Posts Tagged ‘Taste of Mendocino’

Highlights and Top Picks of the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival

May 20-22nd was the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. It was a busy wine weekend, with overlapping events including Taste Alexander Valley. I had missed the last few years Anderson Valley Pinot Festival due to similar conflicts, and decided to prioritize the event this year. I headed first to Scharffenberger Cellars , who hosted a media tasting, then over to Goldeneye for the walk around tasting. The day prior was a series of technical seminars and tastings, I unfortunately missed, a mistake I will not repeat in 2012.

I will gush in more detail about both, but this is not to be missed event for Pinot-philes.

My Picks from the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Tasting

Kudos to Kristy Charles, President of the Anderson Valley Wine Growers Association – the morning Media tasting one was one of the best organized I have attended. I had expected a walk-around tasting, but instead it was a self pour tasting of 30 current releases.

It was very well organized – at the door I received a clipboard with a 3 page spreadsheet that listed the winery, vintage, vineyards, retail price, release date, and case production. This made note taking so much easier and efficient.  Each bottle was on the table with detailed vinification notes in front.  (And on the clipboard to take home for reference.) While I enjoy winemaker interaction and questions I really like this format. It's very productive, allows focus and your own pace.

Overall, I was highly  impressed with the tasting. Of the 30 only two were given a low score, poor impression. I am vocal that my palate and personal philosophy is focused on wines that are balanced, with good acidity and restraint. You get no points for a Pinot the color of a Bordeaux varietal, with tannins to match. If anything, I am more drawn to a wine that was left to it's own, to express that years vintage.

Pinot Noir is one of the most expressive wine varieties of terroir and vintage, and should be different each year. Anderson Valley vintners show well in this regard, and I almost feel guilty picking out favorites. (I will confess I got to the tasting late, and had to accelerate a bit through the last 1/3, so notes not as lengthy as normal. )

Some of these will be pouring at tomorrow's Taste of Mendocino event – look for them.

My Personal Top Recommendations

  • Baxter Winery 2009 Run Dog Vineyard Native yeast. 18 months neutral French oak. 10% whole cluster. 100% Pommard 5 clone. Unfined/unfiltered. Lighter red color. Earthy nose, bright red fruit, cranberry, excellent acidity, finish. 14.3% alcohol.  110 cases. $45
  • Breggo Cellars 2009 Anderson Valley Ten months in 44% new French oak. Blend of many clones. Nose of earth, spice, red fruit, Bolder and plush on the palate. 14.8% alcohol.  2183 cases. $38
  • Couloir Wines 2009 Monument Tree 30% whole cluster. Native yeast. 30% new French oak. Unfined/unfiltered. Bright nose of red fruit and spice. Strawberry, red fruit and pomegranate. Great acidity, long finish. 14.1% alcohol, 143 cases. $38
  • Elke Vineyards 2009 Donnelly Creek Vineyard 100% de-stemmed. Burgundy yeast, nati

    ve ML. Blend of five clones. Unfiltered. Burgundian nose of earth, forest floor, mushroom. Strawberry, raspberry, silky finish. 14.3% alcohol.  840 cases. $34

  • Foursight Wines 2007 All-In, Charles Vineyard Native yeast. 20% whole cluster. Blend of 777, 114, 115, Pommard 05 clones. Unfined/unfiltered. No racking, 44% neutral barrels. Gorgeous Medium red color, gorgeous nose, cherry and pomegranate, excellent acidity. 407 cases, $46
  • Harrington Wines 2009 Wiley Vineyard Partial native yeast, 10 months French oak 25% new. Blend of 90% Pommard, 10% 777 clones. Light red color, modest nose, bright cherry, great acidity. 14.1% alcohol, 261 cases, $40
  • Londer Vineyards 2009 Paraboll (Ferrington & Valley Foothills vineyards) 40% new French oak. Blend of Pommard and Roederer 23 clones. Bright red, berry and spice on the nose, red and dark fruit, good structure and acidity, pleasing finish. 14.8% alcohol, 379 cases
  • Macphail 2009 Toulouse Vineyard Partial native yeast. Native ML. 3 months lees stirring. 11 months 60% new French oak. Unfined/unfiltered. Blend of 115, 667, 777 and Wadenswil 2A clones. Light, delicate, earthy, sensuous. Lingering finish. 14.3% alcohol. 267 cases. $49

Onto The Walk Around Tasting

The day was gorgeous – sunny and modest temperature. The reception upon arrival and general disposition of the staff and attendees mirrored that – the friendly attitude was warm and genuine – a phenomenon repeated every time I visit Mendocino County it seems.

