Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ryan Cellars Pinot Noir, David Noyes Zinfandel and MoniClaire Petite Sirah reflect the unique terrior of Sonoma County. Terrior is a French term used to indicate the special characteristics that geography bestow upon wine. It can loosely be translated as "a sense of place". Some the the factors that effect terrior include soils, climate, exposure to the sun and more. Sonoma County, a major winemaking area in Northern California, is home to many small family-run wineries that produce fine wines expressive of the unique terrior of Sonoma County. Recently I had the opportunity to sample several red wines from Sonoma.

Marguerite Ryan Cellars – 2006 Pinot Noir, Van der Kamp Vineyards, Sonoma Mountain

Focusing entirely on single vineyard Pinot Noirs, winemaker Peggy Ryan partners with select growers determined to grow great Pinot Noir. Her goal is to produce unique Pinot Noirs indicative of there specific terrior and offer lushness without over-intensity, showing balance and supple texture.

Peggy produced only 127 cases of this premium Pinot Noir from Sonoma Mountain. With a soft nose of cherries, spice and sandalwood and gives a supple-textured but concentrated mouthful of cherries, blackberries, sarsaparilla and rose petals, finishing with a hint of fine grained tannins and a lingering echo of long lasting flavors. This wine is ready to drink now or over the next 4-6 years. This Pinot Noir pairs well with poultry, lamb, port, creamy sauces and spicy seasonings

David Noyes Wines – 2006 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

Winemaker David Noyes strongly believes in producing wines that are a tangible expression of the terrior of the vineyard. His winemaking style minimizes the handling and maximizes the individuality of each lot that pair well with food.

This 2006 Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley has a complex nose of wild berries, forest herbs, caramel toast and a touch of cured ham. Full and spicy in the mouth, the flavors expand to include blackberry preserve, candied cherry and sweet oak. It is ready to drink now and over the next 5-10 years. It pairs well with roasted chicken flavored with rosemary and garlic

David Noyes learned a lot about Zinfandel while working at Ridge Vineyards, especially about the grapes from Dry Creek Valley. His Zinfandel is a blend of 80% Zinfandel, 13% Carignane and 7% Petite Sirah. The Petite Sirah adds depth and tannin while the old vine Carignane melds the flavors together with a herbal or spicy component.

MoniClaire Vineyards – 2006 Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley

Winemaking has been in the blood of winemaker Peter Smiderle’s family for over 100 years, starting with his Italian grandfather. Peter’s winemaking goal is to create hand crafted wines expressing the characteristics of the terrior. The winery, located along the bench land of the Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg, is named after Peter and Mary Beth’s two daughters, Monica and Claire.

The dark, black purple color offers a forward bouquet of blueberries and blackberries mingled with signature MoniClaire chocolate. On the palate it offers a velvety mouth feel and a lengthy and complex finish. It is ready to drink now or over the next 3-5 years. Sample this Petite Sirah yourself this summer with a grilled rib eye steak and other grilled meats.

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