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Speed Tasting Sonoma  Add/Read Comments



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flowers pinot noirIt was all a bit mad really. Four wine makers, a duo of wines opened in front of them and us given just ten minutes to talk to them. A speed-tasting. It certainly cut the flannel and got them wine makers to get to the point pretty darn quick! I'd compiled a few questions to ask each of them from twitter but once they had marked their cross on the regional map and given a potted history that darn bell forced us on; before I'd had more than a solitary sip of their wines!

The map location I thought important for Sonoma has differing regions - rolling hills here, sea influence here, heavy fog influence due to the San Pablo Bay here or higher temperatures up towards the north. Flowers ranch for example is just a stones throw from the Pacific coast - a dramatic wild location surrounded by virgin forest while Pedroncelli is right up in the wild north where the Dry Creek Valley has temperatures suitable for Zinfandel.

Present were Jim Pedroncelli, Proprietor and Director of Sales and Marketing at Pedroncelli (Adegga / Snooth) with 2007 Mother Clone Zinfandel, Rod Berglund President and Wine Maker at Joseph Swan Vineyards (Adegga / Snooth) with a 2005 Zinfandel and a 2007 Pinot Noir, followed by Jeff Stewart Vice President Winemaker at Buena Vista with a 2007 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir and finally Tom Hinde, President and CEO of Flowers Winery with their 2008 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir.

It is so easy to club all Californian, indeed all American, wines into one. But these examples demonstrated individual aspects modified by the location. Most had a story to tell. The Pedroncelli Zinfandel for example uses vines cloned from the original "mother" vines of which one quarter of acre exist to day and fruit from these 100-year-old vines are included in the blend. It is also a tradition to blend in the fruit from another old plot, the Buchignani vineyard, where vines are 40-50 years old.

I adored the two Flowers offerings. Both exhibited a real 'European' textural quality, but still with a ripe new-worldliness. Shame they have a retail price of £50-£60 a piece.

Due to the time constraint I had to email each of them with a couple of questions after the event; surprisingly two even found the time to reply!

From Tom Hind of Flowers Winery [Adegga / Snooth]:
a) In FIVE words what makes your wines stand out from the crowd?
High natural acidity and balance
b) In FIVE words why us Brits should buy your wines?
The most pure example of California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (ummm, I count ten....)
c) Can you give me a quick titbit about your wines/a wine/the winery ie food matching, historical fact, something new etc etc
We are the western-most vineyard in all of California one mile from the Ocean. Our wines go with a wide range of foods due to their high natural acidity lower alcohols, balance and finesse.

From Jeff Stewart of Buena Vista Carneros [Adegga / Snooth]
a) In FIVE words what makes your wines stand out from the crowd?
Elegance, concentration, sense of place
b) In FIVE words why us Brits should buy your wines?
True expression of California quality
c) Can you give me a quick titbit about your wines/a wine/the winery ie food matching, historical fact, something new etc etc
Buena Vista Carneros is the first premium winery in California, founded in 1857. Today we produce special wines from a special place - our Ramal Vineyard Estate in Carneros, Sonoma County.

The tasting was at Goodman's Restaurant, where a meal after - complete with trademark steak - turned into a jolly, impromptu, wine and food matching event. The Zinfandel's tearing into the 8oz strip loin with gusto and the Chardonnay's matching beautifully with slices of Irish Smoked Salmon.


Denise The Wine Sleuth chatting with Jim Pedroncelli

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