There is an anecdote about an American tourist in England asking a local about why the railway station was so far from the town; the response was: “They wanted it to be close to the railway line.” That reason is why so many wineries are miles from major roads; the owners wanted to build them near the grapes. At first glance that would explain why Etude is located somewhat off the beaten track, but as our host explained all but their Cabernet Sauvignon comes come from a single source between Sonoma and Petaluma, no-where near the tasting room.
Etude’s tasting room consists of modern, white buildings that form three sides of a courtyard around a well-manicured lawn on which people can take a tasting. The tasting room itself is a two-storey whitewashed room, with metal beams, and ceiling fans.
California Girl Comments: The tasting room is beautiful, and our host Michael was both knowledgeable and friendly. The space was bright, modern and airy. It felt a little lacking in warmth to me. The outside garden space however was lovely.
2014 Pinot Gris.
California Girl Comments: Scents of fruit and earth in the nose with hints of minerals. It had the crisp taste of apples and honey with an acidic finish. The overall wine was good, but not something I wouldn’t rush to buy at $28 per bottle.
2014 Pinot Noir Rose
California Girl Comments: Flavor of unripe strawberries, slightly tart with a mineral substance to the body. The finish in the mouth is slightly acidic. There was no real nose to speak of. I didn’t care for this wine in the line up. It simply fell flat for me.
2013 Carneros Estate Pinot Noir
California Girl Comments: This bottle of wine was made by collecting the grapes from multiple vineyards rather than sourcing them from one appellation or area. There is no softness or finesse to this wine. It needs age before it can be properly accessed to my opinion. I could taste that there were lots of complex spices there, but the overwhelming tannin flavor just turned me off. My hope is that in a year or so the wine will settle down and gain complexity and structure.
2013 DeerCamp Vineyard Pinot Noir
California Girl Comments: Beautiful rich nose. Smells of spices and plums. This was far more elegant and sophisticated than the previous wines. Soft and smooth in the mouth, but still plenty of tannin’s. I liked this wine, but it didn’t bowl me over.
2013 Heirloom Pinot Noir
California Girl Comments: Delicious! My absolute favorite of the line up. Fruit forward full of plumbs, vanilla, and black cherry. I really loved this wine. This is my pick if you are going to purchase a Pinot Noir from this winery. I think they got this one just right. Another year of age and I think this one will be truly spectacular.
2010 St. Helena Cab
California Girl Comments: I would like to start by saying that although this winery considers themselves a Pinot Noir house, what really shines for me is their Cab selections. I was absolutely stunned at just how good the Cabs are in their line up. The St. Helena Cab at $110 per bottle isn’t inexpensive by any means, but you can really taste the quality in this wine. Balanced, smooth and supple, ready to drink right now. I would say that it has a European flare to it. A real winner for me.
California Girl Comments: Fruit forward and soft tannin’s. This wine had an amazing nose filled with lush fruits. I am not sure that I love it more than the 2010. It has the color of the deepest burgundy and gorgeous legs. I would love to do a tasting side by side of the 2010 and 2012 to really see which one is better. It retails for $115 per bottle.
2010 Oakville Cab
California Girl Comments: When looking back at my tasting notes for this wine, the first word I wrote was beautiful. Smooth and rich, I could imagine myself enjoying a glass with a nice big steak. It was a mouth full of ripe dark cherries and a tannic finish. At $110 per bottle, it is right up there with their other cabs. Not a wine for a cheap night in.
2012 Oakville Cab
California Girl Comments: This was my hands down favorite taste of the day. No need for food, this beauty was a very special wine. I could imagine myself enjoying this during a night of romance. It is ready to drink right now and I would highly recommend that you pick someone wonderful to share it with. It is too good to waste. This has it all, rich fruit flavor, complex on the palate, and a great smell. It is simply DELICIOUS! $115
2012 Napa Valley Cab
California Girl Comments: This wine was the cheapest in the Cab lineup and my 3rd favorite. At $85 per bottle I really liked this wine. It is ready to drink now, although a bit of age will really make this wine shine. With food or on its own its great. I might pair it with a beef stroganoff. I think the cream, the beef and the paprika would be a wonderful complement to it’s flavor.
California Girl Comments: Coming away from this tasting experience, I have to say that we were way more impressed with their expressions of Cabernet Sauvingnon than we were with their Pinot Noir. We didn’t purchase any wine on this visit because the wines we really enjoyed were on the expensive side of what we thought they were worth. Still, the tasting was enjoyable and the place was nice.