A tasty stay at Lula Cellars: Mendocino & Anderson Valley #wine

April 14, 2015 at 6:32 pm

It’s funny how life can connect the dots sometimes, leading to a lovely and serendipitous experience.  This was one of those times (or extended weekends, for that matter). Late last year I was contacted about a possible media stay at the rustic estate of a fine pinot producer in the Anderson Valley AVAMendocino County (WLFBTw) is one of the coolest wine regions in California (if not the coolest), and also happens to be where I married the Lady (Tw) almost 15 years ago. Courtesy of Chalkboard Communications and the hospitality of Jeff Hansen and Dan Reed, we were able to both stay at and visit this region for the first time in 15 years, and taste through the very impressive wines from Jeff and Lula Cellars (WLFB).  Yum! Philo is a *very* small town (Pop: 349), tucked along CA-128 about 30 miles from SE of the seaside village of Mendocino.  It also happens to be the heart of the ANderson Valley and Mendocino County wine regions, with over 20 wineries and wine tasting rooms in extremely close proximity to “downtown”.

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Jeff Hansen & the Lady discussing Lula wines in their brilliant tasting room.

Jeff Hansen has that easy-going demeanor of someone that is very comfortable with himself, his place in life, and is clearly happy with the now.  The tall, shaggy-haired, middle-aged man really strikes one as a California surfer dude, albeit one that is making great wines in Mendocino County. The other tasting room standby is Dan Reed, who lives on the estate in a renovated cabin with his trusty golden sidekick, Honey the vineyard dog.

Lula Cellars Home Vineyard at the estate in the #AndersonValley’s Deep-End area.

Lula Cellars Home Vineyard at the estate in the #AndersonValley’s Deep-End area.

Jeff is a lover of the vineyard, but also of the careful work that goes on in the winery that keeps the winemaker pretty hands-off from the best of Mendocino County fruit.  He believes in the thoughtful selection of pinot noir clones in order to best show off what the combination of microclimate, soil, sunlight, and pinot clone can accomplish: a wine that shines with typicity and a deep sense of place.  And his wines do not disappoint! Food-friendly acidity abounds in the reds, with deeper red fruit, and a savory/minerally quality in the pinots that really shows their balance and letting the fruit and the land speak for themselves. The dry rosé is light and, refreshing and delicious, while the dry gewürztraminer is perfect for the upcoming spring and summer months, with its floral notes and lime citrus juicieness.

Estate vineyard at the Anderson Valley bubbly house Scharffenberger Cellars.

Estate vineyard at the Anderson Valley bubbly house Scharffenberger Cellars.

Our Mendocino tastings didn’t end with Lula, as we were also able to visit the Mendocino and Anderson Valley wineries of Meyer Family Cellars (WL, FB) [where we had a very nice tasting with owner/winemaker Matt Meyer, who was in early that morning], Lichen Estate (WL, FB, Tw), Toulouse Vineyards (WL, FB), and Roederer Estate (WL, FB, Tw).  Jeff was also kind enough to spontaneously organize a tasting at longtime Anderson Valley bubbly house, Scharffenberger Cellars (WL, ) with his friend and longtime head winemaker Tex Sawyer. Tex has a cheerful, quiet demeanor and is a clear lover of the earth and his place upon it.  He’s been the winemaker at Scharffenberger, a bubbly fav of ours for years (see reviews below!), for over two and a half decades. It was a lovely treat to be able to taste through his sparkling and still wines with him that beautiful afternoon.

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Foggy mornings are the norm at Lula Cellars in Anderson Valley’s “Deep-End.”

You can find all of the published reviews of the wines we tasted that glorious weekend at the links below.  The pics of our trip can be found in their album on the Vinopanion Facebook page.  We highly recommend a trip to Mendocino County and Anderson Valley and be sure to stop in at the wineries covered here, especially with Jeff and Dan at Lula Cellars!

 

Wines tasted at Lula Cellars (WL, FB):

 

Lula Cellars Mendocino Pinot Gris 2012

Lula Cellars Mendocino Dry Gewürztraminer 2013

Color: Very pale, with greenish/yellow core and clear edges.

Nose: Super floral here, with white and jasmine aromas, alongside fruit of nectarine.

Palate: A very smooth mouthfeel here again, almost silky, along with those same vibrant floral notes from the nose. Great light citrus of lime and clean minerality in the crisp finish. Good: OldWorldWK.

Lula Cellars Mendocino Rosato Rosé of Red Wine 2013

Lula Cellars Mendocino Costa Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012

Lula Cellars Mendocino Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012

Color: Medium to darker ruby in density, but very bright ruby in color.

Nose: Deeper red fruit abounds here, with sweeter ripe consistency, and deep cherry berry underneath. Light dusty earth near the rim.

Palate: A very round and silky palate of medium body begins the palate, with smooth red and juicy red fruit, balanced by great earthy notes and fantastic acidity. Will be even better in a couple years: KeeperWK!

Lula Cellars Mendocino Pinot Noir 2012

Lula Cellars Mendocino Mariah Vineyard Zinfandel 2012

Wines tasted around Mendocino County (WL, FB, Tw):

 

Meyer Family Cellars Anderson Valley Donnelly Creek Chardonnay 2013

Meyer Family Cellars Yorkville Highlands Syrah 2011

Color: Deep and dark red/purple core, with violet edges.

Nose: Big toasty oak at first, then great earth, meat and game come in, to accompany the deep and rip black and red cherry fruit.

Palate: Great mouth here, with deep and dark, ripe fruit from the nose, then game, earth and more integrated oak come into the coating tannin and balanced acidity in the finish. Great value for such high quality: QPRWK.

Roederer Estate Anderson Valley L’Ermitage 2005

Color: Very big mousse here, with a light canary color and extremely fine bead.

Nose: Brighter white pitted fruit and dried citrus right of the bat, then some light toastiness near the rim.

Palate: Big mousse here as well, with that bouncing tight bead on the tongue. Fruit is a mix of fresh and dried green apple and citrus, alongside white raisin, bready toast, and nice florals out into the refreshing finish. Good: OldWorldWK.

Domaine Anderson Anderson Valley Rosé of Pinot 2013

Scharffenberger Mendocino County Blanc de Blancs 2007

Scharffenberger Mendocino County Excellence Brut Rosé NV

Scharffenberger Anderson Valley Estate Pinot Noir 2007

Color: Medium garnet in the color, with light-orange edges and light to-medium in density.

Nose: Great earthy, ripe, drier red fruit here with tarter rhubarb and some dried cola notes.

Palate: Light-bodied, this is pretty silky in the mouth with smoke, some chalky notes, and tart cranberry fruit. The finish goes juicier, with more smoke finishing it off. Good, more time left: OldWorldWK.

Lichen Anderson Valley Solera V2 Pinot Noir NV

Toulouse Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer 2013

Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, the West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for WineLog.net and Le Wine Buff for Bordeaux.com (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include wine...like virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. View Ward's WineLog and check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter and Like Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at WineLog.net". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.

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