CALIFORNIA SURPRISES

My Bryant rep, Jimmy, came by last Thursday with David Rusnak, the Mid-Atlantic Regional rep for Rutherford Wine Co.  David exuberantly presented some of his company’s wares, including wines from Rutherford Ranch, Scott Family, and Lander-Jenkins.

Scott Family Chardonnay 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  Hailing from Monterey, this Chardonnay is reminiscent of a cru white Burgundy, with lots of mineral, spiced apple, poached pear and hints of nectarine.  Very nice.

Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay Napa Valley 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  Showing more tropical fruit aromas and flavors than the Scott Family, this 100% Chardonnay is medium-bodied with a good presence of pears and white peaches, along with notes of vanilla and nutmeg.  Drinks really well for a $12-$14 white wine.

Lander-Jenkins Chardonnay Spiced Hawk 2008.  Grade=Amazing.  Here was a really nice surprise – a Chardonnay with an element of intrigue in the nose and on the palate, due to the addition of 3% Muscat Canelli.  The muscat lends its orange blossom aromas and honeysuckle flavors to an already delicious, fruit-driven style of Chardonnay.

Scott Family Pinot Noir Monterey 2006.  Grade=Average.  The addition of Grenache makes for a somewhat weirder Pinot Noir.  I am not above blending other varieties into Pinot Noir, but this isn’t my favorite example of such blends.  The cherry-berry style of the Pinot Noir mixes up with more astringent red fruit flavors of the Grenache for a somewhat murky wine that could benefit from some aerating or spicy food.

Rutherford Ranch Merlot Napa Valley 2006.  Grade=Outstanding.  Moving away from the murkiness, the Rutherford Ranch Merlot possesses notes of cherries, plums and raspberries with an array of baking spices to give you a more complex version of the grape than many of its Napa counterparts.  Really good effort.

Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006.  Grade=Outstanding.  I was again impressed with a dynamic Napa Cab that isn’t out of everybody’s price range.  Textbook cherry, anise, black currant and cedar abound in this full-bodied offering.  I really liked this, and I am not a big fan of Napa wines.

Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon Spiced Hawk 2007.  Grade=Amazing.  92% Cabernet Sauvignon, with Malbec, Merlot, Zinfandel and Petite Verdot rounding out the blend, this Cab demonstrates cherries, boysenberries and mint aromas, with elements of black currant, cherry jam and French vanilla, wrapped around medium-to-full bodied tannins, spicy, toasted oak and a velvety finish.

Overall, I was impressed with these wines, which David pointed out, were predominantly estate-grown, organic, and heading for a Sustainable Agriculture designation.  Look for several of these wines soon.

2 Comments

  • January 19, 2010 - 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Loving this post and your thoughts on these wines. Really interested in organic/sustainable wines and this helps me explore additional ones with pretty low risk of being disappointed. Cheers!

  • January 19, 2010 - 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that. The new site is still something I am getting used to, and the new direction is pretty liberating. Thanks for following along!

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