St. Anne’s Crossing

Yet another Zin label from Wilson empire—oh, wait, yum

St. Anne’s Crossing: does it make you think of Australia, too? Lots of this-or-that’s “crossing” Down Under. I’m thinking Shiraz, but no, it’s got nothing to do with that. This Sonoma Valley tasting room is focused almost exclusively on Zinfandel. Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. And don’t you mind that bright, blue sign screaming “Naked Wines” beneath the staid St. Anne’s sign. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with that, either.

Loving the dissonance? Then let me sell you a little more on this joint. Inside, music from different sources clashes in that special, audio/video store way—remember those? Now, this isn’t the normal state of affairs. This particular evening, the tasting-room roommate, Naked Wines, is hosting an industry mixer, complete with trendy banh mi truck, although I’m told that when members of some St. Anne’s parish or other wander in, tickled to buy a so-labeled bottle of the good old sacrament, they don’t mind sharing the room with the “Naked.”

Here’s what is known: owner Ken Wilson had a grandmother named Anne. But why “crossing,” nobody here knows, besides offering that Ken Wilson is a man of mystery.

The staff I meet at St. Anne’s on a random weekday afternoon just before closing are well-informed and downright personable. And there are only four of them—five including St. Anne’s-dedicated winemaker Chris Barrett. In barrel at Pezzi King, a Sonoma Valley Zin will soon join 15 other Zins. But let’s start with white.

If you’re familiar with this vineyard, the 2011 Ritchie Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($24) may seem a little wild—rich caramel, supercharged lychee fruit. You want to know if it’s more “New Zealand” or more “Sancerre”? Try Willy Wonka. The 2010 Alexander Valley Chardonnay ($28) is not buttery, but creamy—apple pie milkshake.

Blushing with raspberry perfume, beckoning with multigrain toast aromas, the 2010 Serracino Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($50) slathers the palate with tart plum. Nothing wrong with the 2010 Old Vine DCV Zinfandel ($32), it’s just the kind of big, woody, blackberry syrupy Zin that had me going “ho hum” the first time I breezed through here during their opening. I’m glad I gave them another chance.

Top pick: 2010 Kettleby DCV Zinfandel ($60), which goes down like warm red cherries and ice cream. You want to pay more, you get the 2010 “Kennethwood” DCV Zinfandel ($150), packing extra cracked pepper and Mexican chocolate with the raspberry jam. Yeah, some of these Zins are a bit high, but they do make such sweet music for the mouth.

St. Anne’s Crossing, 8450 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood. Daily, 11am–5pm. Tasting fee, $10. 707.598.5200.