The Family Winemakers Tasting at Fort Mason August 21st and 22nd this year was fun and exciting. It seemed a bit more reserved, shall we say, “focused,” than previous years. Gone were the grilled lamb skewers and roast duck biscuits from last year’s celebration. All that remained were paltry cheese stations serving, you guessed it, Wisconsin Cheese (?).
Nonetheless, there were some truly stand out wines. I was fortunate to taste not only some of the best wines that California has to offer, but to do so with Marc Kauffman, distinguished sommelier and creator of Restaurant Radar.com. Here’s a list of the wines we found particularly inspiring.
Loyal Companion Red Wine– This wine was great for the $12 price point and I loved the label! In fact, all the labels feature different breeds of dogs. The company name is Cru Vin Dogs and is based in Sonoma. You can see all their products at www.cruvindogs.com.
Another stand out was Conway Family Wines. Based in Rancho Arroyo Grande, they had nice fossils, an interesting terrior and great wine. Try the 2008 Viognier. You can learn more at http://www.conwayfamilywines.com/.
Martian Ranch and Vineyards is based in Los Alamos and specializes in Rhone varietals. The name “Martian” is the blending of the names of the winemaker’s sons, Martin and Ian. Don’t miss the 2009 Grenache Blanc, Grenache Rose and 2008 Syrah, all priced under $24. Check them out at http://martianvineyard.com/.
Saddleback Cellars is a Napa standard producing real value wines. The 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay is selling for $24, as are the delicious Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. According to Marc, Nils Venge has been doing this for years and has stayed true to the craft. Visit them online at http://www.saddlebackcellars.com/.
Here are a few other wines not to miss:
Darms Lane Napa Chardonnay @$28 per bottle from Trefethen fruit had a long finish and great oak overtones.
Lavender Blue wines are showing an unusual concentration of fruit.
Demetria had a standout ’08 Syrah and a delicious blend 2009 Cuvee Papou in the Rhone style at $28.
Sentall Napa Valley 2009 Chardonnay at $14 is a steal.
Terroir Napa Valley Cabernet 2007 at $20. Buy all you can!
Pope Valley Zinfandel Port. We heart it.