Friday, March 4, 2011

Russian River Exploration: Graton Ridge Cellars

Back to the mysterious valley, to visit a winery of which I was turned a fan at last week’s Pinot Summit in San Francisco, and where I met my new friend, General Manager Sue Bonzell.  Nice, humble, incredibly sightly soothing grounds.  Sue started me off with a crisp ’08 Chardonnay that displayed the exact balance I seek in the varietal and often don’t find.  Then to two Pinots, the ones she poured at the summit last week, ’08 and ’09.  Both spellbindingly sound, enveloping both in palate presence and flavor note succession.  The following, Sue poured a remarkably gentle, but still bold and queen-like in stance, 2008 Cabernet dubbed the “Econo-Cab,” with a really neat label, boasting a taxi cab, its driver, a mini scene.  The finale, a pleasurable puzzle of an ’09 Petite Sirah.  Never had one like this, a fog of dark notes and animalistic movement.  Unpredictable, previously unseen, unafraid of my deconstruction, particular palate.  One of the day’s leading pours, easily.

Loved the feel of the tasting Room, the contained gift shop, the bocce ball court, the vineyard between the Room and the owners’ house.  Sue treated me, as I’m positive she does with each character gracing the grounds, with valuable insight, history, that truly sweet Humanness that should always be seen from a host.  Glad I had a chance to explore the Russian River AVA today, especially in Sebastopol, of all places.  I say it like that because I’ve never tasted in the artistically serene setting that is Sebastopol’s stage.  Glad I met Sue at the Summit, no doubt!  Didn’t buy any bottles, only because I forgot my debit card.  Could have kicked my Self after tasting, especially that Petite Sirah.  Oh, Sue also poured, and I’m not kidding, a 2008 Apple Port, tagged the “A+,” inspired by the genius of her son.  This dessert wine comes in a 375, packing 8% residual sugar.  But, the funny thing is, you don’t encounter obnoxious sweetness.  How did they do that?  Never tasted wine made from Apples.  Glad I did, as it was unbelievably tasty.  Think this may have been the winner, actually.  Sorry, PS!  Put this one in your notes, your list of places to taste.  Sebastopol on the map!  On my map!  Ask Sue for the tour, you won’t be sorry!  See you there; I’ll be having a glass of...everything, sitting by the bocce court.  Sip, sip ...

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