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09.18.2009

Top Wines of Sonoma: Tasting Notes from Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

TASTE09.jpgTwo weeks ago, under idyllic clear skies, I joined about 700 other wine lovers to wander around a winery lawn in Sonoma County soaking up the bounty of Sonoma. Known as TASTE Sonoma Weekend, this event combines two previously separate annual events: The Sonoma County Showcase of Wine and Food and the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction.

The main attraction consists of hundreds of wineries and scores of restaurants plying their wares under beautiful white tents set up on the lawns of the Gallo-owned MacMurray Ranch winery. Perhaps one of the single best opportunities to taste through a large swath of the wineries of Sonoma County, this weekend event provides attendees with a heck of an education for their palate, and a nice cross section of the vintage. Most of the high-end, mailing-list-only wineries of the county are notably absent (like they are at most public events like this), but there were some excellent producers there, as well as some interesting new wineries to discover.

In all, I tasted more than 200 different wines, and offer my scores below for reference.


White Wines


WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2007 Pride Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay, Vintner's Select, Sonoma County. $??.


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2008 Atmosphere Wines Marsanne Roussanne, Dos Burros, La Prenda Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $30.
2007 Bonneau Winery Chardonnay, Catherine's Vineyard, Los Carneros. $20. Where to buy?
2008 Captûre Wines Sauvignon Blanc "Tradition", North Coast. $32.
2008 Gundlach Bundschu Winery Gewürztraminer, Rhinefarm Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $20. Where to buy?
2006 Hartford Family Winery Chardonnay, Laura's Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $60.
2008 Imagery Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Wow Oui, Sonoma County. $??.
2007 Landmark Vineyards Chardonnay, Overlook, Sonoma County. $20. Where to buy?
2006 Landmark Vineyards Chardonnay, Damaris Reserve, Sangiacomo Vineyard & Flocchini Vineyard, Sonoma County. $40.
2008 Owl Ridge Wines Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County. $12.

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2007 Balletto Vineyards Estate Pinot Gris, Rockpile. $14
2006 Buena Vista Carneros Chardonnay, Ramal Vineyard, Los Carneros. $32
2007 Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Chalk Hill. $??
2008 CLARBEC Wines Pinot Gris, Clarbec Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $14
2008 Dutcher Crossing Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley. $18
2007 Dutcher Crossing Winery Chardonnay, Costello Vineyard, Alexander Valley. $22
2008 Enkidu Wines Sauvignon Blanc, Kick Ranch, Sonoma County. $24
2008 Hanna Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Bella Luna Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $19
2006 Hartford Family Winery Chardonnay, Four Hearts Vineyards, Russian River Valley. $40
2007 Inman Family Wines Pinot Gris, Russian River Valley. ?
2007 La Crema Winery Chardonnay, Los Carneros. $30
2007 La Crema Winery Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $30
2007 Mazzocco Sonoma Winery Chardonnay, Stuhlmuller Vineyard, Alexander Valley. $36
2006 Moon Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley. $16
2007 Nicholson Ranch Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley. $30
2007 Paradise Ridge Winery Chardonnay, Sonoma. $30
2008 Pedroncelli Winery Sauvignon Blanc, East Side Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. $??
2008 Roshambo Winery Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Imago , Frank Johnson Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $16
2008 Valley of the Moon Winery Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. $??

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
NV Artiste Winery Imp: Alsace, Les Fleurs, California. $??
2008 Atmosphere Wines Fumé Blanc, Tribute, Denmark Street Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $20
2006 Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery Estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill. $??
2008 Cline Cellars Marsanne Roussanne, Sonoma Coast. $??
2008 Dutton Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Kylies Cuvée, Green Valley. $??
2007 Frick Winery Grenache Blanc, Owl Hill Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $27
2008 Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County. $25
2007 Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $32
NV Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Ultra Cuvée Va De Vi, Los Carneros. $22
2007 Hop Kiln Winery - HK Generations Chardonnay, HK Generations, Sonoma Coast. $30
2008 Joseph Swan Vineyards Gewürztraminer, Saralee's Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $18
2008 Kunde Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Magnolia Lane, Sonoma Valley. $17
2006 Lynmar Estate Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $30
2007 MacRostie Winery and Vineyards Chardonnay, Wildcat Mountain Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. $35
2003 Mayo Family Winery Sparkling Brut, Laurel Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $35
2006 Murphy-Goode Winery Chardonnay, Island Block, Sonoma County. $??
2007 Robledo Family Winery Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Seven Brothers, Oak Ranch, Lake County. $??
2007 Rued Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Rued Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. $16
2007 Schug Carneros Estate Winery Chardonnay, Los Carneros. $??
2008 Seghesio Family Vineyards Estate Arneis, Russian River Valley. $??
2008 Terlato Family Vineyards Pinot Gris, Russian River Valley. $24
2008 Thomas George Estates Viognier, Sonoma Valley. $??
2008 Trecini Cellars SAUVIGNON BLANC, Russian River Valley. $??
2007 Viansa Winery Arneis, Sonoma County. $??
2007 Viansa Winery Pinot Grigio, Vittoria, Los Carneros. $??

