Leaping Lizard Pinot Noir from Sonoma and Willow Crest Viognier from Washington

Leaping Lizard Pinot Noir from Sonoma and Willow Crest Viognier from Washington“This weekend is not about me. It is about you. I’m gonna show you a good time. We’re gonna drink a lot of good wine. We’re gonna play some golf. We’re gonna eat some great food and enjoy the scenery and we are going to send you off in style, mon frere.” And so Miles and Jack set off on their most excellent adventure in Sideways, the 2004 film that by some accounts was single-handedly responsible for a 10% increase in sales of pinot noir.

Leaping Lizard Pinot Noir 2005

This pinot noir hails from the cool and foggy Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California. The Russian River has long been home to winemakers serious about pinot noir, and Leaping Lizard joined their ranks in 1996.

The winemaker is Harry Parducci Jr. He is yet another quality winemaker to come from a family better known for its jug wines, as some Gallos and Martinis are as well.

This wine is a lovely garnet color. There’s plenty of fruit, dominated by bright cherry and rich strawberry. It’s quite well balanced, though, and definitely dry with good supporting tannins and just a hint of oak.

Planked salmon is a classic pairing with pinot noir. (Yes, reds can be quite delicious with fish, especially richer species such as salmon, tuna, and swordfish.) Roast turkey or duck, fruit-glazed pork chops, and grilled barbeque ribs would work well also.

And now for something completely different: we head north to Washington state, and Willow Crest winery’s Yakima-grown viognier (vee-ohn-yay).

This varietal originated in the Rhone area of France, and continues to be extensively cultivated there. In the ‘90s, California’s so-called Rhone Rangers helped to bring it to attention here in the States.

Like Leaping Lizard, Willow Crest is a relative new-comer. After growing grapes for other winemakers in the Yakima Valley for more than a decade, David Minick realized a long-time dream of producing his own wine when he opened Willow Crest in 1995. Most of Minick’s 185 acres of grapes are sold to other winemakers, but he now also retains a small amount of his annual harvest to craft about 3,000 cases of premium wines in his own style, primarily pinot gris and syrah.

Willow Crest Viognier 2005

Viogniers can range from the highly floral and fragrant to a lighter, more balanced aperitif-style, such as this one. It offers delicate aromas of citrus and pear, with a palate that adds melon and apple to the flavor mix. The wine should be only slightly chilled; otherwise its nuances will be masked. Like most viogniers, this is a limited-production wine.

Excellent with white seafood of all kinds. Try it with scallops, whitefish, or sole in a light butter sauce, or pair it with appetizers.


Top of page: https://winervana.com/blog/

Cline Cellars

Cline CellarsYes, We Have No Cabernet

As you enter Sonoma county from the south on California 121, one of the first wineries you encounter is Cline Cellars, and there could hardly be a better introduction to the Carneros AVA.

Even as a young teenager, Fred Cline learned to make wine from his grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi (yes, he of the hydrotherapy tub, as well as many other innovations). With a $9000 inheritance from Valeriano, in 1981 Cline founded the eponymous Cline Cellars in Oakley, California.

The winery was relocated to its current location in 1991. The property is the original site of the Mission San Francisco de Solano, the 21st and final of the historic California missions. Although the mission was moved in 1823, the Cline tasting room is located in a rustic 1850s farmhouse that is original to the property, surrounded by spring-fed ponds and thousands of rose bushes. The vineyards also reflect this history, with vines ranging from 80 to 120 years old.
Cline is one of the first of the pioneering Rhone Rangers, a group dedicated to wines from the grapes of the Côtes du Rhône in France (ironic for a boy with an Italian grandfather, no?)

Cline also has been a pioneer in sustainable farming. It is the second-largest completely solar-powered winery in California. Natural cover crops are used to nourish the soils, sheep and goats roam freely as they graze on weeds, and compost teas are used as fertilizer. “We’d be considered ‘organic’ if we wanted to follow the rules of the government,“ said Cline. “We are actually more sustainable [than the law calls for] by not following their organic rules.“ He calls his methods “beyond organic.”

Viognier 2017

Ah, Viognier [vee-oh-NYAY], such an elusive and underappreciated wine. The grapes are finicky to grow, and once vinified exhibit a wide range of floral qualities, some more delightful than others.

This expression is pale reddish-golden in the glass, with a BAM! nose of honeysuckle. This is followed on the palate by the expected flavor of peach, as well as mango and sour orange. This unoaked wine tastes dry, but has a surprising, slightly sweet finish. To enjoy its nuance, do not overchill.

Drink this tipple with braised tuna in white wine, oven-braised halibut steaks, or Provençal seafood with aioli.

Heritage Zinfandel 2015

The provenance of this Zin are the 100-year-old Big Break, Live Oak, and Bridgehead vines in Oakley, which are dry-farmed in deep, sandy soil. It is crystal ruby in the glass. Flavors of cola, blueberry, and coffee greet you on the tongue. There is just a hint of Zinfandel’s characteristic pepper. The body has a nice satin quality, supported by nicely balanced medium tannins and acidity. An eminently drinkable wine.

Enjoy this red with braised pork with sweet and hot peppers, Niçoise chicken with tomatoes and black olives, or lamb with artichokes.

Top of page: https://winervana.com/blog/