In April 2008, MyWinePal was able to spend almost a week touring Sonoma and Napa Valleys. The weather was unusually warm; almost 20 degrees Farenheit above the normal temperature. Workers were in the fields actively managing the trellising. Some of the wineries,and brief notes on the wineries follow.
The first visits were at J Vineyards and Rodney Strong in Healdsburg. They are right next to each other, so park once, taste twice. J Vineyards are known for their sparkling wines, but also have a very nice Pinot Noir. The J Pinot Noir, Robert Thomas Vineyard, 2005 (US$65) was spectacular. This wine was bursting with aromas of violets. Smooth on the palate with cherry and berry flavours. Next door is the Rodney Strong Vineyards winery. A wide range of red and whites from different price points were tasted. Two very nice wines were the Rodney Strong Syrah Ranch 128, 2003 (US$28) and the Knotty Vines Zinfandel, Estate Vineyards, Sonoma County, 2006 (US$20). The syrah was full of black frui, spice, vanilla and earthiness on the nose. On the palate it was fully fruity with black cherry flavour and pepperiness. Drying tannins show that this wine still can age and improve. The zinfandel had red fruit and barnyard aromas. Cherry, spicy, jammy flavours with medium length.
On a different scale of wine making, MyWinePal visited the Martinelli Estate vineyards in Windsor. The handcrafted wines are unfined, unfiltered, neither cold or heat stabilized. A particularly enjoyable wine was the Guiseppe and Luisa Zinfandel, 2006 (US$48). This full-bodied wine had a bramblely nose, which continued on the palate, and also had good spice to it.
On the Napa side, two of many wineries that were visited are St. Supery and Louis M. Martini. The St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc (US$23) started their claim to fame. The 2006 vintage was full of grapefruit and gooseberry aromas. On the palate it had good acidity and flavours of grapefruit and guava. Their red wines are are now becoming more well known. The Merlot 2002 (US$27), had cigar box and tomato on the nose. It had a medium mouth feel, with blackberry and cassis flavours, and a peppery finish. The Louis M. Martini winery had a great wide selection of cabernet sauvignon. One of these was the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (US$35). Alexander Valley is on the northern end of Napa Valley. This wine had plum, vanilla and black cherry aromas. It had full black cherry flavour, medium tannins and a long finish.