Tag Archives: pinot noir

Revisiting Sonoma

Back in March (!), we had the wonderful opportunity to go back down to Sonoma again, for a very brief, but delicious trip. We took off from Walla Walla on Monday, had an amazing dinner that night, attended a very excellent luncheon at a very special winery, tasted at 3 other wineries and 1 brewery, and flew home the next morning.

John Ash & Co

We stayed at the beautiful Vintner’s Inn in Santa Rosa, and had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, John Ash & Co, on our first night. My grandma was so incredibly excited to eat here, as she’d taken a cooking class from John Ash in Seattle, way back in the day, and she’d loved it. As a souvenir, we all got a signed copy of John Ash’s cookbook! And it was an incredible meal; I had the miso-glazed black cod with soba noodles and vegetables, and it was the most tender, perfectly cooked fish. I’ve experimented with a poor-man’s version of this meal since, and it’s always good, but never quite as good. We started off with sparkling wine and then moved on to the Flowers Pinot Noir, which was excellent. It was a very Pinot trip, which I found so exciting! Walla Walla is not exactly known for its Pinot, although the winery where I work does make one. Really, this meal started the trip off with a bang, and it just got better.

Kosta Browne Winery

The next day, we started off at 11am to the big event of the trip; our luncheon at the small and fairly exclusive Kosta Browne Winery. We were greeted with sparkling wine (not their own, but definitely festive!), given the tour of the new facility, and did some barrel tasting of Pinots from some radically different vineyards. The luncheon itself was very memorable; the main course was a southwestern-French cassoulet paired with two different Pinot Noirs: the 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, which was lighter with great fruit and the 2012 Santa Lucia Pinot Noir, which had some tannin to it and some earthiness. Both were fantastic; it’s probably a good thing that they wouldn’t let us buy wine then (although many of our group did sign up for the waiting list!), because I would have maxed out my wine budget here.

Iron Horse Winery

After lunch and debating our options, we took ourselves to Iron Horse Winery in search of some sparkling wine, because we can never, ever resist a nice bottle of bubbly. Iron Horse has an outdoor tasting bar on top of a hill, with some truly stunning views. They also have a winery cat, so naturally I spent most of my time during the tasting making friends with her (the cat’s name is LG, which stands for Late Disgorgement, a sparkling wine term for when the lees, or sediment from dead yeast cells, is taken out of the bottle of wine). Iron Horse makes a huge variety of wines, but we elected to taste just the sparkling.  We especially liked the Fairy Tale Cuvee and the Wedding Cuvee. All in all, we had a great time on that hilltop with the cat and the sparkling wine.

Papapietro Perry

Our tasting at Papapietro Perry was short; we only made it there at the very end of the day. What the tasting lacked in personality, it more than made up for in great wine. The Pinots had plenty of oomph to them, like those at Kosta Browne, but for a much lower price. We tried the Zinfandel, but we were just stuck on the Pinots this time. This was really my first experience with the Sonoma Pinots, and I found them to be full of flavor and body, with well balanced acidity. I’m sure you can find insipid, watery Pinots in California, but we definitely did not find them at Papapietro Perry.

We were only in Sonoma for one full day, but it felt like we’d been there for a week! I really enjoyed my time there, but it felt great to come home. Everyone we met in Sonoma was friendly and informative, but there’s something about the down-to-earth, agricultural feel of Walla Walla that makes me feel connected to the wines. Maybe it’s the difference of working in wine country here and visiting wine country there. Either way, I’ll definitely be back to Sonoma. When I do, where should I go and what should I see?

Advertisements

What is a tannin?

What is a tannin and why are people obsessed with the tannins in wine? Before I knew anything about wine, tannins confused me more than everything else about wine combined. Is it a flavor? Do they add it to the wine? Is it good or bad?

Tannin is a compound naturally found in plants (like, you know, red grapes). Tannins are bitter, often described as astringent or dry. If a wine leaves you puckering, it’s a sure bet that it’s tannic. You know that puckery feeling you get when you drink oversteeped tea? That’s tannin.

You get tannin in wine from the grape skins. Some grapes are naturally more tannic than others; Cabernet Sauvignon has a very thick skin, which means it grows well in most climates, but also that it has a lot of tannin. Pinot Noir, on the other hand, has very thin skin, which means it’s delicate to grow and has very little tannin. Aging wine in oak barrels also imparts tannins; the longer you have wine in oak, the more tannic the wine.

It can be both good and bad. Overly tannic wine is not a pleasant taste or sensation, but it mellows out over time. Puckery tannins become soft and smooth as the wine ages in bottle, leaving it with fully body, structure, and a long finish. Wines with little tannin can be weak and flavorless. In short, you want a wine with enough tannin to give the wine structure or allow it to age, but not so much that it makes you look like you just bit into a lemon.

A handy infographic for you! This is a very rough guide of wines with the most to least tannins; it will vary because of climate, regions, aging, etc, but this is a little shortcut for those of you new to wine.

TannininWine title=
easel.ly

Photo by David Wilbanks via fotopedia.