Gracianna Winery has a beautiful new tasting room in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Gracianna is a family owned and operated winery with four family member partners, Trini Amador IV who is the winemaker, sister Ashley Amador, and parents Trini Amador III and Lisa. A very close knit family who followed their dreams of building a family owned and operating winery. A remarkable family who always make me feel as if I'm a part of the family. I joined them recently at their new facility and was given their new releases to try. Three impressive bottles, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel all Russian River Valley.
A truly gorgeous property and tasting room. If you want an intimate winery experience this is a must visit in the Russian River Valley! Their vineyards are right out the back door.
I opened and shared my three Gracianna bottles with @Winetom and these are our thoughts..............
@SLHousman: Enticing aromas of citrus, pineapple, with slight lingering lemon. Tasting first tropical notes of pineapple, slight banana, honeycomb and lite oak. This Gracianna Chardonnay was very structured and had many more layers to it then most Chardonnays. A very nice wine!
@Winetom: Aromas of tart apricot and honeycomb. Tasting sour green apple and tropical fruits, pineapple, papaya, and over ripe banana. Back end is oakey but done in a mindful balance so as to provide structure to the fruit. A perfect Chardonnay for lovers of tart Chardonnay.
@SLHousman: A favorite Gracianna wine of mine. Aromas of seductive dark cherry, smoke, and silky vanilla. First tasting tart, dark cherry and spices. The wine finishes with anise and orange. The powerful spice in this Pinot makes it edgy and tantalizes the palate. I love the huge spice in this Pinot but with age I think the edginess will mellow out and be more smooth to the tongue. A great Russian River Valley Pinot find!
@Winetom: Aromas of smoke, and dark brandied cherry tort with hints of vanilla. Tasting dark sweet cherry, smoke, with a tiny hint of sarsaparilla which lingers through to more prominence in the finish. End is cinnamon, clove, with hints of dried chili pepper and orange peel. High alcohol for a Pinot and it peeks it's head out here and there.
@SLHousman: Great aromas of red berries, raspberries, strawberries, and must. Tasting lots of strawberry and loving how this Zinfandel is not sweet or jammy. Lots of red berries with a very nice balanced tart finish with added red currant, and black pepper.
@Winetom: Aromas of Strawberry, occasional black pepper, raspberry. Tasting sweet but present with tartness as well. Currant toward the back end with sarsaparilla on the finish. Monstrous alcohol in this baby getting a little black pepper and cinnamon on the finish.
One of our favorite stops in the Russian River Valley because of the intimacy of the winery and quality of the wines.
2008 Le Corbeau
$37.00 a bottle
Last weekend I finally was able to venture out to Napa in search of a great Cabernet but to my surprise, I found an incredible Rhone Blend "Le Corbeau" by Elyse Winery. I was very fortunate to get a personal tour and tasting with winemaker Mike Trotta, of Elyse Winery. He was very gracious showing me the property and the behind the scenes of the winery. Mike became winemaker of this very cute and quaint winery back in 2001. Talking with Mike that morning I could definitely feel his passion for Elyse Winery and making their wines. Owners Ray and Nancy Coursen started making wine back in 1987. Then in 1997 they purchased a small winery and vineyard on Hoffman Lane in Napa, CA which is the home to Elyse Winery today and was named after their daughter.
Elyse's 2008 Le Corbeau is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah and comes from the Hudson vineyard in Los Carneros. This blend is aged 22 months in 20% new French oak and 80% in neutral barrels. This Rhone blend is a light red wine and surprisingly complex from start to finish. The huge structure of this bottle is what drew me in and made me a lover. Le Corbeau has beautiful aromas of herbs, tea leaf, plums and raspberries. The complexity on the palate is what makes this wine so alluring. It seemed every sip I tasted something new. Tasting first raspberries, herbs, distinct white pepper, and bark. There was also a very captivating finish on this wine of buttery caramel. As the wine opened up, little hints of smoke also showed up in the finish. So many rich layers to this wine is what makes this bottle so incredible. If in Napa, it is a must stop! Elyse Winery is by appointment only (707) 944-2900.
2007 "All In" Pinot Noir
$46.00 a bottle
A favorite Pinot Noir destination of mine is Anderson Valley, California. Over the years I have discovered many great Pinots from this region. Earlier this fall I was able to venture out again to Anderson Valley in search for a new great Pinot Noir and was very fortunate enough to stumble upon, "Foursight Wines" in downtown Boonville, California. I was very fortunate to meet and taste with Co-owner Kristy Charles and hear their family winery story, which all began back in 2006.
Foursight Wines is a small family owned and operated winery in the coastal region of Anderson Valley. I tasted all their wines that day, but fell head over heels with their 2007 "All In" Pinot Noir. They use this poker term to describe this bottle because it is a combination of all Pinot Noir clones grown on their Estate Charles Vineyard. This Pinot is 80% destemmed and fermented with 20% whole clusters and wild yeast. The juice is then barrel aged in 100% French Oak, with 20% first year barrel, 31.25% two year barrels and 43.75% neutral barrels.
