De La Montanya: So Many Choices
Dennis De La Montanya founded his namesake winery in 2003 and currently farms over 200 acres of vineyards in
Sonoma and Lake County. The stylish barn-inspired tasting room and winery is located three miles from the
town of Healdsburg, just off Westside Road on Foreman Lane (halfway between Armida and Twomey). The
2007 vintage is the fourth I have tasted from De La Montanya and I often taste each vintage from barrel, shortly
after bottling and several months after release. De La Montanya oversees the winemaking team of Tami
Collins (sister of Dennis’s spouse, Tina) and consultant Michael Loykasek. For a small winery (production is
4,500 cases annually), De La Montanya produces an astonishing number of different white and red wines (at
least 30) under the De La Montanya Estate, Felta Creek and Flying Rooster Red labels from the tried-and-true
(Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) to the unusual (Pinot
Meunier,Tempranillo). There are wines at every price point. Adding spice to the lineup is a series of “Pin Up”
wines featuring attractive women in pin up poses on the front label that are sold at the winery. Special charity
bottlings are offered in conjunction with rock legends Journey and Eddie Money.
The Pinot Noirs are sourced primarily from three vineyards: Flying Rooster Ranch in the Petaluma area of the
Sonoma Coast, Tina’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley and Christine’s Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast. An
ultra-premium Pinot Noir, Chanconne, is bottled under the De La Cain label and is a collaboration between De
La Montanya and noted Aussie winemaker Daryl Groom. The Pinot Noirs have been consistent winners in the
San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the Sonoma Harvest Fair Wine Competition. At the 2009 Pig
and Pinot event in Healdsburg, the 2006 De La Montanya Reserve Pinot Noir was the Pinot Cup Runner Up in
a blind tasting of 50 acclaimed Pinot Noirs.
Just before Pinot Days I stopped in at De La Montanya to taste the 2007 lineup of Pinot Noirs. The style is
understated and elegant with increasing fruit intensity as one progresses from Tina’s Vineyard to the Reserve
and Chanconne. De La Montanya describes 2007 as a challenging year but the wines are very impressive.
2007 Felta Creek Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 150 cases, $24. Sourced from Flying
Rooster Ranch and Marg’s Vineyard.
A lightly weighted wine that is true to the varietal with dark red
fruits supported by a sidecar of oak and good acidity. The silky texture makes for easy drinking.
Excellent value in a Pinot Noir for the everyday man. Gold Medal at the 2009 San Francisco
Chronicle Wine Competition in its class.
2007 De La Montanya Tina’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., $40. Pommard clone.
Very fragrant nose of Bing cherries and baking spices. Generous sweet Pinot flavors on the mid-palate focused
on cherries. Very harmonious with svelte tannins and a good grip of acidity. Always the most finesse in the
lineup, this is a wine of slender grace.
2007 De La Montanya Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 50 cases, $50. This
wine received 3 more months of barrel age. Composed primarily of fruit from Tina’s Vineyard with some
Ridgeway Vineyard added in. Only two barrels, 100% new French oak.
Masses of perfumed fruit on
the nose with a sappy aromatic core that is plush but retains a pleasing elegance. Supple tannins, deft
touch of oak and lively acidity. The berry fruit fragrance returns to haunt the memorable finish.
2007 De La Cain Chanconne Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 75 cases,
$50. Chanconne means slow dance in French. Sourced from 3 vineyards.
super ripe fruit including roasted plum and black raspberries, with hints of maple syrup
and cigar box. Explosion of intense, ripe dark fruit attacks the mid-palate with
undertones of black tea and sassafras. Smoothly textured with modest tannins and
admirable balance. A big-boned wine for hedonists that veers to the super ripe side.
2007 Flying Rooster Red Sonoma Coast
14.2% alc., $22. A blend of Pinot Noir (75%) and
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.
Rich and plush with hardy fruit, a nice kiss of
oak and some persistence on the finish. Not for Pinot Noir purists, but a great inexpensive summer
Dennis loves to taste me on some of his other varietal wines. The 2007 De La Montanya ‘1776’ Dry Creek
Valley Zinfandel is the most popular wine in his lineup. With 17.76% alcohol and 1% residual sugar, it offers a
huge jammy drinking experience with well-spiced fruit dosed with pepper. I much preferred the 2007 De La
Montanya Reserve Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($45) with 16.5% alcohol and 0.5% residual sugar that is
better balanced, more modest in intensity and offering classic Zinfandel black grape flavors with a touch of
I recently tasted two older vintages of De La Montanya Pinot Noir from Tina’s Vineyard. The wines are holding
2004 De La Montanya Tina’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
alc.. 75% Pommard, 25% Dijon clones. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels.
Moderately light garnet color. Alluring aromas of cherries, baking spice and oak.
Sweet-fruited palate of strawberries, cherries and pomegranate with bright acidity. A
touch richer than the 2005 vintage with more fruit and less spice. A nice package
with admirable finesse.
2005 De La Montanya Tina’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Shy perfume of red cherries and Provencal herbs. Nicely composed
flavors of tart cherries, strawberries, baking spice, cookie dough and herbs. The
tannins are very supple and the finish has a good lift of acidity. A demure wine with
considerable charm that is aging gracefully.
The De La Montanya tasting room is open Friday-Sunday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM and other days by
appointment. The wines are sold through the tasting room, on the website, and through the winery’s wine
clubs which offer significant discounts. The winery is a soothing place to hang out with a bocce ball court and
picnic area shaded by mature apple trees. An adjacent lodging known as the “Little Yellow Cottage,” has all the
comforts of home and overlooks the Felta Creek Vineyard on the property. It is only a 10 minute drive to
Healdsburg and bicycling distance to many Westside Road wineries. Check the website at www.dlmwine.com
to order wines and to check availability of the cottage. The De La Montanya crew below.