Wine Barrels at David Girard Vineyards. Photo (c)David Locicero 2012
The El Dorado Winery Association’s biggest event of the year, the Passport 2012, has been scheduled for the weekends of April 14-15 and April 21-22. The Passport is two days of wine tasting and food pairings, this year with 32 participating wineries. For a ticket price of only $65 per person, attendees can visit as many wineries over two days as they can, sampling wines and food pairings. There are several wineries this year who are participating for the first time.
It is physically impossible to taste at all 32 wineries over two days. Even if you only taste at 4 wineries each day, you will not be disappointed attending. With careful planning, you can easily taste at 6 to 8 wineries…but if you do: HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER. Designated drivers are only charged $25 and get complementary non-alcoholic beverages at each winery and can sample any of the foods offered.
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It was the Passport event back in 2006 that introduced me and my partner to Gold Country wines. We have had so much fun at this annual event that it is a Cannot Miss event on our calendar and we plan our Spring around attending Passport. Tickets are limited in number and the event usually sells out. If you want to attend, contact the El Dorado Winery Association.
Accommodations book fast as well. As soon as you’ve got your tickets, waste no time in booking a hotel, motel or B&B. I have a list of recommended accommodations in my book, Pour Me Another. We’ll be there!
Yesterday was the Grand Re-Opening of their new tasting room / wine making facilities for Urbano Cellars in Berkeley, California. The party started around 1pm and lasted well until after we departed.
The party featured free tasting of five of their wines: a Chenin Blanc, Rose, 5 Barrel (a red blend), Sangiovese and a Zinfandel. The porchietta served was a great match for the reds and the Rose. A live band provided some very danceable tunes.
I particularly liked the 2007 5 Barrel Red, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Tempranillo which was exceptionally well balanced and very complex. It offered something new with every mouthful. I also really liked the 2007 Zinfandel which was full bodied, and packed with interesting flavors, including blackberry and mint.
All the wines were good; the blend and the Zin were the standouts. I’ll want to go back on a weekend afternoon to taste again and take better notes. It’s tough to write with a glass in one hand, a plate of pork in the other, a pen in the other, and my tasting journal in my forth.
Urbano Cellars is located in the Berkeley flats at 2323-B 4th Street near Dwight. Their space can not be seen from the street. You access it by walking up the drive way to the left of the building and turning right. They are open for tasting and purchases on Saturday and Sunday Afternoons from 1pm to 5pm. Urbano Cellars is worth seeking out.
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View of the vineyards at David Girard on a grey November afternoon.
Last weekend, I ventured eastward to Gold Country with a group of friends. The travelling band of wine tasters varied in size from 7 on Friday to 14 on Saturday and 4 on Sunday. It was a wonderful opportunity to share my passion for Gold Country and Gold Country wines with friends, some of whom had never been there before.
One of our first stops on Friday afternoon was David Girard Vineyards. Since I was driving, I didn’t complete the entire tasting menu, but did sample a couple of their whites and a couple of reds.
The standout in my mind, and the wine I purchased, was their 2009 Tryptych, El Dorado. It is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Counoise. It is an easy drinking medium bodied red. It is smooth and complex. I like its easy accessibility. It went well with itself and I think it will pair well with pasta dishes or roast chicken. I am looking forward to opening this bottle and drinking it with dinner over an hour or so with friends.
The other wine that stands out is their 2009 Riv D’Or, which is, if my memory serves me, made from estate grown fruit. It is a heavier wine that the Tryptych, smooth and spicy with pretty strong cinnamon on both the nose and palate. It is also a blend. This time of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. This is a much more complex wine than the Tryptych and has nice acidity and soft tannins that suggest that this should be consumed with food.
Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wine is now available! That link will take you to the Amazon.com sales page.
I am working on formatting the book for Kindle and Nook as we speak. That should be ready in 7 to 10 days.
Pour Me Another will be the definitive guide to Gold Country wines. Buy your copy today! at Amazon. No pressure….
In unrelated news: I have set the blog to close a post to comments after 14 days. I am doing this to cut down on the amount of time I have to spend dealing with spam-bots trying to blast the site with their nonsense. Even with the spam filter, I still get emailed whenever somebody posts or attempts to post a comment. Yesterday that meant I was getting at least one spam notice every 15 minutes, usually more than one. Really annoying. Most of these were on posts that were old. So keep current!