The Russian River AVA sits in the center of northern California’s Sonoma County, and is characterized by a generally cool climate, with sunny days bracketed by fog early and late. This encourages the slow-ripening of fruit, particularly suitable for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc, like these selections from Mossback Winery.
John Giguiere, with his wife Lane and brother Karl, started R.H. Phillips Winery in 1983 on land that was part of their family farm in the Dunnigan Hills of northwestern Yolo County, 30 miles east of the more-famous Napa. Over the course of 20 years, the Giguieres grew R.H. Phillips from a family winery of 10 acres and a few cases into a publicly-owned behemoth producing 900,000 cases of wine on 2500 acres, including the best-selling Toasted Head and EXP as well as R.H. Phillips.
When John and Lane left the company in 2005 to return to more-personalized winemaking, they were joined by Dan Cederquiest to found Crew Wine Company, which produces a variety of wines, including Matchbook.
Mossback is an old-fashioned term for “farmer,” and is an homage from the Crew trio to the farmers on which they rely to supply the fruit for their Russian River offerings.
Mossback Russian River Valley Chardonnay2009
The impression of this wine is as understated as its pale yellow color would suggest. Made in the style of a French Chablis, the wine is 80% cold fermented in stainless steel to retain acidity and as much of the character of the fruit as possible.
The delicate nose presents citrus notes, and the taste features green apples, baked honey, and a hint of melon. 1,093 cases were bottled of this 100% Chardonnay.
This food-friendly wine would pair nicely with Grilled Scallops Wrapped in Proscuitto, Grilled Salmon Burgers, or Hoisin Honey-Glazed Chicken.
Mossback Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2009
This elegant Pinot Noir is 97% Pinot Noir with 3% Syrah added for additional structure. The fruit was sourced from three well-regarded Russian River Valley vineyards. After fermentation, the juice was aged in French oak for nine months.
In the glass, the color is a pleasing cherry red. There is almost no nose, but don’t be discouraged by that. On the palate, the fruit displays plenty of tart cherry and strawberry, supported by a bit of cream and vanilla. There is a medium finish, with no bitterness or aftertaste.
Enjoy this Pinot with Grilled Turkey Burgers with Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce, Salmon Fillets with Sesame Crust, or Vegetarian Shish Kabobs.
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