Inside was yet more Pinot Noir. Seeking a bit of a palate break, I sought out bubbles and rose' – only a few were to be had….surprising, especially for the Rose'.

A band played, people lingered and relaxed in the grass, or sat on benches nibbling on treasures from the various food stations. I was solo – no friends or partners in crime could attend, and I was due back for a BBQ by five, or else I may

have lingered all day myself. I did finally meet my Twitter friend Chenoa, who works for Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery. It's always a pleasure to finally meet virtual wine friends in person, and Chenoa was as fun and bubbly in person as she is on Twitter.

After a few hours of tasting, chatting, a few bids on the silent auction, I reluctantly tore myself away to head back to North Sonoma, vowing next year to book a place to stay early (although with my growing cadre of Mendocino friends and wineries, perhaps not needed) and stay all 3 days. On Sundays, the wineries have open houses, but alas I had a 12 hour day of vineyard prep work ahead of me, so there was no wine playtime ahead for Simple Hedonisms.

Until next year….

My affinity for this wine region continues to grow. In 2 weeks I have the honor to attend a small writers work shop with icon Paul Dolan, and then in August, have been invited to be one of the judges in the Mendocino Count wine competition. Between trips there, and coming home to my loved Sonoma county and new farm/vineyard in Russian River Valley – my life seems full, and blessed indeed.

Thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms – cheers!

Related Articles:

Monday June 13 – Another Evolution in Wine Events – The Taste of Mendocino.

Mendocino Wine Region – My Growing Love Affair & Weekend Tour; Taste of Mendocino June 13th, A Fresh Unique Format


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Monday June 13 – Another Evolution in Wine Events – The Taste of Mendocino.

Earlier I wrote about the need for Wine Events and Walk Around Tastings to Evolve. Next Monday June 13th Industry and Consumers can experience, what I personally feel is one of those evolutions in progress.

I stated there are two key elements I feel coming to change walk around tastings: (1) Smaller, more focused events and (2) Mobile Point of Sale allowing you to buy wine you like as you try it.

Taste, Try & Buy – And Not Just Wine

Suzanne and Jason McConnell of RIVINO

A few weeks ago I shared my growing passion for this county, still undiscovered by many. Mendocino Wine Region – My Growing Love Affair & Weekend Tour; Since that weekend (which I will be writing about this weekend and beyond) I have been back once already, and going regularly. (Recent circumstances haven given me more time to focus on wine projects and writing.) In a few weeks I will also be one of a very lucky, select handful of writers doing a biodynamic workshop with Mendocino icon Paul Dolan.

The county artisans, it feels to me, are tired of being skipped over for other wine regions, when they offer so much. They are also fiercely proud of being the Greenest Wine Region in the U.S. Biodynamics, Organic, Sustainability – these aren't buzzwords here, they are a way of life.

Although Mendocino County really isn't that far from Bay area residents, most head to Napa and Sonoma, missing these gems also worthy of a weekend visit.

The Frey Family - Largest Organic Winery in US

Bringing Mendocino To You

So, the county is bringing the culture and wares to the city. Attendees of Taste of Mendocino can taste not only wine, but microbrew, organic meat and produce. And, best of all, most items are for sale; its a giant farmers market for all products. They are even bringing in the local Flynn Creek Circus a 'rurally based circus theatre company pushing traditional arts to an innovative edge.

There will be information and booths about lodging, events, activities like kayaking, and more. Click here for the full list of winery, food, artisan and other participants, all under one roof at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

You'd be crazy to miss this event….seriously. Only $35 for an evening of food, wine, entertainment, brought to you by the good people of Mendo

cino County. Support them, and their amazing wares with your hearts, minds, and a purchase or three. Lets keep it in NorCal, shall we?! Tickets are here. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Almost Forgot  – A Ticket Contest –  24 Hours, Don't Snooze

Almost forgot. Ok, two pairs of tickets, TWO different ways to win:

(1) In comments below; tell us

If you have been to Mendocino before, share your favorite winery you visited and why. If you haven't, share with us which variety/type of wine, you are most interested to try, from the many grapes grown there, listed here.

OR (and you can enter BOTH WAYS)

Patti Fetzer of Patianna Organic Vineyards

(2) Signup for Simple Hedonisms email updates. (Top right.) Your information is secure and never shared, you simple receive new articles once a day maximum, in email. You will have to click a link sent to your email to verify, your must complete that step to be eligible.

Contest ends Saturday June 11th at 4 pm!

