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Sonoma County Barrel Tasting 2014

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Sonoma County's 36th Annual Barrel Tasting, put on by Wine Road, has finally come to an end after two busy weekends in a row. This year's event showcased immense potential from both the 2013 and 2012 vintages. Of course, the 2012 vintages are closer to bottling, which allows more of the complex textures and flavors to stand out, while the 2013 vintages have only been in barrels for an average of 5-6 months—making their textures and flavors more subtle and harder to detect. With that being said, the 2012 vintages are coming right along and the 2013 vintages are showing a lot of promise.

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In Russian River Valley, Occidental Road Cellars provided barrel tastings for a promising 2013 Chardonnay and 2012 Pinot Noir, as expected from this AVA. However, they also barrel tasted a 2012 Zinfandel and a 2012 Syrah—both of which exhibited just as much potential as the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With such a range of varietals showing excellent potential, Occidental Road Cellars has a lot to offer in terms of variety and taste. For an in depth look at the barrel tastings from Occidental Road Cellars, read the Barrel tasting spotlight: Russian River Valley.

Winemaker Clay Mauritson—of Mauritson Family Winery in Dry Creek Valley—continues to produce promising bold reds. The 2013 Zinfandel and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon barrel tastings exhibited excellent flavors and textures. Both of these varietals come from Rockpile vineyards, and true to form, showcase that level of complexity and depth from the soil in this AVA that wine enthusiasts have come to love. For an in depth look at the barrel tastings from Mauritson Family Winery, read the Barrel tasting spotlight: Dry Creek Valley.

In Alexander Valley, J. Rickards Winery and Pech Merle Winery stood out amongst the rest. J. Rickards barrel tasted 2012 and 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel vintages alongside each other, allowing tasters to see the development of flavors and textures before bottling. Pech Merle decided to highlight three different varietals, all from 2013, in their barrel tasting offerings. The Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Franc revealed excellent impending balance between flavors and textures. For an in depth look at the barrel tastings from J. Rickards Winery and Pech Merle Winery, read the Barrel tasting spotlight: Alexander Valley.

Overall, the coming Sonoma County vintages are very promising. Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley each have something unique and delicious to offer. This amount of abundantly good wine, with complexity that shines through even in the early stages of barrel aging, is a good indicator that the 2012 and 2013 vintages are headed in the direction that all winemakers and wine enthusiasts hope for.

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