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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sonoma County Harvest Fair 2012

The 2012 Sonoma County Harvest Fair annual tasting of gold medal winners was October 5-7. I made it all three days. Whew! I didn't attempt any real rankings or much in the way of notes as it's really difficult to attempt at a crowded event like this (or maybe I'm just lazy). The wines are listed below by the category as judged by the fair. The fair breaks many of these down by price range (such as Cabernet under $30), but I just lumped them all together. Within each of these I did a rudimentary ranking where I've split the wines  tasted into four color-coded categories:

Top Wines of the fair 
Excellent Wines - the other standouts
Very Good Wines - I'd buy these if they're cheap enough
Not So Good - I can't figure why these got Gold Medals or maybe I just don't know anything about wine

So, wines in bold type are my top ones, blue excellent, red pretty decent, light pink not so good. The Harvest Fair gives out medals that are better than a "regular" Gold Medal: Double Gold (unanimous choice from the judges for a gold medal), Best of Class (the best of all the gold medal winners), and Sweepstakes winner (best of the best).

Note that I'm a red wine drinker. There were hundreds being poured so I only got to a fraction of them. Often I went for wineries I've never heard of or at least haven't had their wines before.

These are all Gold Medal winners unless otherwise stated below. As always, it's just my opinion. Your results may vary.

Grape Stomp Competition


Bordeaux Blends 

Alexander Valley Vyds 2007 Cyrus Alexander Vly, $60
Clos du Bois 2009 Marlstone Alexander Vly, $50. Best of Class (needs time!)
Dry Creek Vyd 2008 The Mariner Dry Creek Vly, $40
Ehret 2008 Bella's Blend Knights Vly, $40(very tannic)
Estate 1856 2009 Cab/Petite Verdot/Malbec Dry Creek Vly, $36
Forchini 2009 BeauSierra Dry Creek Vly, $22
Muscardini 2010 Rancho Salina Sonoma Vly, $49
Page Hill 2009 Alexander Vly Bordeaux, $25. Best of Class

Bordeaux Varietals 

Wattle Creek 2010 Malbec Alexander Vly, $38. Best of Class
Windsor Oaks Malbec Block 35 Chalk Hill, $35

Cabernet Franc
(No, I don't know why Malbec is judged as Bordeaux Varietals and Cab Franc has its own category)

Christopher Creek 2009 Kelly's Block 7 Dry Creek Vly, $55
Wilson Winery 2009 Dry Creek Vly, $35 (spicy, no varietal characteristics)

Cabernet Sauvignon

Deering 2009 Nelligan Road Sonoma Vly, $45. Best of Class
de Lorimier 2009 Reserve Preston Ranch Alexander Vly, $52
Dry Creek Vyd 2007 Endeavour Vyd Dry Creek Vly
Francis Coppola 2008 Sonoma County, $58
Geyser Peak 2008 Block Collection Alexander Vly, $47
Hauck 2009 Sonoma County, $34. Best of Class
Medlock Ames 2008 Alexander Vly, $52
Roth 2009 Alexander Vly, $28
Williamson 2009 Dry Creek Vly, $57

Chardonnay

Williamson 2011 Dry Creek Vly, $45 Double Gold (oaky, flat)

Merlot

St. Francis 2009 Behler Vyd Sonoma Vly, $45. Best of Class
Selby 2008 Sonoma County, $20. Best of Class

Petite Sirah

Gustafson 2009 East Ridge Block Dry Creek Vly, $28
Shippey 2008 Flaming J Vyd Dry Creek Vly, $28. (too drying; maybe in 2025!)

