Having lived in Napa for nine years, and having been a wine lover for many years before that, I've done a fair share of wine tasting. I have yet to taste a flight where every wine was fabulous. Until last weekend.
The two-day annual Family Winemakers of California Tasting in San Francisco (FW) is the most comprehensive showing of California wines in the state. It's the one event all year in which great small producers like Paloma and Seavey regularly participate.
I find being in and around vineyards uniquely soothing and nurturing. Maybe it's because they are usually part of a pastoral landscape. I may be triggered too by knowing they are devoted to producing a special product -- one that brings pleasure and conviviality.
So the next time you raise a glass of something very aromatic, very elegant and very expensive, remember to toast the folks driving the tractors. Toast their colleagues who dig dirt and shovel dung. All of that, plus sweat and passion, ended up in your glass.
Zin is not an easy grape from which to make fine wine. It ripens very unevenly - leading to clusters containing both harshly acidic, unripe grapes and very ripe grapes. It also has a thin skin that causes the ripe grapes to turn to raisins if not picked soon enough.
ruce Bauer, a wine aficianado and proprietor of VINO, a boutique wine shop in Portland, Oregon, shares some of his favorite moderate to low prices wines from the Pacific Northwest region and around the world.
If California were a country, it would be the world's fourth largest wine producer, after Italy, France and Spain. Long planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are also big varieties for us too.
Petite Sirah as a small, passionate following; goes well with food; is one of the few big reds that works with cheese; has a point of view and is not overexposed. It's like a "St. Bernard that wants to sit in your lap." It's that big and friendly.
California's first vineyards were planted starting in 1779 by Franciscan missionaries. The vines planted were what have become known as Mission grapes, or Criolla, a term that covers a few varieties traditionally used for sacramental wine.
The wine world includes a lot of small, family-owned producers. Many produce good wines, and a multitude don't. Occasionally, however, the results are outstanding -- truly among the ranks of the region's very best.