Jan 23, 2019
by John Haggard, Sophie's Cellars
Currently, rising rain totals are nearing their average for the year for Sonoma County though questions of long-term water reliability and sustainable use remain un-unanswered. The steady bands of rain fall this winter season have slowly been replenishing ground water tables and if they continue, have the potential of lowering this year’s future water costs as they will allow grape-growers well water access much later in the growing season. The key question is how much soil saturation will we have in the Spring (around March and April). Spring surface moisture provides for a healthy canopy (the foliage on all of the canes). Every cluster of fruit relies on a minimum of eleven leaves to ripen, so a healthy canopy will lead to a heavier fruit set.
Of course, moisture is paramount, but there are numerous other variables that may determine what the 2019 vintage will become, and they vary a great deal from AVA (American Viticulture Area) to AVA. By simply looking at the topography of Sonoma County, this will offer clues. Remember, different varietals bloom at different times of the growing season. Simply put, if you’re paying attention to early rains as well as hail and wind, you begin to understand which AVAs and or varietals are being affected during the season. Cool even seasons that do not experience extreme weather events, i.e. far too hot towards the end of the season during ripening and high moisture wind, rain and hail during blooming, prior to fruit set are going to determine quality at the end of the season. While not everyone has the ability to monitor day to day changes, just remember, even, consistent, cool but not cold and wet Springs and Summers are advantageous to high-quality wines.
King Fish 2015 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Firm tannins throughout the palate tightly intertwined with bright acids. Dusty herbaceous flavors on the front of the palate give way to licorice, fennel and dry red cherries. This cabernet sauvignon is the ideal food wine if you’re so inclined to select a pungent cheese such as Cowgirl Creamery’s “Red Hawk” organic soft-ripened, hand-washed aged cows milk cheese or a braised pork butt, commonly used to make pulled pork. Only 75 cases produced. Enjoy now through 2022. No decanting necessary.
Rock Fish 2015 Rockpile Zinfandel
The joy of finding a beautiful dry zinfandel that isn’t a fruit bomb. Stunning complexity and mouth-watering savory layers. Dry blackberry bramble, raspberry, black cherry, red licorice and wild sage. The 14.8 alcohol delivers a little heat not unlike “Red Hots” on the finish with subtler hints of mission fig. Despite the current weather, grilled and or barbecued meats and vegetables are in order or pork ribs or thick cut chops with barbecue sauce. Only 100 cases produced. Enjoy now through 2022. No decanting necessary.
It’s Wine Road’s weekend of Barrel Tasting. This is your chance to sample wines from the barrel, talk to winemakers and explore the beautiful Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. Barrel Tasting is not a food pairing or themed event. It’s all about the WINE…many wineries offer “futures” on their barrel samples. This is a chance to purchase wine now, often at a discount, then come back to the winery when the wine is bottled, typically 12-18 months from now. Many wines are so limited, buying futures is your only chance to purchase them. The ticket price includes the opportunity to sample wine from the barrel and in most cases also trying a limited number of current release wines. Advance tickets are available up to February 25th. Advance Ticket Sales (at discounted pricing) ends February 25th at 11pm. At The Door Prices are: $70 Weekend, $60 Sunday Only, $10 Designated Driver. For more information, visit wineroad.com
John Haggard is owner of Sophie’s Cellars, Sonoma Wine Tasting in Duncans Mills, California. Sophie’s Cellars (Winter Hours) is open Thur, Sat, Sun: 11am – 5pm, Fri: 11am-7pm (Local’s Night, Friday, 4-7pm, and you don’t have to be a local to join us). www.sophiescellars.com
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