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E Wine of the Week, By Bruce Cochran

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Blending…a popular trend in winemaking
Sonoma Valley Trends in Blends
Hello Everyone,
Let’s begin our sixth year of eWines with a look at current trends in winemaking, particularly in California. An evolution has been occurring for some time, as winemakers have becoming increasingly interested in blending. They’re blending wines from different grapes, different vineyards and even different regions. We’ll devote this month to examining this trend, with explanations, recommendations, and “degustations.”

At 5 p.m. Monday night there will be an “After Work Wine Tasting” at Pesto Café in Fayetteville. You can taste wines by renowned wine maker Kenneth Volk who made his name as the founder and longtime winemaker at
Wild Horse Winery. He is now handcrafting wines on a much smaller scale in the Santa Maria Valley (Sideways country). We’ll try a couple of different wines from two different projects, both the Kenneth Volk Vineyards label as well as his surprisingly affordable Aqua Pumpkin Label. You can sample four
wines for $10. Find out more in James Cripps’ “Wine Junkie Report” at brucecochran.com.

Try a new wine this week!

Bruce

Sonoma Valley Trends in Blends

Sonoma Valley, also called Valley of the Moon, lies just west of Napa Valley across the Mayacamas Mountains, about 35 miles north of San Francisco. It’s a great place to grow chardonnay grapes.

Sonoma Valley is a part of Sonoma County, and wine-wise not at all the largest part. Sonoma County is a very diverse wine region, with cooler areas near the Pacific in the west (Russian River Valley), and near an offshoot of San Francisco Bay in the south (Carneros District). The north is warmer, and these differing climates yield wines with different styles.
Landmark Vineyards, long a Sonoma Valley leader in chardonnay and pinot noir, makes some of my favorite chardonnays. I don’t sell it now, but I did years ago when I introduced it to our market for another distributor. It’s a blend in many ways. I visited Landmark recently, and got to taste several barrel samples. It reminded me of the complexity that creative winemakers can achieve through blending.

I don’t know how many other wineries do it quite like this, but Landmark’s Overlook Chardonnay 2005 contains 76 percent Sonoma County grapes, 16 percent from Santa Barbara—hundreds of miles south of Sonoma—and 10 percent from Monterey County, also south of San Francisco.

The 22 separate vineyards that make up the 2005 Overlook include some of California’s best. Sangaciomo is in Sonoma Valley’s cool, southern Carneros District, while Bien Nacido is in Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast. Martinelli Vineyard is in western Sonoma County’s cool Russian River Valley (the Green Valley sub-appellation), and Lorenzo, from the Sonoma Coast, is known for its Burgundian-style wines with a crisp elegance and minerality.

Shorter, cooler growing seasons like Carneros combined with the extended fall ripening period of Santa Barbara gives different levels of ripeness, different types of acidity and just plain different flavors, each contributing to a complex blend of rich, intense yet elegant chardonnay.

Landmark Overlook Chardonnay retails for around $25, which I’ve always felt was a bargain.

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