Vergari 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Type: Dry red
Made with: Pinot Noir
Plays well with: Strong cheeses, red meats

The Vergari 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a premium example of a California pinot noir.  Which is not to say that it is a copy of a Burgundian wine. The California style generally has riper fruit which can sometimes be a problem in France.  Actually, it can be a problem with Californis wines, too.  Riper fruit can translate into jammier characters and higher alcohol – qualities not becoming for a food friendly grape like pinot noir.

Not so with the Vergari.  It’s a crafted wine that pays attention to the details and doesn’t let the fruit get smothered by alcohol, oak or residual sugars. The color is the dark ruby typical of a California pinot. The nose is full of berries, cherries and a cola character which seems unique to pinot. The first taste shows good acidity and even some spice – a characteristic that often gets buried in the fruitier pinots. The weight in the mouth is substantive but not heavy or too thin. A good finish rounds out this excellent dry wine that cries out for food. Stronger cheeses, roasted beast of almost any type and level of doneness would be mandatory. Alcohol is a modest 14.2 percent – well, modest by California standards.

Twisted Oak 2006 Grenache

So why are we posting tasting notes on a single wine? Because we really liked it!


It’s Wednesday night – our dedicated mid-week break. It’s a tradition we started when we had a junior member in the house (who has since graduated from college, gotten a job and her own place and calls us voluntarily, not that we’re bragging). We made up a simple beef semi-stroganoff – semi because Anne couldn’t quite remember the recipe for a full-on traditional stroganoff and was too tired to look it up. Add some brown rice noodles, steamed broccoli, a basic green salad with herb vinaigrette.

Yowza! Seriously, the wine was the perfect coda. The meal would have been good without it or a lesser wine. But with the Twisted Oak Grenache, the meal sang. It popped. It did everything a good meal should do. Which you need in the middle of a long, hard, busy week.

The garnet color led to the traditional strawberry nose with hints of vanilla, earth and blueberry. The taste had some spice and just enough fruitiness. The acids cut through the richness of the sour cream of the stroganoff beautifully and still maintained a fruit profile. Add a nice finish (or coda) and you have one tasty glass of wine on its own. With a good meal, well, that’s the whole reason we do this wine thing.
You can check out this and other Twisted Oak wines out at their website, Please note that we consider owner Jeff Stai a friend of ours. Whether he considers us friends, he’s just twisted enough…

Schug 2007 Sonoma Chardonnay

104472-1-7 proofThis is a cool climate chardonnay which was fermented in steel and given no oak flavor of any kind – oak being one of those things folks have come to expect in chard. So what does it taste like?  Yummy.  Okay, there’s citrus – orange and lemon peel – and minerals – flint and graphite – in the nose and in the mouth.  There are also the peach and slight spice notes that good growing conditions and careful winemaking can give a badly abused grape like chardonnay.

The wine has a lush mouthfeel that could be enough of a draw, if you’re looking to suck some back at the local wine bar or big party.  But the moderate alcohol is very well balanced (14.5 percent, slightly higher than the standard for Schug wines) makes it a great food wine, whether summer salads, winter bisques and cream-based sauces and gravies on chicken and pasta.