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2007 Adobe Road Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley. $25
2008 Buena Vista Carneros Pinot Gris, Ramal Vineyard, Los Carneros. $20
2007 Carica Wines Sauvignon Blanc, Kick Ranch, Sonoma County. $??
2008 D & L Carinalli Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $??
2006 DeLoach Vineyards Hawk Hill Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $50
2008 deLorimier Winery Sauvingon Blanc, Russian River Valley. $??
2008 Everett Ridge Vineyards & Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley. $18
2008 GlenLyon Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay, Hog Wilde, Parmelee-Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. $34
2008 Hook & Ladder Winery Estate Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $19
2007 Kelly & Young Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley. $24
2007 Ledson Winery & Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley. $22
2007 Sapphire Hill Winery Chardonnay, Sapphire Hill Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $25
2007 Sbragia Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Home Ranch Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $??
2007 Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards Chardonnay, Russian River Ranches, Sonoma Coast. $23
2007 Spann Vineyards Chardonnay/Viognier Blend, North Coast. $??
2007 Stonestreet Winery Chardonnay, Alex Mountain Estate, Alexander Valley. $??
2008 Thomas George Estates Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $??
2007 Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Chardonnay, Los Carneros. $??
2008 Pezzi King Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley.

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2007 D & L Carinalli Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $??
2007 Davis Bynum Winery Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $??
2008 Francis Ford Coppola Winery Chardonnay, Director's Cut, Russian River Valley. $??
2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County. $25
2008 Paradise Ridge Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Grandview Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $20
2008 Seghesio Family Vineyards Estate Pinot Grigio, Russian River Valley. $??
2005 Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards Chardonnay, The Cutrer, Russian River Valley. $40
2005 Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Les Pierres, Les Pierres, Sonoma Valley. $42
2007 Terlato Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $24

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2008 Bartholomew Park Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $??
2007 Garden Creek Ranch Vineyards Winery Chardonnay, Clonal Selection, Alexander Valley. $??
2008 Merriam Vineyards Chardonnay, Alexander Valley. $18
2008 Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate Estate Pinot Blanc, Dry Creek Valley. $??
2007 Rodney Strong Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $??

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 7.5
2007 Amphora Winery Chardonnay, Peters Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $??
2006 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma County. $18
2007 Rodney Strong Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill. $??
2008 Schug Carneros Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County. $??
2007 Stryker Sonoma Chardonnay, Alexander Valley. $??

WHITE WINES SCORING AROUND 7
2007 Benovia Winery Chardonnay, La Pommeraie, Russian River Valley. $48
2007 Chateau Felice Winery Estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill.
2000 Robert Hunter Winery Brut de Noirs, Sonoma Valley. $??
2008 Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery Unoaked Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. $??

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BELOW 7
2008 Merriam Vineyards "Stainless" Chardonnay, Alexander Valley. $25
2007 Deerfield Ranch Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Chalk Hill. $??

Pink Wines

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9 2008 Balletto Vineyards Rosé, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $17. Where to buy? 2008 Kokomo Winery Grenache Rosé, Pauline's Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $20. 2008 Valley of the Moon Winery Sangiovese, Rosato di Sangiovese, Sonoma County. $??. Where to buy?

