This weekend was passport weekend for the wineries in Santa Clara Valley. So that we could fully enjoy this experience Braxs rented a limousine bus and invited 10 of our closest friends to join us.
Our first stop was Aver Family Vineyards. This is a small family winery in the Gilroy area. They were pouring two selections for passport weekend both of which were Rhone varietals. The first tasting was their 2009 Family Album. This was a classic Rhône style wine with dark fruit flavors and some pepper flavors as well. This selection had quite a bit of tannins, more than I usually like but not overbearing. The second selection was their 2009 Hope. This was also a Rhone style blend that was very smooth with a lot of dark fruit flavors and was very well blended. Not a lot of tannins and a very clean finish.
The next stop was Martin Ranch. This was my first time to this winery which is quite a ways back in the hills of Western Gilroy in a beautiful location. They have quite a few varietals that they produce however today they were pouring a Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot, a Syrah, a Cabernet, and a Zinfandel. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was our first tasting. It was a different Sauvignon Blanc then what I am used to (not big on Sauvignon Blanc) but this was very clean and had some mineral flavors that were very unique and well balanced. The next pouring was a 2008 Merlot. This was by far my favorite. You could taste a nice balance of cherries and dark chocolates with a very clean finish. The Cabernet was well-balanced but on the light side for a typical Cabernet. This Syrah was nice but did not have the classic smoke or pepper flavors that I usually associate with Syrah. The Zinfandel was very nice and had an almost velvety feeling on the tongue and a very clean finish. Braxs also decided to buy a bottle of the Chardonnay so that we could all have a taste. This was a very clean balanced Chardonnay that is aged in both oak and stainless steel and therefore does not have a lot of butter or oak, but was very easy to drink especially on a nice sunny day.
Our next stop was at Solis. Props go out to Solis winery for winning the ambience award. As usual the feeling here was very relaxed and friendly. They were pouring a 2009 Sangiovese and a 2007 Merlot. They also had sausage sliders that paired very well with both wines. The 2009 Sangiovese is a classic Sangiovese that is getting better each time I try it. It always takes me back to our trip to Italy. The 2007 Merlot is always a favorite with an exceptional balance of dark fruits and a very clean finish. They also had a barrel tasting of the 2011 Syrah. I enjoy doing a barrel tasting and tring to imagine what the final product will taste like after it completes its time in the barrel and bottle. This was a very fruit forward tasting that I’m sure will mellow with time and the classic pepper, smoke and leather flavors will become more prominent. While we were here I was also able to pick up another bottle of my all-time favorite wine their 2003 Syrah from the library collection.
Our final stop of the day was Sarah’s Vineyard, across from Solis. They were pouring a 2009 Chardonnay, a 2010 Pinot Noir, and the 2008 Cote de Madone. The 2010 Pinot Noir was a very light Pinot with good flavors that could pair nicely with something like fish tacos. The 2008 Cote de Madone was a Rhône style blend that had a very nice balance of dark fruit flavors and not too much tannins. It had a clean finish, but something was missing from it, I just can not put my finger on it.
Overall we all had a great time. The 2012 fall passport weekend for the wineries of Santa Clara Valley was an awesome experience. I do believe going on Sunday was a good decision as we did not experience large crowd set any of the vineyards we visited.