Peterson and Nicholson Ranch Wineries Wow Millennials with Sonoma Varietals

Last night we had our first tasting of the semester for the SSU Wine Sense Club.  Approximately 30 students turned out for the “Savoring Sonoma” tasting featuring famous Sonoma County varietals.  In order to represent the range of Sonoma grapes, we invited two wineries to pour.  Peterson Winery in Dry Creek represented the warmer appellations and Nicholson Ranch Winery located on the border of Carneros and Sonoma Valley highlighted cooler regions.

Nicholson Ranch Wines

Charles Whittaker, tasting room manager with Nicholson Ranch, described how their wines were made and the different locations for sourcing grapes.  We started with the 2007 Sonoma Valley Estate Chardonnay ($30) a big buttery satisfying wine; and then moved onto the 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir ($42) made from clone 777 and bursting with ripe raspberry fruit.  Next was the bigger more complex 2006 Sonoma Valley Estate Pinot Noir $38) with notes of dried cherry, spice and earth.  Finally Nicholson Ranch featured their big chewy dense 2006 Las Madres Syrah Los Carneros ($35) with dark berry, anise and tar.

Peterson Wines

Jamie Peterson, winemaker with Peterson Winery known for “no soul-less wines,” described philosophy and winemaking techniques for the 5 wines he brought.  We began with the Peterson Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($17) with crisp acid and lemongrass notes, with then moved into a comparison of two zinfandels.  The first was the 2006 Peterson Zinyard ($27), which is an usual low alcohol zin of only 13.1% made in the old-fashioned style with mixed berry and pronounced spice.  The second was the 2007 Peterson Dry Creek Zinfandel ($23) made in the current style of a big jammy full-bodied spice box.  This was followed by the Peterson Sangiovese 2007 ($28) made in the super-Tuscan style with an addition of $18% cab.  This was a plush mouthfilling wine with complex blackberry and coffee notes, but with the acid that makes sangio so enjoyable.  We ended with the 2005 Peterson Cabernert Sauvignon ($35) from Dry Creek, which intense ripe fruit on both nose and plate – big and satisfying.

Food Pairing

This semester we introduced the new role of VP of Food & Wine Pairing to our Board of Directors. Giana Fugazi is the new VP in this position, and she must have spent the whole day preparing food to match the wines.  For the sauvignon blanc, she created a tangy guacamole with crackers, and for the chardonnay there was a mozzarella and tomato spread with crackers.  Probably the biggest hit of the evening were the pork and duck sliders with apricot that she paired with the pinot noirs and sangiovese.  The zinfandels were matched with ripe fig and chevre on toast points.  Bravo to Giana!

Millennial Wine Favorites

At the end of the evening, we did a silent poll to identify everyone’s favorite wines.  Of the 9 wines tasted, all were voted number one by at least one Millennial.  However there were ties for first and second place, with the result that the top scoring wines were:

  • Peterson Zinfandel Dry Creek 2007 tied with Peterson Sangiovese 2007 
  • Nicholson Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River 2006 tied with Nicholson Ranch Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley 2006 

These results verify that this was a red wine drinking crowd.  Furthermore, they highlight the diversity of palates in the room – especially regarding the pinot noirs, which were quite different.  All in all, it was a delightful evening, and a great kick-off for the Fall semester.

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