12 Sonoma County Wines Make for a Big Variety Show

This dozen offers something for every taste

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This dozen has a little something for every taste, in a wide range of prices.

We’re not ready to declare that some modern-day copycat will soon be launching an imitation of the old Ed Sullivan Show, but the latest batch of review samples I've received from Sonoma County wineries certainly remind me of that once-popular variety show. This dozen has a little something for every taste, in a wide range of prices. And it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that a couple are magical acts, others feature guest acts (wines made by Sonoma wineries with grapes from elsewhere), and one or two will rock the auditorium.

Take it away…

NV J Russian River Valley brut rosé sparkling wine ($31). How’s this for a great opening act? It’s a very elegant bubbly with light cherry flavors and some savory notes in the finish — very crisp and refreshing with fine bubbles.

2012 Dreaming Tree "Everyday" Central Coast white wine ($14). An entr’acte type of wine with tart apples and a minerally under-taste and a crab-apple finish — lightly sweet, but still crisp.

2011 Gary Farrell Russian River chardonnay ($32). A quintessential Sonoma chard — soft apple-y fruit at the start followed by toasty oak flavors then a crisp finish with hints of kiwi and a few dusty tannins.

2012 Geyser Peak California chardonnay ($11). A pleasant wine with bright fruitiness of apples and white peaches, with good mouthfeel and a nice finish.

2010 Inman Family "Olivet Grange" Russian River pinot noir ($52). Let’s start our parade of pinots with this lean-and-long great food wine. It has very rooty, tangy, dark-fruit flavors of plums and cherries and is long on the palate.

2010 Inman Family "Thorn Ridge" Russian River pinot noir ($52). The other half of this sister act has a smooth-textured body with pleasant raspy notes around the edges. Very good tastes of black raspberry and marinated cherries with light tannins. A lean acidity runs through the fruitiness.

2012 CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs Anderson Valley pinot noir ($40). The first half of this brother act comes from across the Mendocino County line, where many nice pinots are being sourced these days. It’s a little watery in the approach, but it has an excellent finish of amaro-soaked cherries.

2012 CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs Sonoma Coast pinot noir ($35). Big brother is a tasty, tangy, complex wine — cola, sassafras, balsamic, aromatic bitters, lots of savory notes. Although medium-bodied, it is quite assertive in a friendly way with light tannins.

2012 Geyser Peak California pinot noir ($14). Light cherry flavors with a hint of creamy chalkiness. Pleasant party drinking.

2011 Simi Sonoma County pinot noir ($19). We bring our pinot parade to an end with a light-bodied wine with dark plummy fruits and an excellent savory finish.

2010 Simi "Landslide" Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon ($32). A tough act to follow — powdery blueberry and black raspberry fruits with lots of dusty tannins which bring on notes of pecans and light chocolate. It’s fairly lean and food friendly.

2011 Dreaming Tree North Coast "Crush" red wine ($14). But someone has to close the show — very pinot-esque with tangy balsamic notes, cherry fruit, green cherry stems, and a hint of chocolate. Quite interesting, although it still seems to be just coming together, perhaps blended just before bottling. Let’s invite it back at another time.

Applause, please!


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