Norton Safeweb

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wine Road Barrel Tasting

This Springtime ritual has grown into a major drink fest especially in Dry Creek Valley.   We went out on the last Sunday of the event to a few small, local wineries in the Russian River Valley that are new to me (except for Russian Hill).  All were good finds.

Old beer truck at Robert Rue Vineyards
The barrels were all empty unfortunately


Inman - A really small operation in a rented warehouse space but they are moving to a new facility with a tasting room.  We sampled three different Pinots.   The Russian River blend was very good and at a great price.  The Thorn Ridge had great body and needed some time in the bottle yet.   The Olivet Grange was outstanding.  The vineyard-designated Thorn Ridge and Olivet Grange were a little pricey running in the low $50s but are exceptional wines.

Robert Rue - A small producer of what I'd call traditional Sonoma County Zinfandel--the way God meant it to be.   It's a very old vineyard and a field blend along with Carignane, Alicante Bouschet and Petite Sirah.  The 2007 had great structure and fruit but no where near being ready.   The 2005 and 2006 were outstanding and screamed out for a plate of cheesy, garlicky ravioli.   Damn fine Zinfandel.

Russian Hill - This winery is already well-known to me because it's been one of my go-to wineries mostly for Pinot but also for Syrah.   I had discovered Russian Hill on a Barrel Tasting weekend several years ago.  Very good wines at a fair price; can't ask for more.

Windsor Oaks - A huge estate with a mile-and-a-half dirt driveway.   Total wine production isn't very high but they make a lot if different wines.  We sampled a Pinot, Malbec, Zinfandel and a Tuscan blend (mostly Sangiovese).  All were quite nice.  Prices were mostly in the $30s which is okay for Pinot but maybe a bit high for Malbec and Zin but the quality was very good.

Days like this remind me why Sonoma County is the best place in the world for wine grapes.   Within a few minutes drive I'm drinking world-class Pinot Noir then the best Zinfandel on the planet.  Not to mention top-of-the-line Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. all within a short distance.    No where else is this possible.  Mother Nature and lots of hard work make this happen.