The 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet is brilliant purple-red with an aroma reminiscent of Baker's chocolate, rhubarb pie, boysenberry and pipe tobacco. Its texture is medium weight, polished agate and bright with only a slight tug of firmness. It has flavors of Santa Rosa Plum, fresh olive oil, graham cracker, cassis, vanilla extract and white pepper.
Hanna Winery was founded in 1985 by Dr. Elias Hanna, a world-renowned cardiac surgeon, who was eager to find a place in the country to continue the farming heritage of his upbringing in Syria. In the 1970s he realized his dream with the purchase of 12 acres in the Russian River Valley. Dr. Hanna’s oldest daughter, Christine, now runs the operations of the winery. Hanna owns 600 acres of land in the Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and the Mayacamas Mountains, 250 of which are planted.
Under Christine Hanna’s guidance, the winery has evolved into an estate philosophy that blends the viticultural diversity of fruit cultivated in its four vineyard estates in three unique appellations. With the help of winemaker Jeff Hinchliffe, they craft award-winning wines, such as its Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc and Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.