Hopland Passport 2011

I had an incredible journey through Hopland California wine country last weekend. I was invited to attend their 20th Annual Hopland Passport Weekend and “wow” what a weekend it was. Sixteen wineries participated and I made to most all of them. I must say I was pleasantly surprised how many wines I found that I really enjoyed. Hopland creates some amazing Viogniers, Zinfandels, Zinfandel blends called “Coro”, Cabernets, and Cabernet blends. There were so many great wineries and wines that I can’t share them all but I will share some of the bottles I brought back.

Jaxon Keys Winery was my first stop that morning. A Beautiful farmhouse set on a hillside with gorgeous vineyard views, breath taking really. They had everything open that day to taste and boy what a line up!

I have to say I enjoyed most of their wines but I fell in love with both their estate grown 2010 Viognier and 2009 Mae’s Block Zinfandel.

2010 Jaxon Keys Viognier has aromas of huge grapefruit, light tangerine and grass. This is a very long structured Viognier tasting first huge grapefruit, peach, light grass with a lingering smooth finish of honey, melon, and cream. This is definitely a crazy good Viognier! Jaxon Keys Winery describes this Viognier well, “Very pretty, and not shy.” 2009 Jaxon Keys Mae’s Block Zinfandel has aromas of deep dark fruits and spice. First tasting huge dry fruits of blackberry and black cherry, finishing with lots of spice, clove, tea, and pepper. Before this trip I have to admit I was not that crazy about Zinfandels but after tasting so many great ones in Hopland I am turning into a Zinfandel lover. Parducci Winery had some great Cabernets and Zinfandels. They pride themselves on being America’s greenest Winery, committed to sustainable wine growing practices while protecting the environment and supporting local farmers. One of the owners of Parducci Winery, Paul Dolan has his own vineyards and label and makes some awesome wines.

I thoroughly enjoyed all four varietals of Paul Dolan wines I tried that day but his Zinfandel was my favorite. Paul Dolan’s 2009 Mendocino County Zinfandel was wonderful. Wow, I never thought I’d say that about a Zinfandel, but so true. This wine has aromas of dark fruit, huge blackberry and earth. First tasting blackberry and slight raisin, finishing with a pepper earthiness that gives it a Cabernet resemblance. This Zinfandel is full bodied and very rich with flavors that balance perfectly together.

There were so many great red blends in Hopland but there was just something very special about this Cabernet blend that made it stand out among the rest, Cesar Toxqui Cellars Heirloom IV Red Blend. This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah, 10% Zinfandel, 7% Merlot, 3% Viognier. This blend has an incredible nose to it. With aromas of red cherry, leather, slight floral. Tasting of a caramel covered cherry, slight blueberry and earth. An easy to drink blend that is super smooth and great without food. It was such a treat that day to be able to meet owner and wine maker Cesar Toxqui. He was so excited to tell me all about his wines and really wanted to hear what I thought of them. While talking with Cesar there was no hiding that he truly loves what he does and that definitely shows in this bottle.

Some other wineries and wines that stood out for me that weekend was McNab Ridge with their Cabernet’s and Cabernet blends. Campovida which now resides where Fetzer use to be, had a Redvine Series blend of mostly Cabernet that I really enjoyed. McFadden Winery which I was introduced for the first time to the Zinfendal blend’s called “Coro.” I was very fortunate that night to have shared dinner with Mr. Guinness McFadden himself along with Rich Parducci and the very beautiful Margaret Weibel of Weibel Winery. That night I had told Mr. McFadden how much I loved his Coro that day and the generous man he is had brought a bottle to dinner among other bottles to share.

I want to thank the town of Hopland and all the wineries that participated in Hopland Passport Weekend for showing me such great hospitality and sharing their great wines with me. It was truly an incredible weekend. A last big thank you to John Cesano and Megan Metz for giving me a reason to venture further North for wine.

Trione Vineyards

2005 Block Twenty One

Alexander Valley

Cabernet Sauvignon

$64.00 a bottle

I am way overdue on the blogging of this incredible Alexander Valley Cabernet. Trione’s Cabernet has been a favorite of mine for some time and is an excellent representation of how great Alexander Valley Cabernet's are. Trione Winery is located in the heart of the Alexander Valley in Geyserville, California. I have called this my home away from home. Not only can you find amazing Cabernet but the scenery is breath taking.

The Trione family has been growing grapes in Sonoma County for thirty five years, with over seven hundred and fifty acres of vineyards. I have personally gotten to meet and work with winemaker Scot Covington. Scot is a very modest, humble, and extremely talented winemaker. Since I am such a Cabernet lover I felt it only appropriate to blog Trione’s very first Cabernet vintage. This 2005 Cabernet is truly a master piece with excellent age on it but I feel it could still improve with time. A blend of 85% Cabernet, 10% Merlot, 2.5% Petite Verdot, and 2.5% Malbec. This Cabernet has aromas of red currants, dark fruits, sage, and hints of musty light oak and pepper. First tasting on the palate lots of dark fruits, light cherry, and spice. Finishing with a leathery cigar box light pepper taste. A very spicy Cabernet full of layers but not over bearing and extremely smooth.

I have been extremely fortunate to be invited now for my second year to help with harvest at Trione Winery. They truly make me feel as if I’m part of the Trione family. My twitter friend Jess @Moxie_Lady who works at Trione Winery who knows my passion for wine, had asked me last year if I would be interested in helping them and being part of their harvest. I felt very lucky to be asked and definitely could not turn down that opportunity. So again this year I worked side by side with Mark & Cathy Trione, Scot Covington the winemaker, and many other Trione family members. With the first load of grapes being Pinot Noir in the 2011 harvest we all toasted in celebration with a little sparkling. A big Trione family celebration that I am ever so thankful to have been part of. I learned so much about harvest and what goes into the whole process.

Trione Vineyards

2007 Russian River Valley

Pinot Noir

$35.00 a bottle

Helping with Trione Winery 2011 harvest and their first grapes to come in being Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, I had to blog their 2007 vintage. My favorite Pinot Noirs come from the Russian River Valley appellation and this Trione 2007 Pinot Noir is exceptional. A true Russian River Valley Pinot. Tasting these Pinot grapes only a few hours after being picked still amazes me that they create such an incredible bottle. The light fruit and earthiness of Russian River Pinot’s, complex structures and heartiness is what I love so much about these Pinot Noirs. Trione’s 2007 Pinot has aromas of dark cherry, blackberry, and earthy mushroom. First tasting light dark cherry and spice. Finishing with an earthy mushroom forest floor. A hearty yet super smooth Russian River Pinot Noir. Trione Winery also makes some other great wines, a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonny, Syrah, and a Bordeaux Blend.