4 to 6 pm
$5.00 per person
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611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite #1, Palm Springs, 92264,
Founded as a vineyard company in 1973, Sonoma-Cutrer’s foundation was built upon a selection of several key vineyard properties in the marginal benchlands, hillsides and rocky foothills in what later became recognized as the Sonoma Coast Appellation, an area with long, even growing seasons due to the cool and foggy coastal climate. Initially, the company planted several different grape varieties. By the end of the ’70s, Sonoma-Cutrer’s Chardonnay grapes had a reputation for exceptional quality and were in great demand by premium wineries. It was not long before the idea for a winery was floated and eventually built, under the guidance of some of Sonoma County’s finest winemakers and growers. Ground was broken for a new winery in 1981. Today, Sonoma-Cutrer’s flagship wine, Russian River Ranches, is the number-one-selling Chardonnay in America’s finest restaurants according to the annual Wine & Spirits magazine. Lisa Wherry, of Youngs Market Company, and I welcome this opportunity to bring you this interesting side by side tasting event of this fine company’s wines.
2006 Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay, Russian River Ranches
Russian River Ranches is a cuvée crafted from several estate vineyards, each contributing its own distinct personality. The gentle elevation, moderate temperatures and fine sandy clay loam of Vine Hill make it ideal for growing Chardonnay. Owsley Ranch stands closest to the Pacific and is influenced by cooling fog pushing through Bloomfield Gap each day. The soils at Shiloh reflect an ancient seabed and volcanic ash that changed the topography eons ago, while Les Pierres is situated atop an old rock quarry that imparts a flinty mineral character. Vines rooted in clay at Kent Vineyard are cooled morning and night by fog, allowing for extended maturation, while the vines at the Cutrer Vineyard struggle through soils marked by the eruptions of Mt. St. Helena. Pretty aromas of jasmine and rose petal give way to tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. Roasted hazelnut joins nougat and almond butter, finishing with a touch of lime and lychee. Medium-weight and clean with a wonderful acid backbone, the wine expands in the glass, offering up grapefruit, lemon, pear and kumquat with subtle vanilla bean and herbal mushroom. The lingering finish displays hints of minerality, along with apple, lime and a surprising kiss of strawberry.
2005 Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Distinct aromas of ginger and lemon zest are joined by toasty coconut, melon and caramel alongside a mineral, flinty cedar chest oakiness overlaid by notes of honeysuckle. Well-balanced with a solid acid backbone, the wine is rich and medium-heavy with a broad, yet firm, mid-palate. The long, lingering finish displays a touch of spice and lively acidity. Flavors of lemon, apple, pear, pineapple and cantaloupe, join a nutty, spicy, lightly oaky profile.
2004 Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay, The Cutrer
Planted on what was once an ocean floor, The Cutrer Vineyard stands hardly a dozen miles from the Pacific shore. Intense aromas of ripe apple are dotted with cinnamon and clove, as hazelnuts bathed in cream join fragrant notes of acacia blossoms. In the mouth, the wine is dense and concentrated, while simultaneously offering a softer, sensual side. Flavors of baked apple appear alongside glazed pineapple and fresh tangerine, as a hint of clove entertains the taste buds. The wine is in perfect balance given its backbone of acidity.
2004 Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay, Les Pierres
Sitting atop gravelly clay loam in an ancient riverbed thick with cobblestone, Les Pierres enjoys a long growing season, allowing for full maturation and ripening, by virtue of the daily fog shroud from San Pablo Bay. Full of deep, complex flavors that speak to the leanness of the soil, and the cool weather ripening and maturation, the wine displays distinct aromas of spice and lemon-lime over a pronounced flinty mineral backbone typical of the vineyard. Signature flavors of green apple and lemon evolve to dried lemon peel and lime zest, while floral notes recall acacia flowers. A broad mid-palate reveals a touch of spun honey. Judicious oak aging and fermentation impart a hint of fresh-baked bread crust. The wine’s structure is firm, focused and elegant, and the remarkably long finish is classic Les Pierres: tight, lemon-mineral, extending with great acidity.
2005 Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
This wine is not shy. Aromas of black cherry and currants leap from the glass, quickly followed by notes of cedar and allspice. A strong floral component marries the fruit bouquet, while leaving room for the subtle influence of the new French oak. In the mouth the first impression is all berries, with raspberry, blueberry and blackberry all enjoying a turn.