The annual California Wine Fair, held at the Westin Hotel on April 21st was yet again a great opportunity to enjoy and discover some beautifully crafted wines. With spring now well under way, several wines were a tease for the senses and a great source of inspiration for upcoming barbecues and backyard gatherings. Although sometimes disappointing to find out that many wines featured at such wine shows are consignment products (not available at the LCBO) they are often available through direct contact with the responsible wine agent. You may also keep an eye out for these wines at upcoming visits to local restaurants.
Here are some personal highlights from the California Wine Fair:
Schramsberg 2006 Blanc de Blancs, North Coast (44.50$ – private order)
A long time American favourite, this complex traditional method, hand-riddled sparkling wine can shamelessly compete with many fine Ch
ampagnes. With generous notes of citrus fruit, honey dew
melon, elderflowers, fresh pastry and marzipan, refreshing acidity, underlying minerality and pleasant yeastiness, this wine is ideal to highlight any special occasion or to kick off your next gathering. It will drink beautifully on its own or alongside richly textured finger foods such as coconut shrimp, crab cakes, beef satay, or smoked mackerel canapés. For a lighter, fruit-forward version of this bubbling sensation, opt for their 2006 Brut Rosé.
Duckhorn Vineyards 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
29.95$ –LCBO Vintages Release, May 29th 2010 / private order
If Duckhorn has earned its title as leading producer of premium, boutique merlot-based wines, one should not miss out on its less known and more affordable Sauvignon Blanc. Keep an eye out for this wine at LCBO Vintages, to be released on May 29th! The wine is vibrant and refreshing with heaps of pink grapefruit, ripe passion fruit and a floral lift hinting at ripe peaches and blossoms. Not overtly fruit driven and featuring plenty of backbone acidity, this Sauvignon Blanc is well worth spending a little extra on when looking for that special wine with a cutting edge. Fabulous by itself or with fresh and zesty dishes such as ceviche, red or green gazpacho and spicy guacamole with mango.
View this wine’s factsheet:
Vine Cliff 2007 Chardonnay, Los Carneros
51.00$ – private order
Tired of hearing the same comments about California Chardonnays? The same lingo being tossed around for years about over-oaked California whites, wines stripped of all freshness and pure fruit expression…and that over-played, narrow-minded “ABC” catchphrase (Anything but Chardonnay)?
This Chardonnay will surely provide a different point of view! A perfect wine to cellar for the next 5-8 years, already showing extreme balance and charm and finesse. Beautifully crafted, this unfiltered wine is a benchmark expression of Carneros Chardonnay, with lively acidity and flinty minerality, a smooth buttery texture, well integrated oak and a complex array of aromas and flavours of stone fruit, orange blossoms, mango, fresh vanilla bean and grilled almonds.
A wine to save for a very special occasion, perhaps, but definitely worth every dollar invested.
View this wine’s factsheet:
Paul Dolan 2007 Zinfandel, Mendocino
21.95$ – private order
Nothing spells out “b-a-r-b-e-c-u-e” as clearly as a juicy, ripe Californian Zinfandel and Paul Dolan’s 2007 vintage Zin is no exception. This easy-sipping wine is rich in flavours of ripe cherries, coffee and chocolate but also has the intriguing spiciness of capsicum and pepper, which was demystified at the tasting; the flavour profile of this affordable wine is the result of blending jammy Mendocino County fruit (79%) with leaner, spicier Amador County fruit (21%).
To step it up a notch, keep an eye out for the outstanding Paul Dolan 2006 Deep Red. Ripe, round, full-bodied and biodynamic (57% Syrah, 31% Petite Syrah, 12% Grenache – 56.00$ private order)
Ca’ del Solo Estate 2006 Sangiovese, San Benito County
21.60$ – private order
Bonny Doon Vineyards and founder/winemaker Randall Grahm are most commonly associated with the biodynamic wine movement and the establishment of Rhône varieties (hence the term “Rhone Rangers”) in California. Stepping outside the box yet again with their medium-bodied, astringent 2006 Sangiovese, this wine is an ideal companion for just about any red meat-based dish, including grilled marinated flank steak, barbecued short ribs or pasta in tomato sauce. It is a great alternative to fuller reds which can sometimes over power your dish. Plenty of red fruit and moderately firm tannins without the excessive weight and sweetness often associated with cask ageing (this wine is moderately oaked). It has a pleasant, refreshing earthiness reminiscent of tea leaf, sour cherry and smoke.View this wine’s factsheet: http://www.smallwinemakers.ca/ProductDetails.aspx?pID=BDSan06
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