Kickin’ it at Kick Ranch Vineyards

More from first ever US Winebloggers Conference ’08 in Sonoma, CA.

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Kick Ranch vines

I landed at SFO on Thursday midnite and by noon the next day I was headed out to Kick Ranch vineyards for the first event of the conference. It was a tasting of 14 wineries on the hilltop of Kick Ranch vineyards. All of the wineries sourced some or all of their grapes from Kick Ranch so it was a great opportunity to sample Sonoma Valley wine.

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Sainte Fumee's "Angel of Meat"

The winner for funkiest label has to go to Erna Schein’s “Sainte Fumee”, a chateuneuf-du-pape like blend of syrah, mourvedre, petit syrah and petit verdot. I know p.verdot doesn’t usually figure in the blend but I said a CNdP-like blend. The wine was as seriously good as the label was seriously fun. The winemaker said that he instructed the artist to come up with a label that reflected the wine, big and meaty, kind of an “angel of meat” and next thing you know…ta-dah!! Enough about the label, now on to the wine. A spicy sweet nose with black pepper and fresh red fruit berries competing for my attention. Drinking it was a sublime pleasure, smooth and rich, a fabulous blend of peppery spicy fruit and lovely tannins that would stand up to any slab of beef. The winemakers said it was not quite ready yet, “give it 6 more months”, he advised, but if he doesn’t think it was ready, all I can say is- It’ll blow you away when it is ready! Great stuff coming from this boutique winery.

 

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Chris Loxton, winemaker

Loxton Vineyards was another great producer of syrah. Founded and run by the Australian ex-physicist, Chris Loxton,  he came to California in 1996 and never looked back. In homage to his Australian background, he planted syrah but unlike Aussie wines, his are excellent Rhone style reds. The ’05 syrah had fresh red fruits on the nose and palate with great spiciness coming off the nose and onto the palate. The ’05 Reserve Syrah had lovely raspberry and black pepper on the nose and palate with a slight smokiness to the finish. An excellently balanced and well intergrated wine.

Among the other wines I tasted, Sanglier Vineyards also had some interesting syrahs, very toasty and black chocolaty but still balanced with great raspberry fruit, they didn’t taste too alcoholic either. Bedrock Vineyards also had some lovely, full bodied pinot noirs, full of smoke and cherry. The wines from  Pax Wine Cellars were also great. I really enjoyed their ’07 Pax Syrah, Cuvee Christine North Coast. 100% syrah and aged for over a year in oak, this liquid libation was quite refined with black fruits, especially blackberries jumping out on the palate. There was a nice toastiness to the wine, well defined tannins and a great juicy finish.

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catching a ride back...

All too soon, the hayride was back to return us to our cars and we were off to the next event, Wine speed-dating.

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