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Napa/Sonoma All-Stars Wines shine brightly Part 1

A happy crowd swirls and sips at the Napa/Sonoma All-Stars wine tasting in Los Angeles.
Patricia Decker

With the abundance of great wine globally, sometimes we forget how truly special California’s wines are. From the hallowed valleys of Napa and Sonoma, 100 wineries recently strutted their stuff at the 2014 Napa/Sonoma All-Stars wine tasting, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel, and sponsored by Wally’s Wine and Spirits. Each winery poured two wines to an appreciative crowd, for an unmatched afternoon of tasting some of the best wines in the world. What an amazing opportunity, to taste so many iconic wines in one place, yet with the caveat of too many wines, not enough time to fully explore and appreciate their charms. Here are a few highlights from the wines that I tasted.

Sonoma wines rang the bell with their beautiful, cool climate incarnation of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Their balance and elegance are akin to their Old World counterparts, but these wines hit all the notes, from fruit concentration and expression to a complex palate of fruit, floral, and mineral. These wines literally jump out of the glass, with lots of energy and personality, blending the coastal influences of fog and sea spray with the heat of the California sun.

The DuMOL Winery 2011 Russian River Chardonnay is a beautiful wine, aromatically intense with lemon curd, lemongrass, sweet lime, honeydew melon, and floral and herbal notes. The palate expands to baked apple, citrus, and white peach, with lots of texture and a long vibrant finish, a nicely integrated wine that continues to unfold its charms as you drink it, the mouth watering acidity dancing with the mineral and tropical fruit aromas and flavors. DuMOL also did a great job with the DuMOL Winery 2011 Russian River Pinot Noir, a graceful wine that unfolds its complexity of red cherry and raspberry fruit, with savory notes of green tea, smoke, and juniper, citrus and earthy notes, with a vein of acidity and moderate tannin.

Flowers Vineyard and Winery also did an excellent job with their coastal wines. The Flowers 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay opens with citrus zest, grapefruit and thyme, and accented with white flowers on the nose, unfolding with a palate of pear, apple, and crushed rocks. The Flowers 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is fresh and savory, with wild strawberries, red cherry, raspberry, and pomegranate fruit, and tinged with forest floor earthiness, it finishes long and bright. Another good example of the Sonoma Coast is the Merry Edwards Winery 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. This Pinot, crafted by the critically acclaimed winemaker Merry Edwards, is supple and bright, with aromas of blueberries, plums, and violets, enhanced with a truffle-forest floor undertone. The red fruit palate leans more to the rich side, with cherry jam, currants, and raspberry liquor, accented by oak notes, spice, and a mineral touch.

And, finally, of note in the Sonoma category, the Donelan Family Wines 2011 Nancie Chardonnay is a supple wine with layers of pear, lemon meringue pie, nectarine, melon, and honey woven in a rich palate, accented with lots of mineral character and sweet spice.

continued in Part 2

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