Our local NSLC stores have been featuring California wines, and I thought I would share a few of my favorites. I have a very special affinity for California wines, having been to the Napa Valley in 2001. I also spent some time around Coastal California, and I just love the state. The scenery took my breath away, the people were fantastic and the wine…. nothing short of spectacular.
Here is a picture of Calistoga, where I stayed, which is in the very northern tip of the Napa Valley. I did, however, drive to the Napa Valley, so I got to see a lot of it. Staying in Calistoga was lovely, with a population of about 5500, it was quaint and friendly and easy to get around. Known for it’s spas, I went for the wine. Here are a couple of my favorites to come out of California.
One of the vineyards I got to visit, which was on a hill overlooking Calistoga, was Sterling Vineyards. I was so excited because this brand is available here in Canada. They make a variety of good wines in every price range.
From this Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon which comes in at the $15 range. It’s a great wine for that price range. Lots of rich fruit flavors, with notes of plum and vanilla, and perfect for the BBQ.
This spectacular Merlot from Sterling is also available here in Nova Scotia. Wine – $32, glass $6, memories of enjoying this wine in the beautiful California sunshine – priceless! And believe me, the wines available from the vineyard itself is very extensive. We see maybe 6 or 8 different Sterling wines here in Canada, but from the vineyard you can choose from Single Vineyard Selections, Sterling Vintner Collection, Reserve wines, Cellar Club and Napa Appellation wines just to name a few.
Just down the road from Calistoga is St. Helena, and St. Helena is wall to wall wineries. As a matter of fact, you can walk from vineyard to vineyard, there are that many of them. St. Helena is in the heart of the Napa Valley and home to many familiar brand names. Beringer, Sutter Home, and Francis Ford Coppola just to name a few. It is also home to some of my favorites.
Robert Mondavi is located in St. Helena, and I visited this vineyard twice. It was just so beautiful. Again, Canada sees a few wines from this vineyard, like this Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, which is in the $20 price range.
To a few finer ones, like the 2004 Robert Mondavi Reserve which comes in at a cool $165.00 per bottle.
This vineyard puts out a multitude of fine wines, and there is a great selection right at the vineyard you can buy. Our local store has recently started carrying this Robert Mondavi Private Selection Heritage Red Blend. This is a fantastic wine at just $20. A blend of Syrah and Cabernet with a little bit of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, this is one of my new favorites and will probably be my go-to barbecue wine this Summer.
You cannot go to Napa Valley without visiting Robert Mondavi. Here’s another can’t miss visit….
Francis Ford Coppola, the legendary movie director of such great classics as The Godfather movies, also owns a legendary vineyard in Napa Valley. Spectacular movies – spectacular wines.
From the tasty Rosso blend, which I bought at the vineyard for $10 a bottle, (it is about $18 here in Canada) to the Director’s Cut Merlot (which I also bought at the vineyard
Francis Ford Coppola has been quoted as saying making films and making wine are two great art forms. And I tend to agree with him. I visited this particular Vineyard three times during my 10 day visit. You just can’t see it all in one visit . He also has olive trees and makes his own olive oil right on site. When I was there I met a lady who said she drove for 90 minutes and she was stocking up. In her own words, the best olive oil she has ever tasted. I was disappointed I only bought one bottle. They also have an extensive gift shop where I bought some beautiful napkins .
And upstairs in the wine tasting room, you can view artifacts from his movies, including the Oscar’s. There was also the famous car from Tucker, And one of the suits from the Godfather! Upstairs in the movie room, you need a couple of hours to take it all in.
My new wine of the week is also a dream from California….
The 2013 Beran Zinfandel (pronounced Baron) is a combination of old vine grapes and new vine grapes, coming from the Sonoma County in Napa Valley and some from Mendocino, many of which are organic. The family has been in the wine business for many years and some of their grape growers have been growing grapes since 1917, so they know how to make a good Zinfandel. I loved this wine, it was a clean and crisp Zinfandel with subtle smoky notes and hints of bacon. But these flavors did not over-power the fruit. This wine comes from the same vineyard as this wine I wrote about a while back
The Carne Humana Red Wine is available here in Nova Scotia, is around the $30 mark, and is a rich blend of Petite Verdoh, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. If you are a little leery about trying a blended wine, don’t be. These are delicious and not sweet at all. Remember, Bordeaux wines are all blends.
Well we are supposed to get one more visit from Old Man Winter on Sunday night, but I am well prepared wine wise!
Till next week, Cheers