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Best Regions?

Posted by myk4ya, Jan 27, 2009.

As far as California reds are concerned.. can anyone confirm or correct my thoughts as to the best regions for growing the following grapes.

Cabernet Sauvignon- Alexander Valley
Zinfandel- Anderson Valley
Pinot Noir- Russian River Valley



Reply by fibo86, Jan 28, 2009.

hey sunshine I'm not overly familiar with these particular regions but have faith GDP & Johnhonda should have some good information for you and there are quite a few others within the site that can help with any questions...

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 28, 2009.

I think you'd get alot of argument with your list. general for Cabernet Napa Valley is considered the holy grail and the Dry Creek Valley for Zins. Russian River for Pinot is a good choice though Santa Barbara County may be a more popular region today. Of course there are many dissenting opinions and there is no reason why your choices can't be valid.

For me, especially with Zinfandel, i would say that there have been too many great wines over the years for me to say that I prefer one over the other. Sonoma county has been responsible for the majority of my great experiences with the grape but I have had stellar examples from Napa, Mendocino, Amador, Shenandoah valley... The list goes on.

It will be interesting to see what others can add here.

Reply by Philip James, Jan 28, 2009.

How do we judge best? Napa for Cabernet is the most expensive, so, I bet they'll fight for that title...

Whats the part of California that has the oldest Zin vines? Somewhere further south, near Temecula i believe - I havent tried any from there, but I can imaging they'll be a contender for "best zin", at least under the guise of "original/oldest" zin

Reply by John Andrews, Jan 28, 2009.

My input would be as follows ... the best would be what suits your taste:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Sonoma Valley - generally more herb like flavors ... in my opinion more bordeaux like
Napa Valley - bigger, riper, fruit flavors - what people generally associate as the California Standard
Alexander Valley - Seems to be best (or worst) of Napa & Sonoma ...

- Dry Creek - I agree with Greg's assessment most people, examples tend to be more peppery
- Russian River - Some great examples more fruity than dry creek

Pinot Noir
- Russian River Valley - Cherry, rosy, distinctive
- Carneros - lighter in intensity but can have some great earthy qualities
- Sonoma Coast - wide variation but best have earthy and red cherry
- Santa Rita Hills - Similar to Carneros but more consistent to me
- Anderson Valley - as close to Burgundy as possible in California

For me ... the ones that suit my taste are:

Cabernet: Sonoma Valley ... but do like some specific AVAs / producers in Napa
Zinfandel: Russian River Valley ... less alcoholic and not overly peppery
Pinot Noir: Gravitating more to Anderson Valley but like most of them

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Jan 28, 2009.

I agree with John - the best is subjective and is going to vary widely from person to person.

Why do you want to know? You've gotten a lot of great suggestions above. What better experiment than to start trying some wines from these specific regions to see for yourself.

Then you can post your thoughts here for the benefit of the next fellow with the same question!

Reply by myk4ya, Jan 29, 2009.

I appreciate everyones comments.. I agree about the topic being subjective- just wanted some input as I am only a couple years into drinking wine and just starting to cellar.. I mentioned the three types because they are my favorites and I knew I would get some great information to kick off my quest in search of the Grail!! -- Thanks!

Reply by tmpape, Mar 3, 2009.

I definitely agree with John. I always tell people "best" is what you like most. It's difficult to even say within a given varietal because, as they say in the Wine Spectator course ABCs of Wine, what you get in the bottle is a combination of "the guy (sic), the grape, and the ground". Napa Cabs, Sonoma Cabs, Bordeaux, and Temecula (don't laugh, some danged fine Cab comes from Temecula) can all be excellent yet convey to the consumer such a wide array of experiences that it would be nearly impossible to say that one is "better" than the other. You have to refine your own taste experience by practice (and what over avocation is better than wine tasting for this?): Do you prefer fruit bombs? Strong or soft tannins? Heady levels of alcohol? etc, etc, etc all come into the mix and are different from person to person.

Reply by chadrich, Mar 4, 2009.

I have to add a vote for Dry Creek Valley on the Zin side of the house. And I think it's tough to beat Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley for some super Pinots. So I'll add a new Cali region for Syrah? I'm leaning toward Dry Creek myself.

Reply by cookypuss1, Mar 4, 2009.

There isn't much Zinfandel grown in Anderson fact, I can't think of any? Most of the wineries of Anderson Valley that make Zin get their grapes from Dry Creek Valley, Mendocino, or Russian River Valley.

That being said, Anderson Valley is by FAR my favorite Pinot Noir appellation. Also some very delicious Pinot coming from Sonoma Coast. Russian River Valley isn't my favorite for Pinot, as I've found many to be fruit-bombs, and I like a more refined "Burgundian" style.

I'm not a huge Cab drinker, so I don't actively seek it out much. However, everything I've had has come from Napa or Alexander.

Another couple of Zin appellations to look for are Paso Robles and Redwood Valley.

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