Update November 16: This article evolved into a four-part series. Here are the links to parts 1, 3, and 4:
Part 1: http://californiawinefan.com/2016/10/anderson-valley-pinot-noir-festival-part-2/
Part 3: http://californiawinefan.com/2016/11/anderson-valley-pinot-noir-festival-day-2-part-1/
Part 4: http://californiawinefan.com/2016/11/anderson-valley-pinot-noir-festival-day-2-part-2/
Update: I just noticed this audio clip from the tasting event. The louder voice is me, but the commentary speaks for itself.
This is the second part of our review of the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. To read part one, click here. This article covers the Saturday tasting event. Part 3 will cover our Sunday tour of wineries located in the valley.
We’ll discuss the wineries in roughly the order of our preferences. The usual disclaimers apply. We write about what we like. Tasting at an event is not the same as tasting in a more relaxed environment. And please remember we’re not getting paid for this. It’s a labor of love.
The 2013 WindRacer Anderson Valley pinot noir ($50) opens with aromas of blueberry tea, anise, and violets lead to a palate featuring Bing cherries, cloves, vanilla and a hint of earthiness.
The Withers Winery
Founder Andrew Tow with his wife Kathleen Tow started making a few barrels of wine to share with their friends. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. They decided to go commercial. And we are all better off because of that decision.
Before delving into their pinots, we have to mention that they also make exquisite GSM’s. And their “Mr. Burgess” syrah blend is spice, smoke, and really good.
Their Anderson Valley pinot source is the Charles Vineyard. They exclusively use Pommard clone 777. The 2013 ($44) features dark cherry and spice. But it is no longer listed on the winery’s website. The 2014 ($44) has more balance with spice. It’s quite aromatic. But there are distinct notes of tannins and chalk. This one needs another year or two in the bottle.
Update: Andrew informs me that there are a few bottles of the 2013 left. But you have to say, “Please” and “Thank you.”
Roma’s Vineyard overlooks the Anderson Valley from their perch on Lone Tree Ridge, altitude 1850 feet. The winery’s website is very out-of-date. We recommend looking at their Facebook pages instead (https://www.facebook.com/romas.vineyard or https://www.facebook.com/Romas-VineyardLone-Tree-Ridge-Winery-111463455561861/). Owners Dean and Suzi Carrell farm eight acres of Goldridge soil. Warm days and cool ocean breezes at night make this ideal terroir for the Pommard clone they planted in 1992.
Roma’s 2013 Ridgetop Vineyard is even lighter than usual for Anderson Valley pinots. Aromas and flavors of bing cherry, strawberry, and cranberry with a nice acid balance make a pretty good wine.
Quince is a pet project of Passalacqua Winery. We first encountered Passalacqua many years ago when they were making some of the best, most approachable zinfandels anywhere. While Quince focuses on Russian River Valley pinots, the made it to this event by producing one from Anderson Valley. (Like Roma’s, the Quince Facebook page is more informative.)
Their 2013 Anderson Valley is under the Passalacqua label. They made a mere 150 cases. The wine is a little brittle, almost crunchy, with enough acid and tannins to age for at least another year.
Jennie Dallery and Patrick greeted us with the 2013 Dach Vineyard pinot. But you can’t just walk in and buy it. The wine is only available to wine club members. (Club members will have 15 or 20 percent knocked off the $65 suggested retail price. Or, you can visit the winery and buy it in the tasting room even if you’re not a club member.)
This wine is heavier and darker than the average Anderson Valley vintage. Aromas of plum, molasses and licorice with just a hint lavender emerge from the first swirls. The dominant flavors are black cherry with earthier elements.
Pangloss opened their doors in 2010. Winemaker Erich Bradley still works with Sojourn Cellars. Pangloss makes chenin blanc, a white rhone blend, pinot noir, a rhône-style blend, zinfandel, and cabernet sauvignon. The winery sits atop Moon Mountain, where Carmenet used to be in Sonoma County. Erich works with Anderson Valley grapes from the Charles, Farrington, Deer Meadows, and Conzelman vineyards.
Pangloss’s 2014 Anderson Valley blend ($35) was the first to add Conzelman grapes to the other three. This is an excellent representation of the Anderson Valley with bright red fruit aromas and flavors. reserve is pretty good.
Panthea Winery and Vineyards
Kelly and Jessa Boss run Panthea with the able help of their son Griffyn. They use wild yeast fermentation (at least for their pinots).
Their 2012 Filigreen Vineyard ($38) is an expression of dark fruit featuring plum and blackberry. Notes of earth and spice create a very nice palate.
Also from 2012, the Klindt Vineyard ($42) features aromas of bing cherry, rose petals, and sandalwood. A palate of red and black berries, black cherry, tobacco, and dark smooth tannins is complex and long.
There were also two 2013s included. But neither is on the winery website. Panthea’s 2013 Anderson Valley “Siren” is leathery and a bit too light even for our palates. But the 2013 Anderson Valley Estate is very good indeed. The wine features 25% Pommard and 75% Dijon 667. This wine also uses native yeast with no fining or filtering.
The Anderson Valley festival has opened our eyes to the potential of its microclimates and terroir. Once upon a time, this region was simply a roadside attraction on the way to Mendocino. No more. It is now a destination unto itself.