The Wines of Lake County: New Releases from Shannon Ridge

Clear Lake

Located 35 miles north of the Napa County Line, Shannon Ridge Vineyards is a certified sustainable, family winery located in Lake County’s High Valley AVA.   Mike Wood is winemaker.  The 2200 foot high, volcanic rock vineyards overlook Clear Lake, the largest inland body of water in California, which provides a moderating influence on the climate.

Lake County has 8800 acres of grapes today and is one of the fastest growing wine regions in California, although it has been growing premium grapes since the mid-19th century.  Lake County is renown for its white wines, and the Shannon Ridge whites add to that reputation.  The Roussane and Viognier are especially attractive with creamy, subtly flavored, balanced palates.  Overall, the Shannon wines are fairly priced and popular in style, avoiding over the top oaking while providing an easy drinking experience.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay Lake County ($19) 88  Light tropical and vanilla notes grace the nose and palate of this flavorful Chardonnay. Quite straightforward in nature, it’s the kind of wine that easily glides down the throat.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Ranch Collection Lake County ($16)  88  This is a refreshing wine with nettles and freshly cut grass on the nose. The palate is lightly flavored with light asparagus and even passion fruit notes, but the virtue of this wine is its freshness, bracing acidity, and long finish. The perfect wine to accompany a lunchtime salad on the patio.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards 2009 Roussane Morine Ranch Lake County ($24) 89  This single vineyard wine from the Morine Ranch reveals ripe stone fruit on the nose with notes of dried herbs and chamomile. The palate is round, full, and nicely balanced, finishing long with a viscous honeyed note.  Serve this wine near room temperature; too cold and the subtle aromas and flavors don’t have a chance.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards 2009 Viognier Morine Ranch Lake County ($24) 89  White peach and a touch of litchi grace the nose of this single vineyard Viognier, while the palate is creamy smooth with flavors of ripe honeydew melon, finishing long and soft with a spicy hint of white pepper.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards 2009 Riesling Falconer Ranch Lake County  ($16) 88+ The 1400’ high Falconer Ranch is the source of fruit for this single vineyard Riesling, one of the most flavorful we’ve had out of California. The wine is fruity, showing rich, ripe stone fruit and sweet yellow summer melon on the nose and palate.  The wine tastes sweeter than the reported 2.9 percent residual sugar, but relatively high acidity gives the wine balance. An excellent wine to pair with spicy Asian food, but serve it very well chilled.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards 2009 Petite Sirah Caldwell Ranch Lake County ($24) 89+The Petite Sirah is rich and fruit forward with aromas of ripe boysenberry and dark red plum and hints of milk chocolate.  On the palate, it’s well structured with fine, ripe tannins, uncomplicated fruit flavors, and a full body. Aged 18 months in half new American oak and half neutral French oak. This is a great wine to pair with smoky barbecue fare.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards 2009 Wrangler Red Lake County ($17) 88A blend of several varieties, the Wrangler is a full-bodied wine showing freshness on the nose and red and black fruit with sweet vanilla oak notes on the palate. The wine is easy-drinking with round tannins and would pair well with grilled fare. It should be served at cellar temperature.

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler

July 2012

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