Not too long ago, I participated in another online chat, this one focusing on three small production wines from the Green Valley Appellation in Sonoma County. We were also asked to prepare a Tri-Tip using the recipe from one of the winemakers in the tasting.
Pinot, Syrah, and Tri-Tip? Sign me up.
For many, the name “Green Valley” does not evoke much of a response until hearing the official name of the region: Green Valley of Russian River Valley—the Green Valley appellation lies entirely within its much more widely known brethren.
Even though the appellation was created in 1983, it largely has remained anonymous to the average wine drinker for a couple of reasons. First, it is one of the smallest AVA in Sonoma with only 3,600 acres under vine, thus a relatively low production. Second, many producers in Green Valley have eschewed putting “Green Valley” on the label, instead designating their wine as Russian River Valley—this is the reason, at least in part, the appellation officially changed its name in 2007 from “Green Valley” to its current “Green Valley of Russian River Valley” thus creating one of the longest appellation names I can remember seeing.
Problems with nomenclature aside, there are many fantastic wines, mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnays, produced in the AVA. This is largely because the region is one of the coolest areas in Sonoma County due to the fog that regularly settles in the nexus of the towns of Sebastopol, Forestville, and Occidental, just to the West of Santa Rosa.
As for the Tri-Tip, the recipe called for a wet rub, essentially, of mustard and then seasoned with salt, pepper, and brown sugar. I have now lived in Texas for five (gasp) months and while there are still many aspects of the state that I need to figure out (like where to buy a gun rack for my Prius), I do know that Texans take their beef and their grilling rather seriously.
Mustard? Brown Sugar?
The recipe seemed decidedly Californian in nature, a fact that would not go over all that well here in the Lone Star State. Nonetheless, not wanting to incur the wrath of Robert Larsen, who organized the chat, I followed the recipe.
But I covered the meat with an apron both to and from the grill.
No need to take any additional risks.
The beef turned out fine (just don’t tell my neighbors), the chat went famously (one of the winemakers even understood my Twitter handle—@masi3v), and the wines were off the charts.
2013 Sedition Pinot Noir Chenoweth Vineyards Green Valley of Russian River Valley Sonoma County: Retail $75. Light and lithe in the glass, but revealing plenty of spunk and spice. On the palate, there is a reserved fruitiness (that is on the verge of coming off sweet), this is a rich Pinot without being over-the-top. Wonderful red fruit and depth, with that spice coming in late. Sedition is a relatively new and small (only 230 cases) producer, but one to seek–this is a fantastic expression of Pinot. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2013 Callow Cellars Magna Porcum Estate Pinot Noir Green Valley of Russian River Valley Sonoma County: Retail $45. “Big Pig” Vineyard. A bit darker nose here, with dark red fruit, hints of mocha, and rich eucalyptus. Big, luscious fruit on the palate, this is not a Pinot for the faint of heart, this is full-throttle, hold on to your rear end kind of Pinot. I normally eschew this style of Pinot, but it all works. Why? Plenty of acidity to go along with all that fruity bigness. Wonderful and Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2012 Scherrer Winery Syrah Calypso Vineyard Green Valley Sonoma County: Retail $45. From a slightly warmer portion of Green Valley (which is a bit odd since the appellation is defined as being a bit cooler than the rest of RRV, but I digress), the wine is dark and unctuous in the glass but short of gloomy, this is cool climate Syrah that is not shy. In fact, this is a Syrah that not only commands attention, it grabs attention by the throat and screams “look at ME!” Normally, I avoid such bravado, but there is something about this wine that is compelling despite its boisterous bent. There is a delicate side here along all that muscle that elicits compassion if not capitulation, and I am smitten. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.