Upper-end Wine Tasting at Wine Boutique
The focus was exclusively California's best wines from smaller wineries. Steve Helpap of Prestige Wines presided over the entire event--from giving background about the wineries and the people who run them to answering questions and offering insight into what creates a wine's style.
One goal of this tasting was to showcase wines of limited release. According to Helpap, these wines fall in the category of "Ultra-Premium," which is one of the highest wine class designations. Most "Premium" wines begin at $20. Wines from Staglin, Swanson, Lewis, Schweiger, and more are discussed in the tasting notes below.
Of particular interest in this tasting was the developing appellation system in California. An appellation system gives a legal name to a plot of land that provides guidelines for labeling purposes. In other words, a certain amount of the grapes must be grown in that area to use the specific name on the label. Wines with a more area-specific label are often more prestigious. Currently, France has the most stringent appellation system.
Steve Helpap from Prestige Wines based in Heartland, Wis., has been a distributor of fine California wine for many years. Prestige Wines specializes in fine, limited edition wines. Helpap and Kelly Gilboy, proprietor of the Wine Boutique, planned the event to increase awareness of some of the finer wines available in Wisconsin.
Helpap was introduced to wine while working for a Fortune 500 company. When he decided to venture off on his own wine business, he wanted to deal strictly with fine, limited release wines. Prestige wines sells restaurants and small retailers so the staff has more time to become knowledgeable about the uniqueness of the wines. In fact, the wines featured in this tasting are so limited that Helpap needed permission from many of the wineries.
Blockheadia 1999 Sauvignon Blanc
Lewis Cellars 1998 Sonoma County Chardonnay-Limited
Lewis Cellars 1998 Russian River Chardonnay-Reserve
Ancien 1998 Carneros Pinot Noir
Truchard 1998 Syrah
Staglin 1997 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
Staglin 1998 Rutherford Chardonnay
Swanson 1997 Merlot
Frazier 1996 Lupine Hill Merlot-Limited
Frazier 1997 Alexis Meritage Blend-Cabernet and Syrah
Schwieger 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon
June 26, 2000