Try Some Stellar Wines For Your Independence Day

I recently had the fortune to try this collection of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc from Petrified Forest Vineyards, located in the verdant Knights Valley of Sonoma County. Peruse my reviews and find out where to find them on local wine lists.

Also stay tuned for more reviews and a special appearance on The Varietal Show with Sawyer Somm in July! Watch, Like & Subscribe!

Petrified Forest Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Totem Ridge Vineyard, Knights Valley

As a delicious, ageworthy offering from the highly-touted 2013 vintage, this deep, rich and complex cellar selection is made with world-class Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown at the high-elevation Totem Ridge Vineyard in Knights Valley. On the nose, alluring aromas of ripe berries, black currant and high-tone dark fruits merge with lively notes of fresh earth, Mexican baking chocolate, leather, and spicy cedar. The complexity continues to the palate, where dense flavors of briary blackberry, huckleberry, dark cherry and ripe plum are layered with hints of cassis, dried cranberry, wild sage, black pepper, and smoky undertones. While the smooth texture and supple tannins illustrate how elegant this wine has become over time, the impeccable balance of fine-grained tannins, vibrant acidity and taut structure prove it has plenty of backbone to age for another decade.

Food Pairings: Blue cheese, lamb meatballs, pan-seared duck breast with blackberry reduction sauce, grilled steaks, slow-roasted stews, and dark chocolate desserts. Sawyer Somm Score: 92 points

Petrified Forest Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Totem Ridge Vineyard, Knights Valley

From the high-elevation Totem Ridge Vineyard overlooking Knights Valley in east Sonoma County. The mountain fruit character of this wine opens with dazzling aromas of wild berries and blue fruits intermixed with accents of forest floor, espresso, raw tobacco, black pepper, cardamom, and roasted nuts. On the palate, the full-bodied flavors of black raspberry, blueberry, ripe plum and fresh currants are accented with nuances of wild sage, dark chocolate truffle, and a kiss of fine French oak on the long, dry finish. To add more dimension, these deep, rich and saturated flavors are masterfully balanced with a satin texture, chewy tannins, and firm backbone that makes each sip count. For best results, decant before serving or cellar for 7-12 years.

Food Pairings: Gourmet mac & cheese, pan-seared Ahi tuna with espresso rub, pasta with fresh shaved black truffle, juicy buffalo burgers, grilled steaks, rack of lamb, and slow-roasted stews. Sawyer Somm Score: 95 points

Petrified Forest Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley

Despite the limited yields caused by the lack of rain in 2015, the unique character of this hillside vineyard makes up for it with layers of natural richness and intensive fruit flavors that continue to open up in the glass. To set the tone, the nose is charmed with deep scents of black and blue fruits dusted with hints of cocoa, vanilla, roasted coffee beans, green peppercorns, and toasted walnuts. While the deep, dark and bold notes of black cherry, blueberry, cassis and firm structure are dominant at first, the wine becomes rounder and more opulent as the level of complexity rises. To aid this magical transition, the balanced attack of velvety texture, bright acidity and fine-grained tannins lay the foundation for the earthy, mountain-driven characteristics of wild mushroom, fresh herbs, mineral and black pepper that add more dimension to the lingering finish. In the end, this is a Cab-lovers wine that gets better with more air or more time spent in the cellar.

Food Pairings: Tangy blue cheese, pan-seared duck breast with wild berry reduction sauce, lamb sugo, Porterhouse steaks with all the fixings, slow-roasted stews, and dark chocolate desserts. Sawyer Somm Score: 92 points

Petrified Forest Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley

From the pastoral winegrowing region of Knights Valley in eastern Sonoma County, this deep, rich and thought-provoking wine is made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown on the volcanic soils at the 800-foot plateau of the Totem Ridge, a small vineyard developed by the Piters family in 1990. To enliven the senses, the dense dark fruit aromas are layered with subtle hints of chocolate-dipped espresso beans, caramel, vanilla, savory herbs, and cedar. As the fruit-driven fabric of dark cherry, plum and black raspberry provide the core flavors on the palate, the complexity builds with additional hints of fresh sage, allspice, and roasted walnuts. To complement this tasting experience, the deep, rich and robust flavors are balanced with smooth tannins and a note of dark chocolate truffle that lingers on the long rewarding finish. To showcase the pure hillside character of this wine, decant before serving or age for 10-15 years.

Food Pairings: Hard cheeses, eggplant parmesan, grilled lamb kabobs, Peking duck, Ribeye steaks, beef wellington, hearty stews. Sawyer Somm Score: 96 points

Petrified Forest Vineyards 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley

As a dazzling example from the 2017 vintage, this wine is packed with deep, rich and intensive mountain fruit flavors that truly express the character of this special hillside vineyard as it develops in the glass. Framed with a dark red hue, the personality of the site stimulates the senses with high-tone aromatic notes of black and blue fruits, forest floor, mountain herbs and cedar, which are weaved with equally charming scents of black tea, vanilla, roasted coffee beans, licorice, peppercorn, and fresh-baked toffee. On the palate, the deep, rich, concentrated fruit notes of dark cherry, blackberry, cherry cola and roasted fig are underscored with nuances of bittersweet chocolate, black olive, rustic spice, and toasted oak. Past the silky tannins and youthful hints of wild lavender, green peppercorn and cardamom highlighted on the long, dry finish, the firm structure provides the backbone that will allow this wine to develop more personality in the cellar. Rare, distinctive and a true gem from this world-renown winegrowing region in Sonoma County.

