This Week’s Wine Tasting

California Wines

Alexander Valley Vineyards and Landmark Vineyards


Alexander Valley Vineyards– “Alexander Valley Vineyards is located on Highway 128 in northern Sonoma County, 75 miles north of San Francisco, 6 miles from the sleepy town of Healdsburg and 16 miles from Calistoga in the Napa Valley. Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley was mostly prune orchards and pastures when, in 1962, Maggie and Harry Wetzel purchased a large portion of a homestead built by Cyrus Alexander, the valley’s nineteenth century namesake. They raised livestock, cultivated bountiful gardens and restored Alexander’s original home, making it the center of family life.

In 1963 the Wetzels boldly planted premium grape varieties, among the first in the area. They sold the grapes for a number of years to other wineries and often produced a little homemade wine in the adobe as a family project. They bottled their first vintage of Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon in 1968, but this wine was only given to friends and family. In 1975 the family built a small winery and Hank Wetzel, oldest son of Maggie and Harry, produced Alexander Valley Vineyard’s first wine in 1975.

Today the Alexander Valley is a prominent appellation known worldwide as the source of elegant, age worthy wines. As the twenty-first century begins, the Wetzel Family Estate grows fourteen grape varieties, on diverse sites stretching from the banks of the Russian River up onto the hillsides. Each grape variety is matched to a specific soil type and exposure. 2015 marks the family’s 53rd year on the historic property.”

Alexander Valley Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2014– Mendocino County, California. 100% Gewurztraminer, organically grown. No oak; cold fermentation in stainless steel. “The grapes were harvested at night and at a lower brix level to maintain the acidity in this wine. We cold fermented the juice in stainless steel tanks to preserve the crisp acidity and bright aromatics. Over the years our style with this wine has evolved, along with the name. Winemaker Kevin Hall is continuing the slightly drier style to showcase the mineral qualities of the grape, and as a result the wine is more food friendly. In the glass the 2014 has the classic floral, sweet aromas of grapefruit, stone fruits, pear, rose and strong wet stone minerality. The flavors are similar to the aromas highlighted by tropical spice and grapefruit flavors.” $10.99

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Merlot 2011– Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California. Estate grown and bottled. A Bordeaux-style blend of 89% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.4% Petite Verdot, 1.3% Malbec, and .3%Cabernet Franc. Aged for 18 months French and American oak, 30% new. Winemakers notes- “We prune our Merlot vines heavily and drop fruit several times during the growing season so that each cluster of grapes has rich concentration and good structure. I found that fermenting the Merlot at a little cooler temperature than some of our other Bordeaux grapes maintains the lush flavors and structure as well.” “This wine always impresses red wine lovers. There are spicy, earthy aromas of red cherry, vanilla, oak, cedar, plum and cassis in the glass. This wine has broad mouthfeel with flavors of cherry, cassis, blackberry, plum, dark fruits and chocolate. This is a big, nicely balanced wine with chewy tannins on the long finish.” $16.99

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013– Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California. Estate grown and bottled. A Boreaux-style blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. Aged for 14 months in French and American oak, 25% new. Winemaker’s note- “I added 7% Merlot for structure, a touch of Cabernet Franc for floral notes and Malbec and Petit Verdot for color.” “A classic Alexander Valley wine with medium body, great fruit flavors and grippy tannins. There are aromas of dark fruit, blackberry, cherry, cassis, plum, vanilla and a slight cocoa and chocolate note. In the glass there are rich flavors of cherry, cassis, blackberry, plum, spice, tobacco and chocolate. This is a plush wine with medium body, nice balance and a long finish.” $17.99

Alexander Valley Vineyards Redemption Zinfandel 2012– Dry Creek Valley, California. 100% Zinfandel. Aged for 14 months in American oak barrels, 30% new. “At the winery, the fruit was cold-soaked for 24 hours, then individual lots were inoculated with different yeasts to achieve more complexity in the glass. Twice daily pump-overs followed to extract color, structure and flavor. Extended barrel aging in American Oak softened the tannins and allowed the blend of the two different lots to harmonize.” “This is a concentrated dark purple wine in the glass with spicy aromas of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, plum, dark chocolate and vanilla. There is mouth filling texture with spicy flavors of black pepper, blueberry, dark fruits, black cherry, chocolate and molasses.”

