Gigantic Anderson Valley 2023 Tasting Report

What lies below is a comprehensive list of TNs taken while on my annual pilgrimage. Good news is that tasting is mostly back to the good ole days there! The quality seems to be very good, improved at the best producers.

Bad news is some less fun changes… Roederer Estate isn’t fun to taste at any more due to change in format, and Phillips Hill is closing up shop. Also, the wine list at the Boonville Hotel has become expensive, even for local wines. The food is better than ever though.

Domaine Anderson
Dach Chardonnay: crystalline straw and floral. Quince green apple lemon plenty of stuffing and high acid finish. Very impressive.

Wahlraven PN: pretty floral, spice, and red fruit nose. Palate is all graceful red fruit and spice, good length and balance here.

Roederer Estate and Scharffenberger Cellars
2017 L’ermitage: a very complete rendition already showing some ripe stone fruit to counter the minerally ginger aromas and long, high acid finish.

2018 Blanc de Noirs: a real knockout from Scharffenberger, the first vintage wine from here since 2010. Showed all the pretty red fruit on the nose and a palate balancing red fruit and citrus. Plenty of length and intrigue, fantastic value at $32

Witching Stick
Chardonnay 2018-2020
Similar profiles in the 18&20, with really good concentration to the lemon curd and mineral palate. They both have smoky reduction hat takes time to blow off. Once it does the fruit tends toward yellow stone fruit, wonderful ripeness and balance.
The 2019 has more richness and some sweet vanilla barrel notes to complement the yellow orchard fruit. Seems to have less acid than the other years, nice but different in style.

2019 Pinot Noirs
Perli has ripe red and black fruits, a bit of spice and a moderate length to the finish. Very enjoyable if not profound.
Gianoli has some of the richness and dark fruit of the Perli, but complements it with loads of rich earth and damp forest on the nose and palate with a brighter finish. Really nice as usual.
Fashauer remains my favorite of the Pinots this year. It has pretty florals and spice notes, then follows with concentrated red fruit and spice on the palate. Finish is long and fresh.

2019 Zinfandel. Big and burly with piles of blackberries and bramble, plenty of acid and grip to balance.

2021 Pinot Gris: wow, what a wine here. All of the wonderful ripe stone fruits, concentrated and rich with a perfect balanced finish. Probably some RS? But handles it deftly and soars on.
2021 Rose of Pinot: all you can ask for with watermelon and strawberry and lime.
2021 Gewurztraminer: more on the florals here with just a touch of tropical fruit nose. Palate is also leaner with citrus and mineral dominating. These tend to fill out with some time in bottle.

2019 Estate Pinot Noirs
Anderson Valley: apparently less new oak than the estate, but lots of spicy barrel notes on the nose and palate, with some sweet cherry fruit and moderate length. The oak really dominates at this point.
Estate: this is said to be half new oak, but it seems far more integrated. Maybe a touch of spice on the nose alongside floral and red fruits. Palate follows with good length to the red fruit, spice and earth. Textbook AV to me.
Hungarian Oak: all new barrels here and it shows, though in a different vein than the French oak of the other wines. This has caramel and toffee on the nose, quite soft and warm. Plenty of baking spice on the palate that takes precedence over the dark red fruits. A nice wine and a distant second place.

2019 Merlot (Alexander Valley): purchased fruit from Geyserville, and pretty textbook ripe plum and dusty cocoa with a good amount of tannic spine and acid to balance. Surprisingly attractive given my preferences!

Phillips Hill
Joined by fellow Berserker KatieD. Had to ride my bike and showed up a bit late…oops! Bittersweet final visit here as they are closing up shop by the end of the season. Their 2021 will be the last wines sold, and the quantities are minuscule at 100 cases per wine.

2018 Valenti: classic herbaceous and mint notes from this vineyard. The palate has plenty of tart red fruit alongside more spice and mint, bright mineral finish.

2016&2019 Anderson Valley: blend of Roma and Day Ranch with a little Oppenlander. The 2016 is fully resolved and settled in with balanced richness to the red fruit and earth notes, while the 2019 has the youthful vigor and bright red fruit components that grab my attention. It also has more floral aromas and I definitely prefer it.

2021 Boontling: the village wine here, but certainly no slouch. It has fun and fresh red and black fruits with lovely balance. Always a treat.

