Landmark Vineyards was founded in 1974 in Windsor California by Bill Mabry but it was eventually taken over by one of its investors, Damaris Deere Ford, the great-great granddaughter of John Deere.
In 1989 it was relocated to Kenwood where it was rebuilt as a Spanish mission style winery. Then in 1993 the winery was taken over by Mike and Mary Colhoun and world-renowned consulting enologist Helen Turley was hired to work with the winemaker. Subsequently Landmark’s wines have consistently received rave reviews from wine critics and their signature wine, the Overlook Chardonnay, has appeared on The Wine Spectator Top 100 list 7 times since 1997. Landmark Vineyards was then purchased by Stewart and Lynda Resnick (whose 2 billion dollar Roll Global Company owns Fiji Water and the Pom Wonderful juice) and they farm 188 square miles in California.
Today, the winery is capable of producing 25,000 cases of wine. Although they specialize in Burgundian varietals – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - the Landmark Estate is devoted to be an organically farmed Rhone style vineyard with 11 acres of Chateau Neuf du Pape varietals including Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Counoise and Viognier.
Landmark Vineyards produces six Chardonnays and I was able to taste 3 of them plus 2 Pinot Noirs and a Syrah, all of these wines were very impressive and it is a “must visit” for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fans alike.
My first wine was the 2009 Overlook Chardonnay (a blend from Sonoma County vineyards) which is widely distributed. On the nose this wine displays tropical fruits, fresh orange, and just a hint of oak. On the palate this rich wine delivers a full mouth feel of citrus, peach, pineapple and crème brûlée. A fantastic wine for $28 and I brought one home to share at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.
My next wine was the 2009 Lorenzo Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River). Upon first sniff and sip my mind yelled, “WOW!” This wine delivers layers of peaches, lemon, orange blossoms, and a floral component and on the palate the fruit is backed up with rock solid minerality and a tongue penetrating acidity that brings you back wanting more, yet there is also a layer of rich butter that is really well balanced with all the other characteristics of this wine. A spectacular display of complexity, structure and depth. But, at $55 a bottle you’ve got to be a really big Chard fan to shell out that kind of money!
My third sample was not on the tasting menu, the 2008 Damaris Reserve Chardonnay (42% Sangiacomo Vineyard, 58% Flocchini Vineyard). A big, rich wine that displays honeysuckle, tropical fruits, peaches, dried pineapple and pears. In comparing profiles, you might think of this as the “big brother” of Overlook Chardonnay in character and price value as this wine sells for $30 a bottle.
As I transitioned to tasting sampling their Pinot Noirs I was pleased to find that they serve them in the appropriate stemware.
My first as the 2009 Grand Detour Pinot Noir (a blend of six Sonoma Coast vineyards) A marvelous example of California can display in the Pinot Noir grape! Raspberries, sour cherries, cola and subtle hint of caramel and underlying earthiness. Silky tannins are complimented with a refreshing acidity. A really nice wine for $40!
My second red wine was the 2009 Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). A bigger, spicier and more intense wine that could definitely use a few years to develop in the bottle. Loads of plum, raspberries, rose petals, blackberries, black licorice, followed by mocha notes. A definite sock in the pocket book at $65 a bottle but I brought one home to lay for a few years – probably THE most expensive pinot I’ve ever bought but I think I’ll be rewarded for my investment around the year 2015.
My final wine was the 2009 Steel Plow Syrah (Kivelstadt Family Vineyard, Sonoma Valley). This wine is really herbal on the nose, followed by lavender, blackberries and cocoa. This isn’t my style of Syrah, especially at $32 a bottle.
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