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Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Part 2

Food & Recipes

Last post I wrote about our first day of wine tasting in Anderson Valley (“A.V”).  We stayed overnight at the Anderson Valley Inn, nice clean choice for budget minded travelers to Anderson Valley (heads up…no TV…but there is WiFi).  It’s centrally in Anderson Valley minutes away from Hendy Wood State Park with its majestic redwood trees.  It’s also across the street from Scharffenberger Cellars, and a stones throw away from  Libby’s Mexican Restaurant, the best Mexican restaurant I’ve  never been to (Everyone raves about it, but both times we’ve been to Anderson Valley, it’s been closed for the Winter. Note to self – next trip to A.V.go in Spring, Summer or Fall!

When we were on the road just in front of the A.V. Inn, we saw a “Rivers Bend” sign.  We were curious and decided to check it out. “Rivers Bend” turned out to be a retreat center. Along the way, I spied this gorgeous view of fog hovering above the valley floor…It’s a great example of the tremendous beauty of the Anderson Valley!

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image Side road fog1

After our little adventure, we decided to make the 10 minute drive to Booneville to get some breakfast at the Booneville General Store, a wonderful, if a bit pricey,  place for breakfast, lunch or picking up some picnic goodies…

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image boonville general store1

About the time we’d finished breakfast, the wineries were opening. Time to get down to pleasure!

Our first stop of the day was Navarro Vineyards, a family-owned winery that has been growing grapes, making wine and producing non-alcoholic grape juices in the Anderson Valley since 1974.  Navarro has a diverse lineup of wonderful wines that are reasonably priced.

Navarro is where we were introduced to Boontling, a jargon ostensibly spoken only in Boonville. While we were tasting we were offered small samples of some great local cheeses from Pennyroyal Farm including:

  • Laychee (Boontling for milk) – a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk
  • Boont Corners – an aged raw goat milk cheese
  • Bollie’s Mollies (Mollies is the Boontling word for female breasts) -  a dense, surface ripened lactic curd cheese with a light blue mold

All the cheeses were yummy, paired wonderfully with the wine we tried, and are available for sell in Navarro’s well stocked deli case!

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image navarro tasting room1

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow with grapefruit and melon aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and dry with grapefruit, and stonefruit flavors. 12.4% (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with stonefruit, and hint of honey aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied fresh, and lively with apricot, and citrus flavor. Medium finish. 13.7% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Gewürztraminer - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow color with aromatic lychee, citrus, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light/medium-bodied and dry with citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish. 13.5% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Pale yellow-green color with stone-fruit and tropical fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and off-dry with peach, apricot, and mineral flavors. Blend of 42% Riesling, 33% Gewürztraminer, and 25% Pinot Gris. My favorite wine to enjoy with my Spicy Seafood Gumbo!12.4% (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir “Méthode à l’Ancienne” - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, raspberry, earth and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium/full-bodied, balanced, and smooth with cherry, raspberry, mushroom, and baking spice flavors. Long finish. 14.1%(91 pts.)
  • 2010 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir- USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, raspberry, plum and spice aromas. On palate, it’s light/medium-bodied, and balanced with tart cherry, raspberry, and spice flavors. 13.7%  Great value at $20! (89 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Riesling Cluster Select Late Harvest - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light golden color with apricot, pear, honey and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, sweet, and clean with apricot, pear, honey and cinnamon flavors. Long finish Great dessert wine!10.1 % (91 pts.)

Our next stop was Toulouse Vineyards, a “boutique” winery founded by Vern and Maxine Boltz. Vern is a retired Captain from the Oakland Fire Department.  The Boltz purchased a bucolic 160-acre site approximately one mile from the town of Philo.

In 1997 Vern cleared the land, prepared the site, planted 17 acres of Pinot Noir grapes, and named the vineyard Toulouse. By 2002, they were making wine.

They subsequently purchased an additional 160 acres adjoining the rolling hills of their property which now encompasses 320 acres. They recently opened a beautiful (relatively) new tasting room on the property.

We ended up going to Toulouse based on the recommendations of several local folks, who are usually a great resource for recommendations about wineries to visit in my experience.

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image toulouse wines1

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Very pale straw yellow color with citrus, apricot, and white peach aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and balanced with apricot peach and citrus flavors. Medium-long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Riesling Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow-green color with citrus, tropical fruit, stone fruit and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with stone fruit, spice, citrus and a hint of pineapple flavors. Medium-long finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Gewürztraminer - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow-green color with honeysuckle, pear, citrus and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and dry with stone fruits, citrus, pineapple and spice flavors. Long finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé of Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale pink color with strawberry and cantaloupe aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied with good acidity and strawberry flavors. Short/medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, baking spice and a hint of cacao aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, cedarwood, and smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s medium/full-bodied with cherry, spice and earth flavors. Medium long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with blueberry, cherry, spice and a hint of licorice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth and well-balanced with cherry, blueberry, and cinnamon flavors. Medium/long finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Lautrec - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with blueberry, cherry, smoke, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with blueberry cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Deep ruby color with cherry, caramel spice and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and fruity with cherry, blueberry and spice flavors. Long finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Petite Sirah - USA, California, North Coast, Redwood Valley - Opaque magenta color with blackberry and tobacco aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied and well-balanced with blackberry, and blueberry flavors. Medium/long finish (88 pts.)