2019 Oppenlander: quite an expansive nose of earth and spice and dark red fruit. Palate has concentrated strawberry, pure as always, with a long finish and perfect balance. Keeps getting better over days open.

2020 Oppenlander Chardonnay: pear is the prominent note at this time, complemented by length and depth and mineral spine. This is a wonderful Chardonnay and they are the only ones who get the fruit.

2018 Valenti: spicy red fruit with the classic mint and mountain top scrub aromas. The palate matches with tart red fruit, celery stalk, mineral and chewy tannin.

2018 Oppenlander: just can’t beat the combination of earthy aromas and the wild strawberry notes that permeate throughout. In the right hands this vineyard always sings. A beautiful example of north coast pinot.

2018 Langley: this one also has really pure red fruits and a bit of spice. A perfectly good pinot noir that can be a bit one dimensional.

Boonville Road Wine
Thanks to Berserker Ed for making the drive from Ukiah to bring me my BD2021 purchases!!! I was supposed to grab them last summer but the trip got canceled so here we are. He brought along a few others to taste.

2018 Grenache: super stuff with bright pure raspberry fruit and a complement of spice. This is excellent on first taste and even better two days later, where the fruit gains and the bright long finish sings on.

2021 SBW: this has the good smooth red fruits and great balance of the Grenache, but adds a bit of youthful zing and a complement of spice and darker berry fruit. Stays super fresh throughout.

2021 Cabernet Franc: mostly darker fruit here and just a tiny hidden flash of a fresh tobacco leaf, while the palate has good depth of dark fruit, mineral, and still quite chewy tannin. Nice wine!

Tasted through quite a few wines here as always, but will just list a few of particular interest this time around.

2021 Chardonnay Premier Reserve: excellent depth and concentrated lemon, creamy balance to anotherwise high acid expression.

2021 Rose of Sangiovese: from old plantings in warmer inland vineyards. Beautiful red fruits, easy going, all around delicious.

2019 Pinot Methode: estate pinot that had plenty of dark red fruit and spice, but the barrel notes were a bit intrusive and it felt a bit too weighty.

2022 Pinot Deep End (barrel tasting): woah, hands down the best young pinot I have tasted from Navarro. High acid and great freshness to the concentrated red fruit.

2018 Gewurztraminer Cluster Select: full botrytis on this and the Riesling of the same year, but this had none of the cloying sweetness of that wine. The honey and stone fruit dominate the varietal notes for now, but it has great balance.

Fathers and Daughters
Guy was gracious enough to host us up above Ferrington vineyard to taste through some of the wines. Of course, Ferrington is well known for all the non-local wines made from the fruit. But there are a couple local examples, and I wanted to check these out since the winemaker is Phil Baxter.

Sarahs Rustic Bubbles: fun and fresh and a bit tart, a very refreshing pet nat style bubbly. As stated by Guy, it does in fact go great with donut holes.

Sauvignon Blanc: mineral laced, lively, with a good bit of citrus fruit and florals. This is what I want in SB. More akin to Loire in style with a hint of Cali sunshine.

Rose of Zinfandel: all the lovely red fruit and tart cherry and strawberry. Well balanced and bright. Great warm weather treat.

Ferrington PN 2019: floral and spice with darker red fruit on the nose. Plenty of earth and spice to go along with dark red fruits on the palate. A deft touch given the much bigger style that this vineyard can produce.

2017 Kobler Cider: this was the most complex and delicious cider I have ever had. Spice and sweet fruit balanced by very high acid and a perception of a dry finish. That was fun!

Other wines had during the trip…
Dom Monts Luisants MSD 1er 2005: two bottles from auction, both dead and gone. Worst purchase in a long time

2007 Dom Maison Blanche Blanchots VV Chablis GC: two bottles from the same lot that clearly define premox in white burgundy. These wines are Billaud Simon relabeled for export btw…I have bought 15 of these and other from a collection on WineBid. The first bottle open shows gold in the glass and has oxidized caramel and bruised apple nose and a palate that is less gone but still exhibiting the oxidized apple. Second bottle is correct, almost too young! Pours a relatively pale straw color and screams class and grace from the outset. Mineral, cream, lemon, white flowers on the nose. The palate has great depth, concentrated fruit that progressed from ripe yellow apple to stone fruit over three days open. The finish is electric and has the excellent tension of a very good Chablis.


