There are five wine varietals representing the major planting of grapes in Sonoma County. The climate patterns and soil types dictate the areas in which to correctly grow the individual grapes. The largest growing area in the county is the Alexander Valley where everything grows. Yet certain areas show marked improvement or interesting twists on the resulting wine. Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel prefer the warmer areas to develop their ultimate charms. Merlot shares this attribute, but also does well in the cooler Carneros region. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir deliver best in cooler climes and lately are being abundantly planted along the very cool coast. Many other varietals are grown in the county as well, but in the “shadow” of the main players.
2015 Chalk Hill Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Chalk Hill Appelation
List price 26.00; Our price 22.50
This wonderful Sauvignon Blanc offers lush floral aromas of honeysuckle, which mingles with bright citrus and tropical notes. It received ten months of barrel aging, 25% in new French oak, enhancing the complexity and smoothness of the wine. Connoisseurs' Guide gives it a 92-point rating: “Ripe, well-extracted fruit jumps to the fore here early on and is this moderately full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc’s driving force all the way to the finish, but the wine is far more than simply fruity and gives full play to the grape’s herbal side with a nice dollop of carefully fit oak sweetening the mix.”
2016 Hartford Court Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
List price 30.00; Our price 25.00
This Hartford Court Russian River Valley designation offers subtle aromas of jasmine flower, citrus oil, green apple and pear. The elegant aromatics are complemented by fresh kiwi, lemon drop and Pippin apple flavors. The fruit-focused mid-palate is followed by subtle mineral notes and a hint of crystallized ginger in the finish. Vinous rates it at 93: “Bright, fresh and nuanced, the 2016 Chardonnay (Russian River) has so much to offer. The Russian River Chardonnay is a distinctly mid-weight wine built on expressive citrus and floral character.”
2013 Marimar Estate Pinot Noir, “Mas Cavalls”, Sonoma Coast
List price 35.00; Our price 29.99
This wine has an elegant nose, with classic varietal aromas of cherry, violets, and spice from this special vineyard. The tannins are supple and graceful, and the palate is round, complex and fleshy. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate give it a 90-point rating: “Pale to medium ruby-purple colored, the wine has cherries, violets and roses on the nose with a suggestion of Provence herbs. Medium-bodied and delicately played in the mouth, it has a gentle frame of chewy tannins and an invigorating finish.”
2013 Matanzas Creek Merlot, Sonoma County
List price 26.00; Our price 22.99
The nose opens to a medley of red cherry and raspberry, plum and sage, with a hint of cocoa powder in the background. The palate is sleek and savory, framed by vibrant acidity and seamless tannins with notes of black slate and graphite that carry through to a lengthy yet elegant finish.
2016 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel, Sonoma County
List price 24.00; Our price 19.99
This wine offers tantalizing raspberry, blueberry, classic briary and spicy flavors from grapes chosen throughout the county. Wine Spectator puts it at 93 points: “Plump and loaded with rich, jammy fruit, this Zinfandel is a pleasure to drink. Bold accents of wild berry, spicy cinnamon and licorice glide dynamically toward plush tannins. Drink now through 2025”
2015 The Calling Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
List price 35.00; Our price 29.99
Made by winemaker Wayne Donaldson, this wine presents black cherry, currant and vanilla spice aromas combined with flavors of ripe raspberry. A partnership between two friends, sports commentator Jim Nantz and wine entrepreneur Peter Deutsch, this full-bodied Cab presents black currant, coffee and French oak notes of hazel-nut on the nose. On the palette black currant and black cherry lead to flavors of sweet tobacco, vanilla and a long lingering finish. Big tannins and oak structure will age this wine for years to come.
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