Food Pairings: Charcuterie, young blue cheese, risotto with wild mushrooms, gamey meats, grilled steaks, slow-roasted stews, decadent chocolate desserts. Sawyer Somm Score: 95 points

Petrified Forest Vineyards 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley

Elegant, sexy and remarkably complex, this high-class wine is made exclusively with ultra-premium Sauvignon Blanc fruit grow on the rocky volcanic soils at the Totem Ridge Vineyard in Knights Valley. On the nose, the fragrant scents of spring flowers, jasmine and gooseberry merge with citrus-driven aromas of lemon merengue, grapefruit, mandarin orange, and light hints of lanolin and roasted cashews. As the wine opens up, the fresh flavors of green apple, ripe pear and citrus are enhanced with tropical notes of mango, papaya, and fresh melon. To heighten the experience, the profile is balanced with silky texture, zippy acidity, and a long, crisp finish with lingering notes of white pepper, wild tarragon and mineral that reflect the personality of this unique hillside site in each sip. The end result is a statement wine with true class and style.

Food Pairings: Fresh goat cheese, split pea soup, fresh veggie with creamy aioli, fish tacos, cracked crab, chicken skewers with fresh fruit salsa, and fine Vietnamese cuisine. Sawyer Somm Score: 95 points

Petrified Forest Vineyards 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley

Crafted with pristine hillside fruit grown in the rocky, volcanic soils at the base of Mount St. Helena in eastern Sonoma County. The charming characteristics of this classy, complex and delicious Sauvignon Blanc come to life with alluring scents of ripe tree fruits, melon, kiwi tart, lemon verbena, and sandalwood. To add more complexity to the palate, the flavor of crisp green apple, poached pear, green fig, grapefruit and lemon curd are lifted with lovely notes of papaya, green tea, wild sage, and key lime pie. With a dazzling pale golden hue, smooth texture, perky acidity, and long, elegant finish: This wine is a true delight to the senses that only gets better as it opens up in the glass.

Food Pairings: Steamed mussels, Waldorf salad, rich and creamy sunchoke soup topped with truffle oil and crispy herbs, pan-seared scallops, Alaskan Halibut with almond crust, roasted pork with fruit chutney, and savory tarts.Sawyer Somm Score: 93 points

Pizza At Paradise Ridge Is A LOVEly Combination!

Stopped by Paradise Ridge Winery for a work related errand, and just happened onto this spectacular virtual event, which also featured chef Duskie Estes, owner of Black Piglet Food Truck! WATCH IT HERE!!!


CellarPass TV: New Season Coming Soon!!!

Missing your weekly CellarPass TV episode? Do not fret, new episodes are in the works to be broadcast Thursdays from 6PM – 7PM Pacific, but with a twist: We are ready to visit onsite at the wineries!

Until the new season embarks enjoy this exclusive interview with host Sarah Ellison, Joy Sterling, CEO Iron Horse Vineyards, MYSELF and comedian, Dan Rosenberg.

The Varietal Show Winery Visit, with Special Guest Dr. Liz Thach!

Little Italy meets Sonoma Valley! The Varietal Show with Sawyer Somm visits with special guests, Master of Wine Dr. Liz Thach and talented winemaker Brian Graham, for this socially distanced on-site tasting and discussion of the high-class Romulus and Remus wines from Locanda Estate Wines in Kenwood.

Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my You Tube Channel for each weekly episode on Tuesdays at 12:30pm.

An Exciting Episode Of Grape Encounters Radio In The Midst Of A Global Pandemic

David Wilson, host of Grape Encounters Radio, takes some time to virtually visit Italy with Piero Pavone, founder of Vinum Hadrianum, a winery on the eastern central coast of Italy that is breathing new life into an ancient Roman form of winemaking.

He then rejoins the U.S. with ME to discuss the pandemic effects on the wine and food industry and pontification of what the future might look like! LISTEN UP!

Grape Encounters Episode #566 – A Huge Step Forward in Sonoma and a Huge Step Back in Italy!

The Nerd Stalker Meets The Varietal Show: See What Happens!

Anything can happen in the Sawyer Somm Cellar, and a special visit from The Nerd Stalker Adolfo Foronda was the most recent mix-it-up with tasty wines from Chappellet, Duckhorn, J. Lohr, Scott Harvey and more, on latest episode of The Varietal Show!

Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my You Tube Channel for each weekly episode on Tuesdays at 12:30pm.