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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Simi, Sausal, White Oak & Soda Rock

An afternoon of tasting in Alexander Valley, Sonoma County (1/17/2012)

From White Oak Vineyards

Simi Winery

A very old, historic winery now owned by Constellation Brands.

2008 Alexander Vly Cabernet $26
Softer and fruitier than the ones coming after it, but still has the oak and tannins to be laid down for awhile. It's hard to go wrong with Cabs from AV especially at this price so I picked one up.

2008 Alexander Vly Landslide Cabernet $40
Not ready yet! Very drying but with some peppery spice. This one has been a favorite in the past but not sure the fruit is there to support it this year.

2006 Alexander Vly Reserve Cabernet $65
Good structure, still needs some time. The best of the three cabs and, it figures, the most expensive.

All three Cabs show good structure and ageability. Actually, all require some years in the bottle.


Specializing in Alexander Valley old vine Zinfandel. In fact, their "everyday" Zin was from 50 year old estate fruit.

2008 Family Zinfandel, 50 year old vines $19
Good wine, great price.

2008 Private Reserve Zinfandel, 95 year old vines $24
Spicy, good depth. An excellent wine at a great price. I purchased this one.

2008 Century Zinfandel, 134 year old vines $40
Depth, strength. Some old vine Zins gets a bit pruney and tannic, but not this one. It's a Zin worth trying just because of the age of the vineyards. Consider it educational.  :)

All were well-made, well-structured, balanced Zinfandels at reasonable prices. I hadn't been here in several years and have now added Sausal back on my list of favorite Zin producers.

White Oak

2008 Alexander Vly Old Vine Zinfandel $40
Okay, but not for $40

2005 Alexander Vly Reserve (Cabernet blend) $50
Too tannic

2005 Napa Vly Reserve (Cab blend) $50
Richer, spicy, but still tannic

It was an excellent idea for our host to pour each of the Reserve wines side-by-side, once through an aerator to smooth it out, and once straight from the bottle. This is a great opportunity to see how the wine might age or at least show you what it's like after decanting. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the aerator device as the wine smelled off. I thought maybe a corked wine may have been poured through it and contaminated the aerator. I let him know. He tried the wine via the aerator only (didn't try them side-by-side) and declared it just fine. That is, I didn't know what I was talking about. Two others in my group tried them and agreed that wines through the aerator weren't right.

Old vine Zinfandel at White Oak

Soda Rock

Owned by the Wilson Family along with Mazzocco, Matrix and a couple others. An old, historic property beautifully restored. I previously reviewed Soda Rock on May 11, 2011. I didn't care for the wines then so was anxious to try them again.

2009 Sonoma County Wentworth Zinfandel $29
Spicy, hot, rich, acidic

2009 Sonoma County Primitivo $34
Good fruit, "dirty" but not in a bad way. Nice balance and seems food-friendly. I took one of these home. I love Sonoma County Primitivo and am glad to see more available. Primitivo is a sibling of Zinfandel--not the same, but similar.

2009 Rockpile Zinfandel $60
Minerality, bit over-ripe, lower acid. Pretty decent wine at an out-of-sight price.

2007 Sonoma County Malbec $28
Inoffensive, no varietal characteristics (I couldn't tell it was Malbec).

2007 Sonoma County Cabernet Franc $32
2007 Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Franc $45
2005 Sonoma County Mercantile Cabernet Sauvignon $40
2006 Alexander Vly The General Cabernet $50
2006 Alexander Vly Five Star General Cabernet $65
I listed these all together because they are similar--too dry and tannic.

I don't know what to make of Soda Rock wines as they are over-oaked (their Cabs all spend about 38 months in barrels). It's more puzzling as they're from the Wilson family that's more known for big, soft, and fruity wines. I suppose it's a style of wine for somebody--just not me!

By the way, other Alexander Valley wineries I've been to many times before and love are: Alexander Valley Vineyards, Field Stone, Hanna, and Stryker.