Pinot Noir

Bennett Valley Cellars 2011 Bin 6410 Carneros, $24 (not ready yet) 
Davis Family 2009 Soul Patch Russian Rvr Vly, $42
Davis Family 2010 Soul Patch Russian Rvr Vly, $42 (not ready yet)
Davis Family 2009 Russian Rvr Vly, $40 
James Family 2010 Stony Point Vyds Sonoma Coast, $35. Best of Class 
Richard Berridge 2009 Sonoma Coast, $45 (nice flavors, but a bit hot)
Rodney Strong 2009 Barrel Reserve Russian Rvr Vly, $40 (nice spice, bit overripe)
Woodenhead 2009 Buena Tierra Russian Rvr Vly, $65. Best of Class

Port

Loxton 2010 Sonoma Vly, $28 (alcoholic)
Pedroncelli 2007 Dry Creek Vly, $19. Best of Class 

Rhones (varietals and blends)

Mayo Family 2008 Carignane Stone Ranch Alexander Vly, $35. Best of Class
Wellington 2009 Grenache Estate Sonoma Vly, $25 (100 year old vines) 

Sangiovese

de Lorimier 2010 Keeper Vyd Alexander Vly, $32. Best of Class (maybe in a couple years)

Sparkling Wines
(Pretty much a one horse show on the bubbles. Only 11 entries in this Category)

Gloria Ferrer 2007 Brut Rosé Carneros, $42. Best of Class
Gloria Ferrer 2007 Blanc de Blancs Carneros, $28. Double Gold
Gloria Ferrer 2000 Carneros Cuvée Carneros, $50
Gloria Ferrer 2004 Royal Cuvée Carneros, $32 

Syrah

Deerfield 2008 Estate Sonoma Vly, $30. Best of Class
Ehret Family 2007 Estate Knights Vly, $32
Loxton 2009 Rossi Ranch Sonoma Vly, $35. (big and tannic) 

Other Reds

Benziger 2010 Estate Red Joaquin's Fire Sonoma Mtn, $60
Hauck 2010 Game Day Red Sonoma County, $28 

Zinfandel

Fogline 2010 Grist Vyd Dry Creek Vly, $35
Fritz 2009 Estate Reserve Dry Creek Vly, $50. Double Gold
Gordian Knot 2011 The Buzz Dry Creek Vly, $28 (classic DCV pepper) 
J Keverson 2010 Buck Hill Sonoma County, $30
Keating 2010 Montecillo Sonoma Vly, $28 (bit hot, otherwise very good)
Mayo 2010 Ricci Vyd Russian Rvr Vly, $40
Mayo 2010 Ricci Vyd Reserve Russian Rvr Vly, $50
Mazzocco 2010 Serracino Reserve Dry Creek Vly, $52
Meadowcroft 2010 Sonoma County, $34 
Pezzi King 2010 Estate Old Vine Dry Creek Vly $28. Best of Class
Pezzi King 2010 Harris Kratka Vyd Alexander Vly $42
Pezzi King 2010 Pezzi King Vyd Row 26 Dry Creek Vly $50. Sweepstakes
Puccioni 2009 Old Vine Dry Creek Vly, $28 
Rock Wall 2010 Harris Kratka Vyd Alexander Vly, $35 (port-ish)

Favorite Wines

Clos du Bois 2009 Marlstone
de Lorimier 2009 Preston Ranch Cabernet
Dry Creek Vyd 2008 The Mariner
Gloria Ferrer 2000 Carneros Cuvée
Gustafson 2009 East Ridge Block Petite Sirah
Wellington 2009 Estate Grenache

This year no Pinots or Zins were any of my overall favorite wines. But my favorite Pinot Noir would be the James Family 2010 partly because it's "only" $35--a good price for a good Pinot. Favorite Zinfandels would be from Fritz and Fogline.

Best Deals

Wellington 2009 Grenache at $25
Pedroncelli 2007 Port at $19

Summary

The wine tasting at the fair this year:
Attendance at the Friday night $60 tasting was good. Saturday's crowd was okay; Sunday's small. Maybe because there were so many other events going on this weekend or maybe because it's now $10 to get in the fair and $2.50 per taste. For example, a couple going in and tasting ten wines each would cost $75. (Parking, entry, glasses, extra taste tickets).

The wines:
Too many of the Pinot Noirs taste the same--red cherries with a hint of alcohol. Too many Zinfandels are overripe. As I said in past few years I've usually found Pinot and Zinfandel to be my favorite wines, but not this year. Maybe it's time for a new wine category for Zinfandel Under 15% Alcohol? I loved the Cabernet blends, sparkling wines, and would love to see more Rhone-style wines.

Now I need a few days to detox the liver!