandel as majority component and max of 5% out of vintage. Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Sangiovese, Grenache, Dolcetto, Charbono, Barbera, Primitivo; Free Play: Up to 10% of total blend from any single or combination of vinifera source. – See this link for the entire Coro protocol. The Coro was the best of the 5 that I tried at the event!
Chance Creek Winery: I tried all the wines and preferred the 2006 Sauvignon Blanc – SB ($21 / 200 cases) it reminded me of a well-down Bordeaux Blanc; 2005 Sangiovese ($17 / 990 cases) was a nice combination off Dark fruit, cedar, earth will a nice overall balance.
Chiarito Vineyard: I enjoyed the 2006 Nero D’Avola ($50 / 60 cases) quite a bit — a good example of Nero D’ Avola, it is on par with some of the best wines I have tasted out of Sicily [Nose: medium intensity -- perfume, red fruit; palate: juicy, red fruit (cherry and raspberry), with licorice; The 2005 Zinfandel was a nice example of Mendocino zinfandel but not the best [Appearance: opaque ruby/purple; Nose: medium intensity -- perfrume, slight medicinal quality, dried red fruit; Palate: medium, soft tannins, flavors of ripe cherry, cranberry and red currants with medium+ acidity].
Copain Wines: The wines from Copain were very good (as expected). I had an interesting discussion about how the syrahs were produced — trying to get some pointers for my syrah! I was told that the syrahs all had at least 15% whole clusters in the fermentation, the cap management protocol is very interesting (stopping of grapes via feet and only up to two times a day if that many — slow fermentation with minimal cap management). I wonder how they manage to get such serious extraction and dark colors in their wines!. The 2007 Syrah – Baker Vineyard ($35 / 205 cases) was very good with some serious aging potential.
Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard: I was hoping to say hello to Casey and find out how things are going at the vineyard this year — I love the syrah and petite sirah grown by Casey! However, he was not able to attend the event which was unfortunate.
Frey Vineyards: The wines were a bit on the simple side but enjoyable quaffing wines. The 2005 Syrah – Biodynamic ($20 / 1260 cases) was enjoyable and would be great with BBQ.
Graziano Family of Wines: Greg Graziano the winemaker was pouring at the event. It was really enjoyable discussing the wines and grape growing in Mendocino. Many of the wineries get at least of their grapes from the Graziano family. I enjoyed the 2005 Barbera – Enotria ($17 / 900 cases), 2005 Coro ($37.50 / 466 cases) and a fantastic late-harvest Chenin blanc ($17 for 375ml). The Chenin Blanc could have been out of the Loire in a good year; I highly recommend seeking this out!
Handley Cellars: Both of the Pinot Noirs are worth trying — 2006 Pinot Noir – Anderson Valley ($30 / 4062 cases) and 2006 Pinot Noir – Mendocino County ($25 / 1516 cases).
Lazy Creek Vineyards: They are a most stop when you are visiting the Anderson Valley. They make really good Pinot Noir. The 2006 Pinot Noir – Anderson Valley ($39 / 730 cases) is worth seeking out!
Lolonis Winery: I have really enjoyed their wine for the last 7 to 8 years. They are a very consistent producer of reasonably priced wines. The 2005 Petite Sirah- Orpheus ($38 / 1000 cases) is very good, very dark color, blue and black fruit will a balanced acidity that will allow this wine to age for at least 10 years. If you like Petite Sirah, go get a bottle or two of this! The 2002 Petros – Redwood Valley ($50 / 800 cases) was drinking very well but should not be held more than another 2 or 3 years.
McNnab Ridge Winery: I really enjoyed the 2006 Zinfandel – Cononiah Vineyard, Potter Valley ($22 / 200 cases). It was like a combination of very good Mendocino Zinfandel and Anderson Valley Pinot Noir — silky tannins, lovely perfume, floral elements with spicy, red fruit backbone. The 2005 Coro ($37 / 172 cases) as well.
Naughty Boy Vineyards: The 2006 Pinot Noir ($24.90 / 642 cases) was made by Greg Graziano. The Pinot Noir had violets, cherry (red and black) on the nose; palate had cherry, kirsch, floral with a medium body, overall very balanced in intensity, acidity and alcohol with complexity in the aroma and flavor profile.
Neese Vineyards: I tried both the 2002 and 2003 Zinfandels ($14.99 and $13.40 respectively). The zinfandels were very different but were clearly from Mendocino — light to medium body, lots of red fruit, hint of cedar and some mild spice. The wines were not great but for the price point not a bad value.
Parducci Wine Cellars: The 2005 Coro ($35 / 395 cases) was quite enjoyable but did not have the balance and complexity of most of the other Coros. The wine may just need to have more time in the bottle for the blend to settle down.
Roederer Estate: The sparkling wines of Roederer are almost always a very good value for the money especially being produced in the US vs. Champagnes. The 2002 l’Ermitage ($45 / 8300 cases) was wonderful; light pear, apple with good yeast, toast and crisp acidity. It would be easy to sit down in the warm sun with a good friend and finish off a bottle of this before you knew it!
Saracina Vineyards: I tried the 2007 Atrea — “The Choir” ($20 / 836 cases) but was not impressed. The blend of 76% Roussanne and 24% Viognier should have been much more aromatic and the palate weight was too heavy due to the large amount of Viognier in the blend. I prefer a lighter style of white Rhone Blend (see Lionheart Wines 2007 The Angel’s Share, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley).
Terra Savia: I had a good talk with Jim Milone, the winemaker, regarding how a small winery / label can be successful. He has been in the wine business for 30 years. He advice was start small and slowly build up the brand and keep your prices down so you can ride out the three year cycles of what is in vogue and what is not in vogue. His 2005 Petit Verdot – Reserve ($15 / 450 cases) was a nice, solid example of Petit Verdot — red fruit, a bit of floral, warm spices o’plenty; for the price it is a great way to get introduced to Petit Verdot which is normally very expensive due to the limited amounts that are grown in California.