Friday, August 31, 2007

Tasting Room: Toad Hollow Vineyards

Today marks the start of a new Friday feature called Tasting Room. A complement to Friday's Winery Watches, these posts will include reports of current releases from a particular winery. In some cases they will be the current releases of a winery I've written a Winery Watch profile on in the past. Sometimes, they will cover wines made by negociants or folks who draw from a variety of vineyards all over California and the world. In other cases, I will have had the opportunity to taste a complete line-up of the wines and just want to get brief reviews out to you as quickly as possible. Enjoy!

If you find yourself in or near the town of Healdsburg, be sure to visit the friendly tasting room of Toad Hollow Vineyards. Toad Hollow was started by Todd Williams and Rodney Strong, two men with a passion for making world class wines at affordable prices. The wines that I tasted when I visited certainly lived up to that mandate. I've already reviewed a Toad Hollow wine for WBW #36, a delicious unoaked chardonnay. Today I want to share my other tasting notes from that visit. To find these Toad Hollow wines at a retailer near you, click on their interactive map for distributor and retailer contacts.

2004 Toad Hollow Cabernet Sauvignon Concinnity (purchased at the tasting room for around $17; no other merchant information available). A new world red blend made in an old world style. Rich red fruits lie underneath green herbal and pepper notes. Contains cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, syrah, and cabernet franc. Limited production. Very drinkable. Will appeal to those who like a more restrained and less extracted cab, but find Bordeaux TOO green. Nicely balanced, nice finish. Good QPR.

2005 Toad Hollow Pinot Noir Goldie's Vines ($20 at the tasting room; under $25 at other merchants) Extremely good pinot noir made from Russian River Valley fruit. Abundant, bright red raspberry fruit is balanced out with toasted oak. There are dusty tannins and earthy notes to add to the complexity. Very good QPR.

2004 Toad Hollow Merlot Reserve Richard McDowell Vineyard ($18 at the tasting room; under $20 through other merchants) I loved this beautifully made merlot from Russian River Valley fruit. It is rich, robust, and fruity with a core of currant, clove, and caramel aromas and flavors. Accented by vanilla and toast, this wine will please any big red wine drinker. Not a wimpy merlot by any means. Excellent QPR.

N.V. Toad Hollow Erik's the Red (between $10 and $15 from most merchants) Paso Robles grapes go into this surprisingly good blend of 18 grapes. Priced perfectly to accompany your pizza, it is a smooth drinker, with nice acidity, and not at all mushy. Cab Franc provides interesting herbal aromas, zinfandel lends its blackberry fruit to the mix, and petite sirah's richness and body lend lushness to the blend. At the same time there is a definite softness to the wine (probably from its pinot noir, grenache, and dolcetto grapes) as well. Great house red candidate. Excellent QPR.

N.V. Toad Hollow Limoux Risqué (under $15) . Made with French grapes, this light and delicate sparkler is sweet and meant to go with dessert. This is a cake wine, with only 6% alc/vol and a nice balance of acidity to counteract the sweetness. Light lemon aromas and flavors, with lots of honeysuckle impression. Try it with coconut cake, angel food cake with berries. Very good QPR.

It is a sad, sad task for me to add to this post the news that one of Toad Hollow's founders, Todd Williams, passed away in Santa Rosa on August 14, 2007. Todd Williams was a great believer that everyone deserved to drink good wine, even those on a budget. He was also a believer in giving back to this community. Donations can be made in his memory to the Boys and Girls Club of Healdsburg, and to the Norma and Evert Person Heart Institute at the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He will be missed.


winedeb said...

Dr. Deb's - One of my top winery's. I enjoy everyone of their wines. So sorry to hear about Todd. Hopefully the winery will keep on producing such a good line of wines!

Dr. Debs said...

Deb, I really like their wines, too. I left with 1/2 a case! And it was a shame to hear about Todd, I agree.