Tasting Report: Sonoma in the City, May 22, 2008

Sonoma County’s vintners threw an enormous event in a far-too-small and wholly-unorganized ballroom at San Francisco’s Four Seasons this week, showcasing some of the areas wines (in fact, all 13 Sonoma County AVAs were represented). I only managed to taste a small fraction of the more-than-100 wineries pouring at the event, but some truly inspired wines were poured.

Some favorites: Of course, hat’s off again to Olson Ogden Wines, who had not just two Syrahs (tasted previously at Rhone Rangers, with similar results) but also an outstanding Pinot Noir, too. John Olson (who deemed his not-yet-released Pinot too harsh for the time being; I felt it was perfectly fine) turned me on to his neighbor from MacMurray Ranch (purchased decades ago by the late, great actor Fred MacMurray and still run by his daughter Kate). I’d never had MacMurray’s wines, but John was right: The soft Pinots were a knockout, and her Pinot Gris (a wine I’m normally not a fan of) was spot on, like a Sauvignon Blanc but full of perfume and flowery notes. Check out these wines when you see them.

Right down the line was Patz & Hall, whose Pinots I’ve had many times and which didn’t disappoint this time, either. Their Chardonnay was also a fruit-punch knockout.

Other wines of note: Restaurant-staple Flowers had its non-vineyard-designated wines here, and both were good, though not great. Really enjoyed the lone Zinfandel I tried, from A. Rafanelli, but their Cab was even better. And finally, I wrapped things up at Chalk Hill, famous for its Chardonnay but pouring a Cabernet Sauvignon which I didn’t even know existed. It might have been even better than its creamy, textbook, California Chard.

Kudos, by the way, to Benziger for putting all of its wine on a path for sustainable and biodynamic growing. Some wines are already certified organic, too. They’re tasty, to boot.

Full ratings follow. Prices were not available at the event and aren’t included here.

2008 Sonoma in the City Tasting Report

2007 Benziger Sauvignon Blanc – A-
2006 Benziger Pinot Noir “Signaterra” Bella Luna – A-
2005 Benziger Merlot Sonoma County – B-
2005 Benziger Red, Reserve – B
2005 Benziger Tribute – A-
2006 MacRostie Chardonnay Wildcat Mountain – B+
2005 MacRostie Pinot Noir Wildcat Mountain – B
2004 MacRostie Syrah Wildcat Mountain – B-
2006 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County – B
2006 Matanzas Creek Chardonnay Sonoma County – A-
2004 Matanzas Creek Merlot Bennett Valley – A-
2005 Matanzas Creek Syrah Sonoma County – B-
2005 A. Rafanelli Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley – A
2005 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley – A-
2003 Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley – B-
2006 Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc Estate Bottled – A-
2005 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Estate Bottled – A-
2003 Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled – A-
2006 Flowers Chardonnay Sonoma Coast – A-
2006 Flowers Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – A-
2005 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Selection Russian River Valley – B-
2005 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley – A-
2006 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris Sonoma Coast – A-
2006 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – A
2006 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – A-
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – A
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Syrah Sonoma County/Napa County – A
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Syrah Unti Vineyard Dry Creek Valley – A
2006 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley – A
2006 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – A

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