CAVEAT: I have a YES/NO response to most wines, with a palate decidedly on the sweet side of the gauge. I buy ports and late harvest wines for me to drink, and an occasional bottle of red wine to take along to a family dinner. I love to taste good wines, though, for their own sake, so I'm very lucky to live in Sonoma County, California, where wine-tasting can be a regular pastime.
BEST VIEW Our second day of barrel-tasting along the Russian River started with a relatively new winery, Marimar Estate Winery on Graton Road. Marimar Torres, the owner, is also a cookbook writer, with The Catalan Country Kitchen cookbook on sale in the tasting room. The nibbles table had a very tasty paté with sun-dried tomatoes that came from her cookbook.
To get to their cellars, you walk along a path carved in the side of the hill. Vineyards stretch below in a 270-degree sun-drenched view toward the laguna and river. From the barrel, we tasted a slightly oaky Chardonnay and a nicely rounded Pinot Noir that will bear watching.
BEST FINISHED WINE: At Marimar, we overheard a taster giving directions to the Lynmar Winery in downtown Graton. "Don't blink, or you'll miss it!" This reminded my spouse that we did not have a glass from Lynmar yet, so we went by on our way back north. We sampled the 2003 Pinot Noir, which was perfect, with its tannins on the back of the tongue, not clinging to the teeth. The tasting table included a mushroom soup with tiny lamb meatballs (which I did not try), but we were directed to ask the owner Lynn Fritz for a taste of their 2003 Vin Gris. This is an "immoral blush" wine, a rosé made by blending Pinot Noir and a white grape (Pinot Gris?). It was so nice and crisply fruity that we bought a bottle to take to dinner tonight.
OLD NEW GRAPES: Barrel tasting at Porter Creek Vineyards included not only the Pinots and Chardonnay they are known for, but also an Old Vine Carignane that was very interesting. Porter Creek also had the largest number of different barrel tastes for Sunday's selection, rivaling Suncé yesterday. They had a slight embarrassment of riches today; too few parking spaces for the crowd that came to try their wines. Only Bella Winery had a longer trek to get from parking to the tasting room.