Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Great Family Winemakers Event

Yesterday I attended another great Family Winemakers Event--this time in San Francisco. It was a warm day, with a good breeze off the bay, and folks came in large numbers to taste the wine and to talk to the California family winemakers who have such a passion for what they do.

This was one of the first trade tastings I've been to where I actually had friends I wanted to see, like the people at Fort Ross, Anglim, Tablas Creek, Four Vines, Twisted Oak, and Ballentine. That slows down your progress a bit! But it was great to see the big crowds gathered at their tables, even when it meant that I never got to talk to them because they were too busy pouring and talking about their wines. I also got to meet Tim Elliott of Winecast (pouring some wonderful Goosecross Wines) and Marshall Sontag of WineQ.

There will be lots to write and talk about in the upcoming weeks, but here are a few random highlights in no particular order.

Go-To Wine Finds: I focused in this tasting on finding good value wines that were exciting and represented nice value across the board. I found some, too. Labels like McManis, Roshambo, and Hook and Ladder all delivered consistently high quality at very good prices. If you see one of their wines, don't hesitate to buy it.

New Winery Find: I tasted my first wines from Barreto Cellars, a Central Coast winery specializing in Spanish and Portuguese varietals sourced from vineyards throughout the state. I thought their wines were terrific, with surprisingly lush flavors and (with the exception of their big bottles of port) not a bottle over $23.99!

Biggest Kick: Seeing Fort Ross Vineyard's just-picked grape clusters arranged on a platter. I had the privilege of seeing this grapes on the vine just a month ago when Linda Schwartz generously took me through the vineyards. A month later, the tightly compacted and tiny cluster of pinot noir and chardonnay had come a long way in color and size. I can't wait to taste the wines that will be made from them.

Favorite New Reds: the 2004 Barreto Cellars Touriga, made with two Portuguese varietals sourced from the Silvaspoons Vineyard in Lodi, was a definite winner. And I loved the funky, spicy blend of Zinfandel and Primitivo that went into the big 2005 Goosecross Zinfandel/Primitivo bottling. I couldn't find any information about this wine on the site, but if Tim sees this maybe he'll give us the information. As I recall it was between $30 and $40.

Favorite New Whites: the 2005 Core 613 White Blend (around $20), made from Rhone varietals grenache blanc, roussanne, and marsanne, was delightfully crisp with aromas and flavors of peach and melon. And the 2006 Tablas Creek Vermentino (available at the winery for under $30) was a surprisingly round example of the varietal, with honeydew and pear flavors and lots of aromatics up front and a juicy finish.

Biggest Bargains: For just $13.99 you can get a Bordeaux-style cabernet sauvignon from the Sonoma Coast in the 2005 Soper Winery Gualala River Cabernet Sauvignon. Full of cassis and herbal notes, this reminded me of a French wine in style and substance. If you're looking for a big wine for a small price, look no further than the 2006 McManis Petite Sirah, with its rich espresso and cocoa powder flavors dusted over red fruits for between $9 and $12. Hook & Ladder's 2005 Chardonnay was also a steal for $16, given its crisp golden delicious flavors and aromas and its clean, round finish.

There will be more details in the coming weeks on these wines and more. If you've never attended a Family Winemakers event, check out their website and put yourself on the mailing list. They're a lot of fun, and you will get to taste a wide range of great California wines in one place.

6 comments:

Agent Red said...

Hey, Debs! Sorry that I missed you at the event. I was hoping to meet you there. My palate is a wreck!

Richard A. said...

Ah, you lucky people on the west coast. Sounds like it was an excellent event. I look forward to hearing more details in the future.

Jill said...

dammit, I should have gone to SF!

ryan said...

Sounds like a great time! Barreto Cellars sound interesting. I have to find a way to try some of those treats. What was the Touriga like? Very floral?

Dr. Debs said...

Hi everybody. It was a great day--and I'm sorry I missed you Agent Red. I only had two hours to spend so I was pretty focused on tasting, tasting tasting. Ryan, the Touriga was very floral in the aromas, but zesty and spicy on the palate, almost like a medium-bodied zin. I really liked it, and it was blended with another Portuguese varietal, souzao. You will be interested that they also make a vinho tinto with tempranillo, touriga, tannat, and souzao.

Marshall from WineQ.com said...

Just got Barreto Cellars live on WineQ! Thanks for the recommendation, Dr. Debs!