Tasting new releases is exciting; it gives me the opportunity to experience wines I may not be familiar with from certain producers, and allows the winery to really showcase their range and depth of varietals. This fall, Sonoma County’s Anaba Wines released a very well balanced Chardonnay and a tasty, young-drinking GSM blend called Turbine Red. Both of these wines are 2013s, with the Chardonnay’s fruit being grown in the Sonoma Coast appellation and the Turbine Red’s fruit being grown in the Sonoma Valley appellation.
Committed to producing quaffable Sonoma County wines from Rhône and Burgundian grape varieties, winemakers Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson work closely with growers—whom they’ve formed long-term relationships with—to produce wines of excellent quality and character. Canopy management, cluster-thinning and sustainability in the vineyards are just a few of the quintessential practices that Anaba Wines adheres to. These practices are certainly admirable, and no doubt contribute to the finesse of the Anaba Wines new releases.
2013 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Coming from the Sonoma Coast appellation, the 2013 Chardonnay is comprised of three clones—Wente, Clone 95 and Clone 17—that are grown in several well-known vineyards: Dutton Ranch, Sangiacomo, Denmark Vineyard and Sullivan Vineyard. Once harvested, the grapes receive meticulous hand-sorting before whole cluster pressing and fermentation in barrels (60%) and stainless steel (40%); the grapes undergo 100% malolactic fermentation. The wine then sees nine months aging on lees in 35% new French oak barrels. This small production wine finishes at just 814 cases.
The winemaking technique of the 2013 Chardonnay is very well balanced. The juxtaposition of barrel and stainless steel fermentation, followed by just about a third of new French oak used for aging, gives sophisticated poise to the texture and flavor. Malolactic fermentation imparts a richness, and the touch of new oak gives the wine extra body and gentle, oak-nuanced flavors, but this Chardonnay is never too buttery or over-the-top. The fruit still shines through very nicely, making for a pleasurable, well-rounded Chardonnay that is just lovely to sip on its own.
I love the aromatics of this Chardonnay: pineapple, bruised yellow apple, honey, spiced apples and beeswax all emanate, once you give the chilled wine a bit of time to warm up in the glass. As I noted about the winemaking technique with this wine, the oak provides a backbone on the palate for the layers of fruit and spice that unfold. Bruised yellow apples, cinnamon apple, lemon meringue and a touch of caramel mingle together on the palate. Medium-bodied, round and full of life, this Chardonnay has a balanced energy about it that kept making me go back to the glass for another sip. Although I didn’t pair this with food, I could imagine it going particularly well with roasted chicken and vegetables—throw some diced green apples into those vegetables and you’d have a real tasty pairing!
2013 Turbine Red, Sonoma Valley
The 2013 Turbine Red, a blend of 42% Grenache, 28% Syrah and 30% Mourvèdre, comes from two Sonoma Valley vineyards: Landa Vineyard and Bismark Vineyard. Each grape variety was harvested, fermented (without stems) and aged separately in an average of 30% new French oak, prior to blending the final wine.
Classic Rhône aromas of meat and briney olives, along with roasted coffee beans, leap from the glass. Just released, the wine is youthful on the palate—I would suggest giving the wine about an hour of air before drinking, just to let it center itself. If you have patience, another three to six months in the bottle would allow the oak and fruit to really synergize. When drinking now, the wine is lovely and will be beautiful to drink in its youth and over the next couple of years. The medium body gives way to ample meaty notes and fruit flavors of blueberry and blackberry; additional notes of cocoa and oak nuances layer themselves on top of the fruit. This is a tasty wine with plenty to offer, especially for those looking for an easy drinking red that can be paired with a variety of foods. A classic French cassoulet would be an excellent match.