Friday, September 9, 2011

Ain't Life Grand? Taste of Sonoma 2011

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I am a native of Sonoma County. With the exception of an 8 year stint to attend college and graduate school, I have always lived in this area, just minutes from some of the world’s best wines. Every now and then, like when I cross the Golden Gate Bridge or when I get to attend events like Taste of Sonoma do I remember how privileged I am to live where I do. I get to live in an area that people from all over the world save for months or years to be able to visit. This year’s Taste of Sonoma had no less of an impact on me and I realized how truly lucky I am.
If you haven’t attended Taste of Sonoma before, it is a collection of over 170 Sonoma County wineries and 60 local chefs pouring and pairing what makes Sonoma so delightful. The event, held at breathtaking MacMurray Ranch is organized into the different AVA’s (Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valley) While this was only our second year covering the event, it was easily become a weekend to look forward to and one of our favorite events. Not only do we get the chance to meet new people and wineries, but it is also a chance to connect with other friends in the industry.

As we got to Taste of Sonoma we stopped off at the Gloria Ferrer Bubble lounge. Last year we walked right by the bubbles and missed out. Each paired with a food item, Gloria Ferrer was pouring three different wines. My favorite was the Royal Cuvee paired with a delicious Kayasha Brick Pizza. After a quick stop in the Visa Signature Lounge we made our way to the main event.

Starting in Sonoma Valley, we went straight for the Bacchus Restaurant and Wine Bar table. In all honesty, Katie works for the DoubleTree Hotel where Bacchus is located so the visit was partially for the food and partially to socialize (I went for the food, Katie went to socialize). Regardless, the Nicoise Salad with locally sourced Sturgeon and Heirloom Tomato was a great start to the day and felt great in the Sonoma heat. We also couldn’t leave without wishing Chef Don Nolan good luck in the upcoming Steel Chef competition. Although he didn’t emerge victorious, we are still proud of Chef Don...way to represent Bacchus!
James and Chef Don Nolan of Bacchus
We made sure to stop by Cartograph Wines and say hi to our friends Alan and Serena. First timers at Taste of Sonoma, they were pouring their 2009 Floodgate Pinot Noir and 2010 Gewurtztraminer.  Since meeting them at Pinot Days we have enjoyed each chance we get to spend with these two. Laid back, friendly, and passionate about wine, they are always a lot of fun. Don’t believe me?....Check out the Garagiste tasting room in Healdsburg, featuring Cartograph and Stark Wines and you will see what I am talking about.
Alan and Serena of Cartograph Wines
Photo courtesy of William Allen

Jordan Winery
The great thing about Taste of Sonoma is that is exposes you to so many wineries at once and perhaps wineries that you wouldn’t ever meet otherwise. As a result of following them on Twitter, we went over and met the folks at Jordan Winery in the Alexander Valley tent. They were pouring their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Incredibly balanced with dark fruit and a hint of vanilla, this wine seemed to be a favorite of the guests and went quickly. I didn’t try to the 2009 Chardonnay they were pouring but Katie said it was nice and crisp with a lot of apple flavor.

Continuing the trend of meeting new wineries and winemakers we went over to the Everett Ridge table in Dry Creek. Pouring several wines, I only tried the 2010 Estate Syrah Rose’. Previously a non-believer in rose’ I have recently discovered several that I find to be very drinkable. The Everett Ridge rose’ is now added to that list. A nose of fresh strawberries, the wine was very delicate but was also something I could see myself opening on a hot day when I want something cool and refreshing. It had prominent notes of berries while at the same time exposing you flavors of citrus and some nice acidity.

For all the great things about this event, it proved to be an interesting experience as a wine writer. Katie and I both walked around with a spit cup, knowing we would be tasting a lot of wine that day. Not everyone took the same approach and as the event was nearing a close we visited a winery that told us we were the most sober people at the event. I get it...consumers pay a pretty penny for the ticket and are out to try a lot of wine. I just question how much they are actually remembering about the wines they taste, especially those later in the day. These events are a lot of fun and meant to expose you to many wineries, I just don’t think you need to hit all 170 in one day. The wineries will still be there and what a better excuse to plan another visit back to beautiful Sonoma County.

I will be heading up to Mendocino County this weekend for Winesong!, another philanthropic wine event so be sure to check back soon.


1 comment:

  1. I'm just a wee bit jealous of this weekend! Sounds like I need to plan another visit to Sonoma.