The Event
Excellent Values in Wine from Sonoma
© by Sheral Schowe
During the University of Utah’s "Celebrate the Harvest of Sonoma" dinner, held at Chez Betty in Park City on Friday, both food and wine indigenous to Sonoma were selected. Several wines proved to be favorites with the guests.

Cline Cellars is producing some interesting wines, in addition to their excellent zinfandels, which are blends from a multitude of different grapes. The Cotes D’Oakley ("Banks of Oakley") Vin Blanc 1997 is a blended dry white table wine consisting of both classic and unusual varietals. It includes an incredible mixture of Northern Rhone grapes such as rousanne and viogier; Bordeaux grapes including sauvignon blanc, semillon and burgundy chardonnay; grapes of Spanish origin, the palomino and muscat canelli; grapes of Alsace, pinot gris and gewurztraminer; and chenin blanc from the Loire. The amazing thing about this is that each of these wines is made separately, with a variety of techniques ranging from stainless steel cold fermentation to barrel fermentation using both French and American oak. The result is an easy-drinking, approachable wine with delightful aromas of melon, flowers, pineapple, mango, and lemon, with flavors of citrus, melon, and a little almond. It is a great buy at $6.95 a bottle.

The Cotes D’Oakley counterpart of Vin Rouge is a blend of classic Rhone grapes including carignane, mourvedre, syrah, grenache, cinsault, and alicante bouchet. Cline is absolutely masterful in growing and producing some of the best Rhone varietal wines in California. The Vin Rouge is both fruity and forward yet structured with enough tannin from both the grapes and the French oak fermentation to store well in the bottle for another three or four years. The Vin Rouge is another bargain at $6.95 a bottle.

Two wines from the Chalone wine group, which have been known to please many crowds and to make the finest of foods seem even finer, come from Carmenet Vineyards in Sonoma, and Acacia in Carneros. Carmenet’s 1996 Meritage Reserve ($17.45) is the most food friendly white wine imaginable. It is a classic bordeaux blend of 66 percent sauvignon blanc and 34 percent semillon. The wine is aged for eight months in French oak in underground caves. The wine is full of high acid fruit with a sweet spiciness. It has a rich, lush mouthfeel with a clean finish that enhances the flavors of a wide variety of foods.

The 1997 Acacia Pinot Noir from Carneros ($22.00) was a perfect choice for the stuffed leg of lamb, but was also a hit with the escargot. Actually, there are very few foods that I would not enjoy with this particular pinot noir, but some of my favorites have included roast chicken, grilled salmon, turkey, and pork loin. It is full of cherry and raspberry fruit up front, with an aromatic, long lasting finish. It is produced at a first class winery in Carneros with an unsurpassed dedication to quality.

These are just a handful of Sonoma wines available at the state’s wine stores. There are many more excellent values from Sonoma from which to choose. Try wines from Kunde and Gundlach Bundschu, and sparkling wines from Iron Horse.

Oct. 29, 1999

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