Mark Aselstine
June 12, 2013 | Mark Aselstine

Coro Wine A Mendocino County Original

Coro Mendocino TastingYesterday I was invited to a wine tasting and general introduction to Mendocino County and it’s restaurants, hotels and other tourist attractions.

Held in the Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate Club, Mendocino County clearly spared no expense in the location that they chose and that attention held up throughout the day, as the event was the best organized trade tasting that I’ve attended in some time.

One request which I always make about these events, let’s find venue’s better accessible by public transportation outside of Muni-the fact is most of the people I meet at these events are forced to drive because venue choices aren’t accessible by either BART or Caltrain, which frankly seems silly.  That isn’t an issue with Mendocino County’s event specifically, but a general complaint about how events are planned in San Francisco for the wine industry.

Ok, so the even itself was split up into three main areas.  Two of the three were the standard set up with wineries having their own tables and the ability to pour their wines.  One thing I noted was that for the consumer part of the event (5-7pm) they had clearly marked signs stating how you could purchase the wines-that’s a big improvement over many trade and consumer tastings, where you’re often left to guess.

The highlight and really the reason I decided to attend was an hour long tasting led by winemakers about their Coro Mendocino program.  In essence winemakers and wineries in Mendocino have created a European style collective to try and increase sales as well as recognition of the wines being grown in their region.

In their case, they are focusing on blends based largely on Zinfandel (45-70%) but not so much that the wines can be labeled as varietal specific Zin.  They allow a list of 9 secondary grapes, all Mediterrean in origin, although it seems like most winemakers seem to be happy to focus largely on Syrah, Petite Sirah, Primitivo and Sangiovese for their secondary set of grapes.  Lastly, they are allowed 10% free run at the end of the vintage, putting in whatever the winemaker in question feels would benefit the wine the most.

Coro Mendocino WinesI found two aspects especially interesting to the program.  First, the wineries have agreed to use some common art work and design on the bottles.  It’s the type of thing which I can’t even imagine happening elsewhere in the state.  Secondly, there is a rather intense process of peer review before a wine can be accepted into the program.  Every winemaker who wants to take part sits on a tasting panel four times before the wines are released, in an effort to make sure the quality is high enough, not to make the taste or profile more generic.  One of the reasons the winemakers seem to like that set up is that they are in essence, able to expand their palate’s without hiring a range of consulting winemakers.

Our tasting featured wines from 6 of the previous 12 vintages of Coro Mendocino, with two wines being poured from each vintage.  While I think many of the attendees would have enjoyed a wine from each vintage, it was interesting to see a rather stark contrast between two wines made in close proximity to each other, seeing how even with an extensive peer review process that winemaker choices are still shining through the wines rather brightly.

In any case, it was a really fun afternoon for me and an interesting and rather unusual way to learn about what might be the most innovative program in California wine.

Coro Mendocino, check it out if you can find the wines (it isn’t easy, they are all around 200 cases or so in production) and while ABC wouldn’t be happy about it, somehow they all seemed to be independently priced at $37.


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