Code Seven
2012 Sonoma Coast
Pinot Noir
 $46.00 a bottle
Cindy Passaggio is a very talented women full of passion with the love for wine and family tradition. I have been honored to have been her friend over the last four years and watch her grow into an amazing winemaker. In 2004 Cindy left her 15 year law enforcement career to follow her true passion to make wine. In 2007 Cindy starting making her own wine. Just this year Cindy has opened the Passaggio Wines Tasting Room in the heart of downtown Sonoma. I had the pleasure to meet Cindy at her beautiful new tasting room last month and sit down with her and try her line up of wines.

I have always been a huge fan of Cindy's unoaked Chardonnay but that afternoon her Code Seven 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir blew me away. Not only was this Pinot full of structure but it had new flavors that I have never come across before in a Pinot Noir. Passaggio's Sonoma Coast Pinot has aromas of sweet candied cherries mixed with hints of citrus fruits and spices. On the palate, velvety rich red cherries, slight cinnamon that gives this Pinot a touch of spiciness. I also tasted hints of rhubarb with a very intriguing orange peel finish. The finish on this Pinot gives this bottle a load of pizzazz. Truly a beautiful bottle! With Thanksgiving right around the corner this bottle would only enrich your turkey dinner. Passaggio Wines makes many other great bottles, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Rose, Grenache, Sangiovese. Cindy also makes two other Pinot Noirs, a Sonoma County and Napa Valley.


Dutcher Crossing

Dutcher Crossing

We are blessed with so many great wine regions in Sonoma County. I never seem to make it out to the Dry Creek Valley enough. Earlier this Summer I was invited out to Dutcher Crossing in the heart of the Dry Creek Valley to visit and taste their wines. Their property was stunning and their wines were amazing.

That afternoon a winery employee by the name of Ryan gave us the winery tour and a golf cart ride throughout the winery's property. Ryan was so full of great information and passion for Dutcher Crossing; I swear he knew every vine in their vineyard.

After touring the vineyards, we were spoiled with this awesome cheese platter to pair with their wines.

I tasted most of the wines at Dutcher Crossing that afternoon but a bottle of Zinfandel stood out among the rest........................

Dutcher Crossing
2012 Maple Vineyard
Dry Creek Valley
$42.00 a bottle

The 2012 Maple Vineyard Zinfandel is 92% Zinfandel and 8% Petite Sirah. I was told Tom and Tina Maple grow some of the best Zinfandel in the Dry Creek Valley. Dutcher Crossing harvests their grapes with counsel from Tom and Tina Maple. Maple Vineyard is a 25 acre ranch planted midway up the valley to dry farmed and head trained Zinfandel. The 2012 Maple Zinfandel spent 9 months in barrel, 35% New French oak and 65% Neutral French oak. This Dutcher Crossing Zinfandel has aromas of spice, red currant and red berries. An incredible Zinfandel, first tasting cranberries, red currant, and white pepper. The wine finishes with creamy vanilla and a touch of oak. Dutcher Crossing 2012 Maple Zinfandel is one of the most complex Zinfandels I have had. This Zinfandel is not jammy and radiates with spice and definitely rocked my palate. Debra Mathy has quite the winery in Dry Creek Valley, of course with the help of her winemakers Kerry G Damskey, Nick Briggs and Matt Ward. If in the Dry Creek Valley, Dutcher Crossing Winery comes highly recommended. 


Paradise Ridge

Paradise Ridge Winery

If venturing to Sonoma Wine Country, Paradise Ridge Winery is a must stop. A 156-acre wine estate with panoramic views overlooking the Russian River Valley. The winery has an indoor and outdoor tasting bar, an outdoor sculpture garden exhibit, and great wines to taste. Paradise Ridge also harbors some bottles made with grapes from my favorite appellation, Rockpile. Family owned and operated, Walter and Marijke Byck planted the vineyards back in 1978 and opened the winery in 1991. The winemaker of these lovely bottles is Dan Barwick.

I have previously visited Paradise Ridge Winery. On my last visit a month ago,  I was highly impressed by the qualities of the wines. There wasn't a bottle that day that I tried that I didn't like. I'm not a huge fan of Merlot but I loved their Merlot that afternoon. I left Paradise Ridge winery that day with two new incredible wine finds. Both bottles were just released.

Paradise Ridge
2011 The Bounty
Russian River Valley
Rhone Style Blend

$42.00 a bottle

The Bounty is a superb Syrah blend of 35% Syrah, 31% Petite Sirah, 29% Zinfandel, and 5% Merlot. This blend also contains a touch of Rockpile in it making it taste very distinguished. This blend has aromas of candied cherries and vanilla. Tasting first red cherries, tea, crushed stones and earth with a finish of Carmel and slight bay leaf. Lots of structure to this blend making it ever so delectable.

Paradise Ridge
2011 Merlot
Foppiano Vineyard
Russian River Valley

$44.00 a bottle

Paradise Ridge's Merlot was quite striking to me. The complexity and boldness of this wine was so remarkable that it changed my whole view of Merlots. Definitely a Merlot that drinks like a Cabernet. This Merlot has aromas of Cherry, leather and pepper. Tasting first tart cherries, cranberries and leather with a finish of tobacco and pepper. Great earthiness to this bottle.

Paradise Ridge also does an excellent job with their artisan cheese wine pairings. Each cheese paired perfectly with the selected wine. Artisan cheese wine pairings are daily but by appointment only. Paradise Ridge also makes a Sparkling, Sauvginon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet. If in the area of Sonoma Wine Country definitely make the stop to visit and taste at Paradise Ridge Winery, you will love the experience.

MacPhail Pinot Noir

MacPhail 2011
Anderson Valley 
 Pinot Noir
$40.00 a bottle

Just last week I was invited out to visit and explore the wines of MacPhail Winery with Jim Morris, @sonomawineguy on Twitter. Jim is the General Manager for MacPhail Winery. When I arrived I was given this lineup of different Pinot Noirs to try..........

2011 Anderson Valley, 2010 Sonoma Coast, 2011 Russian River Valley, 2011 Santa Rita Hills

Honestly I enjoyed them all but the 2011 Anderson Valley Pinot stole my heart that afternoon. This Pinot is a cuvĂ©e of Anderson Creek Vineyard and Annahala Vineyards. These grapes were hand picked and de-stemmed, then hand sorted twice. The juice was then aged 11 months in 100% French Oak, 50% new, 25% 1 year old and 25% 2 year old. The wine is then bottled 100% unfined and unfiltered. 

MacPhail's  Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is very aromatic on the nose with aromas of vanilla, strawberries, cherries and smoke. A super smooth Pinot tasting first lots of red fruits, strawberries, cranberries and cherries. The finish is long lasting of vanilla, pipe tobacco and leather. The backend on this Pinot really counter balances the sweet up front red fruits making this Anderson Valley Pinot velvety smooth. Definitely a special bottle of Pinot Noir.

James MacPhail built this small family winery in Healdsburg, California back in December 2008, producing only small batches of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rose. MacPhail winery is not open to the public. Tastings are by appointment only, Monday-Saturday. Coming this Summer 2014, MacPhail Winery will have a new tasting lounge at The Barlow in Sebastopol, California. Much thanks to Jim Morris and MacPhail Winery for spoiling me with such great wines that afternoon. @macphailpinot @sonomawineguy @TheBarlow707