This wine is so fragrant and fruity that it too is almost best as an after-dinner bottle. It could be served with chocolate torte or creme brulee but by itself it flames with fragrance and flavors of pomegranate, dark cherries, black plums, balsa wood and cranberry. The one I tasted most recently was a bottle of the 2008 vintage, but I’ve found that Russian Hill produces consistent wines in every vintage – I’m curious to see how they did with Pinot Noir in the 2009 vintage given that that year’s weather was different than most – both in California and here in Denver.
Praxis Cellars has been making Viognier for a decade, but the 2010 Praxis Viognier ($17) marks a move to sourcing fruit from the renowned Russian River Valley. Working on a cool-climate syrah wine prompted Winemaker Bill Arbios to switch to making a Rhone-inspired white wine from similarly farmed fruit.
The grapes chosen flourish on a rolling hillside, a southwest exposure that takes more sun than much other such coastal fruit, and resulting in some common threads to the hotter climate fruit used in previous Praxis Viogniers. As with all Praxis wines, the 2010 Viognier expresses the character of this single vineyard. All Praxis vineyards are are sustainably farmed…with care and passion that is ultimately expressed in the glass.
With this new fruit source, the wine is a little softer, and captures the rich fruit essence of its stellar viognier fruit. Still offered in a crisp European style, the wine is clean and full-bodied, with a lingering finish of ripe fruit. To retain the purest expression of the viognier grape, the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks.
The wines’ color is pale straw yellow with green highlights. The aromas are fresh, complex and clean: melon, honeysuckle, vanilla, pineapple and especially freshly-sliced pear. These components carry across the palate, intensifying as you enjoy a sensory chorus of delight.
In the spring of 2009, the 2006 Ensueños Tropicales Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, $20) made a brief but sublime appearance at our tasting room. Now, with an exclusive, limited allocation of wine, this popular, fruit-forward pinot noir returns, all grown up!
As before, this wine ably shows off the by-now classic Russian River pinot noir flavor profile. Built on those bright red cherry and subtle cola flavors, the wine is also exquisitely balanced, with a lush mouthfeel and solid tannins on the finish. 100% French oak barrels were used.
The extra time in the bottle has been good to this wine. Fall deep into this dandy daydream…and get a great buy too…while it lasts only!
This 2006 Zinfandel/Petit Syrah blend from Russian River Valley is a true lesson in versitality and balance. On the nose, you get great fruit notes of raspberry and blackberry as well as really strong cloves and cinnamon.
The palate doesn’t disappoint and holds true to the flavors on the nose. Upfront, all the fruit (blackberry and dark cherry) shines through, and then is followed by the spices: cinnamon, clove, and some black pepper as well. Where some zins can be jammy bombs, the Pendleton showcases the best quality in good Russian River wines: even balance. The wine is medium bodied and balances fruit and spice very well. It has enough acid and tannin to hold up well to many different foods, especially dishes with some kick to them. The fruitiness will balance out the spice in a dish, and the spices on the finish of the wine will enhance the heat in a dish. And best of all, this is a Zin that can be enjoyed on its own without being heavy or overdone.