Just a fabulous experience! Situated in a quaint house just off the square in Sonoma, we meet at the Sojourn Tasting Salon with Craig Haserot. We tasted through an extensive lineup of Sojourn's Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignons in this unique, comfortable and relaxed environment. The inviting atmosphere was akin to sitting around the table at home with a group of friends. Placed in the middle of the long table were jars of various soils from a number of the vineyards. Ziggy, Craigs lovable golden retriever, was an added bonus. On to the wines…
We tasted through a great deal of wines, and sadly my notes aren't complete for them all. First, I'd like to point out several recurring themes that emerged during our visit. Craig is a terrific guy who knows his stuff. The delicious wines he's making are the direct result of his drive, attention to detail, and enthusiasm. All of them are built true to their Napa and Sonoma origins, but you won't find overly ripe and alcoholic wines here. These are lovely expressions of the terrior. Indeed, Craig noted each type of wine is vinified the same or similar fashion, and the differences detected in the glass are the reflection of the site the grapes were grown. It was tempting to taste the soil from the jars to see if he was telling the truth, but i refrained. Other consistent findings were good balance and even more the smooth, luscious textures found pretty much throughout the line up. Some believe if it feels good in the mouth, it will taste good as well. You will find that theory in action here. Ok on the notes already…
2009 Sonoma Coast (SC) - Red fruit, vanilla, a hint of roasted coffee. Soft in the mouth. Medium body. Red fruits and baking spices on the finish. An easy wine to drink and a great opener.
2009 Rodger's Creek (SC between Sonoma and Petaluma) - This was a favorite of the Pinots. Greater complexity than the SC with a deeper, richer personality of red fruits, dark cherry, mushrooms, earth, and a slight mineral streak. Again, well balanced and great texture. This was the earthiest of the pinots.
2009 Gaps Grown (SC near Conati) - Vanilla, spices, caramel, and slightly sweeter than the Rodger's. Fruit, both red and dark, plays the leading role. Fuller body than the SC. I found this to be one of the creamier pinots and defiantly the largest in the group.
2009 Ridge Top (SC Annapolis) - This will be released in the fall. The Ridgetop vineyard is owned by Fred Shrader and Thomas Rivers Brown and managed by Ulysses Valdez. Most of the grapes go into the Aston line. While those are bottled as different clones, I believe the Sojourn offering is a mixture of clones. Sojourn is fortunate to be the only other winery allowed access to this source. I found this the most interesting and complex pinot tasted here. A pineapple - almost tropical - element jumps out, and while I've never encountered this, it's really intriguing here. This is joined by red fruits, pine needles, and a mix of spices. Creamy, good acid, and just damn tasty. I see this quickly becoming the star of the pinot collection.
2009 Wouhler (RRV Forestville) - Another fall release, and an outlier as it's the only SVD Pinot from the Russian River Valley. Pine, a dash of cola, and russian river valley red and dark fruit goodness. More restrained than the rest of the lineup. Deep flavors. Good acid. Awesome texture - again.
2009 Russian River Valley Blend (RRV Wouhler, Suacci, & Sapphire Hill) - This is a new blend whose components may or may not change each year. Cool menthol, red fruits, cola. Lighter body than the SVDs with a bit less focus. A nice counterpart to the Sonoma Coast.
While Sojoun is best know for their Pinot Noirs, and for very good reason, I must admit I am really into the Cabernet program. Am I alone here?
Like their Pinot companions, these wines share fabulous textures and are, believe it or not, food friendly. Clearly they are californian expressions of Cabernet, but far from overdone, overly heavy, or alcoholic.
2007 Spring Mountain - At first whiff, the essence of Pride automatically came to mind. In fact, the vineyard sits just below Pride on Spring Mountain. These are not as super ripe or heavy a la Pride, however. Dark red fruit personality greeted by cassis and vanilla. Soft and creamy. Good acid. Tannins become more perceptible on the finish along with some chocolate covered cherries. Easy drinking now, but should do even better with time.
2008 Spring Mountain - Bigger than the 2007, but in the same ballpark.
2008 Howell Mountain - Darker in the glass. Deeper nose with a slight rusticity. Darker fruits, herbal, eucalyptus, more robust. Black and blue fruits. Picks up some cherry. A little more lush and full. These grapes come not far from Outpost. Again, very approachable.
2008 Proprietary Blend (50% GIII, 40% Spring, 10% Howell) - Big, complex nose. Oodles of dark fruits. Grippy in the mouth, but maintaining the Sojourn theme of fantastic mouth feel. More muscular, yet silkier than the Spring or Howell. My last note on the GIII a while back mentioned sluttiness. This is in a similar vein, but she's packing more muscle.
2009 Proprietary Blend (GIII & Showket) - My note is illegible, but the wine was fantastic! One of my favorite cabs of the tasting.
2009 Home Ranch - I really love the Home Ranch Cabs. For me, they deliver a really nice value. We drank through our first supply of the '08 rather quickly and luckily got a re-order in before the summer heat that so plagues Richmond. We have another winner on our hands in 2009. Red and dark fruit along with some chocolate brownie, herbs, eucalyptus. This tasted more like a barrel sample. It was bottled the day of tasting I believe.
Overall, we very much enjoyed hanging out with Craig and tasting through his very exciting portfolio. If you're ever in Sonoma, I highly recommend stopping in this place. I anxiously anticipate the fall release!