THE MARK WEST Vineyards & Winery, founded in 1976, is an exceptionally fine newer winery. Bob Ellis was a world-roaming Pan American pilot, and his wife, Joan, visualized a home port in rural California as a tranquil retreat for them both. They converted an old dairy into a premium Russian River Valley wine estate. For the vineyard, 60 acres of the 116-acre ranch were ideal for white-wine varieties, especially Johannisberg Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. Another parcel provided a slope, cooled by Mark West Creek, for Pinot Noir. For the first few vintages, Joan Ellis was the wine maker, sort of an artist in residence for these handcrafted wines. But it rather quickly became apparent that a full-time wine maker was needed, and after a diligent search, they found Norman Yost, 29, who had been working at Monticello.
Space precludes anything but the briefest descriptions, but you may take this inventory to your local wine emporium and store up memorable moments for months or years to come.
1984 Blanc de Noir--Methode Champenoise ($16.50). Almost three years en tirage , it is rich, supple, dry and handsomely packaged.
1985 Russian River Valley Gewurztraminer--Estate Grown ($7.50). A bouquet of exotic grapefruitiness and full litchi perfume, not to be missed. A slight, very slight edge of sweetness.