PINK WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2008 Adobe Road Winery Rosé, Pinot Noir Rosé, Russian River Valley. $14
2008 Alexander Valley Vineyards Rosé, Dry Rosé of Sangiovese, Alexander Valley. $12
2008 Forth Vineyards & Winery Rosé, Russian River Valley. $15

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2007 DeLoach Vineyards Rosé, O.F.S. (Our Finest Selection), Russian River Valley. $32
2008 Enkidu Wines Rosé, Sonoma County. $20
2008 Fichtenberg Vineyards Pinot Noir Saignée, Los Carneros. $15
2008 Inman Family Wines Rosé of Pinot Noir, Endless Crush, Olivet Grange Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $??
2007 Muscardini Cellars Rosato di Sangiovese, Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $22

PINK WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2008 Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves Rosé, Dry Creek Valley. $??

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2008 Kelly & Young Rosé, Dry Creek Valley. $24
2007 St. Francis Winery & Vineyards Rosé, Sonoma County. $??

PINK WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2007 GlenLyon Vineyards & Winery Estate Rosé, Sonoma Valley. $24

Red Wines

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5 2005 Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir, Great Oak Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $38. Where to buy?

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2007 Atmosphere Wines Syrah, Valley View, Parmelee-Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $30. Where to buy?
2006 Carica Wines Syrah, Kick Ranch, Sonoma County. $36. Where to buy?
2006 Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir, Trenton Estate Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $52. Where to buy?
2005 Ridgeline Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $33. Where to buy?
2005 Sojourn Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Sonoma Valley. $75. Where to buy?
2006 Ty Caton Vineyards Red Blend, TyTanium, Caton Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $75. Where to buy?

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2006 Atmosphere Wines Syrah, Valley View, Parmelee-Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $30
2007 Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves Syrah, Lily Hill Estate, Dry Creek Valley. $38
2005 Blue Rock Vineyard Estate Syrah, Alexander Valley. $??
2006 Carica Wines Temptation Red Wine, Sonoma County. $25
2006 Emery Estate Vineyards and Winery The Double Red Wine, Sonoma Valley. $65
2007 Enkidu Wines Rhône Blend, Humbaba, Sonoma County. $25
2007 Forth Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, ALL BOYS, Forth Estate and Five Brother's Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. $25
2006 Francis Ford Coppola Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Sam's Vineyard, Alexander Valley. $??
2003 Garden Creek Ranch Vineyards Winery Bordeaux Blend, Tesserae, Alexander Valley. $??
2006 J. Rickards Winery Zinfandel, Ancestors Vines, Alexander Valley. $22
2007 Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir, Cuvée de Trois, Russian River Valley. $28
2005 Montemaggiore Syrah, Paolo's Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $35
2005 Montemaggiore Red Blend, Nobile, Dry Creek Valley. $45
2005 Ridgeline Vineyards Lone Pine Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $40
2006 Rockpile Vineyards buck pasture Red Wine, Rockpile. $50
2005 Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $60
2006 Sojourn Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley. $48
2006 Ty Caton Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Caton Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $42

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2006 Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot, Alexander Valley. $20
NV Artiste Winery Russian River Cuvée, Ascension, Russian River Valley. $47
2004 Ashton Vineyards Syrah, Sonoma Valley. $45
2006 Emery Estate Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Deborah Factor, Sonoma Valley. $60
2006 Enkidu Wines Syrah, Odyssey, Russian River Valley. $34
2006 Everett Ridge Vineyards & Winery Estate Syrah, Dry Creek Valley. $32
2004 Frick Winery Syrah, Owl Hill Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $26
2007 Frick Winery Counoise, Owl Hill Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $26
2004 Garden Creek Ranch Vineyards Winery Bordeaux Blend, Tesserae, Alexander Valley. $??
2007 Kokomo Winery Malbec, Dry Creek Valley. $32
2007 Leonhardt Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley. $??
2006 Little Vineyards Family Winery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley. $50
2007 Mazzocco Sonoma Winery Zinfandel, Smith Orchard, Dry Creek Valley. $50
2005 Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate Rhône Blend, Coteaux Sauvages, Dry Creek Valley. $60
2006 Pedroncelli Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Three Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. $15
2005 Ridgeline Vineyards Standing Bear Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $75
2006 Roshambo Winery Estate Syrah, Justice, Frank Johnson Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $??
2006 Sbragia Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Andolsen Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $??
2003 Stryker Sonoma Monterosso Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $??
2007 VJB Vineyards & Cellars Barbera, Mendocino County. $??

