Calipournication: Sonoma County Vintners holds first-ever China tasting

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Sonoma County Vintners held its inaugural China tasting* when its reps rolled through Beijing earlier this week as part of a bigger tour organized by California Wine Institute and including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong stops. The highlight was a sit-down tasting of a dozen Sonoma wines, picked to highlight the county’s diversity and coordinated by SCV’s Honore Comfort and Nicola Daly. The tasting itself was led by Hong Kong-based wine teacher Debra Meiburg, a native of Sonoma Country, with Dorian Tang of ASC Fine Wines translating. Several reps of the chosen Sonoma County wines also spoke.

Sonoma County is among the few wine regions outside China that I have visited and the Chardonnays impressed both there and at this Beijing tasting.  The lineup included:

  • 2012 La Crema, Sonoma Coast
  • 2009 Jordan, Russian River Valley
  • 2011 Ramey Platt Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
  • 2012 Rodney Strong, Chalk Hill
  • 2012 Stonestreet Broken Road, Alexander Valley
  • 2011 Arrowood, Sonoma County

I enjoyed the range of fruit smells, from Korean pear to ripe melon to freshly squeezed lime juice, and found some of the wines to have an extremely refreshing — peppy — acidity. I liked them across the board. If I had to pick one, it would be Arrowood, especially for its complex smell that included creamy hazelnut, summer flowers, vanilla and apple as well as for its slightly “chewy” body and long warming finish. I also liked the taste and slightly spicy mineral finish of the Stonestreet.

In terms of the Pinot Noirs, the lineup included:

  • 2012 Twomey Cellars, Sonoma Coast
  • 2010 Keller Estate El Coro, Sonoma Coast
  • 2012 J Vineyards, Russian River Valley
  • 2012 Hartford Court, Russian River Valley
  • 2012 Kosta Browne Gap’s Crown, Sonoma Coast
  • 2012 Siduri, Sonoma Coast

These were good wines although I enjoyed them less than the Chardonnays. Lots of oak influence, with vanilla and nutty aromas, and I also picked up some herbal / mint  smells on a few of them. If I had to pick one wine, it would be the Kosta Browne, which had so much juicy rich and complex fruit and a bit of spice and umami at the finish.

* At least I’m pretty sure what we were told at the beginning of the tasting.

Some photos, including of all the wines tasted, from the event:

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Honore Comfort (left) and Nicole Daly of SCV with the wines.

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Debra Meiburg (right) led the tasting with Dorian Tang translating.

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Meiburg made one of those guys act like a tectonic plate and push the other guy, a mountain, while the woman pretended to be an exploding volcano. It all made sense at the time and helped to explain Sonoma’s soils.

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Mingling and tasting after the seminar.

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