Napa and Sonoma get a lot of attention for producing great wines. Much of it is deserved, but there are several areas in California that aren't as well known yet, also producing noteworthy wines. One of those regions is Lake County California. Many well known wineries from outside Lake County have been sourcing fruit there for years. Now the number of wineries in the area is also growing. One of these Wineries is Shannon Ridge. They were founded in 2002 and currently produce about 13,000 cases of wine. Their winery sits on 1,000 acres in Lake County. Eventually they plan to have between 60 and 70 percent of that land under vine. The rest will be preserved for the wildlife that roam the area in and around them.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of 3 whites Shannon Ridge made in the 2006 vintage. It hits you immediately with a big nose full of citrus and guava notes. The first sips are surprising considering how big the nose is. This Sauvignon Blanc hits the palate gently at first. The citrus is present but not overwhelming. The mid palate of this wine is quite delightful. It absolutely dances on the tongue, balancing citrus, gooseberry and a nice acidity. It fills the mouth, but drinks smoothly with no sharp edges. The finish is significant, long enough in fact to be noticeable and impressive. Although this Sauvignon Blanc drinks beautifully on it's own, it will also pair well with a variety of different foods. I found it to be a wonderful match with Chinese Pork Dumplings. The suggested retail price is $16.00 although Wine-Searcher.com shows it can be found in some shops for a few dollars less. Well worth the money.
At just over 3,700 cases the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon stands as Shannon Ridge's largest production of 2006. The Sauvignon Blanc was close at 3,600 cases. The Cabernet has berries on the nose and the first sip reveals a touch of tartness. This likely comes from the 10% Petite Verdot that was blended in. After the wine had time to breathe that touch of tartness softened up and the wine had a more luxurious quality to it. White pepper is the story of this Cabernet's mid palate. If you enjoy the spice on your tongue and the back of your throat that comes from those peppery notes this is indeed a Cabernet to seek out. Along with the spice there are lots of deep, dark berry notes present. A touch of oak shows up but does not overwhelm the palate in any way. This is definitely a Cabernet that is ready to drink now. It will also marry well with a wide variety of foods. I had it with pork and it was a nice accompaniment. It's is however a Cabernet Sauvignon that is smooth enough to enjoy on it's own. The suggested retail price is $19.00 but Wine-Searcher once again shows it can be found for a couple of dollars less in some instances. A solid Cabernet to drink in it's youth and a must for lovers of strong white pepper notes.
Significantly smaller in production than the other two wines is their 2006 Syrah. This less than 1,500 case lot has 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petite Verdot blended in. The first thing that hit me from this Syrah was a huge nose filled with Blackberries. Sipping it the Syrah reveals itself to be pretty big and bold. There is a bit of jam that brings to mind Zinfandel. That thought only lingers briefly though. The mid palate brings on some mocha notes and more dark berry fruit. This Syrah is full bodied, mouth filling and an absolute pleasure to drink. The finish has blueberry notes as well as a hint of malted chocolate. It lingers on the palate for a good long while. A treat to drink on it's own this Syrah will pair well with roasted meats, BBQ and perhaps even dark chocolate among others. Retail on this wine is also $19.00. As with the others I found it to be fairly priced.
All three wines I previewed from Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery are enjoyable and worth seeking out. However, I found the Sauvignon Blanc to be the most unique of the three and worth going that extra mile to find if you have to. In the grand scheme of things Shannon Ridge are a fairly young operation. With these wines, they show themselves to be one to watch.