I have been to Mendocino rarely as compared to Napa or Sonoma. I remember early in my days here in California I drove to Philo and I clearly remember visiting Scharffenberger Cellars; it was a huge investment in time for me then and now–four hours to and fro San Francisco. But the days I was visiting was BiP (Before iPhone) hence few-to-no photos of my treks to Mendocino County. There is something so alluring about Mendocino County–green and not crowded like other wine countries in California.
Saracina Vineyards is on 101 north (north of Hopland, California). Mendocino is a very wide spread AVA and from San Francisco you will have to decide which fork in the road to take: Highway 128 to Anderson Valley or Highway 101 to Hopland to visit Saracina. Mendocino AVA is a very diverse wine AVA and there are more than 3 dozen wine grape varieties produced: the expected and known grapes from Zinfandel, Carignan, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to the the unexpected grapes of Charbono, Arneis, Pinotage and Montepulciano to name a few.
Saracina is a 400 acre site and was originally founded by John Fetzer and Patty Rock in 2001. In 2018, the property was purchased by Marc Taub. Under Marc’s direction has been to keep the producer as wines best known to the region as well as stylization. The site has six parcels of Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Ranch also has olive groves and produces olive oil and honey.
I was fortunate to taste Saracina wines with food from BrewVino in San Francisco with Saracina winemaker Alex MacGregor. Alex MacGregor, a native of Canada, cut his teeth in winemaking in Dry Creek Valley before making his way to Mendocino. Alex’s perspectives of winemaking reflects a desire to hone in on wines of place; wines that represent Mendocino County. I appreciate his philosophy and how he wants to preserve traditional wines of the county.
Here are the wines I tasted:
Saracina Lolonis Vineyard Mendocino County Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – SRP $34.00
Lolonis Vineyard is 29 miles north of Saracina – this wine is a delightful Sauvignon Blanc; and this wine is of the non-gooseberry style. Nose of green apple, dried citrus, and moist rocks; palate of green apple, white stone fruit, minerals, and delicate floral note.
Saracina Lolonis Vineyard Mendocino County Sauvignon Blanc 2020 – SRP $34.00
This Sauvignon Blanc expresses freshness, and cleanness. The nose characterizes autumnal fruit and floral notes. The palate characterizes white peach, passion fruit and hint of moisten mineral.
Saracina Mendocino County Sauvignon Blanc 2002
A wine that is so relevant and though aged it is a delightful experience. I do not think I had tasted 2002 Sauvignon Blanc from Mendocino in the mid-2000s from any Mendocino producer. And to think about where I was and what I was doing made me travel back in time. Nose of winter fruit; heirloom apple, and delicate spice. Palate of Comice pear in mid-winter, floral note and mineral.
Saracina Valley Foothills Vineyard Anderson Valley Chardonnay 2019 – SRP: $38
This wine is a 200 cases production, ABV 13.5% and aged 18 months in French Oak. The clone is Robert Young. An outstanding Chardonnay and such an approachable price point for such a lovely and memorable wine. This wine is superb with food and this expression is so fitting for oysters, Cioppino, and autumnal dinners like Thanksgiving and simply year round. I love the weight on this wine and expression on the nose of Comice pear, quince, and winter spices; palate of autumnal fruit, nutmeg, and hazelnut.
Saracina Day Ranch Hollywood Hill Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2019 – SRP: $55
This wine has a 198 cases production, ABV: 14.2% and aged: 18 months in French Oak- 25% new. Anderson Valley along with Carneros are amongst my favourite regions for both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in California. Nose of red and black bramble, leather, autumnal herb garden, and violets. The palate is Boysenberry, blackberry, crushed red candy, pepper, and bright red floral notes.
Saracina Winter’s Edge Mendocino County Red Blend 2018 – SRP: $30
This is wine is 50% Grenache and 50% Field Blend of Grenache, Carignane, and French Columbard. The vineyard site Casa Verde Vineyard was planted in 1944. This wine is a very lovely traditional California style — the field blend makes for a distinct and pleasing wine. This is a time transport in a predominate style in California and I do believe though we are drinking the best wines today including wines from field blends. Vinification: open top fermentors, native malolactic fermentation and aged in 19 month older François Frères barrels. Nose of red and black fruit, forest floor, bay leafs and spice; palate of raspberry, currant, clove, espresso, and red flowers.
I very much appreciate Saracina’s mission to produce authentic wines expressing Mendocino one glass at a time. The land of Milk and Honey, olive oil and wine. Lovely wines for Thanksgiving and beyond.
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