Recently the Wine Institute of California and the California Association of Wine Grape Growers presented California Wines Road Trip Tasting, a wine tasting celebrating California Wine Month 2012 at The Peninsula Hotel, Beverly Hills.
September has been California Wine Month, a month proclaimed by Governor Jerry Brown to highlight California’s wine history and honor its vintners who are an important aspect to our Golden State’s economy.
The tasting encompassed eleven regions of California wine country. The regions are: Lake County, Livermore Valley, Lodi, Monterey, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma and Temecula.
In addition there was a special section for those wines that are certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. Of the wines showcased in this portion of the tasting, the J Vineyards and Winery’s NV Brut Rosé with its spicy refreshing balance impressed me.
The wine tasting featured some outstanding wines and I will highlight some of my favorites.
The Monterey region was hosted by Rhonda Motil, Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association. I was quite impressed with Wrath Wines. Sabrine Rodems, Wrath’s winemaker and considered one of the emerging winemakers of the Monterey wine region presented Wrath’s wines. Sabrine exuded her love and passion for what she is doing and the wines she creates. Looking at the meaning of the word wrath, it is a good description of how Sabrine views the winemaking process. Nature’s wrath in the Salinas Valley with its morning fog and afternoon wind affects the grapes while Sabrine’s passion brings the art of winemaking to the forefront. This play is very apparent in the wines I sampled. The 2010 3 clone Chardonnay was balanced and not oaky. Sabrine also showcased a 2010 Pinot Noir, Boekenoogen Vineyard, which is smooth and well balanced. This Pinot Noir was a favorite at the tasting.
The Bernardus 2009 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands was a very smooth well-balanced Pinot Noir consisting of a blend of 5 vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands.
The Santa Barbara region was by far the most consistent in terms of the various wineries represented. Jim Fiolek from the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association was the ambassador for this area.
Karen Steinwachs, the winemaker at Buttonwood Farm Winery poured two of Buttonwood’s wines. She served her 2011 Zingy, which is a Sauvignon Blanc with no malolactic fermentation. This is one wine that Karen states, “ I make purely for myself.” The hidden secret of the day was another wine Karen featured, the 2009 Cab Franc. This is an outstanding Cab Franc at a very reasonable price. What really caught my eye was the artwork on the label, which makes a statement expressing in its own way the contents of what is inside the bottle. Buttonwood’s owner artist, Seyburn Zorthian designed the label. Her creations are influenced by her studies of Shoudo. The Chinese and Japanese brushstrokes play a dynamic and organic part of her artwork. The brushstrokes on the Buttonwood label represent grapevines in an abstracted form. These brushstrokes tell the story of how Karen Steinwachs brings the grapes together to form Buttonwood Farm Winery’s fabulous wines.
Riverbench Vineyards and Winery’s 2010 Estate Pinot Noir was another representative for the Santa Barbara region. Charles Ortman makes this smooth Pinot Noir with its fruity flavors that I found to be a very good value for the price.
Speaking again of art, Kenwood Vineyards features an Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon where Kenwood combines the expression of artistry with fine winemaking. The series honors the work of contemporary artists and includes some very famous artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh. The work ranges from impressionism to abstract and reinforces the character of the wine within the bottle. The 2008 Artist Series features the work of Robin F. Williams. The wine was a superb blend of what Kenwood’s winemakers feel are the finest lots of Cabernet Sauvignon.
One of the very best values at this tasting was from the Lodi Region. It was the Peltier Station 2011 Hybrid Vermentino. This citrus driven Italian varietal has a bright acidity and is a perfect wine to pair with fish or seafood. For me the wine was softer than Chardonnay and a little earthier.
One could not leave the event without tasting The Steve Kent Winery 2009 Lineage. Lineage is the union of The Steve Kent Winery and terrior of the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard. The wine is a Bordeaux blend of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon. Choosing only six barrels of the finest Cabernet results in an incredibly well balanced wine.
There were many other wines that deserve mention and they are Villa Creek Cellars 2011 Pink, a nice and light wine from Paso Robles, the Viader Vineyards & Winery in Napa Valley, 2009 Viader Proprietary Red, a very smooth Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend and Kenefick Ranch Winery’s 2011 Pickett Road White, a blend of Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier.
The wines featured at the California Wines Road Trip Tasting were an excellent representation of the California wine industry and very befitting for California Wine Month.
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