Jeff Emery has always turned out some wonderful wines under his Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard label—they are much appreciated by local wine lovers and have always sold well. And now the same can be said for his Quinta Cruz label—where Emery concentrates his talents on producing Iberian style wines such as Verdelho ($20). The grapes for this tangy medium-sweet wine were first cultivated in Portugal around 1400 and used in the making of Madeira. Emery’s Verdelho, Alta Mesa Silvaspoons Vineyard, is a dry, crisp aromatic wine that will knock your socks off. Aromas and flavors of ripe peaches, apricots, honeydew melons, citrus and floral notes make this unusual wine so enjoyable. I simply love it.
Victories Rosé 2010 – Rosé for Research
I well remember the first time I met Peggy Fleming, the world-famous ice skater and Olympic gold medal winner. It was at Testarossa Vineyards in Los Gatos. Fleming and her husband Greg Jenkins were just getting going with their winery, and were holding some of their events at Testarossa. It was only in 1999 that they planted their first vineyard of Chardonnay grapes, and they didn’t have a tasting room at that point in time. But that’s all changed as their winery has progressed. They now have a lovely tasting room in downtown Los Gatos that is available for private, corporate or nonprofit events for groups of 10 to 40 people.The second time I met Fleming, at an event in Los Gatos, we chatted about everything under the sun, and I was left with a lasting impression of her down-to-earth personality.
Late Harvest Merlot 2007
Although I have written about Naumann Vineyards’ Merlot in a previous article, this Merlot is very different because it’s a semi-sweet dessert wine. It’s a wine to enjoy with your strawberries and cream after dinner, or just to drink on its own when you feel like imbibing on something that’s sweeter than usual.
Owner and winemaker Don Naumann founded his winery in 2001. He purchased the property in 1987 and planted the vineyard in 1994. Its prime location – complete with warm days and cool mountain nights – produces the finest variety of wines, and the Late Harvest Merlot is one of them.
Judges at last year’s California State Fair named Storrs Winery’s 2007 Central Coast Zinfandel Best Zinfandel of Region. This fabulous Zin was also awarded a gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition of 2010.
It goes without saying, then, that winemaker Stephen Storrs, with many years of experience now under his belt, is turning out some impressive wines. His 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay also won Best Wine of Region, Best Chardonnay of Region, and a gold medal as well.
The grapes for this Zinfandel were grown in the coastal foothills of California’s Central Coast, where the maritime climate allows the grapes to slowly ripen. The end result is a luscious fruit-forward wine with dense aromas of blackberry and cherry.
The grapes for this delightful wine come from the Gimelli Vineyard in Cienega Valley, San Benito County—a great area for producing Viognier. Only recently becoming popular in the United States, it’s a rich white wine that you won’t find on the shelves of every supermarket. Although it’s a bit difficult to partner with food because of its low acid and high alcohol, it’s robust and full-bodied—and actually one of my favorites. I think it’s a terrific wine to pop open when you have a couple of friends over and you just want to drink something other than Chardonnay. Viognier thrives in warm climates and grows well in California’s hot Central Coast areas.
Soif wine bar on Walnut Avenue in the heart of Santa Cruz is well worth a visit if you haven’t been there. When it comes to wine, they don’t pussyfoot around—preferring instead to carry a selection of wines of note and interest. This is where I tasted Coastview Vineyard’s Chardonnay 2008, Terraces—a pale yellow beauty made by winemaker Ian Brand. Awash with luscious fruit, this is a bold Chardonnay for sure—with amazing flavors of lemon, golden apple and a touch of pear. The wine was fermented with native yeast—and was bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Denis Hoey, winemaker and owner of Odonata, is having no trouble at all in selling his wines. Talking with him about his recent release of Rose, I had set my sights on getting a bottle, but he emailed me to say he had sold the whole lot. I’ll have to wait now until his next release. Ever since he opened up in the Surf City Vintners complex on Ingalls Street on the Westside of Santa Cruz, he has been very successful with his intriguing wines.
The 2008 Chardonnay, Peter Martin Ray Vineyard ($24), is full of crisp minerality with aromas of stone fruits and pear. It’s just a beautiful wine—with grapes coming from a very historic vineyard high in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Menage à Trois 2008
How very clever of the marketing team at Folie à Deux Winery in Oakville to come up with the saucy name of Menage à Trois for their range of blends of three different wines. With its naughty connotations, Menage à Trois is an easy name to remember. Whoever came up with this name deserves free wine for the rest of his life.
The Folie à Deux California Red seemed like an appropriate wine to drink at a very sensuous evening of belly dancing—a show I went to with a couple of friends recently at Don Quixote’s International Music Hall in Felton.