On the dramatic stretch of Highway 128 as it cuts through the Anderson Valley on the way to the giant Redwoods and then the angry Pacific Ocean, Yorkville Cellars is one of the first wineries you pass. On our trip there last year, we saw sheep grazing between the vines in front of the winery and couldn't resist going in for a tasting.
Yorkville Cellars offers a different experience from the rest of the Anderson Valley; you'll find no Pinots and no Alsace varieties on the tasting list. And, in fact, the vineyards do not qualify as Anderson Valley, lying instead in the Yorkville Highlands appellation of Mendocino County. Yorkville is several degrees warmer than the upper Anderson Valley but still significantly cooler than the Alexander Valley farther south. Perhaps because of the climate but probably also due to the tastes of the owner and winemaker, Yorkville makes mostly Bordeaux wines--more finely textured and less flamboyant, though, than the Cabernets and Merlots that come out of Napa. Hi Rollr Red, made for early and more casual drinking, is a blend of 44% Malbec, 35% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. It's not my favorite Yorkville wine (I prefer the Cab Franc and the Petit Verdot), but it's very good and less expensive than those wines.
The color is a vibrant ruby, medium deep. Smells and flavors are intense and lively. Dark cherries, cranberries, spices and a hint of flowers. Has a lot of Cab Franc traits but they are toned down a bit by the more accessible Malbec and Merlot. I don't get any of the green vegetable qualities that I sometimes get (and dislike) from New World Merlot. A special twinkling charm that probably comes from the Petit Verdot. It's really hard to put down the glass, and that's what a good "Tuesday night" wine is all about. But I wouldn't be embarrassed to serve it over the weekend, either.