Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Anaba Wines- The Spirit of West Carneros in Sonoma, California

The Anaba Wines Tasting Room is at the crossroads of Hwy 116 (which runs east-west from Hwy 101 to Sonoma) and Hwy 121 which is also known as the Carneros Highway and parallels 116 running along the southern borders of Napa and Sonoma Counties. The tasting room is located just outside the town of Sonoma and it sits in a converted farmhouse that stood on Anaba’s J McK Estate Vineyard property. 

I have driven by this tasting room numerous times while visiting neighboring wineries (Gloria Ferrer, Cline, Jacuzzi, and Viansa) and every time I did I said to myself, “One of these days I’m going to visit that place.” Well, that day came this past week as I dropped in to sample their wines.

Anaba Wines was created by John Sweazey who became a home winemaker while an undergrad student at Stanford University and living in San Francisco. After earning a degree in economic he started a real estate finance company, but his real desire was to settle in the Sonoma wine country to grow grapes and make wine. So, he sold his business in 2003 and purchased a winegrowing property in western Carneros in Sonoma County.

The name of the winery, Anaba (“anna-bah”), is derived from the cool, upward-flowing breezes called anabatic winds that frequently stream through the estate vineyard during the warm summer months. These unique air currents make the vineyard more temperate and slow down the ripening process. To take advantage of the air currents, John is believed to be the first vintner in Northern California to harness wind power which supplies supplemental power to his tasting room offices and case goods storage. Plans are to harness solar power and add more turbines when a new 60,000 case winery is built on the estate vineyard property.

The portfolio of Anaba’s wines are sourced from Rhone and Burgundian varieties grown at the estate vineyard in Carneros and in other vineyard properties in Sonoma County. The first wines were released in early 2009.

Anaba’s wines are a reflection of a team effort which includes Jennifer Marion, director of winemaking and vineyard operations, whose devotion to the vineyards began when she worked with Napa Valley-based Crop Care Associates, one of California’s largest independent agricultural technology consulting firms. At the time, she was completing her Viticulture and Enology degree at the University of California at Davis. Later she became the assistant winemaker at MacRostie Winery in Sonoma. Another important team member who works along with Jennifer is Larry Bradley, Anaba’s consulting viticulturist. 

Anaba sources grapes from esteemed grape growers such as Sangiacomo Vineyard, Windsor Oaks, Ferguson Ranch and Bacigalupi Vineyard. Their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay come from the cooler regions of the Carneros, Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley appellations, where the wind and fog are perfect for growing well-balanced Burgundian varieties. They also source from their Rhone varieties from long-term partners in the warmer areas of the Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Valley growing regions, which are ideal for producing intense flavors and brilliant color. 

While visiting I tasted the following wines for a $20 tasting free:

My first wine was the 2009 Wente Clone Chardonnay, Denmark Vineyard, from the Sonoma Coast. On the nose I picked up lemon zest, custard, and very fresh orange peel. On the palate the wine is tangy and creamy yet maintains good acidity followed by a nutty prolonged finish. This wine sells for $32 a bottle.

The second pouor was also a Chard but with a radically different profile – the 2009 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay, also from the Sonoma Coast. On the nose picked up butterscotch followed by red delicious apples. On the palate it has a creamy full bodied mouth feel followed by a nutty finish. This wine sells for $37 a bottle.

The third pour was the first red wine, the 2009 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. This wine is HUGE and yet it maintains the varietal characteristics. Dark plum in color and on the nose and palate I picked up Big jammy raspberries, super ripe cherries, blue berries and Asian spice. It has refined tannins and a really long finish. Some Pinot fans might be put off by this wine but I liked it. So long as a Pinot doesn’t taste like a Syrah or lose its finesse, I like an occasional BIG Pinot so for $45 I brought this one home.

My fourth sample and second red wine was the 2009 Annadel Estate Vineyard Mourvedre, Sonoma Coast. This wine has a nose full of blueberry pie followed by beef jerky, soy sauce followed by vanilla and sweet oak. I suppose we’d say it has an “umami” profile. A delicious wine for $32 a bottle.

My final pour was the 2009 Las Madres Vineyard Syrah, from Carneros. This wine displays a lot of black fruit followed by sweet tobacco, smoke and a hint of animal meatiness with a distant herbal quality. On the palate it is big and round with supple tannins and a hint of pepper on the finish. A really nice wine for $32 a bottle.

To visit or for more information:

Anaba Wines Tasting Room

60 Bonneau Road, Sonoma, CA 95476

Phone: 1-877-990-4188 (Toll Free)

Local: 1-707-996-4188