Taste the wine of the popular Spanish grape grown in California – The Royal Gazette

Marimar Torres with her daughter Christina and the real and other family dogs (photo provided)

Nestled in the rolling hills of western Sonoma County, the Russian River/Green Valley appellation offers a perfect microclimate for growing Pinot Noir.

Just ten miles from the Pacific Ocean and 50 miles north of San Francisco, the location is influenced by cooling ocean breezes and drifting fog.


It is for this reason that Marimar Torres has chosen this privileged location to establish a New World branch of her highly regarded family winery in Spain. In the past we have stocked their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but not any of their fine wines for a number of years. Now we have four for you.

That 2020 Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard Albariño offers you a chance to see what this popular white wine grape of Spain can produce in California with its bright aromas of honeysuckle, star jasmine, Asian pear and stone fruit like apricot and white peach. Showing its classic minerality reminiscent of wet stones, the palate is crisp and lively, flavorful and with a bright acidity. Serve it with raw or grilled seafood, smoked salmon, sushi and Asian cuisine – and of course with tapas!

carafe The magazine gives it a very flattering 92/100, commenting: “This is a mature and well-rounded wine that fills the mouth, with aromas of warm peach skin, showing crisp and tangy acidity on the finish, as well as a stony minerality.” $43 (Stock #9309).

That 2018 Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard La Masia Pinot Noir Russian River, Sonoma shows a bright classic color and nose reminiscent of raspberries and black cherries, with savory notes of orange peel and sage, sandalwood and sassafras. On the palate it smells of violets and orange blossom, with soft tannins that promise longevity. It will continue to develop for another 10 to 15 years, maybe longer. That wine spectators gives it 94 points and says: “Well structured and powerful, with an umami-like richness of raspberry tart and cherry biscuit flavors supported by firm tannins and fresh acidity. Mineral on the palate with a savory finish framed by slate accents.” $59 (stock #9306).

The winery tells us this about theirs 2018 Marimar Estate Dona Margarita Vineyard Mas Cavalls Pinot Noir: “We named this bottling Mas Cavalls after the Catalan name for equestrian farm, because our new events center is located in our former stables just below the vineyard. The 20 hectare Doña Margarita winery is certified as sustainable and is located in the Sonoma Coast Designation of Origin. The cool breezes and drifting fog from the Pacific Ocean six miles away make it an ideal spot for Pinot Noir. Planted European style at super high density, with 2,340 vines per acre, yields are small and labor intense; but the vines live longer and the grapes acquire better balance and concentration, as well as more elegance and finesse.

“This is a beautiful, classic Pinot color with a nose that reflects its origins: sweet black fruits like blackberries, rhubarb and cranberries, plus the classic forest floor, fleshy and earthy, with floral notes of lavender and rosehip. On the palate it is soft but mouth-filling, with minerality, bright acidity and well-integrated tannins that promise longevity; This wine will continue to evolve for at least 10 to 15 years. I would recommend serving it at cellar temperature between 58 and 60F. $54 (stock #9307).

That Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard Cristina Pinot Noir 2017 has appealing aromas of black fruits, ripe cherries and hints of pomegranate, with savory notes of bay leaf and anise. The palate is seductive, endless, with great balance and silky tannins. Its complexity and beautiful acidity, perfectly integrated oak and fruit promise a long life – at least another 15 to 20 years. These Pinot Noirs are perfect cellar candidates. James Sucking gives it a 93/100, writing, “Ripe cherries, strawberry compote, spice box, lavender and chocolate orange flavors. It is full-bodied with ripe tannins. Lots of dark spice and wood in the long, concentrated finish. But stay agile and refined.” $72.90 (stock #9308).

In one of my favorite Sonoma towns – Healdsburg – is the Gary Farrell Winery, which was one of the first to offer Burgundian varietals from what people often call California’s Russian River Valley, “the Burgundy of the West.” This is where Russian fur traders came to hunt in the 18th century, as the cool climate guaranteed healthy, warm pelts and now Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-perfect temperatures too.

Our 2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Chardonnay is described by its winemaker: “Rich and golden, yet vibrant and zesty, this beautiful orchestra of Russian River Valley vineyards offers enticing aromas of ripe nectarine, honeysuckle, lemongrass and freshly baked brioche. Flint, salty and spicy, the palate is full-bodied and rich, yet remarkably mineral, with flavors of toasted Meyer lemon, grapefruit, ginger and just a hint of lightly toasted oak. The nice salty quality balances the tangy acidity and lingering spiciness. Everything is nicely integrated, from the sparkling entry to the long oily finish.”

That wine lover says: “This superb wine offers a range of complex aromas, texture and depth; the grapes come from a who’s who of locations such as Bacigalupi, Westside Farms and Rochioli. Gravenstein apple, Meyer lemon, tangerine and refreshing acidity fuse with a butterscotch accent and a balanced, rich texture. 94/100.” $45.25 (stock #6479).

That 2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir is a true beauty with its raspberries, redcurrants and strawberries, followed by a nose of tobacco and forest soil, cola, summer jasmine, honeysuckle and rose petals. Cherries, garden herbs and sweet baking spices follow. Critic James Suckling scored 95 and wrote, “Flavours of wild cherry, plum, gravel and sea breeze. Medium body with integrated tannins. An array of red fruits and fresh, colorful flowers fill the palate. Very tasty and satisfying. Bright acidity and a mineral edge keep the palate driven and dynamic. Lasting finish. Nice. Drink or hold.” $53.75 (stock #6480).

• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at [email protected] Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit