|Photograph courtesy of Brett Gulash|
In the $20 to $40 price range the Central Coast is king. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part the quality to price ratio (QPR) of the Central Coast far outweighs Napa and Sonoma. To be fair Napa and Sonoma have astronomical land prices to deal with and labor is more expensive as well. Of course for truly high-end wines Napa and Sonoma can't be beat, but how often are we drinking those? For me I'd have to say not often enough, but my budget says too often...
|Photograph courtesy of Brett Gulash|
The winemakers were:
Herman Story (named after Russel's grandfather) makes big and bold Rhone varietals. He uses a lot of new oak which helps justify being the most expensive bottles of the tasting at just under fifty bucks. If big, bold wines are your thing, then you really need to check out his 2010 On The Road Grenache from the Central Coast. It features scents of rose, plum, violet, and black pepper and tastes of red and black fruit (especially boysenberry) with black tea leaf nuances. This is a full bodied wine with round tannins.
Sans Liege and Groundwork makes Rhone varietals and Pinot Noir. His 2008 "The Offering" was ranked on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2011 at #34. The Groundwork label are everyday wines at under $20 a bottle while the Sans Liege are still a bargain below $40. My favorite of his whites is the 2010 Cotes du Coast from the Central Coast ($26) which is a blend of Viognier, Marsanne, Rousanne, and Grenache Blanc. It has scents of vanilla and orange blossom with hints of butter. On the palate, I noticed honeysuckle, lemon, butter and vanilla. This a medium bodied wine with a long finish. My favorite of his reds was the 2009 Pickpocket Grenache from Paso Robles ($40). The Pickpocket features a bouquet of various tobaccos and creme soda. It has flavors of vanilla, bright cherry, and cinnamon. It has a medium body with silky tannins and a good level of acidity.
Vailia Esh of Desparada and Demure was the only female winemaker of the event. She poured three wines: a Sauvignon Blanc, a Cab, and a Cab/Sangiovese blend and all were excellent values. The 2010 Solacer is 80% Cab and 20% Sangiovese and was my favorite of her wine. It had scents of cherry, blackberry, black pepper, and cloves. All these flavors carried through to the palate where they were joined by vanilla and red currant. The finish was long and the tannins were rounding off, but it could still use a couple years to age.
Andrew Jones of Field Recordings and Fiction started making wine in 2006 with 2 barrels in his garage and now he has 200 barrels. His Fiction label are all blends under $20 and the rest are under $30 a bottle. My favorite of his was the 2010 Cab Franc from Happy Canyon ($21). It was herbaceous and spicy with cherry, fresh herbs and savory notes. It had soft tannins and the flavors would pair nicely with roasted meats.
The event was originally 1 of 5 events for $110, but the other events were canceled because of a lack of interest. I think the flier was a little misleading with the large price tag and small print at the bottom saying the $110 covered all 5 events. I would love to see them expand this to a once per month or once a quarter event. Sadly, it sounds like this is a yearly event. If you are in Marin and you are interested in spending an evening tasting wine and chatting with approachable winemakers let Mill Valley Market know by calling them at (415) 388-3222 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Hopefully a public outpouring will put more events on their calendar.
All of the wines described and many more from these winemakers are available at Mill Valley Market which has been a certified Bay Area Green Business since 2008.