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Taste the wine of popular Spanish grape grown in California

Marimar Torres with her daughter Christina and the family dogs, real and otherwise (Photograph supplied)

Nestled in the rolling hills of western Sonoma County, the Russian River/Green Valley appellation is a perfect microclimate for growing pinot noir.

Only ten miles from the Pacific Ocean and 50 miles north of San Francisco, the site is influenced by the sea's cooling breezes and drifting fog.

That is why Marimar Torres selected this privileged location to set up a New World branch of their highly respected family winery in Spain. In the past we have stocked their pinot noir and chardonnay but have not had any of their fine wines for a few years. Now we have four for you.

The 2020 Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard Albariño offers you the chance of seeing what this popular white wine grape of Spain can produce in California with its bright aromas of honeysuckle, star jasmine, Asian pear and stone fruit like apricot and white peach. The palate displays its classic minerality reminiscent of wet stones and it is crisp and lively, savoury and with bright acidity. Serve with raw or grilled seafood, smoked salmon, sushi and Asian cuisine – and for sure, with tapas!

Decanter magazine gives it a very complimentary 92/100 and comments: “This is a ripe and rounded mouth-filling wine, with aromas of warm peach skins, showing crisp and zesty acidity on the finish along with wet-rock minerality.” $43 (Stock #9309).

The 2018 Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard La Masia Pinot Noir Russian River, Sonoma exhibits bright classic colour and nose, reminiscent of raspberries and black cherries, with savoury notes of orange peel and sage, sandalwood, and sassafras. The palate has scents of violets and orange blossoms, with soft tannins that promise a long life. It will continue to develop for another 10 to 15 years, maybe more. The Wine Spectator awards it 94 points and says, “Well-structured and powerful, with an umami-like richness to the raspberry tart and cherry pastry flavours that are backed by firm tannins and fresh acidity. Minerally mid-palate, with a finish that's loaded with plenty of savouriness and framed by accents of slate.” $59 (Stock #9306).

The winery tells us this about their 2018 Marimar Estate Dona Margarita Vineyard Mas Cavalls Pinot Noir: “We have named this bottling Mas Cavalls after the Catalan name for Horse Farm, since our new event centre at our former horse barn lies right below the vineyard. The 20-acre Doña Margarita Vineyard is certified sustainable and is located in the Sonoma Coast appellation of origin. The cool breezes and drifting fog from the Pacific Ocean, six miles away, make it an ideal site for pinot noir. Planted in the European style of super-high density, with 2,340 vines per acre, the yields are low and labour is intensive; but the vines live longer and the grapes acquire better balance and greater concentration, as well as more elegance and finesse.

“This is a beautiful, classic pinot colour with a nose that reflects its ancestry: sweet black fruits like blackberries, rhubarb and cranberry, plus the classic forest floor, meaty and earthy, with floral notes of lavender and rose hip. On the palate it is soft but mouth- filling, with a minerality, bright acidity and well-integrated tannins that promise a long life; this wine will continue to develop for at least 10 to 15 years. I would recommend serving it at cellar temperature, between 58 and 60F. $54 (Stock #9307).

The Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard Cristina Pinot Noir 2017 has engaging aromas of black fruits, ripe cherries and a hint of pomegranate, with savoury notes of bay leaf and anise. The palate is seductive, never ending, with great balance and silky tannins. Its complexity and nice acidity, perfectly integrated oak and fruit, augur a long life – at least another 15 to 20 years. These pinot noirs are perfect cellar candidates. James Sucking rates it 93/100 and writes: “Ripe-cherry, strawberry-compote, spice-box, lavender and chocolate-orange aromas. It’s full-bodied with ripe tannins. Lots of dark spice and wood on a long, concentrated finish. But remains agile and fine.” $72.90 (Stock #9308).

Situated in one of my favourite Sonoma towns – Healdsburg – you will find the Gary Farrell winery that was one of the first to offer Burgundian varietals from “the Burgundy of the west” as folks often call California’s Russian River Valley. It was here, in the 1800s, that Russian fur traders came to hunt as the cool climate guaranteed healthy, warm pelts and now, pinot noir and chardonnay-perfect temperatures as well.

Our 2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Chardonnay is described this way by their winemaker: “Rich and golden, yet vibrant and zesty, this beautiful orchestra of Russian River Valley vineyards offers up enticing aromas of ripe nectarine, honeysuckle, lemon grass, and freshly baked brioche. Flinty, briny, and spicy, the palate is full-bodied and rich, yet remarkably mineral-driven, with flavours of roasted Meyer lemon, grapefruit, ginger and just a kiss of lightly toasted oak. The beautiful saline quality balances the tangy acidity and lingering spice. Everything is nicely integrated, from the tangy entry to the long oily finish.”

The Wine Enthusiast opines: “This outstanding wine offers a full range of complex flavours, texture and depth; the grapes sourced from a who's who of sites including Bacigalupi, Westside Farms and Rochioli. Gravenstein apple, Meyer lemon, tangerine and quenching acidity meld with a butterscotch accent and a balanced, rich texture. 94/100.” $45.25 (Stock #6479).

The 2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir is a real beauty with its raspberries, red currants and strawberries followed by a nose of tobacco and forest floor, cola, summer jasmine, honeysuckle and rose petals. Cherries, garden herbs and sweet baking spice follow. Critic James Suckling scores it 95 points and writes: “Aromas of wild cherry, plum, crushed stone and ocean breeze. Medium-bodied with integrated tannins. An array of red fruit and fresh, coloured flowers fills the palate. Very flavourful and satisfying. Bright acidity and a mineral edge keep the palate driven and dynamic. Lingering finish. Lovely. Drink or hold.” $53.75 (Stock #6480).

• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published September 24, 2022 at 8:01 am (Updated September 24, 2022 at 8:01 am)

Taste the wine of popular Spanish grape grown in California

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