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2010 HANNA Cab Better Than Ever!

Earlier this year my Wine of the Month was the 2010 Hanna Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. I recently found and purchased another case, and boy oh boy, it just keeps getting better.

The fruit was sourced from Hanna’s estate vineyard “Red Ranch” in Alexander Valley. It contains 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and a splash (1%) of Malbec. It was aged for 27 months in barrel, 60% of which was new oak

I loved it back in April, but I love it even more now! When I reviewed it back then I noticed lots of black fruit, vanilla and baking spices. The lush blackberry, black cherry and black currant are still there, but not in a big jammy way. The oak flavors have mellowed a lot. All of the flavors are harmonizing into a beautifully balanced and nicely complex wine. As if this wine isn’t good enough, the price makes it even better!  I’ve been finding it at the $25 range, but it drinks like a $40 or $50 bottle. Now I just need to find a place where I can buy another case or two!

I have a few of the ’11, and it is starting to come into it’s own as well.  I’m really looking forward to trying the ’12!

If you get to Sonoma check them out!

HANNA Winery has two tasting room locations. I first visited the winery at their Russian River Valley home.  This is the original “Home Ranch” of HANNA Winery and is surrounded by their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyard.  The tasting room is sweet and cozy, with a very friendly feel.  They also have a picnic area outside where one can enjoy lunch and some Hanna wines.

My most recent visit to HANNA was at their Alexander Valley location, which is a completely different experience.  This large tasting room sells lots of wine themed souvenirs and different condiments, but also offers lovely views of their “Red Ranch Vineyard” from the wrap-around deck. The best part is, they both pour (and offer for purchase) HANNA wines!


Pinot Noir Tasting

I mentioned in my last blog that I get together bi-weekly with some fellow wine nerds where we taste a number of wines.  Last week there were eight wines brought to the table, and three of them were Pinot Noir.

One was the 2012 Joseph Faiveley Bourgogne (or Burgundy in English).  Obviously from France’s Burgundy region, this wine has some dried red fruit, hints of anise and clove, lots of earthiness and a nice minerality.  This basic Bourgogne (which comes in at about $20) definitely needs food, and would go well with many different dishes.

We also tasted the 2011 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast.  This medium bodied wine has nice cherry, strawberry and cranberry.  While it is definitely a “New World” Pinot Noir, it isn’t too much.  It is true to it’s varietal and, though we were tasting the wines blindly, I knew immediately that this was indeed a Pinot Noir.  This wine also runs about $20.

My favorite Pinot of the day was the 2012 Au Bon Climat from Santa Barbara. Personally, I’m not a fan of the big, huge Pinot Noirs that so many New World wineries produce.  Thankfully for me, this is not one of them.  On the nose are ripe strawberry, cherry and some floral qualities.  The silky palate confirmed the fruit aromas and added a bit of baking spices.  This wine has some of the fruit ripeness known for Santa Barbara, but still has medium-low viscosity and reminds me more of a Côte de Beaune than a typical California Pinot Noir.  I very rarely actually swallow wines during our group wine tastings, but this was a wine I found difficult to spit!  In the  $20 to $25 range, this Pinot Noir is a great value.

Well respected and much awarded winemaker Jim Clendenen is the man behind Au Bon Climat.  Starting out as assistant winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery back in the last 70s, he moved on to adventures in Australia and France.  Back in the U.S. in 1982, he started (with his now ex-partner Adam Tolmach) Au Bon Climat, which means “a well exposed vineyard”.

I suggest that you seek out the wines of Au Bon Climat.  I know that I will!

Tasting at Failla

Failla has got it going on!!!!!  Not only do their wines rock, but they have an adorable tasting room in which to try them!

I was in Napa a couple of weeks ago, tasting my way around the valley.  I’ve heard a lot about Failla’s wines (they’ve had top 100 wines in several recent years), but have never paid them a visit.  I did just that on February 7th!

The tasting room is located in a charming yellow house.  One enters into a library type room which leads into a parlor and quaint sitting room, complete with a wood-burning stove.  Two comfy chairs and a sofa invited us to sit, with wine glasses placed on a coffee table between!  Who wouldn’t want to delve into their lovely wines???

Our tasting room attendant first brought us the 2011 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay from Napa.  Wow, did I love this wine!!!  On the nose is passion fruit galore!  This is a rich Chardonnay with lots of lush tropical fruit, but it’s beautifully balanced with bright acidity.   I’m kicking myself for not buying a case of this!

Next up was the 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  This is an outstanding wine for a great value!  On the nose is plum and some herbs, perhaps oregano or sage.  There is also a hint of watermelon!  Loaded with cherry and a lovely old-world style earthiness, this wine rocks for $34.  Finding a well-made Pinot at this price is a definite treat!  In fact, I cracked open a bottle of this and am drinking a glass while I write this blog

The 2012 Keefer Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir from Russian River was the third wine we tried.  Very different from the Sonoma Coast, this wine has some cherry cola and root beer on the nose, along with violet.   Blackberry explodes on the palate, with some earthy mushrooms.  This wine is another winner!

The 2012 Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley was the last wine we tasted.   This is a bigger Pinot, with lots of dark fruit and vanilla, along with some spiciness.  This is their inaugural vintage of wine sourced from the Savoy Vineyard

Failla is a joint effort, owned by Anne-Marie Failla and her husband Ehren Jordan, who is also the winemaker.  Jordan’s resume is impressive indeed, having worked for Bruce Neyers at Neyers Vineyards, Helen Turley and her husband Jon Wetlaufer at Marcassin and Larry Turley at Turley Wine cellars.  The San Francisco Chronicle named Jordan the Winemaker of the Year in 2008!

Being a Francophile since my youth, I’m very fond of Jordan’s winemaking.  His Chardonnay and most of his Pinot Noir wines are done in a Burgundian style, and he also makes some lovely wines in the Northern Rhone style

If you haven’t tried Failla’s wines, do yourself a favor and seek them out.  They are truly outstanding.  The next time you get to Napa, be sure to call them to set up a tasting appointment.  You won’t be disappointed!

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