Winederlust: El Dorado County, California

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Okay, so maybe the quarterly update is not so quarterly. What were you expecting from a bunch of Closetwinos? It appears that it’s a lot easier to taste the wine, than writing about all that great juice. Our apologies to all.

So with that said, let us talk a little about the wineries of Fair Play in El Dorado County, California.

Latcham Vineyards

As noted in a previous column, Latcham Vineyards was written about with much joy. The joy and appreciation of Latcham continues. There really isn’t much not to like at this winery. And, yes the brownies were up to par, as always.

2001 was a very nice year for their Estate Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes were 100% estate grown. We were even able to pick out the pineapple flavor. Just a delight to drink. Another fun wine found here is the Goldrush Red, it is reasonably priced and not much of a risk for the rookie Closetwino. It is a blend of 40% Zin, 44% Merlot, 10% Barbera and 6% Black Muscat.

Other selections worthy of praise are the 2000 Special Reserve Zinfandel (a Gold Medal winner). This is one mighty fine Zin to drink now or try and hold on to for a little aging. The other showstopper is the 1999 Select Port. Just drop by Latcham Vineyards and work your way through the tasting list, there is no doubt you will leave with several newfound favorites.

Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards

Another delightful place to sample many award winning wines is at Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards. Well Monsieur Omo’s Red Sunshine is a wonderful drinkable red wine. As quoted on the tasting sheet, “made to be enjoyed, not discussed or collected.” Sorta says it all. It is a multiple medal winner. And rightly so.

If you enjoy Chianti of Tuscany, then this red may be for you. It is a triple medal winner and we just plain liked it.

Feeling the need for dessert? Might we recommend the Port? It may come in a 375ml. bottle, but it is a big winner in our book. You really can taste the black cherry, anise and coffee flavors. The flavors lingered on the palette all the way to the next vineyard. Glad to see it win a Gold Medal.

Oakstone Winery, Inc.

What a wonderful place to stop and take in the views of the surrounding countryside. And to be warmly greeted by the great folks manning the tasting room. You almost felt like you were visiting someone’s home.

It was fun to discover that wine made from apples can be mighty fine. The Apple Wine was a very pleasant surprise. A bottle of this and a chunk of cheddar, and dinner is served! Just kidding, sort of. If I remember correctly, the apples used are Pink Lady, Fuji and Red Delicious. You gotta try this one; you will not be disappointed.

Another well known wine here is the Slug Gulch Reds. And there is a strong following for this blended red. As each new release comes out, there is much commentary and comparison from past years. As the story goes, Slug Gulch just keeps getting better and better each time. Don’t be shy, at under $10 a bottle it is well worth joining the Slug Gulch groupies.

The 2001 Pinot Gringo (Pinot Gris)-Late Harvest was a real treat to sample. This crisp, clean dessert wine would go very well with cobbler or lemon bars. Oh, yum.

Windwalker Vineyard

Food and wine…the perfect combination. To walk into a tasting room and be greeted with the tantalizing aroma of food, you know you are in for a treat. With a warm greeting from behind the tasting counter we were off and running.

We started with a wonderful Fume Blanc, onto the Viognier, and things just continued to get better! Then came the Zinfandel…and, oh yes, along with the cooked sausage it was the ultimate combination! Several of those bottles followed us home. As did the Ruby Port! A perfect stop on our day of tasting. We shall return.

Granite Springs Winery

Now don’t be surprised if some of the faces behind the counter look familiar, there may be a very good chance you may have seen that person pouring your wine over at Latcham Winery. We were thrilled and knew we were in for some great tasting.

Not being big Chardonnay drinkers we were pleased to taste a crisp and fruity Chard. (A wonderful change from the sense of chewing on an oak barrel.) Other selections included the Sierra Reserve Red, a blend of Merlot, Zinfandel and CabFranc. The Estate Syrah was very nice and a Gold Medal winner. We continued to work our way through the reds with little or no disappointments.

The relaxed atmosphere and the wonderful spread of nibbles that were enjoyed with our wines, made our first visit to Granite Springs Winery an experience worth repeating in the future.

Fitzpatrick Winery & Lodge

It was a pleasure to be served by the owners of the winery as we explored the world of organically grown wines. Natural is always best in our book. The Sauvignon Blanc was crisp with no wood taste, quite pleasant. The Sierra Dream Rose and King’s Red were fun taste experiences. Our favorite was the of course a Zinfandel. But we recommend that you stop by and pick your own favorite.

Until we taste again.

Cheers!