From Rhone Style to Dry Italians
To California New World Bottles of Wine
From the Rhone Valley to Italy and all the way back to the New World wines of California, our recent trip through Alexander Valley enabled us to sample bottles of wine from three very different perspectives.
Immediately west of California’s Sonoma Valley you’ll find Alexander Valley, a two-mile wide and 16 mile long AVA producing tremendous new world wines. However, on this trip we were able to taste some Italian varietals along with some Rhone style wines of consequence.
We visited Unti Vineyards producing the dryer, crisper Italian varietals, Quiviera Vineyards producing Rhone style wines and as well Truett-Hurst. It was a short trip, but well worth it as we hadn’t visited this area recently.
We’re not used to seeing unharvested grape, as we often visit wineries in the winter and spring. So it was a treat to see grape dangling from the vine. We also had the chance to peek in and see the sorting machines munching through grape on their way to the bottle.
We’re also not used to the heat, forgetting these locales reach the 100 degree mark during the daytime while dropping into the mid-50s before the sun rises. This kind of temperature range creates the growing environment winemakers crave.
As we’ve written before, the prices in this area tend to be higher than most. While we know the pricing of wine throughout California, we are more comfortable with gentle pricing strategies. But the wines were good, the scenery eloquent and we had time to spare before landing at the airport for our journey home.
What did we buy? Because we were flying we only purchased at one winery and they’re shipping it to us. Quivira Vineyards shared some enjoyable Rhone-style wines of consequence. We had no way to take wine home on the flight so passed on the other wines.
What did we taste?
2013 Grenache $32 ✰+
2013 Shouthern Rhone-style GSM $36 ✰+
2013 Syrah $32 ✰
2013 Petite Sirah $32 ✰+
2014 Black Boar Zinfandel (W/ Petite Sirah) $45 ✰++
2013 Flight Zinfandel $42 ✰+
2015 Vermentino $26 ✰+
2014 Barbera $38 ✰/✰+
2013 Segromigno $28 ✰/✰+
2013 Zinfandel $32 ✰+
2013 Grenache $35 ✰+
2013 Syrah Benchland $40 ✰+
2014 White Sheep Pinot Noir $44 ✰
2014 Rattler Rock Zinfandel $37 ✰+
2014 Red Rooster Zinfandel $37 ✰-/✰
2014 Southdown Zinfandel $38 ✰-/✰
2014 Burning Man Petite Sirah $40 ✰
2014 GPS (Greneche, Petite Sirah & Syrah) $44 ✰+
2014 Napa Cabernet $52 ✰
Unfortunately we didn’t get a good taste at Truett-Hurst as most of the wine we sampled was opened up the evening before during a pig roast. We thought the wine was missing a lot, perhaps not even pumped for overnight storage. We hope to visit again sometime soon and get a better sense of their offerings.
Now that might seem like a lot of wine to consume, but, when you’re tasting & spitting, it is not too much. Spitting is too rough a word. You’re actually ‘expressing’ your wine into a cup. After all, do you really want to drink wine you don’t enjoy when you can dispose of it and maintain your palette for tasting wine you truly enjoy?
As you can tell by our description of pricing, as you start approaching $50 you better be a pretty tasty bottle of wine. We don’t have much tolerance for overblown pricing providing minor incremental increases in taste. When you’re approaching $50 you need to be a killer good bottle of wine. After all, what’s the difference between a $150 bottle of wine, versus a $40 bottle of wine? Is there $90 worth of extra taste in the more expensive bottle? We’ve had some tremendous $20 bottles of wine and some gorgeous $40 bottles of wine. It all depends on your taste, and how you choose.
Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Temecula.
Some notes on our wine ranking system.
– -✰ means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰ means -Not liking it too much
✰ means -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰++ means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+ with a slash, it signifies our opinion differs.
$ Value Laden
$$ Well priced wine
$$$ Better be great!
$$$$ Expensive, better be wonderful!