Three Sticks 2006 Pinot Noir

PinotCutOutThe whole point of the Three Sticks Durell Vineyards Pinot Noir is to remind you of the great Burgundies (as in the Burgundy region of France).  Keep in mind, French wines, in general, and certainly Burgundies, are meant to go with food.  So the fruit flavors are more subtle, the acids tend to be higher and the alcohols percentages tend to be lower.

Which, of course, runs totally counter to the American and, increasingly, the Australian styles in pinots.  We decidedly prefer pinots that are in the food friendly Burgundian style, which is one of the things we liked best about the Three Sticks pinot.

The nose of cedar and dusty dry fruit promises a lighter touch in the mouth. There is a nice acid to fruit balance at the core of this lovely, delicate wine, so look for food that isn’t too heavy, isn’t too light.  You can try lightly seasoned meats, maybe some grilled pork chops or a simple steak.  And while red wine is usually considered too strong for fish, if you get a nice bit of herbed up salmon or a Salade Nicoise, that could be very tasty.  Or any combination of duck and mushrooms. Being so versatile, a wine made this well can find a soulmate in unexpected places. Even a BLT on french baugette while watching the World Series wouldn’t be out of place.

Three Sticks Winery and a (Sigh) Mess-Up


Oh, deep and profound annoyance!  We had gotten turned onto Three Sticks Winery at the Family Winemakers event in Pasadena last spring.  Then, after several rounds of phone tag and other missed opportunities, Anne finally got a chance to to talk to winery owner Bill Price.  Then Anne spent two weeks….  Two whole weeks, mind you, trying to find the note book pages on which she’d written the interview notes, only to find them on the hard drive of her computer.  She’d typed them rather than hand written them, which is better because Anne types faster than she writes.

What attracted us to Three Sticks were the lovely Burgundian-style wines that Price’s winemaker, Don Van Staaveren, was making.  Price told us that’s on purpose.

“We try to make a more classicly Burgundian style,” said Price, who is also the owner of Durell Vineyards in Sonoma County, California.  He’s got roughly 150 acres in Sonoma, with about 40 acres planted in chardonnay, 40 acres in pinot noir, and then 10 acres planted in syrah, with the rest in a few of the Bordeaux varieties of grapes, including cabernet sauvignon.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t get that there’s a big difference between the soil in Sonoma County, California, and the Burgundy region in France.  That’s what’s called terroir, and Price agreed that it does make a difference.

“We reflect what the land gives us,” he said.  “Though maybe in a more subtle way than… our extreme coastal competitors.”

The result is food-friendly, though perhaps not for the budget-conscious.

The Three Sticks Winery website is here.  They do expect to be releasing a cab sauv soon, but, hey, check us out on Wednesday, when we post the pinot noir notes.

Robledo Family Winery 2006 Tempranillo

Before anyone says “Oh no, not another tempranillo!” let us explain. Tempranillo has already shown its versatility as a red wine and as a rosé. It has more than one flavor profile and adds a great deal to any number of blends. But here is another flavor set for this grape if leather, blueberry and herbs don’t excite you.
This 2006 from Robledo came from grapes grown in Sonoma and it introduces itself with red currants and redwood aromas. The berry fruits in the taste are rich and are complemented by a balance of tannins and acids with subtle oak influences.  Not bad for a grape that is notoriously tannic. This is an excellent food wine. The Robledo family heritage would suggest serving it with any number of Hispanic dishes.  However, be careful. Anything too spicy might diminish the flavor of the wine and that would be a shame.

Robledo 2006 Pinot Blanc

Pinot blanc, one of the 22 varietals common to the Rhone region of France, has become a star in its own right.  Here in California, there are a few plantings in Paso Robles and Lake County.  And it was from Lake County that the Robledos got their grapes for their 2006 bottling.
The aroma of peach and related stone fruits fills the glass with a hint of something special and different. That something is the gooseberry and grapefruit flavors that blend with the peach taste.  This is a cool region grape, but there is no grassiness like you often find in a sauvignon blanc grown this way. This pinot blanc is dry and has a lush mouthfeel.
The Robledo pinot blanc is a good wine to serve with a soft buttery brie, water crackers and fresh fruit. Or chilled and paired with fresh mozzarella on sliced tomatoes with fresh basil and balsamic.  Either one would nicely liven up an outdoor concert at a park near you.

Checking Out Robledo Family Winery


This is one of those stumble upon finds that we discovered last spring.  We were wandering around the southern edge of Sonoma and Napa counties.  Can’t remember which winery we were actually looking for, if any.  But as we often do, we asked some of the folks working in the tasting rooms who else is good in the area, and more than one suggested Robledo.

Wine Trip April 09 059What a treat!  The tasting room is dark and homey, with tables and lots of memorabilia celebrating the family’s Mexican heritage.  The parents came as farmworkers and eventually found the money to buy vineyards and make their own wine.  And their tasting menu is extensive.  We tried at least 10 wines – maybe a couple more.  We split our flights to stay standing.  Not everything was great, but most were and we brought home several to enjoy later.

You can access their site at, or visit them at Robledo Family Winery 21901 Bonness Road, Sonoma, CA 94576.  Or call 707.939.6903, toll-free 888.939.6903robledo2