Follow the Fun Before, During And After on Facebook & Twitter

Watch for updates, pictures and more on their Facebook page I would also recommend adding the Mendocino Wine Commission (source of these pictures) as well:

Follow along on Twitter – you can follow @TasteofMendo as well as the Twitter Hashtag (sorting mechanism) #TOM11 for live updates from attendees. No Twitter account needed just click your web browser here.

Like this article – help spread the word of Simple Hedonisms on Facebook, Twitter etc.

See you Monday at Fort Mason!

Related articles:

Wine Tasting Events Must Evolve – An Example at the Saturday June 11th Vinify Winery Collective Event in Santa Rosa

Mendocino Wine Region – My Growing Love Affair & Weekend Tour; Taste of Mendocino June 13th, A Fresh Unique Format

Wine Review – 2009 Paul Dolan Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County


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Mendocino Wine Region – My Growing Love Affair & Weekend Tour; Taste of Mendocino June 13th, A Fresh Unique Format

Mendocino County – so close for Bay area wine aficionados but so often overlooked. In the past this may have been in part to the quiet, laid back marketing efforts, consistent with the personality of the region. Over the last few months, I have observed many subtle but growing changes in that approach, and some new players helping put the county on people's radar. People in Mendocino are fiercely proud of what they do and stand for, and there is a growing level of noise and desire to share that with the rest of the world.

Personally as a wine lover, writer, and consumer, there is much to love. I am not a fan of Disneyland like wine culture, and the laid back, hard working, passionate atmosphere, deeply connected to the earth and environment, appeals to me. It's a region full of hard working, family wineries, very much like what I love in my own Sonoma County. It also offers a wide array of interesting wine varieties and wine making styles. This is not a region that has typically chased Parker palate, scores, or embraced New World styles, but rather has held true to their individual philosophies and beliefs.

The region is home to a wide range of grape varieties, Rhone (Grenache, Marsanne), Alsatian (,Burgundy (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay) and more, with many vineyards with very old vines, producing some incredible high quality fruit. Vintners know this and many North Coast winemakers explore the many off the beaten track nooks and crannies for the gems there.

Mendocino Comes to You June 13th

This years Taste of Mendocino is in a very innovative, exciting format. Formerly a Industry/Trade focused event, it has now moved to Ft Mason (San Francisco), and added a consumer portion, with several key highlights. Wine of course will be showcased, but attendees will also experience many of the other artisan food, art, and entertainment experiences the county has to offer.

This vibrant and fun event will offer an array of opportunities to meet new people, stimulate your senses, explore the region and buy wine, produce, grass-fed beef, beer, and artisan products. sip, sample, taste and buy it all at this exclusive marketplace meets showcase. The Mendo vibe will be kicking at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center. The marketp

lace will include over 60 wineries, organic beer, artisan olive oil, preserves, eggs, cheese and grassfed beef and lamb producers as well as favorite dishes from local restaurants. A large contingency of local artists, including the popular Flynn Flying Circus and other diversions and attractions will be there to remind you that Mendocino County is an amazing destination only 1.5 hours from the Bay.

What I really like about this event is they are hopping on the emerging trend, which I strongly support, of selling wine at the event, similar to the SF Vintners Markets. Mobile POS systems and onsite sales at tastings, is the future of wine events. Why shouldn't it be…how frustrating to find a wine you love at a tasting and not be able to buy it. Many of these wineries are very small, limited distribution. Instead of dealing with shipping costs etc, just grab, pay, and go. Brilliant. Ticket sales information is here. At $35 this is a ridiculous steal.

Join wineries, organic breweries (Ukiah Brewing Company), craft distillers (Germain-Robin), artisan producers (like Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese and Oliveto del Vecchio), famous grassfed beef ranchers (McGruder Ranch’s biggest client is Chez Panisse) and many creative artists and entrepreneurs. You'd be crazy to miss. My only regret is that its only 3 hours long.

(Trade & Media can register here.)

Touring Mendocino This Weekend

As soon as I hit the 'Publish' button, I am literally out the door to visit Ukiah and Redwood Valley for the next 3 days, to taste, visit, and hang out with some of the community. This by no means is a slight on Anderson Valley, I love the area, but have visited multiple times, and just came back from the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir festival. Which is an AMAZING event, I will be camped at for all 3 days next year. I will be publishing my highlights shortly. I will also share the highlights of this tour and discoveries in several articles. Stay tuned!

Enjoy Your 'Simple Hedonisms' This Long Weekend

This site embraces life's simple pleasures – quality of life from good food, good wine, friends, family and artisans. The Bay area and Wine Country  has these in abundance. I hope you will take the time to slow down, relax, and enjoy some of them this holiday weekend.

Cheers, and thanks to all you for reading and supporting.


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