This Pinot Noir has beautiful lush aromas of date, black cherry and forest floor. Extremely velvety texture enticing the palate and romancing the tongue. First tasting slight tart cherry and creamy vanilla. Spices and nutmeg bring you to its tasty finish of mushrooms and earth. Foursight's 2007 "All In" Pinot is super structured and smooth making this bottle unforgettable. This bottle is such a great representation of why Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs are so incredible. At Foursight Wines they are big believers of unfined and unfiltered Pinot Noirs. A definite must stop in the Anderson Valley. I owe Kristy Charles, @Kristyat4Sight a big thank you for her hospitality that afternoon and sharing their family wine making story with me.
2009 “Gli Amici”
$55.00 a bottle
A few weeks ago I attended an open house wine event at Inspiration Vineyards in Santa Rosa, California. There were several winemakers at this event displaying their bottles. I was able to meet owner and winemaker Craig Colagrossi of Colagrossi Wines. His Cabernet Sauvignon blew me away that afternoon. It was perfect timing meeting Craig and discovering his Cabernet that day with “National Cabernet Day” just around the corner.
So on August 30th, “National Cabernet Day”, I opened a bottle of this 2009 Sonoma County “Gli Amici” Colagrossi Cabernet Sauvignon. We opened a few different Cabernets that night but Colagrossi’s dominated the evening.
Colagrossi’s Cabernet grapes come from the King Ridge Vineyard which is located on top of the ridge in Cazadero, California. This vineyard is very unique in it’s bowl like shaped property through which it is able to encompass it’s own little valley. The outer walls of this vineyard are lined with massive rocks that absorb the sun’s heat all day and keep the temperatures in the vineyard valley warmer at night compared to the neighboring vineyards. When harvested these Cabernet grapes are hand sorted and fermented for 13 days. Once fermented the remaining juice is placed in 50% new barrel and 50% two year old barrels for 16 months. Colagrossi 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is ready to drink now, which Craig had told me that afternoon was one of their goals in making this outstanding Cabernet. This wine is elegantly classy with aromas of bursting blackberries and clove. First tasting dark berries and slight dark cherries, then seducing the palate with it’s smooth vanilla, cinnamon finish. This Cabernet truly has it all, full of structure and extremely smooth, leaving you craving another sip. Another great Sonoma County Cabernet find. Cheers!
2008 Petite Sirah
$36.00 a bottle
I recently found this special bottle that changed my whole opinion on Petite Sirahs. I have never really enjoyed Petite Sirahs because they always seemed just a bit too ferocious in style and extremely enormous to drink without food. I am a Cabernet lover and love big bold structured wines but also want to be able to enjoy the bottle on its own without food. Petite Sirahs always just seemed a little too much for my tastes. Shockingly a few weeks ago when I met owner and winemaker Charlie Dollbaum of Carica Wines his Petite Sirah blew me away. His Petite Sirah is Rich and intense yet enticingly elegant. So Vibrant with layers of flavors and ready to drink now with or without food.
While conversing with Charlie that afternoon I was excited to learn that these Petite Sirah grapes come from Sonoma County’s Kirk Ranch Vineyards located right in my backyard of Rincon Valley, Santa Rosa, California. Kirk Ranch Vineyard is located on the Sonoma side of Spring Mountain, on the most eastern side of Santa Rosa. Charlie has been making wine from small premium lots since 2005. Making single vineyard wines, Carica also produces Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah.
Carica’s Petite Sirah is deep sexy purple in color. This wine has aromas of seductive huge dark cherry, slight plum and bark. Tasting first a creamy candied black cherry and finishing with a flirtatious black pepper and lingering cinnamon stick. Carica’s Petite Sirah was definitely a “wow” wine for me. Ready to drink now unlike most 2008 Petite Sirahs. This wine is not tight and showing its fruit beautifully.
2008 Knights Valley
$100.00 per bottle
I finally had the privilege of meeting owner and winemaker Chris Taddei of Super Sonoman back in March at the Sonoma County Barrel Tasting Event. I had tasted Chris’s Super Sonoman before at another wine event and was over the top impressed with his Cabernet Sauvignon. It was “love at first sip”. Chris was very kind that afternoon during Barrel Tasting to let me try a vertical of these Cabernets. Honestly I loved them all but this 2008 had something a little more powerful about it. There were explosions of blackberries on the palate, yet extremely smooth. Chris made it very clear that day his desire was to produce the best Cabernet Sauvignon that Sonoma has to offer.
The Super Sonoman Cabernet grapes come from vineyards on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains. These vineyards are 900 to 1500 feet above sea level, high above the Russian River Valley. This area proves to be an exceptional spot for Cabernet grapes to flourish. These Mayacamas slopes rest high enough to keep these Cabernet vineyards out of the fog and soak up the warmth of the sun. This 2008 Cabernet has aromas of blackberry, cedar, and leather. Tasting at first of velvety dark berries and spice which are delightfully sexy on the tongue, then finishing with cinnamon and light smoke. Super lush flavors with this wine. As the wine opened up that night it drastically became more complex with layers of flavors. This is definitely one of the best Cabernets I have ever had. Chris is a very talented winemaker and truly a Cabernet “Rockstar” which shows so immensely in this bottle.