Standout Tastes From the 20th Annual Winemakers Celebration
August 13, 2012
Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs crowded the tents housing around 40 local wineries (and 150 wines) at the Monterey County Vitners and Growers’ 20th Annual Winemakers’ Celebration this past weekend at the Barnyard Shopping Center in Carmel.
The amount of Sauv Blanc not only surprised me—I expected to see a lot more Chardonnay than SBs—it thrilled me, as the varietal is my favorite white.
Only problem there: Each I tried was too grassy for my taste. I jump at flavors of grapefruit and melon, with slightly tangy citrus endings. Not finding a SB to fit the bill, I pushed them aside to make way for more exotic grape types and blends.
Many of the Pinots, meanwhile, were sweet and berry-forward, and not so much the lean, European, food-friendly style I’ve come to hope for, even if California is known for bigger Pinots. But there were a few to fit the classic California profile that I still liked, boasting fuller bursts of dark cherry and smooth spice, and while Estancia and Carmel Road were among them, Silvestri stood a step above.
The most compelling tastes from my afternoon, then. Each is available through the respective tasting rooms noted beneath each wine:
Pierce Ranch Vineyards 2011 Verdelho Almost lost among the grass, even with reputable names like Morgan and Bernardus, it was a 2011 Verdelho ($17.95), a Portuguese grape, from Pierce Ranch Vineyards that sidelined my search for a summertime SB and captured the light white flavor I sought. Caramel in color with the mouth feel of an unoaked Chardonnay, the Verdelho radiates grounded tones of white peach and mellow citrus, rounded out by a deep, earthy honeycomb finish. While their vines are located in the south county town of Lockwood, Pierce enjoys a tasting room on Wave Street in Monterey where you can sip on six current releases for $5. With open mic nights on the third Thursday of each month and live music on many Fridays, Pierce puts an exciting spin on the wine tasting experience through a sense other than taste, too.
499 Wave St., Monterey. 372-8900, www.piercevineyards.com.
Silvestri 2009 “Rising Tide” Pinot Noir Ever since I spent a summer waitressing at Carmel Valley’s Corkscrew Bistro, Silvestri’s Pinot Noir collection has remained the pinnacle of my palate’s desires. Their new 2009 release ($32), coined “Rising Tide,” ditches the slight minerality of the 2007 for a larger dose of smoke and spices. Its greatest glory: It doesn’t lean in the direction of any particular quality; instead, every adjective can enjoy the qualifier “slight.” In other words, this is a beautiful balance of plum, blackberry and cinnamon that are bright the whole way through, and leave the senses with a slight bite and silky, rounded mouth feel.
19 East Carmel Valley Road, Suite G, Carmel Valley. 659-1700, www.silvestrivineyards.com.
Hahn 2010 GSM The red blend of the afternoon manifested in an affordable Hahn GSM ($14) made up of 62 percent Grenache, 34 percent Syrah and 4 percent Mourvedre. Bright flavors of raspberry and cherry awaken the taste buds, while an herbal hibiscus touch mellows the finish. It’s an honest wine that will quickly become a regular complement to protein-forward dinners with its medium mouth feel and slightly acidic finish. In addition to taking the burden off your wallet, Hahn’s Sustainability in Practice certification sweetens the deal with a commitment to the health of the vineyard ecosystem.
37700 Foothill Road, Soledad. 678-4555, www.hahnestates.com.
Cima Collina 2009 Tondre Grapefield Riesling Drinking dessert wines can frequently feel like gulping a jar of honey, but Cima Collina seems to have figured it another way with its 2009 Tondre Grapefield Riesling ($14). Delicate in its creation and taste, the wine reveals honeysuckle, apricot and white peach as it seeps into the tongue. It enjoys the sweet nature of a riesling while adding an unanticipated crisp and light finish—akin to biting into a piece of ripe stone fruit.
19 East Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 620-0645, www.cimacollina.com.