Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2011

I had big plans for this cold winter here in Portland that included lots of big Washington reds, California Cabernets, and Oregon Pinot Noirs. Instead, my son has brought home every germ floating around at preschool and I’ve spent the last month (MONTH!) with an upper respiratory infection. That’s really just a fancy and less pathetic way of saying I’ve had a bad cold. I’m finally on the mend and was able to enjoy a delicious California Chardonnay from Hartford Family Winery.

Hartford is a small production winery located in Forestville in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, CA. I really connect with their winemaking philosophy, which is “character through adversity”. The Hartford family believes this applies to both people and grapevines. They feel that adversity builds character and personality, in both. That rings so true.


My first and only visit to Hartford was back in September of 2012 with my husband and our favorite wine friends visiting from Atlanta. I still remember it so well because it was one of those perfect, sunny California days. The fountain and gorgeous gardens, which you can kind of see around us in the photo, make the grounds perfect for enjoying a glass or bottle outside. The staff here was very warm and welcoming and knowledgeable about the wines they were pouring as well. I look forward to a return visit in the future.

IMG_20140209_095055The Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2011 is the color of pale gold and smells of green apple, butterscotch, and subtle notes of tropical fruit. On the palate, the tropical fruit comes forward with lots of kiwi, melon, and pineapple giving it a tangy mouth feel. This is a medium to full-bodied wine that’s a crisper style California Chardonnay due to the cooler climate. Pair this with sweet or smokey dishes. If you pair it with something too salty, it will bring out more of the oak notes. This can be good or bad depending on your personal preference, but I think you would lose some of the nice tropical flavor. I’ve seen the price online around $29.99, but I purchased it for $19.99 through Liner & Elsen in the Nob Hill area of Portland. They have an awesome selection of wines so check them out if you’re local!

In previous posts, I’ve been giving the wines I review a rating on a scale of one to five stars. I’ve decided to drop this portion of my posts because I think wine is so subjective to personal preferences and our individual taste buds. You can tell from my tasting notes how I feel about the wine, and I don’t drink wine I don’t like anyways; life is much too short for that!

Fore more on Hartford Family Winery, visit http://www.hartfordwines.com/.


Merry Edwards 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Merry Edwards is thought of as the Queen of Pinot Noir in Sonoma County, CA (or maybe in general) so I was pleasantly surprised to find a Sauvignon Blanc as part of the tasting flight during my first visit a few years back in Sebastopol, CA. I’m a big fan of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal because there are so many great values to be found; you can drink an awesome bottle without breaking the bank. I particularly enjoyed quite a bit of it while living in Atlanta because it’s so refreshing on a hot day. Don’t say it. Don’t even say “Hotlanta”. Moving on…

IMG_20131225_201504The Merry Edwards 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with lots of flavors like pear and tropical fruit with creamy oak on the palate and nose. The finish offers nice tangy acidity with a citrus finish thanks to the cooler growing year of 2011. I rate this wine 4.5 stars out of 5. This wine would go nicely with white fish, shellfish or goat cheese, but since I don’t eat any of those things anymore, I like to pair it with green vegetables such as asparagus.

For more information on Merry Edwards, visit http://www.merryedwards.com/index.asp.

Frank Family Vineyards Rouge Sparkling Wine

Two years ago while visiting Napa Valley, I visited Frank Family Vineyards in Calistoga, CA for a tasting and picked up this sparkling. The wines are fantastic and I can’t recommend enough a stop by if you’re planning a trip or live in the area. It’s a busy place, from my experiences, but worth wading through all the people and being patient.

IMG_20131231_1920262013 was a great year for many people I know bringing new babies and weddings, but for us, it was an extremely difficult and scary year so it was a must to celebrate the end of it with something special. This sparkling fit the bill. It’s the perfect holiday drink because of its gorgeous dark red color. It would also be great for Valentine’s Day. It’s made from 100% Pinot Noir, and offers a nice strawberry and blackberry essence on the palate. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. A little dry, but not too dry. You get where I’m going with it all; it just has the right mix. I rate this sparkling 4 stars out of 5. We had this along with a plate of olives, veggies, hummus, and mixed nuts and it went well together. It would also stand up to something more substantial like poultry or fish. Retails for $45.

For more on Frank Family Vineyards, visit http://www.frankfamilyvineyards.com/

7 Deadly Zins 2009

Skip the candy this Halloween and enjoy a class of 7 Deadly Zins while your children run around in all their sugar buzz craziness. If you feel like you should really take some of that chocolate for yourself, you know, so the kids don’t get a tummy ache or anything, it will go nicely with this wine too! 

IMG_20131031_1345087 Deadly Zins is easy to find at most grocery stores with a decent wine selection retailing on average for $15. It’s a bold, full-bodied Zinfandel with lots of dark fruit flavors mixed with notes of spice and smoke. I rate it 3.5 stars out of 5. I particularly like this one for Halloween because of the fun name and label. At 15% alcohol, it’s also going to keep you warm!

For more information on this wine, vinted and bottled by Michael and David Phillips out of Graton, CA, visit http://www.michaeldavidwinery.com/story/.