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Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Part 1

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My wife and I took and overnight to trip to Anderson Valley last month.  It’s been several years since we’d been, but our last trip there was a real pleasure and we’ve been looking forward to returning.  

“The Anderson Valley is located in the rolling hills of the coastal region of Mendocino County…Known for our world class Pinot Noir and Alsace Varietals, we offer a great wine tasting destination.” 

There are more wineries now, but Anderson Valley, which is located in Mendocino County, is still one of the most beautiful areas to go wine tasting.  Outdoor beauty abounds with rolling hills, flourishing forests, and stunningly beautiful coastline nearby.  Anderson Valley is overlooked as a wine travel destination, and that’s a shame in my book.

There are 24 wineries in the Anderson Valley, including 2 sparkling wine houses. You’ll pass through three appellations as your travel through the valley.  Traveling west on Hwy 128 you will enter the “Yorkville Highlands”.  As you cross into Mendocino County, continuing north you enter the “Anderson Valley” appellation. The “Mendocino Ridge” appellation is on the ridge tops along both sides of highway 128 further north.

Our first stop was in Yorkville Highlands at Yorkville CellarsThe only know winery where all 8 of the Bordeaux varietals are estate grown and then offered as separate varietal wines. Yorkville recently celebrated 26 years of certified organic farming. 

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Part 1 image Yorkville Cellars

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Their white wines come from their Randall Hill Vineyard behind the tasting room. The reds from the Rennie Vineyard in front (pictured below)

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Part 1 image Yorkville cellar view

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Yorkville Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Very pale straw color with grapefruit, citrus and apple aromas. On the palate, it light-medium bodied, fresh and smooth with grapefruit, citrus and green apple flavors. Medium-finish. Barrel fermented and aged 13.5% abv (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Yorkville Cellars Sémillon Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Pale golden yellow color with honeyed citrus and stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s dry, and fresh with citrus, pear and sweet yeast flavors. 13.5% Organic grapes (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Yorkville Cellars Eleanor of Acquitane Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Pale straw yellow color with honeyed grapefruit and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and smooth with grapefruit, lime and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish. Blend of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. 100% barrel fermented in small French oak barrels. Organic grapes. 13.5% abv (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Malbec Rennie Vineyard Yorkville Highlands - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Garnet color with dark cherry, cassis and pomegranate aromas. On the palate, its medium bodied and balanced with cherry, raspberry, and a bit of blueberry flavors. Medium finish. Organic grapes. 13.0% abv(88 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Petit Verdot Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Carmine color with earthy red fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and slightly tannic with cherry, plum and spice flavors. Medium finish. Organic grapes. 13.5% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Deep garnet color with cherry, herb and a hint of chocolate aromas. On the palate, it’s a lighter style Cab that’s well-balanced cherry, chocolate and a bit of spice flavors. Medium finish. 13.5% Organic grapes(89 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Richard the Lion-Heart Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Deep garnet color with raspberry, tobacco, cherry, and cedarwood aromas. On the palate, it’s balanced with good acidity and cherry, barrel spice flavors. Long finish. 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Carmenere, 5% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. 13.5% Organic grapes (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Yorkville Cellars Malbec Sweet Malbec Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Unique wine. Fire engine red color with fruity cherry, strawberry and plum aromas. On the palate, surprisingly not overly sweet – more off-dry, and a bit frizzante with fresh ripe strawberry and cherry flavors. Very nice chilled. 10.5% Paired very nicely with an almond cookie (88 pts.)

Yorkville was a great first stop.  I really enjoyed their wines, and the variety they offer.  Plus the wines offer very good value.  They had the most surprising wine of the day – the Sweet Malbec.  It left me delightfully surprised because it wasn’t cloying sweet like so many dessert wines.  We picked up a bottle of their newly released Sparkling Malbec.  Look for my review soon!  They also provided us with a helpful “Highway 128 Tasting Room Suggestions” summary. Not only did it recap the what wines to look for, and tasting room hours, most importantly it noted the Mile Marker for the wineries.   That’s important to know in Anderson Valley, otherwise it’s easy to blow by a winery!

Our next stop was Breggo Cellars.  I was introduced to Breggo in a round about way.  We were doing some tasting in Napa a couple of years ago at Cliff Lede Vineyards.  While we were tasting through their wines (fabulous Cabs!), we were offered a taste of Breggo Cellars Syrah – It was fantastic!

It turned out the Cliff Lede owns Breggo Cellars. After much success with Bordeaux varietals at his eponymous winery, he became interested in Pinot Noir and Alsatian varieties.  He established Breggo Cellars to pursue his interest.

