Monday, October 17, 2005

Russian River Wineries

Kistler Vineyard

Kistler was founded in 1978, and promptly produced the first vintage in 1979 with 3,500 cases of wine. Today production has steadily grown to 25,000 cases per year. Specialities of the vineyard are a Burgundy-styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A limited amount of Cabernet Sauvignon is also produced.

Kistler Vineyard Pinot Noir exhibits floral, berry and earth tones along with a subtle hint of black raspberry. Rich with a lovely, velvety texture this pinot noir carries good body and acidity with dense purity. Good tannins and a harmonious finish. Best served when aged a few years, choose varieties from the late 1990's such as 1997, 1998 and 1999 for excellent flavor. Pairs nicely with almost anything, but especially a good cut of steak or slice of beef that will allow the flavor of the wine to sing.

Kistler's Durrell Chardonnay carries vibrant pear, citrus, cedary oak and anise flavors to make this young and intense Chardonnay quite delicious. With touches of lemon and vanilla on the long complex finish, this is quite an excellent representation of Kistler Vineyard's offerings. Concentrated and full flavored, vintages are available from 1998, 1999 and 2000. This Chardonnay has a beautiful yellow gold color and good backbone. Nicely paired with fruit and cheese for an appetizer, or held alongside a lighter main course featuring white meats or pasta. This wine complements without overpowering.

Martinelli Winery

Steve Martinelli is bottling all the Martinelli wines without filtration and without fining, resulting in some of the most concentrated, complex and exciting wines being made in California. Producing Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Gewurztraminers and Chardonnay the Martinelli Wines are remarkable.

Martinelli Vineyard Reserve Pinot is an amazing example of incredible attention to detail. The grapes are hand selected at harvest time by Lee Martinelli, who tastes the grapes and chooses when to pick according to the developed concentration of flavors. The 2000 Pinot Noir Martinelli Vineyard Reserve is a dark ruby color. With good acidity, and a powerful personality, this wine blends the sweet hint of apple with a deep black cherry fruit. Dry and medium to full bodied, it possesses a good backbone and nice finish. Other exceptional varieties include 1998 and 1999.

Marinelli's "Martinelli Road" Chardonnay is a crisp wine with intense, full body. With a lovely scent of tropical fruits, the aroma is distinct and delicate. Buttery with a good balance and easy smoothness, this dry white carries a lovely golden color. Exceptional vintages are available from 1998, 1999, and 2000


Closely connected to the Martinelli Winery, Marcassin and Martinelli share vineyards, and the Marcassin wines are made at Martinelli's winery near Santa Rosa. Thus Marcassin enjoys a great reputation and similar standard to the Martinelli Vineyards.

Marcassin Vineyard Pinot Noir carries the aroma of earth, plums, figs, raspberries and compost. With a good amount of acidity and a dense concentrated finish, this wine can stand up on its own. Lovely berries on the nose and a hint of mocha and brown sugar give a nice bouquet. Deep and chewy with strong tannins and excellent persistence, this is a full bodied, complex variety. Vintages from 2000, 1999 and 1998 are notable.

Marcassin's "Marcassin Vineyard" Chardonnay carries nice acidity and crispness. Strong flavors of baking spices, dominated by its structure, but with a nice sweetness of fruit. This chardonnay lays back at first, but then provides a complex aroma of apricot, smoke and menthol. Powerful on the palate, but not overpowering, this chardonnay carries a full body with a rich lemon note. Excellent vintages available from 1996, 1997 and 1998.


Formerly a farm with hops as the major crop, the Rochioli Vineyards are a family partnership between Joe and his son, Tom. Joe insists he is "just a farmer" but this farm is putting out some fine wine, and has become well known for its Pinot Noir. Of course, Rochioli produces wonderful Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blanc, too.

Rochioli's Riverblock Vineyard Pinot is a blend of pinot noir grapes from several vineyards in the Russian River Valley. By blending the grapes of various vineyards, Rochioli assures a level of quality be maintained, and each grape lends its special characteristics to the wine. This lovely pinot is deep red, with black cherry jam on the nose, intermixed with vanilla, violets, smoke and earth. Dry, full bodied and long vintage 2001 is versatile and complex. The 1996 and 1997 vintages are also in the top tier.

Rochioli's Estate Reserve Chardonnay's, vintage 2001, 2000, and 1999 present lovely examples of the classic Chardonnay wine with characteristically high acidity and the lingering flavors of tropical fruit, vanilla, butter, nuts and smoke. A touch of spicy aroma and rich apple, as well as the flavor of apple give this wine a hint of sweetness, although it is dry and full. Layers of flavor and complexity make this a nice addition to any occasion.

Williams Selyem

John Dyson, former New York Stage Commissioner of Agriculture, purchased Williams Selyem Winery in 1998. He considers the acquisition part of his lifelong interest in wine. Formerly owned and operated by Burt Williams and Ed Selyem, Williams Selyem wines have an almost cult following. The quality of these wines is well known, and revered.

William Selyem Allen Vineyard Pinot led the way in a review of American Pinot Noirs, with a Burgundian style. A compelling American Pinot, the Allen Vineyard Pinot is a medium to full bodied red, with a long, softly tannic finish. On the nose, it has bits of strawberry, mustard seed, cedar wood and smoke. Complex and bright, a few years to age only enhance this wine. Try vintages from 1994, 1995, and 1996.

William Selyem's Chardonnay's
often include two oddball grapes- the Gouais Blanc and a member of the Pinot family of grapes. Vintage 2002 of the Chardonnay, offers a more evolved color and a rich aromatic display of fruit, caramel, toffee, and honeysuckle in a full bodied, dry white. With a long finish, this is an exceptional wine. Other excellent vintages include 2001 and 2000, each with hints of pears and apples on the nose.

Dehlinger Winery

Dehlinger is located in Sonoma wine country and encompasses approximately 50 acres of vineyards. Wine varieties include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon with 75% of production going to the reds and 25% in white.

Dehlinger's Estate Pinot is a fine example of this variety with a plum and cherry bouquet, crisp medium palate and good level of sweetness. Well textured and a bit lower in acids, this pinot has a nice long finish. Excellent vintages include 1997, 1999, and 2000.

Dehlinger's Estate Unfiltered Chardonnay is a truly remarkable dry white. Finely balanced, expressive, rich, wild, zesty, and satisfying are the common descriptions for this lovely golden wine. Peach scented with mineral tones, this is an excellent choice to gently complement almost any meal. Try vintages from 2001, 2002 or 2003.