Gracianna Winery 2012 Line-up

Each year I am blessed with the opportunity to taste the annual release from Gracianna Winery. With this year’s release (2012) I had a head start. One year ago during our vacation in Sonoma and our Labor Day visit with the Amador’s we enjoyed a vertical tasting of the Gracianna line-up dating back to 2007, their first release.

This line-up was not only an absolute treat (and honor as this was one of the few times the family has even done this), it was a unique opportunity to taste the entire wine collection including the pre-release 2010’s. My wife and I will never forget this experience with such wonderful friends and wines which were equally incredible.

Let’s jump in:

2010 Gracianna Pinot Noir - Bacigalupi Vineyard Designate - Russian River Valley

last year, of course, this was super young and probably only served as a component of the vertical we were doing. However, it served as an awesome backdrop for the pending release and a point or reference for this review. 

These grapes were harvest at 26.6 brix in small, tight clusters. There is a malolactic secondary fermentation process which often “softens” a wine as it barrel ages, in this case for 11 months. 

Last year it was young of course but the potential was evident. The potential was realized! This is a great Pinot especially if you want one that tips the balance toward a more medium bodied Pinot. Dark cherry, spice as is evident in the Gracianna Pinot’s and a smooth mouthfeel. Since my wife and I have had the luxury of trying every vintage, we can say this was the most robust Pinot. Maybe another word for robust is complex, but it seemed to have some serious depth. If I dare say, this is no wimpy Pinot. We could tell last year it would come around very well.

2010 Gracianna Zinfandel - Bacigalupi Designate - Russian River Valley

Zinfandel is in the running for my favorite varietal (a three horse race with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir rounding out the field). I often use Dry Creek Valley Zins as my measuring stick and this is no Dry Creek Zin. WHICH I am happy to say!

This Zin kicks up the boldness over the Dry Creek Zins and gives you a powerful, big Zin  palate response which I love. It has a deep color, spicy notes and is the type if wine I like to hang onto in my mouth, take in some air to really give the grape a chance. Man, what an awesome Zin. It does pack a punch at 15.9% ABV but you won’t notice. Also, this is not 100% Zin as there is a trace amount of Petite Sirah (5%). FR/AM oak, 11 mos.

Side note: this took on some great character since our first taste last year. I tasted a lot (I mean a_lot!) last year and feel I am a near expert on this set of 2012 releases. Awesome.  :)

2011 Gracianna Chardonnay - Suzanne’s Blend - Russian River Valley

This was the first time tasting the 2011 Chardonnay as it was not even harvest at this time last year. The 2010 we enjoyed over Labor Day was super nice and I enjoyed it more than the 2009, though not by much. I am a red wine drinker as is my wife so it is gonna take a really nice white to pry us away from our Cabs, Zins, Pinot Noirs and Syrahs.

After tasting the 2010 last year, I ordered some for myself. One of the few times I bought white wine for us and not our guests coming for an event or party. I truly enjoy this solid Chardonnay. 

But that was 2010, how about the 2011? No different as I enjoyed it as well. Super crisp and fresh which is what I go for in a white, buttery, though not as much as the 2009 in my opinion and pear/peach notes. I really enjoy the acidity in this Chardonnay; it has a cleansing sensation. Make sure it is not TOO cold as most regular refrigerators will run at 37-38 give or take. Need this to settle in around 40-42 (for me anyway). I feel the Chardonnay is awesome for a mellow evening where it is not too hot outside. I hate a sweaty wineglass, ha!

This wine gets French Barrel fermentation so you will experience a more layered result. Grapes are a product of Green Valley in the RRV which maximizes canopies to ease the impact of the sunlight. If you are a Chardonnay lover, this one is for you (and now, for me too!).

Wrap Up

Check out the new tasting room at Gracianna Winery and tell the Amador’s I said hello! Another well crafted release and a kudos to Trini IV for some serious winemaking chops! 

Holiday Wine Round up

As the new year begins I have been reflecting on the last few weeks and the holiday rush. With the rush comes parties with friends and family and lots of holiday wine drinking! Each time we shared a bottle, I had some great stories to tell either about the wine, where it came from or the people who had previously enjoyed it with me.

This holiday season we shared a few wines that we brought from our trip to Healdsburg, some from one of the few clubs I can get wine from and some of my own homemade Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve picked a few to share with you; some you will recognize, some you may not. Either way, it’s wine so we know it is gonna be good!

The first on the list is 2009 Wilson Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition). Picked this up after tasting it at Taste of Sonoma, also picked up the Sawyer Zinfandel. This is sourced throughout the valley, but it is a wonderful Zin. Spice, berry, slight acidity, even slightly smokey and a great finish. This is a Dry Creek Zin for sure and makes you want to keep having glass after glass.

Then there is the Mazzacco Winery Sonoma County Zinfandel. Mazzoco is located in Dry Creek Valley right around the bend from Wilson. This zinfandel is a Sonoma County Zinfandel which is sourced from throughout the county. This was reminiscent on the Wilson but not nearly as complex or flavorful. A little less burst, if you will from the zinfandel, some spice and a slight tart note to it. Still a great zin.

We also shared a bottle of 2005 Chesterfield Cellars Bretts Barrel Blend with our family. This is a wine I bought from a wine club that consists of 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has robust, concentrated berry, dark cherry, some earthiness, acidity but the finish sort of drops off the table. It’s a great value for us, so we keep drinking it. If you allow it to open up for some time, it improves dramatically. Also want to be sure it is not too cool.

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At Christmas dinner we decided to change it up slightly with a bubbly from Korbel. This was called Rouge as it is made with Pinot Noir. It is a great sparkling wine to have with food as it is not too sweet, much more on the dry end of the spectrum.  The layers from the Pinot are very nice and a welcome change form the sweet champagne style wines we are used to. We paired this with Braciole with marinara and white wine sauce and some fontina mac and cheese. It worked very well.

Finally, we shared a bottle of Gracianna Zinfandel and Pinot Noir on separate occasions. I have reviewed the 2008 vintages but these were the 2009. Many similar characteristics to the 2008 but as vintages go, they are very unique in their own way. The Zin maintains its bold fruit, pepper and a great balance of oak and acidity. The Pinot is as complex as ever, great layers (not to overuse the term) and a flavor experience that true Pinot lovers will enjoy. I always look to Gracianna for a great wine to share with family and friends over the holidays!

A few we did not open yet, but will soon: Stryker Sonoma Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Merriam Vineyards Block 8 Cabernet and John Tyler Wines Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. I will be sure to share these experiences with you soon!