My wife and I just took a wonderful trip to Sonoma and Napa, where we tasted some fantastic wine, made some new friends, met up with folks I only knew through Twitter and talked with winemakers, growers and the folks who meet and greet ya in the tasting rooms.
These are the stories I've been waiting to write, since I returned late just this last Thursday. The first winery I wanted to bring to your attention is Anaba Wines in Sonoma, in the heart of the Carneros Appellation. This winery is a new kid on the block relatively speaking.
One of the great wineries in Sonoma to visit especially if you're a fan of Rhone varietals, something for everyone in their line up. A visit to this winery was recommended to by a fine gentlemen [cork-dork] friend, who really has his finger on the pulse of the Sonoma Valley. His name is William Allen and you can read his excellent work over at Simple Hedonism, which I highly recommend you do before you plan your next trip.
Anaba Wines is just down the street from Gloria Ferrer [which I'll write up soon]. One reason I wanted to talk about this winery so soon is that their Chardonnay, which I totally loved is heading over to the big wine publications [the glossy page folks] for review, so I wanted to scoop them. By doing so, to me it demonstrates the power of the Wine Blogging Community [the New Media], we don't have to wait for "our" articles to come out in print, there's no editor standing over my keyboard telling me what or who to write a story about. Could I use an editor to go over my work before I hit the the big "publish button", umm without a doubt.
But that's beside the point I'm attempting to make, that point is why Wine Blogs are your key to finding the best values and where to purchase it, before the big boys get their grimy mitts on it. This article demonstrates this point so succinctly, because WS just came out with their article and score on the Anaba Chardonnay. This was the prediction I made back in September of 2010 about this wine, "This wine is one I know will score big with folks over at WE or WS, this wine is one you will want to grab before it's all gone. Because once they review the wine, it will be gone in a flash." So do you think bloggers still don't have credibility to review wine and make recommendations. I think those questions are now put to rest.
Other Voices: Okay folks this just in from the folks at the Wine-Speculator who have just reviewed the Anaba Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2008 and gave it a score of score of 92 points nearly echoing my own take this wonderful wine and fulfilling my prediction that the WS folks would also be gaga over this very balanced Chardonnay. They had this to say about the 2008 Anaba Chardonnay; "Rich and layered, with a mix of honeydew melon, fig, apricot and spiced apple flavors. Full-bodied and intense, without being heavy." Which they recommend drinking now through 2017.—J.L
About Anaba: Interesting name huh? Curious, I asked where the name came from? The answer, "The winds of Sonoma lent us our name" [my first thought, um okay]. Check out their landing page, where you can be treated to a sample of the Anabatic winds which are a blessing to the grapes. Their description of the prevailing winds, "Wafting softly, with some gusts and gales, they glide through the vineyard rows. As they encounter steeper slopes and drift upward, they become anabatic winds." The Japanese word Anaba, means "hidden spot" or "special place", but their wines and the quality they have achieved cannot be hidden any longer and with the other reviews I've seen it looks like the cat is out of the bag! By they way they have a laptop set up in the tasting room, showing exactly how these winds flow through the area.
Why Anaba: According to the website their were a few contributing factors that drove John Sweazey to open the doors at Anaba, "I created Anaba Wines because, quite simply, I just love the wine business." He never wanted to become a winemaker. John explains, his answer to the question what is wine? "My desire to get into the business was fueled by my long-time interest in production, making the best possible wine from the finest grapes, then marketing and selling it. To me, that's the romance of wine."
Why Sonoma: According to Anaba Wines,in 2003 John Sweazey [Proprietor] was finally able to begin his search for a premium wine growing property in Sonoma, finding a serendipitous spot in Western Carneros, where cool winds temper the summer heat, allowing for a longer growing season for his chosen grape varieties.
Mr. Sweazey explains further, "Sonoma is more attuned to my personality — and is the best place to grow the Rhône Blends and Burgundian varietals that I love." To that I say, you made a brilliant choice the wine is quite fabulous and although they've ripped up all the Pinot Noir plantings they previously had on their small 10 acre property, they've contracted with none other than Gary Pisoni to continue their Pinot Noir program. If you're at all familiar with Pisoni fruit, than your mouth should be watering just about now.
The Wine Maker: At Anaba, Jennifer Marion is director of both winemaking and vineyard operations, enabling her to put her [their words]distinct fingerprint on the wine. Anaba winemaker Jennifer Marion believes the art of winemaking finds its soul in the vineyard. When asked about her winemaking approach she said, "I've always said you cannot trust a winemaker with clean shoes and soft hands," which is similar to the well known saying, "You can't trust a skinny chef" and she went on to say "My winemaking philosophy is defined by attention to the details in the vineyard as well as the winery."
Full Disclosure: Hey FTC and anyone who may care, yes my tasting fees were waived and I did receive a discount on my purchases, but I was given no samples or other special treatment. Just another bloke stopping by the tasting room to see what was new and there is plenty to see.
I had the opportunity to try many of their wines last week when I visited, but the one that really caught my attention [and came home with me] is the wine I will highlight in this review.
2008 Anaba Sonoma Coast Chardonnay: This is wine I was referring to earlier, which is on its way to be reviewed and I predict will be one of those run don't walk recommendations, just remember you saw it here first.
Fruit Source: The fruit was sourced from Sonoma growers: Bacigalupi, Fallen Leaf, Sangiacomo, Bonneau, and Haddad.
Treatment: 60% of the fruit was fermented in stainless steel tanks at 50 degrees without malolactic fermentation. 40% of our wine was barrel fermented for 11 months in new French oak.
Swirly-Swirl: In the glass just brimming with a near golden core and a pale rim.
Big Sniff: Pronounced aromas of bright crisp pear, green apple leaps from the glass, with a dollop of custard wafting about.
Sip and Slurp: Had the taste of crème brulée, lovely Carneros Fruit, a fresh clean wine with a good backbone of acidity, and I picked up some rich tropical notes, threaded through toasty oak notes.
Price and Purchase: This wine can be purchased online through their website or in the tasting room for $28 and in my mind represents a great value for the caliber of wine in the bottle.
Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if you're interested: This was really good juice and scored 93 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point scale, please tell them the CCWB sent you.
2007 Anaba 'J Mc K' Carneros Pinot Noir This Pinot was fantastic, highly recommended. But this is the last of it, they ripped out this vineyard so get these while you can. $32 and 91 points
2008 Anaba 'Coriol' White, Sonoma Valley A wonderful Rhone blend, 30% Viognier, 12% Marsanne and 10% Grenache. Very delightful! $28 and 89 Points
2007 Anaba 'Coriol' Red, Sonoma Valley Here's another wine from the Rhone Zone with 38% Grenache, 27% Mourvedre, 25% Petite Sirah and round it out with 10% Counoise. $28 and 89 Points
Anaba Red "Aero Port" Wine, Sonoma Valley, NV A ruby stlye port made with 100% Syrah grapes and fortified with the same grapes. Anaba goes the extra step and takes their grapes to be distilled, so the spirits added is from the very same Syrah grapes. $28 and 90 Points
Anaba White "Aero Port" Wine, Sonoma Valley, NV Made from 100% Viognier grapes and fortified with distilled from their Viognier Grapes. This was one the very best White Ports that I've had the pleasure to taste. Alcohol: 18.4% ABV and the residual sugar: 9.4% selling for $28, 89 Points.