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.

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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/.

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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.

Paraduxx Cinnamon Teal 2006 Napa Valley

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Paraduxx’s tasting room in Napa Valley on the Silverado Trail twice, and each time it has been one of my favorite stops. Paraduxx does nothing but blends (mostly red) and they do them well. The staff is extremely knowledgable, the grounds are beautiful, and the wines blow me away with each sip. Their tastings are seated, and I always find this to be so much more relaxing and indusive of taking of my time too. Does it make me really lazy that I find a seated tasting to be a selling point? Rhetorical question. 

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I rate the this one 4 stars out of 5. The 2006 Cinnamon Teal from Paraduxx perfectly captures Napa Valley in a bottle – a red blend made up of 64% Zinfandel, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. As you might imagine, all of that delicious Zinfandel makes for a jammy mouth feel that instantly brings to mind blueberry pie. The nose on this doesn’t immediately make you think this is necessarily going to be an amazing wine, but once you feel the smoothness on the mouth, you’ll be sold. Don’t get me wrong, it smells good with notes of rich dark fruit flavors like blueberry and blackberry, as well as a hint of black licorice, but it’s the smoothness in the mouth that makes it for me. This wine retails for an average of $50 with prices varying up or down a few dollars by location. For my friends in the Atlanta area, I used to find this at Tower Liquor off of Piedmont near Lindbergh Station. Wherever you may live, if you’re not able to find this particular wine from Paraduxx, don’t be afraid to try one of their other blends. I’ve never had one I didn’t like. 

Paraduxx is a part of Duckhorn Wine Company, which also includes Decoy, Goldeneye, Duckhorn Vineyards, and Migration. For more information on Paraduxx and Duckhorn Wine Company visit http://www.paraduxx.com/.