Label Art- “The inspiration for the image on our label is a painting attributed to the well-known Renaissance artist Tiziano Vecelli, who is now simply referred to as Titian. The original title was thought to be “The Triumph of Virtue Over Vice,” making it the perfect image to illustrate redemption. It is thought to be one of his last works c. 1575-1576 and over the years has been also been referenced as “Spain Succouring Religion”; “Religion Succoured by Spain” and “Spain Coming to the Aid of Religion.” The painting was owned at one time by the Museo Nacional Del Prado, Madrid.” $18.99


Landmark Vineyards– “Landmark Vineyards sources grapes from the finest vineyards in California, including Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties, to produce wines that capture the uniqueness of the region, appellation, and at the pinnacle, a single vineyard. We source from vineyards that each claim a unique microclimate and soil composition. Through careful blending, our winemaker creates wines that balance and enhance those characteristics. The resulting blend is greater than the sum of its parts.

Rooted in a rich history of agriculture, Landmark Vineyards is founded [in 1974] by a group that includes Damaris Deere Ford, great-great-granddaughter of John Deere, inventor of the first steel plow. Landmark uses the most time and labor-intensive techniques to produce our wines. Grapes are aged in French oak barrels, where naturally occurring wild yeasts ferment the juice. This creates complex, aromatic wines with deep, expressive flavors.

Winemaker Greg Stach is renowned for crafting elegant, world-class vintages. Stach’s winemaking approach combines traditional techniques with a “less is more” philosophy. Believing that great wine begins in the vineyard, he intervenes only to ensure consistency and quality, relying more on the fruit’s intense flavors and distinct vineyard characteristics.”

“Nestled at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains in the Sonoma Valley, Landmark Vineyards epitomizes the rustic grace and beauty of Sonoma County. Since 1974, Landmark has been dedicated to producing handcrafted, ultra-premium chardonnay and pinot noir, sourcing grapes from unique vineyard sites throughout California to create rich, balanced wines.”

Landmark Vineyards Chardonnay 2013– Sonoma County, California. 100% Chardonnay aged in 100% French oak. “Each year we select fruit from the finest vineyards, from Sonoma in the north to Santa Barbara to the far south, for the Overlook Chardonnay. The 2013 vintage is an artfully selected blend of twenty-one vineyards. Our relationships with each vineyard spans many years, if not decades. Lone Oak Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, Bald Mountain in the Sonoma Valley, Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, Lorenzo Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, and Flocchini Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap all grace this vintage’s blend.” “The 2013 Overlook Chardonnay has a bright, medium gold color with complex aromas of ripe pear, Meyer lemon, sage and lemon curd. On the palate flavors of quince, pear blossom, apricot, and pie crust are balanced by lively citrus notes completing this refreshing wine. Drink now, but will continue to develop for 2-3 years. Pairs well with grilled salmon, roasted poultry dishes, sashimi, lighter meat dishes such as seared pork tenderloin and quinoa salad with seasonal vegetables.” $17.99

Landmark Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012– 64% Sonoma, 27% Monterey, 9% San Benito, California. 100% Pinot Noir aged in French oak for 10 months. “Blending vineyards from cool climate sites in Sonoma, Monterey and San Benito counties, our Overlook Pinot Noir represents the best of the vintage. Quality and flavor begin in the vineyard, which is why rapport with our growers is so important. Winemaker Greg Stach becomes intimately involved in our growers’ viticulture practices, and personally chooses grapes from the finest vineyard lots allowing us to create a wine that captures the essence of the vintage.” The Overlook Pinot Noir has a medium ruby core with intense aromas of raspberries, red cherry, with hints of cola and mahogany. This medium-bodied Pinot Noir exhibits bright acidity with flavors of red currant, orange zest and milk chocolate that is balanced with soft integrated tannins. Drink now, but would benefit from 2-3 years in the cellar. Pairs well with slow roasted pork roast, duck a l’orange, eggplant parmesan, grilled summer vegetables and aged cow’s milk cheeses.” $17.99

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