Tasting the Wines of Cartograph
If you find yourself in the quaint town of Healdsburg on the northern end of Sonoma County, you’ll find the tasting room of Cartograph Wines in a primo spot just a block off the town’s lovely main square. Cartograph is a brand established by Alan Baker & Serena Lourie in 2008, and it’s been quietly growing ever since. The operation opened the Healdsburg tasting room in 2013 and purchased its own vineyard in 2016.
Today, Cartograph focuses on a somewhat unusual collection of wines, all fit to purpose based on where it sources its fruit. Those wines include aromatic Alsace-style whites, pinot noir, and, most recently, a pair of sparkling wines.
Recently I attended a lunch hosted by Cartograph and held at Valette, which is conveniently located next door to Cartograph’s tasting room. Chef Dustin Valette is clearly a great friend of the husband-wife duo, and he personally devised his four-course lunch to match up with Cartograph’s wines. It was a great event with some very lovely wines, and while I’ve included some food porn for you to ogle, the centerpiece of this dispatch are the wines, all of which are reviewed (at least in the context of a big lunch) below.
Stop by either Cartograph or Valette (or both) — and tell them Drinkhacker sent you!
2013 Cartograph Brut Zero – A vintage sparkler made from 100% chardonnay, with zero dosage of sugar. Bone-dry and quite refreshing, it’s loaded with notes of melon and grapefruit, and ultra-crisp. Perhaps a bit too easy to sip on. A- / $68
2013 Cartograph Brut Rose – This is the same wine as the above, but touched with a dash of pinot noir and a light dusting of sugar. It makes for a much different wine — and this was actually served with dessert — one that is floral, lively, and lightly sweet with hints of strawberry jam, elevated by buttery pastry dough and brioche notes. A- / $68
2018 Cartograph Rose of Pinot Noir – A brand new release from the winery, the wine is ultra-light in color, with strawberry aromas percolating from the start. I get a touch of balsamic on the back end, which actually helped it pair beautifully with a strawberry-flavored tuna poke. B+ / $NA
2016 Cartograph Riesling Green Ranch – Very perfumy, with notes of clean linens and cotton balls. Extremely dry, with some notes of fresh-rolled dough lingering. I could use more fruit in this one. B / $NA
2017 Cartograph Gewurztraminer Starscape Vineyard – Brightly perfumed, more so than the riesling, with a light tropical note. Hints of lavender and more linen character, but a nicer balance on the whole. B+ / $26
2016 Cartograph Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Starscape Vineyard – Bright and pretty, with light florals, cherry notes, and a hint of licorice on the back end. Quite Burgundian in style, with a rounded earthiness. A / $54
2016 Cartograph Pinot Noir Estate – A blend of grapes from Cartograph’s estate vineyards. Immediately a powerhouse, with ample fruit in the form of bold cherry and orange peel notes, with an impossibly bright body. Starry and acidic, it shows a touch of mint on the lively finish. A favorite of the tasting. A / $68