Sunday, November 2, 2008

There's gold in those hills -- Wines of the Sierra Foothills

My favorite region to wine taste in of late is the Sierra Foothills. I'm continually impressed with the diverse wines that come out of Amador, El Dorado & Calaveras counties. In Amador County my favorites are Cooper, with its fabulous spicy Sangiovese, fruity Barbera & smooth Merlot and Sobon for its jammy ReZerve Zin. In El Dorado County Boeger is so popular it is often overrun with visitors, but I'm won over by their sense of humor (see the sign on the lawn above) and their peppery Walker Zin and Migliore reserve Italian blend. Luckily they have reserve tasting in a quaint little cellar (check out the heart lock on the door in the pic below) so you can get away from the crowds! Also in the El-Do is David Girard, a recent find that surprised me with its Grenache, made in a lighter style than I'm used to, but lovely with clove and strawberries on the nose and a silky mouthfeel.

I haven't made it to Calaveras County tasting yet -- in fact, I only recently discovered some of the fabulous wines the hardworking folks are making up there. Twisted Oak in Murphys has stolen my heart with its Spanish varietals -- the Torcido Grenache is an amazingly rich blend of mainly Grenache with a bit of Petite Sirah (interesting combo I rarely see) that is loaded with red fruit & baking spices; The Spaniard flagship wine is a delicious blend of Tempranillo, Grenache & Graciano (one of my fave grapes and a varietal rarely produced in CA, although Bokisch has one as well); and of course there's the season-appropriate River of Skulls Mourvedre -- who can resist a winery that prints a spoooooky red skull directly on the bottle?

Aside from Twisted Oak, which is led by the irrepressible Jeff Stai (known as "El Jefe" to the Twisted followers) and his army of rubber chickens, Hatcher (also in Murphys) makes a commendable Mourvedre and a dynamite Viognier. I paired their Viognier, with its orange blossom-and-honeysuckle floral, stone fruit, and honey-laden notes with tacos of shrimp, whole pinto beans, and homegrown grape tomatoes topped with avocado, cilantro, sour cream & a trace of hot sauce. Can you say "yum?" Brian couldn't get enough of it, declaring it "the best meal you've made to date" -- he's saying that a lot lately and I don't get tired of hearing it!

Tonight we're making caprese salad (yes, still holding on to summer despite the torrential rains this weekend) with basil and tomatoes from our waning garden and creamy pesto ravioli. To drink we're stepping away from the hills and across the pond to Italy for either the Querciabella (a biodynamic winery in Tuscany) Chianti or Mongrana, a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that London Daily Telegraph wine writer Jonathan Ray called " of the best Italian wines I’ve had in ages."

Mangia e salute!


jason said...

I do have to make it a priority to get up there and taste. They are starting to get more "found" everyday. Don't want to wait until it is too late!

mloagogo said...

Definitely go up -- it's an experience. Do a tour, it's very worthwhile!