Monday, August 22, 2011

A Chorus of Mendocino County Wines

My brother Zeke and his wife Bekah have been on a cross-country road trip from California to the East Coast by way of Utah, Chicago, Detroit and Ohio. After a weekend at Belmar Beach, the New Jersey town my brother and I grew up in, we came down to DC for a wine party I organized. The theme: "Mostly Mendocino."

It was the wedding of Zeke and Bekah that first brought me to Mendocino County, California. Since then, I've fallen in love with the region. I've toured many vineyards and tasting rooms: Breggo, Parducci, Roederer Estate, Nelson Family, Tahto, McFadden,Yorkville Cellars. I hiked through vineyards in Potter Valley and helped the maker of Tahto wines crush his chardonnay. I explored the redwoods and the rugged coast. Mendocino County is an enchanting place, and many wine producers seem capable of bottling that enchantment. So, I figured, since my family was in town, I'd open some Mendocino County wines. I was surrounded by great people and great wines, so it was obviously quite a night.

2007 Syrahs
I had two 2007 syrahs from Mendocino, both from producers I know, visited and loved. I figured it would be fun to open them together. These wines were drained quickly.
  • 2007 Parducci Syrah - Mendocino County
    this was the first wine of the evening, and the crowd loved it. it smells like earth and bright red fruit. the palate is fresh and lively, with plum and spicy red fruit. candy apple red and licorice on the finish. zeke and bekah really liked this wine. i love parducci wines, and this is a great bargain at $20 (89 pts.)
  • 2007 Breggo Cellars Syrah - Anderson Valley
    this wine showed really well and was a great contrast with the 2007 parducci syrah. aromas of spiced clove, bacon and plum sauce. the palate has great acid and smoothness. wonderful balance. delicious plum flavors and some earth on the finish. (90 pts.)

Coro means chorus in Italian and Spanish. The term sums up the idea behind this collective group of wines: producers working together with common goals and grapes to make delicious wines, each with its own distinctiveness. Coro is kind of like a winemaking club. If you make an amazing wine with zinfandel, syrah, grenache and a few other grapes, and you submit it to this organization, you just might be able to label a bottle of your wine "Coro." The labels are striking similar, even from different producers and vintages. I love zinfandel and Rhone varietals like syrah and grenache. These wines were all very different, but all intriguing in their own right. They paired wonderfully with a wide array of creamy cow cheeses, although, to be honest, the Parducci Coros would have gone well with chocolate or dates and nuts.
  • 2005 Parducci Coro Mendocino - Ukiah Valley
    the first coro of the evening impressed a lot of people. the nose is gorgeous: dates, port, prunes and raisins. the palate is absolutely gushing with fruit. it's like chocolate pie and raspberry tart. smooth finish. this is a really fruit-forward, unashamed wine. it is what it is, but this hit the spot. 60% zinfandel, 25% syrah and 15% petite sirah. (89 pts.)
  • 2006 Parducci Coro Mendocino - Ukiah Valley
    the 2006 coro was much different than the 2005. the nose showed raspberries, plum cake and cinnamon disk candies. this is bright and tangy on the palate. shows great smoothness. the 2006 is made up of 55% zinfandel, 20% syrah, 15% petite sirah, and 10% grenache. (88 pts.)
  • 2007 Guinness McFadden Coro Mendocino - Mendocino County
    the 2007 guinness mcfadden coro was also very different. lots of vanilla on the nose, along with a medley of fresh red and black fruit. fresh and silky on the palate. smooth and lucious with bold fruit. the acid and solid tannic structure in this wine keeps it balanced. very impressive effort. thanks, zeke and bekah, for bringing this great bottle. 60% zinfandel, 27% syrah, 13% petite sirah. (91 pts.)

Three California Reds
Well, we didn't just stick to Mendocino. I've been a fan of the Sonoma Coast and Paso Robles, and this flight showcased three solid wines.
  • 2007 A.P. Vin Pinot Noir Kanzler Vineyard - Sonoma Coast 
    Three Bakers: Zeke (left), me, and Priscilla (right)

    i had this in 2009, but this wine has softened down since then. the nose is absolutely intoxicating with its ripe, gushing fruit. it's a bit candied, but i still enjoy it. zeke, bekah, me and a whole lot of others really loved this wine. (90 pts.)
  • 2007 Tahto Petite Sirah Limited Production Reserve - Potter Valley
    this bottle was another one of zeke's contributions to the tasting. the nose is inky and dark. i love the boldness of this wine, its dark fruit, and the meaty note on the finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon Seven Oaks - Paso Robles
    this wine wasn't from mendocino, but we threw it into the tasting. this wine is always a solid, fruity cabernet. smooth tannins and some toasty oak. never great, but always crowd-pleasing. (85 pts.)

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