ACORN Winery’s 2011 and 2012 Wines: Another Hit Parade from the Russian River Valley

Since I’ve told their story in both written and audio formats, and how they are different from everyone else churning out wine in Sonoma, there’s no real need for me to re-hash the story of one of my favorite California producers, ACORN Winery (who, in full disclosure, sent me the wines here for review, but I am always honest, so what I say here is what I really think). You can read and listen to your heart’s content by checking out these links:

With that covered, the only thing left for me to do is to review the current vintage wines and let you know what you can expect, should you decide to take my advice and give them a taste. A great lineup this year, as usual:

2012 ACORN Heritage Vines Zinfandel Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA. 

IMG_3963-2Price: $45

Alcohol: 14.5%

Color: Dark ruby with a watery rim and thick legs.

Smell: Black plum, black cherry, and raspberry with a smoky, espresso note.

Taste: Full, rich, round with medium acid and tannin — the wine rolls around your mouth. It’s beautifully textured and structured. The dark fruit is highlighted by a bramble, outside, underbrush note making it earthy but refined. There’s a slight bitter tinge on the finish, which helps balance the abundant full fruit flavor.

Drink or sink?: Drink. Beautiful wine, this is just nice to drink. It’s tasty, balanced, smooth, but with structure and layers of flavor.


2011 ACORN Syrah, Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA. 

Price: $34


Alcohol: 13.7%

Color: Inky black! A very dark purple.

Smell: Black plum leather, black pepper, and a typical horse saddle aroma. Dried dark flowers and a cigar note on a second sniff.

Taste: Black pepper, strawberry, black plum and black cherry. Leather, cigar box, and horse saddle notes with a strong dark earth and black tea thing on the finish. Ultra complex wine, and in perfect balance — the tannins were certainly kicking but in balance with the great acid and alcohol. 

Drink or sink?: Drink. 2011 was a cooler year, and I think that made this Syrah more restrained and more complex in some ways. Syrah does amazing things in cool climates (and good things in hot ones too, although I generally prefer cooler climate versions) and this is a perfect example of that! Why all California Syrah can’t be this good is a mystery to me. I loved this wine. A perfect winter wine.


2011 ACORN Cabernet Franc Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA. 

Price: $34IMG_3962

Alcohol: 13%

Color: Darker than European versions, this is a plum color with a nearly purple center.

Smell: Typical of Cabernet Franc, there was a strong herbal, mint, menthol smell against the blackberry, blueberry, dark flower aromas with black licorice and vanilla from the oak aging.

Taste: Lots of black cherry with mint, with a bit of candied cherry note on the finish. Balanced with a punch of acid and medium tannin to stand up against the fruit. 

Drink or sink?: Drink, but this is not my favorite of the ACORN line this year. It was a little too minty and herbal for me due to the cooler weather in 2011. Unlike the Syrah, I don’t think the Cab Franc benefited from the cool weather. That said, we need to have some perspective —  it was a hard year to get grapes in need of heat spikes very ripe and fruity. Bill and Betsy did the best they could, but I think this vintage is less successful than many of their others. I wanted more fruit to balance the herbs but in 2011, that was a tall order! 


2012 ACORN Sangiovese, Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA.

IMG_3961Price: $30

Alcohol: 14.1%

Color: Ruby with a glycerin glint. It was transparent with no orange tint, as many of the Italian versions have. 

Smell: Very complex. Tar, dried dirt, fresh herbs –like Italian parsley and cilantro. Black cherry, red cherry, and blackberry fruit smells with some lovely violet flower smells. 
Palate: Wow was this herbal! Yummy Italian parsley, just like on the nose, with moderate tannins and strong acid, but everything was in perfect harmony. Dark mocha with dark berry flavor on the finish, it was complex with a slight creaminess.
Drink or sink?: Drink. I think this may be ACORN’s best Sangiovese yet. So much flavor and complexity — it wowed me. And I loved the herbal notes against the dark berries. One of the best California Sangiovese I’ve had!
Another great year for ACORN wines! Such a consistently great place with affordable wines and nice people! I definitely recommend getting  yourself some if you haven’t had it! 


Thanks to Bill and Betsy! And please give their wines a try:

  • Many thanks, yet again, for “the love”. Really appreciate, respect, and value your comments. Alegria!