So many wine events, so little time! Back on March 15th, the Family Winemakers of California came to town, but the Goddess couldn't get there...sob! So I sent my First Acolyte, JD, to cover the event. Here is his report:
Popping up from parking at the convention center I found myself in the conference building. Discovered the Exhibit Hall is on the other side of the Center grounds. I planned on mostly hitting wineries I was unfamiliar with, which would unfortunately mean skipping many known great tastes.
The doors opened and I headed for the end of the alphabet and started with William James Cellars, who had called the Goddess asking to be sure to taste their wines. Started with the “Simply Gorgeous” Grenache Rose, had good cran- & other berry spice, light, a nice start which led to the regular Grenache “Smoke Rings”, a slightly heavier version. “Persuasive” Pinot Noir had some nice earth in it. I found the Cabernet Sauvignon was a little hot on the nose, but would probably quiet down given a little time to swirl. Sampled a couple others too, but was getting a little anxious to move on- so many wineries in this huge room!
Carol Shelton Wines. 2008 Coquille Blanc White Rhone-style blend of Grenache Blanc, Rousanne & Viognier. Multi-layered with various tastes popping in out. Fun. Then had a series of Zinfandels: Dry Creek RRV, Mendocino (10% Carignane), Cucamonga (yes, there are still some vines in the inland empire)- a lighter zin with some Chinese 5-spice flavors & Rockpile- a great source for zins, no matter who is making it, with a lot of body, chocolate, spice. A very nice spread showing how one grape can go so many different ways.
Steven Kent Winery. They were pouring a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend that was unlisted but delightful. An excellent balance of the two grapes with the differing flavors constantly shifting. A very pleasant surprise. I don’t see it on their website either but would like to find some of this wine.
Stage Left Cellars. Yes, Oakland does wine, with grapes from elsewhere of course. Arrived late due to the “dependability” of rental cars. “The Opportunist” Viognier- light floral, refreshing, crisp. An approach to Viognier I enjoy and did. Syrah- medium fruit and peppery. “The Breadwinner” SMG & Petite Syrah blend- fine nose, full fruit. “The Expat”, a real change-up pitch of almost half and half Mourvedre and Petite Sirah. Great nose, earthy. Thick, layered taste. A very unusual and enjoyable blend, not a wimpy wine.
Siduri Wines. Had to stop there. Siduri is another Goddess of Wine, from Babylon and is referred to in the epic of Gilgamesh. Tried their Russian River blend Pinot Noir, a fairly light approach. Need to sample some more in a less crazy situation.
For more ancient inspirations there was Enkidu Wine a few rows away. Tried their Syrah/Petite Syrah Rhone blend Humbaba. Quite enjoyable, as was the brief discussion of Gilgamesh and his acquaintances. A definite legend-based philosophy here and the wine is fine.
Pierce Ranch Vineyards. Nestled in the newly designated AVA of the San Antonio Valley of south Monterey County just over the line from Paso Robles. Tourbillon, a Rhone-style blend of Grenache, Syrah & Petite Sirah. I got some nice chocolate notes in it. Among their many wines were several Iberian types such as a Touriga with some fine floral notes, subtle not overpowering, and Cosecheiro, a delightful blend of Tempranillo, Touriga, Graciano, and Petite Sirah. Would like to sample more of their Iberian (not just Spanish) wines.
Maldonado Family Vineyards. Small, growing in Jamieson Canyon of southern Napa. A pleasant assortment of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah. Nice balance of fruit and acid. At first the pourer seemed a little distracted (this can happen in large multi-day/location events) but warmed up. And then he offered some of the late harvest…OH my. Unfortunately, this was getting late in the day, my notes are more sketchy & I don’t see it listed on their website but I’d sure like some more and know more about it. Light gold nectar. I did NOT pour this one out but delightfully sipped it as I wandered on.
On recommendation of friend Lucian, on my second attempt after a wave of people moved on I managed to get up to the Littorai Wines table. Well worth it. Located in the Sebastopol area, Ted Lemon makes Burgundian style wine, both Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. He worked and learned in various places in Burgundy. Grows and has grown for him grapes in several fine locations in Sonoma, all biodynamic. The natural growing approach and terroir makes for really fine grapes which are then dealt with in a pure, no funny games manner. Littorai’s wine starts well in the vineyard and builds on that. There is much information on their website for the care and expectations of each wine. Good Stuff.
Elizabeth Spencer Wines. The Goddess received an email from these folks asking to stop by, so I did. I’m glad I did. A Chard with (to me on this day) a better taste than smell, though there were other opinions. A very meaty Syrah. A dry Cab Sauv with a light nose. And a Sauvignon Blanc from Mendocino that rocked with a delightful nose and a layering of fresh fruit flavors.
My picks for the day. Steven Kent Winery, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend. Stage Left Cellars, “The Expat”. Pierce Ranch Vineyards, Cosecheiro. Maldonado Family Vineyards, late harvest. Littorai Pinot Noirs. Elizabeth Spencer Wines, Sauvignon Blanc.