I love wines with a story, and I also love wineries that have a sense of humor. "The Velvet Sisters" is an obscure reference to three colorful characters from the Anderson Valley. If you're not familiar with the odd cultural and sociological eddy that spins around the towns of Philo and Booneville in the heart of the Anderson Valley, I suggest you read the hysterically funny novel/memoir called Booneville. But for our purposes it is enough to know that since 1800 the locals have spoken an obscure English dialect called Boontling and these Mendocino County towns are populated with some of the more eccentric and insular folks you're liable to meet, from the Squirrel Lady to the "Velvet Sisters" whose name now graces one of Hartford's vineyards. These sisters, Vera, Lois, and Zelpha Rawles, were given their name (in Boontling) because of their perpetual and unchanging wardrobe: three velvet dresses they bought on a trip to British Colombia.
The naming of this vineyard and the vineyard designate wine that is produced from it, are both a nod to local culture as well as a lovely descriptor. Even though they have a winery with a lofty sounding name like Hartford Court, Don Hartford and his wife Jennifer seem to be focused on making wines that are the fruits of humble work, good soil, and in this case, local color.
I served this wine at a blind tasting with some winemaker friends and it placed in everyone's top 3 out of over 12 wines.
This wine shines a bright beryl red with a surprisingly floral nose with jasmine components along with bing cherries and a hint of pine. Velvety, even silky (as promised) in the mouth, the pinot fruit comes through with rasberries, red currants, and a hint of sweet oak. There's a slight bitterness in the finish that I didn't like, however, which kept this from being a solid nine.
I'm thinking about grabbing some more of this wine and saving it until November, because this is a great wine for classic roast turkey with cider sage gravy and all the standard accompaniments.
Overall Score: 8.5/9
How Much?: $42
I got mine at The Wine Club in San Francisco.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Images: Swift Work Social Media Answers the Question: Where Did Australian Wine Go Wrong Hourglass, Napa Valley: Current and Upcoming Releases Drought Problems? Just Have an Earthquake Vinography Images: Just One Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 1, 2014 Earthquake Rattles Napa Harvest NIMBY Versus Vineyard in Malibu Vinography Images: Precious Droplets MORIC: The Apogee of Blaufränkisch
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirÃ¡lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy