Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Rios Wine Company

Rios Wine Company is a small family owned and operated winery that has a tasting room in downtown Calistoga on the main street.  Their wines are offered under two different labels.  One is called Solovino and the other is Maldonado Family Vineyards.  The company was founded by three Rios brothers and another relative but is now owned and operated by Manuel, the oldest Rios brother, and his wife Sheila.  Their winemaker is their cousin, Megan Hernandez.

Tasting room

If you follow this blog you will have noticed that we really like small, family run wineries.  Rios is another great example; Sheila Rios, the co-owner, was our delightful host during our drop in visit.  And you can not only discuss wine with Sheila, but she is also an expert in natural horsemanship.  "Solovino", by the way, means "one wine" in Spanish and was also the name of the horse owned by the Rios brothers' grandfather.  Their first commercial release was in 2005.  Fruit is sourced from vineyards that are under Manuel Rios' management.

Tasting building

My first taste at this small, very friendly, down to earth, family winery was the Solovino 2009 Sauvignon Blanc at only $19.  This is an real winner at the price!  After a nice nose, it had mostly citrus, namely lemon and, unusual for the varietal, some apple, along with some pleasant herbaceousness, in a dry, crisp presentation.  No unripe fruit.  Decent finish.  Well balanced.  More importantly integrated. The Solovino SB is very nice for the price.

Tasting bar

Next up was the Solovino 2009 Mixto Chardonnay at $26.  It had a good nose.  Nicely balanced, crisp, with some MLF and oak, it came across as a very decent Chard for the price.  It had good Carneros sourced fruit.  I liked it but it was not the standout that the Sauvignon Blanc was.  Better yet was the Maldonado 2010 Los Olivos Vineyard Napa Valley Chardonnay at $42.  I was told that they served this one at the White House.  I got some pineapple and pear on the nose, with great fruit and some minerality on the palate.  It was still dry and crisp.  I did not get much of a finish, but then I only had a small sample and would have to experiment with this one at different temperatures to see how it really showed.

Tasting room

If you want a very easy to drink, quite pleasant red wine, then try the Solovino 2006 Mixto Red at $38.  It is equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with a pronounced Cab Franc presence.  It is a well balanced, really enjoyable red wine that I'd gladly drink any time. 

Tasting room

This was followed by the Solovino 2008 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon at $48. It had a good nose with obvious but pleasant oak followed by a fairly soft but substantial mouthfeel of mostly red cherry.  It had some nice fruit, good well integrated tannins with a long finish. It was quite nice. This was straight out of a newly opened bottle and might have needed more air to open up, although it was very presentable as it was.  It was served at proper temperature or cellar temperature, something that many tasting rooms simply do not do.  This is another one that I would need to spend more time with to see what else it might yield. 

In tasting room

I liked all of the wines so much that I opted to try the dessert wines, something I rarely do, unless a winery is noted for that.  The Solovino 2011 Riesling at $17 makes no pretensions of being a great late harvest Riesling.  It has a good nose, followed by a soft and rather simple presentation.  Usually I would not like this sort of presentation in a Riesling, but I have to confess that this was very well balanced and actually worked. If you are at all partial to sweet wines, please give this one a try.  Lastly was the Maldonado Late Harvest White Wine is $27 for a half bottle.  It is very sweet and simple with mostly apricot.  I did not like it as much as the much less expensive Riesling, but it was certainly a decent desert wine for the price.

In tasting room

Rios Wine Company has a wide range of wines that will appeal to many palates.  They offer something for everybody.  It is also a small, family owned and operated winery that is exceptionally friendly.  I'm usually a bit hesitant to visit wineries that are in downtown areas, but Rios is atypical for that sort of winery.  Next time you are in Calistoga, I'd recommend visiting this small, very friendly winery that offers some good tasting, affordable wines.  I think you will enjoy your visit.

Entry sign

1306 A Lincoln Ave
Calistoga, CA 94515
Date of visit: January 2, 2013

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