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Part 1 image Breggo

The Breggo tasting room is beautifully rustic, though a bit on the small side given how fabulous the wines are.  We were there on a relatively slow day and the tasting room was full. I bet things get cozy during high season!  I bet that when the tasting spill outside onto their beautiful patio (pictured below)

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Part 1 image breggo view

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Riesling Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Medium golden-yellow color with aromatic, peach, pear, mineral and honey aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied with vibrant acidity, and dryish with peach, citrus, and mineral flavors. Long finish. 12.8% abv. (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Gewürztraminer Ferrington Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light pale yellow color with intensely aromatic exotic aromas of lychee, stone fruits, lemon peel, and spices. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with stone-fruit, citrus, and spice flavors. Surprisingly vibrant acidity. Long finish. 13.2% abv. (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley  Pale lemon-green color with peach, mineral and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with great acidity. It shows flavors of peach, apricot, and citrus with a medium-long finish. 14.2% Interesting fermentation process. According to Breggo…”A blend of lots fermented in a 200 gallon concrete egg, 900 gallon French oval, small neutral French oak barrels and stainless steel tank. No malolactic fermentation was permitted.” (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Chardonnay Savoy Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley  Light lemon-gold color with creamy lemon, pear, and buttered honey aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, with a great mouthfeel, and balance. It shows pear, citrus, and honey flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.2 % abv.   According to Breggo…”Aged 18 months sur lie in 60 gallon French oak barrels – 53% new (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
    Ruby color with earth, cherry, and pomegranate aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, supple, and well-balanced with cherry, plum, spice and a hint of brown sugar flavors. Long finish. 14.1 % Aged thirteen months in 60 gallon French oak barrels – 48% new (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir Donnelly Creek - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, and lavender aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and plush with black cherry, cranberry, and plum flavors. Long finish. 14.3 % (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Medium garnet color with aromatic cherry, dried herb, and a hint of mint aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and silky smooth with round cherry, plum, and baking spice flavors. Long finish.  (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Breggo Cellars Syrah Alder Springs - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Garnet color with complex earthy, fig, cherry liqueur, and anise aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with well-integrated tannins and blueberry, plum, cacao, and spice flavors. Long finish. (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Breggo Cellars Zinfandel Dupratt Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark garnet color with exotic blackberry, dark chocolate, and spice aromas. On the palate, it medium-full-bodied with surprisingly good acidity. It shows flavors of blackberry, raspberry, plum, and spice flavors. Long finish. 15.8% abv, but drinks more like 14-14.5% (90 pts.)

Breggo should be at the top of your list when you plan a trip to Anderson Valley in my book!

Our final stop of the day was Roederer Estate, one of two sparkling wine houses in Anderson Valley (the other being Scharffenberger – also owned by Roederer).  We love sparkling wine, so we always leap at the opportunity to do some tasting of bubbly!

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Part 1 image Roederer Estate

It was our first time at Roederer.  It is an absolutely beautiful estate with an equally beautiful tasting room!  It’s a must stop if you enjoy bubbly!

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Part 1 image gigi roederer

My tasting notes follow:

  • N.V. Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light golden straw color with plentiful, persistent stream of tiny bubbles, and sweet yeast, fresh cut green apples aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied with soft texture, zippy acidity, between dry and off-dry with sweet green apples, a bit of pear, hazelnut and vanilla flavors and a shortish finish. 60% Chardonnay/40% Pinot Noir (89 pts.)
  • 2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with bread crust, baked apple, and hazelnut aromas. On the palate, it shows a delicate mousse with baked apple , hazelnut, and hints of burnt sugar and mineral flavors. Long finish. 12.1% alcohol.  Blend of  52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir, 4% aged reserve wine (vintage ’99)” (92 pts.)
  • 2002 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with buttered toast, apple, hazelnut, and a bit of citrus aromas. On the palate, it has a delicate creamy mousse with baked apple, hazelnut, citrus, and mineral flavors. Medium+ finish. Tasted from 1.5L bottle (91 pts.)
  • N.V. Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light salmon color with brioche, red fruit aromas. On the palate it’s medium bodied with a creamy mousse, and strawberry, raspberry, and apple flavors. Medium finish. (89 pts.)

As is often the case when one goes tasting at sparkling wine houses, there are also still wines to be tasted.  And that’s the case at Roederer.

All in all we had a magnificent first day of wine tasting (and eating) in the Anderson Valley! My winery of the day?Breggo Cellars!

The last time we visited  a few years ago was also during Winter.  After this time we told ourselves we have to go back in the Spring or Summer when the weather is warmer!

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