Sonoma County Harvest Fair Best of Class Bordeaux Varieties

Nelson Estate Sonoma Valley Bennett Valley Vineyard Malbec 2004
The nose is oak city and the palate is very supple with moderate acidity and a long finish. I think that many will find this wine agreeable and readily approachable. Aged in Fr oak for 18 mos. C&B in Healdsburg 13.6% $21.99 at Bottle Barn Nelson Estate

Wellington Sonoma Valley Estate Bottled Merlot 2003
This was one of my top 4 from the sweepstake round of judging. Often we see under $20 Merlot simply mushy and thin. This wine is not about to be a wimp. There’s plenty of berry fruit and appropriate Bordeaux green characters along with acidity to give this light-bodied wine a frame. All Merlot and over 19 months aging in Fr oak. Owner/Winemaker Peter Wellington. P&B in Glen Ellen 14.8% $17.99 at Traverso’s Wellington

Charles Creek Sonoma County Carneros San Giacomo Vineyard Pasatiempo Merlot 2004
Charles Creek has been picking up lots of medals. At our Chronicle Wine Competition, they took an impressive BOC for their Chardonnay 2 years ago. The story continues with this very oaky Merlot that is sure to satisfy those who like to order their Merlot, ‘heavy on the oak’ with a little bell pepper. The fruit is sourced from the region where the Sonoma Valley and Carneros overlap. 100% Merlot, 24 months in Radoux barrels. Winemaker Kerry Damskey, 950 cases. V&B in Graton 14.5% $18.99 at Bottle Barn Charles Creek

Louis M. Martini Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
This is a big Cabernet and a good value for those seeking full-on flavor. There’s a complex mix of Bordeaux notes like cigar box with oak and black fruit. This wine fills out the whole palate and is still quite tight. This was one of my top 4 in the vote for Sweepstakes red this year. The brand has done well under the stewardship of the Gallo family since their purchase in 2002. Most of the fruit comes from their Barrelli Creek Vineyard. The grapes were not crushed leaving 90% whole berries, 2% of which were Cab Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The wine was aged in a combo of new and used oak, from the US, Fr and Eastern Europe. V&B St. Helena 13.9% $23.99 at Bottle Barn Louis Martini

Take 2 and 3: The follow-on was consistent and a crowd pleaser – well done!

Chateau Margaux Margaux Pavillon Rouge 2003
From the previous tasting earlier in the year, I noted that this wine is very pure with new world styling. This is the estate’s second wine and its consistent quality has meant less than bargain prices. This bottle was full of very charred oak to smell as well as some brett, which I haven’t seen above threshold before. Is this just one bottle or what? 82 hectares are planted to 75% Cabernet Sauvginon, 20% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cab Franc. 50% of the wine goes into new oak 13% $85.99 at Bottle Barn

Take 2: Pouring a fresh bottle on Monday night led to a repeat of the barnyard, only amplified. The fecal character is a concern and at odds with past samples. $90 requires a better job. This cannot be excused as terroir. It is simply too much of the consequences of brettanomycees.

Trentadue Alexander Valley Estate La Storia Estate Bottled Meritage 2004 Miro Tcholakov continues to hit home runs for Trentadue with their La Storia line. Last year my notes show the 2003 as a solid wine, super oaky; this year follows suit with ample structure. Tasted again in May ’09, there might be some low level cork taint in the particular bottle we’re tasting as it is excessively astringent and the nose has really dampened. This year he repeats the Gold with a blend of 49% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cab Franc, 4% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. The wine was aged 25 mos in Fr and Eastern European oak. GP&B in Geyserville 14.9% $36.69 at Bottle Barn Trentadue

About RJ

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
This entry was posted in Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Style Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Carneros, France, Malbec, Margaux, Merlot, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley. Bookmark the permalink.

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