It is time for another edition of “Random Samples”–I occasionally get samples from marketing agencies and/or producers, and these can often be grouped together into some sort of over-arching theme: Drink Them and It Will Come, Summer is Here, So That Means (More) Rosé, If It Doesn’t Sparkle, It Doesn’t Matter.
Other times, I get just a bottle or two that do not have any apparent connection or link. Instead of holding on to those bottles until the “right” combination comes along, I decided to link all these “random” bottles together, making their own category (and, being the math geek that I am, “random sample” has a bit of a double entendre….
It would not take many digits to count the number of wineries that predate the Kunde Family Winery, which was founded in 1904 in Sonoma County. Over the course of the last century plus, the estate has grown to 1,850 acres and the winery produces close to two dozen different wines, two of which I recently sampled.
2015 Kunde Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, CA: Retail $18. Solid tropical fruit with touches of vanilla and oak on the palate, with solid weight and acidity on the palate. This tends more toward the traditional California Chardonnay type of wine, but there is plenty to like for the Anything But Chardonnay crowd—plenty of fruit, acidity, and some intrigue. You know, for the price? This is a solid choice. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Kunde Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, CA: Retail $22. Blackberry and raspberry a go-go on the nose buoyed by a touch of spice. On the palate there is a touch of heat, but great fruit, depth, and even some verve. I am not a fan of big, bombastic wines, and luckily this is far from that. It certainly has some Zin character to it, but this is more finesse than brute strength and it is quite lovely. Bravo. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
It is impossible to say if Attune Wines will follow the Kunde model and still be a family run business over a century from now. What is certain, is that they are currently producing some wonderful wines.
2016 Attune Pinot Noir Rosé, Carneros, CA: Retail $28. Immediately upon opening this True Rosé (i.e., not a saignée), I knew there was something special about this wine. The juice only had a few fleeting moments of skin contact—enough to create the pale coral hue and impart a bit of body into the tart, juicy elixir. A cherry blossom perfumed musky melon tantalizes the nose, and a brilliant acidity welcomes a delicate fruitiness on the palate. My pairing of grilled salmon was, well, brilliant, but this is a versatile wine: it could handle most of the panoply from sautéed halibut to barbecued burgers. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2015 Attune Chardonnay Station Ranch, Carneros, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $36. 175 Cases. I have to admit that I was not familiar with Attune Wines or the Station Ranch Vineyard until I was contacted by the winery to sample their current releases. I wish I had heard of them sooner. Pale yellow with a slight but brilliant green tinge, this is delicate on both the nose and the palate. Green apple, slightly buttered fresh-baked bread, and crushed wet rock lead to a tart, mineral, yet creamy wine with oodles of acidity and even more flavor. Even though this spent 15 months in oak, only 30% was new and this has to be a Chardonnay for everyone. Tasty, verve, depth. Just short of a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2014 Attune Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $48. Attune started with a focus on Pinot Noir and this wine shows unequivocally that their focus is laser sharp. This wine is gangbusters: black cherry and clove on the nose with fantastic acidity and impeccable balance on the palate. This is really close to a whoa. Really close. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
I met Dan Goldfield at the 2010 International Pinot Noir Celebration. He was speaking about something (I am not quite sure what it was) and he mentioned that he was from Philly. I took that was an opening and approached him during a lull in the festivities. I don’t recall how that went either, but I know at some point we exchanged some “colorful language” all in good fun. (I also learned that Dan is not really from Philly, but from one of the suburbs–I am not sure which, but does it really matter?) Anyway, I had been a fan of his wines for a while, and the encounter only reinforced my affection. Thus, when I was offered a couple of samples from the winery, I made sure that my answer was neither flippant nor dismissive, and ended up with the following:
2015 Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $38. Lemon curd, oak, butter, and marzipan. On the palate, though, the oak and butter, though present, are both subdued. The tropical fruit (lemon and a touch of pineapple) is front and center on the palate, with mineralogy and an inviting mid-palate. The finish is lengthy and ever-so-tasty. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2015 Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $44. Blackberry, spice, and more dark berry fruit up front. Once this passes the lips–a wonderful tartness initially followed by a bunch of fruit and a bit of spice, this is just on the edge of being an overly bold wine. The finish is also noteworthy, with all that wonderful fruit rushing through, followed by an earthy element, and then the spice. Excellent. Close to a Whoa. 91-93 Points.