Passport 2014: Skinner

The second day of the 2014 El Dorado Passport event started out over cast and chilly, but by the time we left the hotel, the sun was shining and the temperature was warming up. It is a beautiful drive from El Dorado Hills to our first winery of the day, Skinner Vineyard & Winery.

Detail of the gate to the Skinner Vineyard & Winery. Photo copyright 2014, David Locicero

Detail of the gate to the Skinner Vineyard & Winery. Photo copyright 2014, David Locicero

The Skinner family traces their roots in Gold Country back to the late 1800’s. This generation of Skinner’s started making wines in 2006 and opened their Fairplay region winery in 2011.

This year they were pouring 5 wines, and for the Library Card holders doing a vertical tasting of their Stoney Creek Syrah. I think I said this last year about Skinner’s Passport presentation, and it was true again this year, they had the best food pairings for their wines. Their wines truly sang when paired with the food they had on offer.

What Skinner does best, in my estimation, is GSM blends (Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah). It kind of goes without saying, that their Grenache and Syrah single varietal wines are pretty good, too. Their 2010 “Dry Digging’s” was one of the best wines from the Sierra Foothills of that vintage. This year they were pouring the 2011, a 60% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache blend. It, too was outstanding, but not quite as good as the 2010.

I ended up buying their 2012 Grenache, a lovey strawberry bomb of a wine. It is a light bodied Grenache that could be served at room temperature or chilled slightly. (Remember “room temperature” is generally considered 64 to 68 degrees. In California, in the Summer, we might want to be chilling our red wines down to the mid 6o’s before we serve them for them to taste their best.)

The best wine they were pouring was part of the Library Card vertical tasting, the 2009 Stoney Creek Syrah – 97% Syrah co-fermented with 3% Viognier. Syrah’s can have a kind of harshness about them which many feel makes them off putting. By co-fermenting the Syrah with just a little Viognier, the Syrah’s harsh edges are¬†softened and the wine sits nicely on the palate. Sadly for us, this wine is sold out! They are such teases. But it was a joy to be able to taste it.

About dslocicero

David is an author and architect living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes about wine, food and travel. His first book is Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wines, now one of the highest rated books about California Wines.