West of West Wine Tasting 2013, Sebastopol…WOW!


When I first became aware of the WOW wine tasting I found the name quite unusual. WOW is an acronym for “west of west.” I wondered where the vineyards and wineries were located, and of course the wine tasting. I reasoned “west of west” must lie west of whatever else one can imagine. I mused half seriously is this a tasting on a Pacific island near the International Date Line which lies just east of New Zealand near Samoa? Are the vineyards and producers in Asia, because “west of west” would be east?

When I finally opened my web browser to the event website I got a surprise. Turns out the WOW tasting was in Sebastopol, right here in California, and not too far from Napa where I live. All right, I get it, Sebastopol is pretty far west itself. And the vineyards that some of the producers wine comes from literally look down into the Pacific. Maybe a little slow on the back roads that I selected, but a nice scenic drive. Most importantly the tasting was well worth attending!


The WOW tasting took place under a large white tent. The canvas above was a relief from the baking August sun. A good throng turned out to sample the wines.

The wines were refreshing partly because they were cool but more so due to their style – not alcoholic monsters nor over oaked, they demonstrated nice acidic freshness and a light touch. Most were Pinot Noir with a good number of Chardonnays in the mix. I thought “WOW”, what a welcome deviation from the heat of the day and the style of the times.

Uniqueness is a trait I value highly. Big wines are great, I do like them, but diversity is just as good. Diversity is crucial to get the full range of expression coaxed from the minds of the makers as well as all the latent potential out of the grapes.

Not to mention the quality winemaking apparent in most of these wines. The WOW acronym fits just fine! This tasting event is highly recommended – WOW!

Many of these wines had an attractive Burgundy style aroma with medium-light body. Some had the fuller body and forward fruit that California Pinot Noirs tend to exhibit. I found most quite pleasant and many very good.


My tasting notes

91, Pinot Noir, Solist Foret, 2010 This wine opens with a pungent aroma and the taste of slightly sweet fruit. The restraint on the fruit lends elegance. Good balance, complexity, and sufficient intensity.

90, Pinot Noir, Zepaltas, Deyoto, Sonoma Coast, 2012. A touch of grain and cereal in the aroma, followed by rich California style fruit. Notwithstanding the fruit, there is certainly complexity and a touch of elegance in this wine.

90, Pinot Noir, Emeritus, William Wesley, Sonoma Coast, 2010. Very pure flavors of cranberry and red cherry. Quite complex.

90, Pinot Noir, Larue Wines, Sonoma Coast, 2011. A very flavorful wine. Light in body with a fine elegant touch.

91, Pinot Noir, Lioco, Sonoma Coast, 2011. Aromas of fruit and toasty grain, probably from the stem contact employed. Bursting with tasty flavors of bright red berries.

90, Pinot Noir, Litttorai, Pratt Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, 2011. A lovely aroma a bit like a field of grain. Balanced and restrained in a lighter style, with inviting red fruit.

90, Pinot Noir, MacPhail, Pratt’s Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. Extremely pungent aromas of sweet, rich, thick fruit with just a hint of pine needles. Very sweet, rich, dark fruit on the palate.

90, Pinot Noir, Marimar, Chico’s Run, 2009. A full flavored wine of sweet fruit that with suppleness and refinement.

90, Chardonnay, Pahlmeyer,             Sonoma Coast, 2010. A bold style which retains just the right touch of restraint and elegance.

90, Chardonnay, Peay, Estate, Sonoma Coast, 2011. An refined, flavorful wine with firmness and sufficient acidity. What more to want?

90, Syrah, Peay, La Bruma Estate, Sonoma Coast, 2011. A well constructed wine with delineation and enough acidity to pair well with food.

90, Pinot Noir, Siduri, Pratt Vineyard, Sexton Road, Sonoma Coast, 2012. A light and refined style of Pinot Noir.

89, Pinot Noir, Hirsch Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, 2011. Features an array of sweet, ripe luscious fruit.

91, Pinot Noir, Solist, Forêt, 2010. Pungent aromas open this nicely balanced mono clone Pinot Noir. On the palate intense, mildly sweet fruit. Elegant and complex, the wine finishes well.

90+, Pinot Noir, Zepaltas Wines, Deyoto Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, 2012. A bit bigger and richer in the California style with inviting notes of cereal complimenting the fruit. A touch of elegance with complexity.


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