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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: California Wine Round Up

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we conclude the reports on our recent visit to California wine country with a round up of some of the wines we enjoyed.

Visiting San Francisco and California wine country was an eye opening and taste bud stretching experience. It was a celebratory trip marking our 25th wedding anniversary and served as a reminder to me of how blessed I am to have Sandy as my wife, partner in good times and bad, and constant source of encouragement. The blog entries for the last few days have documented some of the winery visits that we made, but we made many more stops and experienced more than just wine along the way.

Many people heading to Napa and Sonoma look forward to staying in one of the many inns or bed and breakfasts operating among the wineries. We tend to be more traditional hotel folks and found two excellent places that we would happily return to on future visits. The Meritage in Napa and Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn both sit at the southern ends of the two major wine regions.

Our dining during the trip tended to be more on the casual side and Taylor's Refreshers in St. Helena served up one of the best burgers I've had in sometime. The lunch and dinner served at the winery by the folks at Pietra Santa was wonderful. And we had a spectacular fresh seafood feast at Scoma's on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco (Pier 47 at the foot of Jones).

We got to see plenty of beautiful vistas driving around wine country and stumbles across some things that make it a unique place -- from the Napa Valley Wine Train to the ghost house on the grounds of the San Saba Vineyards to the walnut farmer in Sonoma selling grocery bags full of nuts for $15 just up a dirt lane from an old Studebaker pick up truck. The amazing size and scope of California agriculture is incredible and seeing workers in the fields reminded me of how many people we count on to get food on our tables.

Then there was the wine. Here are a few Tuesday Tasting recommendations:

B.R. Cohn 2004 Olive Hill Estate Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon: When Bruce Cohn isn’t busy booking the next Doobie Brothers gig he’s making wine. This red is a rich combination of plumb, cherry, oak and spice. Perfect for a great steak or a chocolate dessert.

B.R. Cohn 2006 Carneros Chardonnay: Oak and butter nose with nice vanilla and warm oak flavor notes.

Ty Caton 2004 Estate Tytanium: A full flavored Bordeaux style red from a young winery that is 33 percent cabernet sauvignon, 24 percent syrah, 29 percent petite sirah and 14 percent merlot. Plum, cocoa and oak.

Ty Caton 2004 Field Blend: At Opus One they sell a brand called Overture exclusively at the winery that is a great wine at a much lower price than the flagship brand. It is basically juice left over after the winemaker has built the signature blend. Caton's answer is his Field Blend, a mix of petite sirah, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec grapes. This is an affordable luxury with great meritage blended quality that hits appealing flavor characteristics.

Conn Creek 2004 Anthology: This wine is 68 percent cabernet sauvignon, 19 percent cabernet franc, 6 percent merlot, 5 percent malbec and 2 percent petit verdot. The wine delivers a smooth blackberry base that will likely evolve over the next several years.

Duckhorn 2004 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Thick burgundy red color, with spice and ripe dark cherry flavors. A long finishing cabernet perfect for a great meal.

Duckhorn 2005 Decoy Napa Valley Red: One of the great values along the Silverado Trail, this Bordeaux blend is made from the juice that does not find its way into the other Duckhorn wines. It spends 16 months on French oak. Solid ripe fruit and oak nose, with a dry and spicy character.

Loxton 2004 Sonoma Syrah: This wine spends 20 months on oak and produces a bold, fruit forward red that delivers a long pleasant flavor profile.

Loxton 2006 Parmelee Hill Vineyard Chardonny: Barrel fermented in twice used oak, this wine has a nice green apple fruit presence in a creamy and mellow oak flavor profile.

Sapphire Hill 2006 VLH Late Harvest Zinfandel: Banana and pineapple nose, with a good sweet start that is balanced and not cloying.

V. Sattui 2005 Quaglia Vineyard Zinfandel: Deep purple color with tart cherry dominant flavor and a subtle background peppery spice.

San Saba 2005 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc: With 15.1 percent residual sugar you might expect this to taste like sugar water, but in reality a solid level of acidity makes this a fairly balanced dessert wine that has great honey and floral notes.

Trefethen 2004 Double T Red: A blend of classic Bordeaux grapes, this wine is lively and fruity. Perhaps not the red you would order for a Saturday night steak dinner, but a perfect mid-week wine to go with pasta or pizza.

Trefethen 2006 Dry Riesling: A good crisp dry riesling. The crack of acidity at the start opens to a nice grapefruit and honeysuckle flavor profile.

Wellington 2004 Victory Reserve: A thick red blend of 60 percent cabernet sauvignon, 25 percent Cabernet Franc and 15 percent merlot. Plenty of tannins and fruit. A good steak awaits.

Wellington The Duke V: A non-vintage blend of 60 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet and 20 percent zinfandel sold only at the winery at an incredible price. A solid Sonoma red that is assertive, yet finishes with a smooth touch.

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