Last week, we returned from our Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara and Paso Robles wine country. We learned many new things about the wines from both of these regions and discovered some gems, both bargain and expensive. We also managed a two-night stay in the Napa Valley following the conference. I was invitied to a media event at Inglenook. It was the Rutherford Dust Society’s 2011 Cabernet release event. Sad to say, no wine bargains there except for a very nice Cabernet from Provenance for $47, the least expensive we tasted. I did find out one tidbit from the folks who make the Conn Creek Cabernet ($60). They said the 2010 Napa Valley Collection Cabernet is a terrific bargain. You can buy it at Trader Joe’s and the Safeway for about $20. I have not tried it, but when it goes on sale I will grab a couple for sure. Here is brief review on the Rutherford Dust event.
Three summer whites that delight
Ancient Peaks 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
The Ancient Peaks winemaker, Mike Senor was one of the featured speakers at the Paso Robles Pre-conference. Mike spoke about the unique terroir of the Santa Margarita vineyard where this S.B. fruit is sourced. It is not an official AVA, but the Santa Margarita area will be given the AVA designation in 2014. On the way home we stopped in at the Ancient Peaks’ tasting room in Santa Margarita and sampled some wines. Vintage wine taster Mike thinks Ancient Peaks makes one of the best Zinfandels around, but I have to say their Sauvignon Blanc is right up there with their Zin. I see that the wine shelves in my area are still stocked with 2012, but when this 2013 wine appears, try a bottle. It is delicious. It’s very clean, bright, and crisp. It is not New Zealandy in style, with less grapefruit and gooseberry. The Safeway and KL Wines currently have the 2012 for about $12 to $13. This is a worthy Sauvignon Blanc. 89 Points
Charles Krug 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
I sampled this wine at the Charles Krug winery in St. Helena. Have you ever been there? They just remodeled and opened the old Redwood Cellar that was built in 1872. The tasting room is one of the most beautiful in all of the Napa Valley. If you compare this Sauvignon Blanc with the one above, you will find more citrus and tropical fruit flavors. It is seriously crisp and refreshing. BevMo carries this wine for $12.99. I have also seen it at Safeway for less during their periodic 30% off sale. I really like both of these wines for the outdoor life. 89 Points as well for the Charles Krug. Here is a caveat. My sister thought she didn’t like Sauvignon Blanc. When she tasted this one, it changed her attitude toward S.B. That is why it is a good thing to experiment with different producers.
NxNW 2012 Riesling – Trader Joe’s $6.99
Wine.com is raving about this wine, but it is $12.99 on their online Website. I found this Riesling at the San Mateo Trader Joe’s. They have a huge display. I found out this wine is made by the King Estate, a Pinot Noir producer in Oregon. The grapes for this Riesling come from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, a sub appellation of the Columbia Valley. It is one of Washington’s top AVA’s. I tasted this wine without food and thought it was so-so. But then I cooked up a chicken taco with a mild salsa, and this wine came alive. It has a tad of sweetness to it, but it is totally offset when you have a spicy dish. The NxNW has a straw color and aroma, typical of Riesling. In the mouth you pick up lots of fruit flavors like apricot and citrus. Wine Enthusiast gives the wine 88 Points, and I rated it the same. If you are serving some spicy food, Mexican or whatever, get over to TJ’s and purchase your supply. It is a good deal!