Our “Champagne and More” was drawing to a close. We left a fun tasting at MacPhail Family Wines in The Barlow and walked a short distance down the street to another highly recommended tasting room: La Follette Wines. Once again, Bill Shortridge, of the Merry Edwards Winery, lead us to an amazing experience!
While the MacFail tasting room was a tasteful jumble of memorabilia, the La Follette tasting room was more formal, with lots of straight lines and warm woods against a pale background. We were immediately welcomed by Tim, our wine guide for the day, and found a comfortable spot at the tasting bar.
We surveyed the tasting menu, learning that we had two Chardonnays and three Pinot Noirs to look forward to. Each wine was produced from small output vineyards with an eye toward emphasizing the unique micro-climates and soils. We knew we were in for a treat!
First up was a 2012 Chardonnay from the Sangiocomo vineyard. The vines were planted in a stream bed in 1998. The gravelly soil, plus the 1,400 foot elevation produced a wine with light butter, with sparkling fruit and a crisp, satisfying finish.
The 2013 Cuvée Barlow Chardonnay comes from the DuNah and Lorenzo vineyards. The two vineyards are a study in contrasts. The DuNah vineyard is high in the Sebastopol hills while the DuNah vineyard is in the Russian River valley. We found this blend to be delicate yet full of flavor, with a hint of smoke on the finish. A definite example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts!
With the Chards behind us, we moved to the Pinots. Up first: the 2011 Vand Der Kamp Pinot Noir. Grown on the Van Der Kamp ranch, 1,400 feet above the river, these grapes produced a Pinot with a great aroma that pays off with complex layers of fruit and a satisfying finish. We’d pair it with a steak and Bearnaise sauce feast any day.
The Sangiacomo vineyard made a reprise with a 2012 Pinot Noir. This was a big hit with us, with great whole-mouth involvement. An earthy nose with hints of mushroom leading to a fruit-forward taste with a clean aftertaste. Perfect for beef, beef and more beef!
Our final taste was their 2013 Cuvée Barlow Pinot Noir. This wine tasted to us like it could still be amazing 10 years from now. A great nose, great fruit and a strength of character that made it our pick of the tasting. Tim told us that they used modified dairy tanks for punchdown. These short, squat tanks (weighing in at 4,000 pounds apiece) made a lot more surface area of juice open to the air. Given the resulting wine, this method should catch on quickly.
With thoughts of dessert dancing in our minds, we purchased some Pinot (no surprise) and headed back to Zazu for desset. Time to refortify our stomachs before the long drive home.
Thanks to Tim and the La Follette team for a fun tasting!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?