California Wines of the North and Central Coast AVAs

This week we will explore wine from three producers, Thomas Henry, Healdsburg Ranches, and Anderson’s Conn Valley “Prologue”. Altogether there will be two Chardonnays (one aged in stainless steel and the other in oak), two Pinot Noirs, and two Cabernet Sauvignons. The wines come from the North Coast (including Russian River Valley and Sonoma County) and the Central Coast.

Healdsburg Ranches is located in Healdsburg within Sonoma County, home of three of California’s most important wine producing regions: Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley AVAs. Viticulture and winemaking have been practiced in this area since the early 19th century. Sonoma County is one of California’s largest producers of grapes, far outproducing the Napa Valley AVA. The most common grape varieties planted in the area include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, although Merlot and Zinfandel aren’t far behind. Healdsburg Ranches sources their fruit from select Sonoma County Vineyards and aims to make wines that are style-driven and represent good value. This week we will sample two Chardonnays, one unoaked and one oaked, a Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Thomas Henry Wines¬†is part of the Meadowcroft family of wines. Owned by Tom Meadowcroft, Thomas Henry is his “value” label, named in honor of his father. The wines reflect a subtle European style of winemaking, yet with the “depth and energy” of New World wines. These wines are were created for everyday enjoyment and entertaining, and deliver serious value for any wine enthusiast. We will try their Sonoma County Pinot Noir at this week’s tasting.

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards¬†was founded in 1983 by Todd Anderson. It is a family owned “small vineyard” that’s located in Napa Valley. Mac Sawyer has been the head winemaker since 2000; he says “We start with the excellent fruit we have in the vineyards, and what you learn in school is how not to mess things up, the next thing you learn is how to fix things if there is a problem… I try to make luscious and long-lived wines with sweet and complex tannins”. For the tasting we will sample their entry-level “Prologue” label Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2009 vintage. The “Prologue” wines, originally intended for “restaurant only”, are made from a blend of fruit that’s sourced from premium vineyards.

We hope you will join us this week for an excellent tasting!

The specific wines for the tasting are:

Healdsburg Ranches Unoaked Chardonnay 2010– North Coast. Aged in stainless steel, this Chardonnay offers a bright and inviting nose of pineapple and citrus fruits with hints of banana and melon. Flavors of peach and pear with citrus and tropical fruit suggestions transition into the lingering finish. Nice acidity and balanced fruit on the palate combined with a textured mouthfeel make this a complex wine for the value. $11.99

Healdsburg Ranches Chardonnay 2009– Russian River Valley. This example ages briefly in French oak barrels. Cream and toasted bread aromas are enhanced with undertones of nuts and savory scents. The palate is silky and round with excellent balance of acid, oak, and fruit. A gentle and straightforward white with subtle notes of oak, spice and vanilla on the finish. A true deal for Russian River Chardonnay. $16.99

Thomas Henry Pinot Noir 2009– Sonoma County. Dark fruit aromas and a floral hint combine with robust, spicy scents to create an appealing, approachable perfume. Spicy flavors and ripe fruits of black cherry and strawberry are abundant on the palate. A big, robust Pinot Noir that is not necessarily the “traditional” style, but is approachable, friendly, and good for the money. $13.99

Healdsburg Ranches Pinot Noir 2009– Russian River Valley. Light cranberry/garnet red in color. Scents of barrel spice and kitchen spice (cinnamon/clove) with juicy berry fruits, hints of underbrush and floral notes suggest an “Old World” style Pinot Noir. Juicy red cherry and cranberry fruit flavors are enhanced with gentle acid and followed by a tasty, charming finish. $19.99

Healdsburg Ranches Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– North Coast. Ripe black fruit aromas of plum and black cherry are followed by hints of toasty oak and spice. It is easy-drinking and approachable on the palate with dry fruits and balanced tannins, reminiscent of a Cabernet Sauvignon from Southern France. The finish is juicy and mild; a great value. $13.99

Anderson’s Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Prologue” 2009– Central Coast (a large portion of the fruit comes from Paso Robles). Opaque, brick-red colored with brown edges. On the nose, big, robust scents of spicy oak and ripe black fruits such as blackberry, plum, and strawberry are abundant. The palate is textured and rich with big, yet balanced tannins and acid and dark fruit flavors combined with undertones of mocha and cocoa. The mouthcoating finish offers subtle hints of chocolate covered cherries. $23.99

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