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2005 Adobe Road Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley. $40
2005 Blue Rock Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $??
2006 Buena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir, Ramal Vineyard, Los Carneros. $40
2006 Chateau Felice Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill. $??
2002 deLorimier Winery Bordeaux Blend, Meritage, Alexander Valley. $??
2005 Ehret Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley. $39
2006 Ehret Family Winery Bella's Blend, Knights Valley. $39
2007 Gracianna Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley. $42
2007 Hauck Cellars Zinfandel, Treborce Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $??
2005 Hidden Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Hidden Ridge Vineyard, Sonoma County. $40
2007 Matrix Winery Zinfandel, Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley. $??
2006 Mayo Family Winery Zinfandel, Ricci Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $40
2005 Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley. $40
2006 Murphy-Goode Winery Merlot, Alexander Valley. $24
2006 Paradise Ridge Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Elevation, Rockpile Vineyard, Rockpile. $??
2005 Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Landslide Vineyard, Alexander Valley. $??
2006 VJB Vineyards & Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Dante, Sonoma Valley. $??
2006 Duchamp Winery Syrah, Cuvée Trouvee, Dry Creek Valley. $34

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2006 Alderbrook Winery Estate Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley. $24
2004 deLorimier Winery Bordeaux Blend, Meritage, Alexander Valley. $??
2006 Emery Estate Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Unbridled , Sonoma Valley. $45
2006 Haywood Winery Estate Zinfandel, Los Chamizal, Los Chamizal Vineyards, Sonoma Valley. $30
2005 Mutt Lynch Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Canis Major, Perotti Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $??
2006 Rued Winery Zinfandel, Rued Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. $25
2005 Hanna Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $??
2007 Thomas George Estates Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley. $??

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2006 Alderbrook Winery Carignane, School House Creek Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $19
2006 Bartholomew Park Winery Zinfandel, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Valley. $??
2007 Blackstone Winery Reserve Merlot, Sonoma County. $??
2006 Terlato Family Vineyards Syrah, Dry Creek Valley. $??

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2006 Dutcher Crossing Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor's Reserve, Dry Creek Valley. $29
2007 Fichtenberg Vineyards Red Blend, Family Cuvée, Sonoma Valley. $??
2008 Haywood Winery Estate Chardonnay, Los Chamizal, Los Chamizal Vineyards, Sonoma Valley. $22
2005 Jordan Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $??

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 7.5
2005 Amphora Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Polesky Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $65
2005 Arrowood Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County. $??
2007 Wilson Winery Zinfandel, Ellie's Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $??

RED WINES SCORING AROUND 7
2005 Pezzi King Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley. $??

Comments (8)

Mari Kane wrote:
09.20.09 at 11:29 AM

Impressive list, Alder. Did you really taste all of these wines?


Alder wrote:
09.20.09 at 11:36 AM

Yes, I really did taste all those wines. Took me about 4 hours, but I did.

Zaheer Ali wrote:
09.20.09 at 10:19 PM

Let me first say thanks for publishing this blog I find it both entertaining and useful.

However, on the surface , I have to disagree harshly with several of your recommendations/rankings. I wonder, is there somewhere I can find the wines that were available to see if perhaps some of the ones I would have expected to see were simply not available?

Or, it could just be different palates.

Cheers.

Alder wrote:
09.20.09 at 11:33 PM

Zaheer,

Glad you enjoy the blog. My scores are merely one man's opinion. There were perhaps 600 different wines poured at the tasting by more than 300 different producers. To my knowledge there is no list of the wines anywhere that you can see, but if you check the web site for the event you may be able to see at least the list of the wineries that were participating.

Jann Forth wrote:
09.21.09 at 1:58 PM

Thanks so much for the nice scores for FORTH!
Cheers! j

Maria wrote:
09.22.09 at 7:40 AM

2007 La Crema Winery Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, I love love love this wine. I am a huge fan of La Crema, and have been for several hears.

Thanks for this list, and for undertaking the hard task of tasting all these wines!

09.22.09 at 11:00 AM

Thanks for trying our '07 Zin! It's $32 a bottle, btw.

Kevin Sirop wrote:
09.22.09 at 11:15 AM

I love the Sonoma Coast Pinots. I tried the Ellman Family Vineyard Alexis Skye Pinot 2007 and it was awesome!!!

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