Kickin’ it at Kick Ranch Vineyards

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

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