Thanks for the notes. I miss the Anderson Valley.

What is the new format at Roederer?

Have you ever tasted at Graziano? I had their Chenin a few weeks back at a restaurant and loved it.
We’ve been to Anderson Valley a couple of times, but I don’t recall ever hearing Graziano pop up for recommended wineries to visit.

We’re due back for a visit.

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That is one heck of a report. Right there in my old 'hood. It’s possible the Toulouse PG was from my old job, but not sure. 2019 IMHO is one of the better years for everything from the valley.

The Anderson Valley is truly a magical place - wine and people and nature all coming together to create a very distinctive and singular setting. Wish I could spend more time there.

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Graziano is actually in Redwood Valley with a tasting room in Hopland. Well worth a visit if your journey to AV takes you up 101.

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Sean is correct on graziano, who make a nice variety of wines and do a good job of it.

Roederer is all seated tastings, prepaid reservations, prepaid food items, etc. The prices have also changed dramatically. It used to be a very laid back tasting at the bar where you’d meet people, have a lot of interaction with the staff, and really get to explore. For members they always had at least one extra bottle open, usually an older or late disgorged bottle.

Anyway, the Scharffenberger wines are better than ever by a long shot in my view, with the two wines they don’t distribute being my favorites (Black Label and 2018 BDN). Things are reminiscent of the good ole days, even if they don’t taste at the bar anymore.


Disappointed not to have checked out the stalwarts Handley and Husch. Also missed Lichen this time around… their Pinot Noirs et Gris is a favorite and the estate pinot can be wonderful.

Overall I’ve liked 2018 PN the most so far, including the Day Ranch from Phillips Hill

Often wonder if I’m sensationalizing the place in my mind…then we spend a few days and think “yeah, that really was great”.

One of my favorite things to do there is ride back and forth over to the coast. The last two visits I have been physically hobbled (torn hip labrum 2021, torn acl this time), yet thoroughly enjoyed it still. Forgot to mention the 25lbs of ripe peaches I grabbed from Gowans fruit stand…can’t beat it.

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Eager to hear of your Husch TN. I love their AV Pinot Noir and Mendo Cab I can find in the Austin area now and then. Last year I found their Mendo Zin in the wild in Denver while on vacation. Solid enough I should have stocked up. Aiming to visit AV next year and ponder relocation from Central Texas.

I LOVE their Chenin.

I guess i missed this post before. You’re taking your life in the hands dummies riding a bike to the coast! As many know, once 128 leaves the wine region it gets very narrow through the redwoods. Not much room for error and very windy too. Someone could come around a corner and completely take you out while trying to ride on the fog line.

Definitely never ride 128 in the fog. I typically ride Philo-Greenwood road to elk or Mountain View out to point arena. Rarely ride 128 all the way but have done so a dozen times with no close calls.

On Greenwood-Philo Road, have you ever stopped at Drew to taste? Last Saturday was my annual visit with Jason and Molly going through 2021 and 2022 Viognier, Chardonnay, PN and Syrah. They have moved the tastings to the winery from Philo. Well worth making an appointment. Toby Hill asked me to come up and do photography this past summer for his studio and upcoming farewell winery newsletter. I think they only made enough for the list on the last vintage. Phillips Hill had a lot of fans (including me).

Sorry we missed you in August.
If you want a riding partner or some local knowledge reach out next time. Gravel or MTB Philo Greenwood has multiple other options for fun loops. I was out there yesterday for my birthday.

I know there’s a bunch of stuff for gravel and MTB but it’s not my thing. Also, tore my ACL so pretty much rules out MTB for good. I’d actually planned to go try some MTB this trip but ruined my knee about two weeks before we left!

We weren’t ambitious with tasting schedule this year so didn’t have a chance to swing by. Hopefully we can check in with you again in 2024… should be way less fraught than it was in 2020!

They just changed the tasting setup so I’ve only ever tasted at the Madrones. I do ride past their property every time obviously.

The wines seemed to take on a certain sameness across the board for me, so I became less interested over the past few years. The Fog Eater retains a good value proposition for me still, but the single vineyard pricing has gone a bit off the rails. If they can sell it all at that price, good for them! I just don’t find the value at $75+ so have let the free ship sail…