Next up was Phillips Hill (recommended by the Tasting Room attendant at Toulouse), a small (~1,000 cases/yr) winery specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image Phillips Hill1

Toby Hill is the Owner/Winemaker of Phillips Hill. He’s a formally trained artist who started the winery after a local winemaker decided not to begin a brand and offered him four barrels of an unfinished 2002 vintage from Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche,

What started as an opportunity to express his work on a wine label became a new artistic obsession for an expression not only on the bottle, but in the bottle as well – a transformation from the art of the visual to that of the sensory.

They are definitely striving for more Old World style wines with elegance, finesse, and lower alcohol levels.  Only reds were available for tasting the day we visited, as they were sold out of their Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.  Each bottle label features his artwork.

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image toulouse wine bottles1

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Boontling - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
    Ruby color with earthy cherry, and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s light-medium bodied with blueberry, cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish.13.8% (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Wiley Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, earth and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and elegant with cherry, pomegranate, and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. 13.8% alcohol (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with fresh, mixed berry, cranberry and sandalwood aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, smooth, and balanced with cherry, blueberry, and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.2% alcohol (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Light ruby color with cherry, cranberry and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and elegant with fresh cherry, and blueberry flavors. Medium-long finish. Young. 13.9% (91 pts.)

Our next stop was Goldeneye Winery.  Goldeneye was established after Duckhorn Wine Company (Yes – the same company that produces of one of Cali’s most iconic Merlots) purchased the former Obester Winery in 1997.  They proceeded to plant 57 acres of Pinot Noir (the Confluence Vineyard),and have since added additional Anderson Valley vineyards such that they now own 220 acres of estate vineyards. They source  fruit from both estate and non-estate vineyards.

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image goldeneye sign1

What sets Goldeneye aside from most wineries is the sheer beauty of the place, and the sit down tasting “experience” they offer. The tasting room had been remodeled since our last visit a few years ago.  They have one of the most beautiful vineyard views I’ve ever seen (the pic below doesn’t do it justice). I think of it as their back yard.  Can you just imagine sitting out there enjoying a picnic or just relaxing with a glass of their wines?  Heaven!

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image goldeneye patio view1

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Gris Anderson Valley Split Rail Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Very pale golden green color with apple, and melon aromas. On the palate , it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with vibrant acidity and apple and peach/melon flavors. Medium finish 14.1% alcohol (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Migration (Duckhorn Vineyards) Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley - Medium gold color with apple, pineapple, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full bodied, smooth, and creamy with very good acidity, and apple, and pineapple flavors. Long finish. Aged in 100% French Oak for 10 months. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Gowan Creek Vineyard – Lower Bench - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with earthy black cherry, raspberry, and lanolin aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, creamy and well-balanced with black cherry, raspberry, and blueberry flavors. Long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir The Narrows Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with fresh earthy, strawberry, and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth, and well-balanced with cherry, raspberry, and savory flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Gowan Creek Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark ruby color with wild cherry, plum and Asian spice aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, lush with plum, cherry, and spice flavors. Long finish. 14.5% alcohol . Aged 16 months in French oak. (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Duckhorn Vineyards Pinot Noir Migration Bien Nacido - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley - Garnet color with black cherry,strawberry, and a hint of cassis aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied, young but smooth with black cherry, strawberry, and spice flavors. Medium finish. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark ruby color with cherry, plum and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with a dark cherry, blueberry, and spice flavors. Smooth well-integrated tannins. Medium+ finish. 14.5% alcohol.  Aged 16 months in french oak (91 pts.)

Our last stop of the day was Zina Hyde Cunnignham Winery, located a few doors away from the Boonville General Store.

There was a great selection of wines, but after tasting nearly 30 wines already, and with a long drive in front of us we opted to only try three.

Zina Hyde Cunningham has a long history in Mendocino County.  It started in Mendocino County in 1865 when Zina Hyde Cunningham brought his vision of producing the very best wines from his winery and vineyards.  Today, Zina Hyde Cunningham is owned by Steve Ledson of Ledson Winery and Vineyards in Sonoma

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail   Part 2 image zina hyde cunningham tasting room sign1

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Zina Hyde Cunningham - USA, California, North Coast - Strawberry red color with strawberry, peach and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, between dry and off-dry and fresh with strawberry, peach and spice flavors. Medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Zina Hyde Cunningham Carignane - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Dark garnet color with black cherry, cocoa, and tobacco smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied with cherry, and ripe strawberry flavors. Long finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Zina Hyde Cunningham Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby red color with brown sugar, cranberry, and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and balanced, and silky smooth with raspberry, cranberry, vanilla and baking spice flavors. Medium/long finish. (90 pts.)

Whew! After a full day of the 4 S’s (Sniffing, Swirling, Sipping and Sipping) we had our fill of Anderson Valley.

My winery of the day…Goldeneye! But all the wineries we visited offered very good to excellent wines, and we walked away with wines from all the wineries we visited.

Anderson Valley is a great wine tasting destination that deserves your attention.  I highly recommend.  Until we meet again in the not too distant future!

Have you visited Anderson Valley?  What wineries would you recommend for our next visit?

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