Yesterday I arrived in the valley late in the afternoon so my tastings were limited. Today I was up early and ready for a day of wine tasting. Beautiful weather in the valley, not as oppressively hot as in Paso. I began at the northern edge of the valley at the town of Navarra, the town being one general store and a two pump gas station. The redwood forest began at that part of the valley and it was a memorable sight for me since I’ve never seen so many trees that huge before. So I sat at the general store and enjoyed my morning coffee and the beautiful sunny day surrounded by the Redwood forest and the scent of pine, plus the herbal aroma of the other cash crop of the valley. I stayed in Ukiah which is sixteen miles East and would recommend staying in the valley if you plan on a comprehensive tasting. That sixteen mile route from the valley to Ukiah is on a one lane road over a mountain range with one curve after another. Something I wouldn’t want to do after too much tasting.
Lula Cellars: First stop of the day, small production winery, casual tasting room with a cool winery dog. Lost tasting notes.
2012 Mendocino Pinot Noir
2012 “Peterson’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir
2012 “Costa Vineyard” Pinot Noir
Drew Vineyards: Estate vineyards on the Mendocino coast. The tasting room is in a Mediterranean styled resort called “The Madrones” in the town of Philo.
2014 Albarino. 150 cases made, yellow with a greenish tint, white floral nose with tight lime notes on the finish.
2013 “Fog Eater” Pinot Noir. Medium brick with smoky black cherry on the nose, very tight, clean, and could have used a bit more on the finish.
2013 Syrah “Valenti Ranch”. Very dark purple, crushed dried herbs on the nose very tight with mouth tingling acidity, light finish.
Goldeneye Winery. Not the mom and pop operation like most of the vineyards in the area, slick tasting room and a gorgeous view of the vineyards and mountains from the outdoor terrace, nice vertical of Pinot.
2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Medium black, crushed red berries on the fruit, tight, astringent, with roasted nuts, oatmeal and dark chocolate notes on the finish.
2012 “Gowan Creek” Pinot Noir. Medium red with warm dark fruit and crushed stone on the nose, concentrated, slate and toast notes on the firm finish.
2012 “The Narrows” Pinot Noir. Dark red with smoky black cherry on the nose, tight leather, bitter cherry with some barnyard on the fruit.
2012 “Ten Degrees” Pinot Noir. Dark red, dried mushroom, forest floor and slate on the nose, starts juicy but turns tight, dried herbs on the moderate to long finish. Some heat at the end.
Back in Ukiah I had time for a couple of more tastings. There are wineries up and down highway 101.
Barra of Mendocino. This winery was the sleeper of the day. 100% Certified organic, you taste in a spectacular wood-beamed and tiled room. They have two tiers of wines, the Girosole which do no see any oak, and the Barra which do see oak. The wines are solid, unpretentious, everyday drinking wines at a fair price.
2011 Sangiovese Girasole. Dark red, cooked fruit, mint on the nose with dusty, ripe fruit notes.
2012 Sangiovese Barra. Dark red, some barnyard on the nose, black mint on the fruit with crisp acidity.
2011 Zinfandel Barra. Dark red with a beautiful perfume of crushed blueberry, camphor, juicy with gamey cooked fruit notes on the finish. The owner opened another bottle of the same wine and the fruit was brighter. Tasty.
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Barra. Inky black, crushed black fruit and mint on the nose with dark chocolate and sour cherry on the finish.
2011 Petite Sirah Barra. Inky black with toasty black fruit on the nose, very big rustic and chunky fruit, good structure on the finish.
Parducci Winery. Widely available in New York, one of if not the oldest winery Mendocino, carbon neutral and my first chance to try their estate wines.
2011 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Medium brick, cola and forest floor on the nose with mushroom notes on the moderate to bright fruit.
2013 Petite Sirah “Reserve”. Dark purple to black, pencil shavings on the nose, dill pickle notes on the tannic finish.
2013 Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark red, dill pickle on the nose, dark prunes on the fruit with big, silky tannins.
Coro Mendocino: A few years ago a group of Mendocino County wine makers got together to create an ultra premium wine blend to showcase the Mendocino heritage varietal of Zinfandel. The wine must me made with 100% Mendocino fruit and contain 40-70% Zinfandel and up to nine varieties. The wine must then pass review of a panel of wine makers in a blind tasting. If it passes, it’s certified and bottled in a uniform bottle and given the Coro seal. It was an opportunity to try wines with some bottle age and each bottle was an individual blend of the winemaker.
2011 Barra of Mendocino “Coro”. 69% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark red, big perfume of wild flowers with minty tannin on the firm finish. If tasted blind I would have guessed a Chianti.
2007 Parducci “Coro”. 47% Zinfandel, 45% Syrah, 8% Petite Sirah. Dark red, cooked fruit on the nose, chunky with minty tannin on the finish.
2006 Parducci “Coro”. 55% Zinfandel, 19.5% Syrah, 18.5% Petite Sirah, 5% Grenache, 2% Charbono. Dark red, big perfume of violets and leather, chewy and dusty on the firm finish.