Not your average pony: 6 Don & Sons Appellation Driven Wines

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BEFORE

Yesterday, 20 other wine bloggers and I cracked open six tiny bottles of Don Sebastiani & Sons Appellation Brands wines during a Virtual (Twitter) Tasting hosted by winemaker Greg Kitchens and Donny Sebastiani on a live video and audio stream from Sonoma, California.

I know Appellation isn’t a type of HORSE or pony, not even a Shetland Pony like these cute little 50ml bottles Don and Sons sent us.

Appellation is the terroir–where the grapes were grown. In this case, for this tasting, we traveled all over California: from Sonoma to Napa to Paso to Clarksburg.

So we could really get a sense of the various appellations, Don and Sons sent 20 of us bloggers a collection six 50ml bottles from TastingRoom.Com instead of only 3 or 4 full-sized ones.

We started with Don & Sons 2010 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $20, which has a rich color with strawberry notes, very fruity with some subtle earth. We thought this was a great buy. There was some talk about the Petaluma Gap and the cooling influence of the ocean but it was hard to keep up and taste and tweet.

Before we had a chance to do much with the pinot noir, they’d moved on to B Side 2010 Napa Valley Red Wine Blend $30–so we did too. It reminded Annie AnyDay of Chianti and Swirling Dervish of the house wine you’d get in an Italian restaurant. I enjoy the complexity of blends and liked this one with its five varietals. Very lovely color: violets & garnet, a jeweled blackberry of a wine, with currant in the mouth and a bit meaty.  The texture is velvety smooth, plushy, not too oaky.

Next thing we knew, Don Sebastiani and Greg Kitchens were on to the B Side 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $30: very aromatic and mysterious and dark like a dark theater with oak paneling or a cedar closet, very woodsy,

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AFTER

Why the name “B Side”? Because these wines are a flip side to the expected Napa wines and from less well-known regions. Or as they put it, “the little known vineyard gems that line the Silverado Trail.”

Finally, they slowed down a bit and we got a chance to catch up, catch our breaths, and take some notes as they shared stories about the Sebastiani family and discussed their wine-making practices, then we moved on to the fourth wine, the Aquinas 2009 Napa Valley Red Wine Blend $40 was the most expensive, but it was not our favorite. We liked the ride with the Aquinas but it was a bit of a rough on the finish; they suggest decanting this wine to take the edge off. This batch they suspect will age well, making it a good gift item. This full-bodied Napa wine is mostly cab with some merlot and petit sirah.

I loved the nose of the Project Paso 2010 Paso Robles Red Wine Blend  $15–the grenache is the leading varietal and it really spices it all up. This kitchen sink blend has a total of nine different varietals, some expected like syrah and some less common like the grape used in port–touriga nacional. While I love blends, this was our least favorite overall–a little too soft and fruity for my taste anyway. This would be a good wine for a party or to order at a bar.

The Crusher 2011 Clarksburg Petite Sirah $18 is a good introductory or exploratory petite sirah because the journey is a pleasurable experience from beginning to end–the nose is lovely, it tastes great, and it has a smooth finish.  We loved the deep dark grape jelly color, the elegant floral water perfume, it’s plentiful fruit balanced with enough acid to be true to its PS nature.

Overall, while we had a hard time-sharing these little bottles between the three of us tasting, tweeting, and taking notes, we did get enough to get an idea of these wines and the appellations they represent. We would also heartily recommend checking out the TastingRoom.Com selections of wines where you can try them out and see how you like a wine before buying a bottle or a case. As you can see from the “before” picture, we’ve got another box of six to try out!

If you want to try the six Don and Sons Wines that we tasted tonight, you can find them on sale this month on the Don Sebastiani & Sons website, at select grocery stores and purveyors of better wines. But as far as I know, for now, you can not get those cute little bottles.

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