Have you ever eaten at The Little River Inn on the breathtaking scenic edge of Mendocino County? Then thank Chef Marc Dym for your delicious dining experience! I sat down with my friend to discuss coastal cuisine, cocktails and wine in this exciting conversation on The Varietal Show! #GoingMendo
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With the fortune of fair weather The Varietal Show was able to visit with Ken and Susan Piters at Petried Forest Vineyards: As an added bonus I recently reviewed a collection of their delectable wines, some are posted below, others you can read about on this previous blog post. Find them HERE to taste for yourself!
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As a bigger, richer and more mouth-filling alternative to the smooth, showy, and easy to drink styles of Merlot commonly made with fruit grown on the valley floor areas of Napa and Sonoma, the dynamic hillside setting of the Totem Ridge in Knights Valley has earned a reputation for producing high-quality fruit with bold flavors, structure, and true mountain fruit character.
Vineyards 2013 Merlot, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley
In Northern California, the 2013
vintage will be remembered for producing a wide range of rich, flavorful and
firm-structured wines that are fascinating to follow as they age. One of the
magnificent offerings in the Merlot category is this limited release from
Petrified Forest Vineyards, a boutique brand based in the Knights Valley
appellation in Sonoma County. Crafted with ultra-premium fruit from the original
vines that PFV proprietors Ken and Susan Piters planted at 800-feet on Mount
St. Helena in the 1990s, the distinct mountain character of this wine offers a
complete sensory experience that begins the minute the cork is pulled and
lingers long after the last sip is savored. Guided by an elegant dark garnet
color and silky texture, the wine opens with striking aromas of ripe berries,
dark fruits and fresh baked blueberry pie, intermixed with lively scents of espresso,
almond rocca, and cigar box. To complement the rich flavors of dark cherry,
black plum, ripe raspberry and strawberry preserve, the palate is caressed with
decadent notes of black truffle, wild sage, chocolate bark and clove. As the
depth builds, the earthy tannins are accompanied by hints of toasty oak and
almonds dusted with rustic spice on the finish. While the complex nature of this
wine shows now, the firm structure makes it worth laying down for another 5-10
years as well.
Food Pairings: Artisan salami, rich cheeses, risotto with wild mushrooms, pan-seared Ahi Tuna with espresso rub, roasted wild boar, prime rib, chocolate truffles with sea salt.Sawyer Somm Score: 94 points
Vineyards 2014 Merlot, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley
While the seductive scent of ripe
berries, interlaced with hints of earth, mineral, cocoa, and toasted oak are
comparable to top Merlot-based offerings from the Left Bank in Bordeaux. The
deep, dense and stately flavors interwoven with wild mountain herbs and
minerals are reminders that this wine is made with world-class grapes grown on
a special high-elevation site overlooking Knights Valley in Sonoma County. Rich
and powerful with a creamy texture, the dynamic core flavors of dark cherry,
black raspberry and wild strawberry are well-integrated with notes of toffee,
allspice, silky tannins, and lingering hints of smoke, sandalwood and spice on
the long, dry finish. The end result is a complex red wine with true mountain
character that over-delivers for the price.
Vineyards 2015 Merlot, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley
Deep, dark and delicious, this is a
great example of a high-class Merlot from the 2015 vintage. Although the memorable
drought limited grape yields for many growers in Northern California, the
maturity of the vines planted in 1990 and attention to detail in the cellar paid
off with the intensive, full-bodied flavors that take time to develop in the
glass. With a dark crimson hue, this statement wine is graced with scents of
ripe red fruits, wild berries, rose petal, raw tobacco, and rustic spices.
Dense and concentrated, the palate is filled with robust flavors of black plum,
wild strawberry, ripe raspberry and cranberry. With air, the softer, sexier
aspects of the wine reveal subtle hints of licorice, cardamom and clove, as
well as classic hillside notes of fresh sage, mineral and toasted oak on route
to a lingering dry finish. As the flavors evolve, the profile is balanced with
a velvety texture, bright acidity and firm backbone, which make the wine taste
confident when young and provides the resilience that will allow it to age gracefully
for another decade.
Food Pairings:Tangy blue
cheese, grilled salmon, lamb sliders, rabbit raviolis, spicy Korean BBQed ribs,
juicy steaks, cassoulet, dark chocolate truffles, fine cigars. Sawyer Somm Score: 93 points
Vineyards 2016 Merlot, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley
From a splendid 2016 vintage, the
strength and generous attributes of this Merlot, crafted with world-class fruit
from vines planted in volcanic soils on Mount Saint Helena, come to life with attractive
aromas of crushed violets, ripe plums, wild red berries and fresh blueberry
that mingle with equally enchanting nuances of roasted espresso beans, vanilla,
chocolate truffle, and spiced nuts. Deep, dense and sexy, with a dark garnet
hue. As the full-bodied flavors become more opulent in the glass, the generous
notes of ripe blackberry, black currant, blueberry, licorice, ripe nectarine and
fresh herbs are wrapped with earthy tannins and a rich, chocolaty texture.
Powerful and showy at first, the profile becomes more elegant, refined, and
dense as the savory mountain nuances and hints of cassis lead to a long,
pleasurable finish. Decant and enjoy, or cellar for 10 years.
Vineyards 2017 Merlot, Totem Ridge Estate, Knights Valley
As a rich and complex expression of
the Knights Valley appellation in Sonoma County, this small-production Merlot
is crafted with ultra-premium fruit from the original vines planted at 800 feet
at Totem Ridge Vineyards in 1990. In the glass, the natural energy of this noble
varietal and the personality of this high-elevation site merge seamlessly with lofty
floral aromas of potpourri and fresh lavender layered on top of deeper scents of
ripe berries, red fruits, fresh currants, licorice, tobacco, leather, and smoked
hickory smoke. On the palate, the rich and luxurious notes of blackberry, ripe
plum and dark cherry harmonize with hints of mint, black trumpet mushroom,
bittersweet chocolate, and a kiss of oak leading to a long, savory-spiced
finish. As the bright acidity lifts these flavors; the chewy tannins become
more supple and elegant to make the wine approachable when young; while the firm
structure provides support for the profile to continue developing in the bottle
for another 15 years.
Food Pairings: Earthy cheeses, charcuterie, juicy tri-tip sandwiches, fresh pasta with spicy ragu, grilled salmon, pan-seared duck breast with blackberry sauce, lamb kabobs, slow roasted stews. Sawyer Somm Score: 95 points
I am participating in another amazing Chappellet Webinar on Thursday Tastings with Cyril, coming up on September 17th at 4:30pm PST.
REGISTER HERE to join our enlightening discussion about how to create a wine cellar, the importance of variety, cellaring and aging wine, and cellar management tips. They’ll also share how they built their own personal collection throughout the years. Cheers! Christopher
Did you miss the epic Chappellet Webinar with me and Dominic last week? Well you are in luck because it is now posted here on The Sommelier Files. Scroll below to watch, and be sure to click Subscribe on theChappellet Winery channel so you won’t miss any future installments. Speaking of which, mark your calendar for my next guest appearance on September 17th with tips about making a wine cellar!
While you are at You Tube, hop on over to my channel to Subscribe for my weekly Tuesday episode of The Varietal Show. Double Win + Wine! Cheers, Christopher