A pleasant, sunny drive through the lush, picturesque hillsides of the Sierra Foothill wine region in Amador County led to the discovery of a plethora of tasty and memorable wine gems during the Amador Vintners’ Association “Behind the Cellar Door” annual wine celebration this month. Here is a snapshot of some of my favorites:
2007 Verdelho: Spicy captivating aromas lead to lively crisp, citrus flavors upon entry; lime and lemon zest galore! Fills out on mid palate with a pretty texture, plenty of citrus fruit, a touch of pear, and impressive bright acidity – perfectly balanced! Fabulous paired with lemon chicken!
2005 Petite Sirah: Deep and dark, black as midnight in the center of the glass with a flashy crimson rim; this bold PS opens with intense aromatics chock full of dark juicy fruit. Focused ripe blackberry on the palate with alluring chocolate mint accents, velvety tanins and a finish that goes on and on! Marries well with a tempting dish of roasted lamb shanks and cannellini beans.
2005 Tempranillo: Delightfully fruity on the nose, with jammy raspberry taking center stage on the palate, accented with a pleasing touch of vanilla. Approachable, medium bodied wine with gentle tanins and oh so easy to quaff, this Tempranillo is nicely balanced and drinks beautifully now! Serve with a tasty seafood cioppino.
2005 Vinho Tinto (Lodi): Earthy old world essence rises from the glass and leads to layers of dusty forest floor, leather notes and mushroom flavors that surround a wild berry core on mid palate. Continues building with nicely integrated oak and pretty dried cherry accents, and boasts an alluring, velvety texture. Great paired with grilled sausages and strong flavored cheeses.
C.G.DiArie Vineyard and Winery
2006 Barbera: Inviting cocoa aromatics lift from the glass, followed by generous ripe bing cherry and succulent plum flavors that fill out the mouth richly and fully. Balanced with a good bit of acidity, this is a well crafted wine with toasty oak and a shot of vanilla adding complexity. Serve with a strip steak with plum reduction sauce – yum!
2004 Syrah “Southern Exposure” (Fairplay): Big, meaty and powerful, this Syrah opens with chocolatey aromas and a hint of mint that blend harmoniously with a cornucopia of dark plummy, brooding black fruit flavors, tobacco and a ton of spice on the palate. Complexity and firm tanins suggest good ageability. Pair with meaty, spice-laced short ribs for a winning combination!
2005 Zinfandel (Shenandoah Valley): Wafting from the glass are jammy blackberry and boysenberry fruits flavors that dominate the aroma and carry through on the palate. A generous twist of mixed red/black/white pepper spice blend weaves in and out of the lush fruitiness. Nice silky tanins, too. Serve with spicy meatballs!
2005 Sierra Legend (Shenandoah Valley): Wow, truly amazing blend of Syrah (35%), Primitivo (25%), Cab Sauv (20%) and Cab Franc (20%). Meaty nose followed by luscious dark berries bursting onto the palate. Incredibly rich mouth feel; focused black currant and blackberry flavors and provocative spiciness meld together seamlessly. Full bodied, balanced and complex; absolutely worth joining the wine club for! Pair with a sizzling steak hot off the grill.
2006 Cougar Hill Amador County Zinfandel: Dense ruby hue, and all about beautifully ripe blackberries in the nose. From beginning to end, a lush mouthful of rich jammy blackberry and black cherry explodes on the palate, with a delicious accent of anise highlighting the black fruits. Full bodied with nice purity of fruit and a lingering finish. Serve with a juicy grilled burger dressed with onions reduced in zinfandel!