Monday, October 19, 2015

Sonoma Wines Score Big With Pinot And Cabernet Power

20151010_184908Our Tasting Team members had planned an anniversary trip to Napa Valley, but ended up with a delightful detour to Sonoma.

Sonoma County A Land Of Wine Diversity

When people think of California wine, chances are the first thing that pops into mind is Napa Valley. Tasting Team members Glorious T and the Cabinator had planned to go to Napa to celebrate their anniversary. Visits with friends in Sonoma and the opportunity to get an inside look at wineries there changed their plans.

Sonoma Valley is actually more than twice the size of neighboring Napa. The land is diverse in climate and topography and as a result, more than 50 different grapes are grown there.

Glorious T and the Cabinator returned with luggage bursting with treasure wine and shipped wine following close behind. We were treated to dinner that featured Sonoma wine and tales of their visit.

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DeLoach Premium Pinot Is An Eye-opener

Our first wine was the delectable 2012 DeLoach OFS Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. As related to us, the winemaker tasted this line of Pinot Noir and declared it “out f****ing standing” which led to the OFS designation. The DeLoach website has a slightly different story, saying that OFS stands for “Our Finest Selection.”

Whichever story you prefer to adopt, there is no doubt this is one amazing Pinot Noir. We were able to enjoy it in special Pinot Noir glasses, large bowl-shaped affairs that allow you to sniff and savor the heavenly aroma.

When a Pinot strikes out with us, it is either that the flavor is a one-note affair or that it tries to be something it is not, with an overly ripe, almost candied flavor. This DeLoach has layers of complexity with delicate red berry flavors led by raspberry along with a slight earthiness. It’s a beautiful RRV Pinot that gives Willamette Valley a run for its money.

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Optima Cabernet Sauvignon Makes A Smashing First Impression

The enjoyment of the DeLoach OFS Pinot bridged the appetizers right into our salad course. While we unwound and heard stories of tastings at top Sonoma wineries (which we expect to feature soon), the next wine was being poured.

Cabinator had been decanting the Optima 2011 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for about an hour. Alexander Valley is one of our favorite Sonoma sub-regions.

Cabernet is best accompanied by a nice juicy steak. Glorious T, who is a very accomplished cook, outdid herself with this meal.

The scrumptious steak was cooked perfectly (which in my mind is medium rare) and topped with a gorgonzola sauce and caramelized onions. This was accompanied by roasted asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. Bravo! This would have been a fabulous meal served under any circumstances – but paired with the Optima 2011 Cabernet, it became heavenly.

20151010_185011Optima Wine Cellars began operation in 1984 producing 400 cases of wine annually. The focus remains on producing limited production premium wines.

We had never heard of Optima wines before nor had we tasted any. This was a treat. The wine was rich and bold with blueberry and dark cherry nuances. The tannins were very well integrated, avoiding any harshness yet retaining a beautiful structure.

The finish was long lasting, enabling me to get a refill before the rich flavors disappeared. Another nice feature of the wine is that it costs about $40. The quality is sterling but it is a much better value than a similar quality Napa Valley Cab.

Dark Chocolate And Cabernet – That Would Be A Resounding “Yes!”

20151010_210440Glorious T succeeded in raising the culinary bar even higher by bringing out a dark chocolate chess pie. I can’t tell you why it is called a chess pie, but it was oozing with smooth dark chocolate goodness.

The Cabinator and I surveyed his cellar and brought forth a 2008 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colchagua Valley in Chile. Although not from Sonoma, this proved to be a nice “wind down” Cabernet.

This isn’t in the same league as the Optima, but is a nice fruit-driven Cab that overdelivers on value. Montes is a top-tier winery and should be one of your go-to choices in Chilean wine.

At this point we had to depart or else ask about guest room availability! The Cabinator (who is considering changing his moniker to Wine Sponge) and Glorious T will be sharing their tasty  Sonoma adventures soon.

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