Saturday, September 16, 2006

Steve Pimps Some Wine...

Calaveras County is not known for much except, Mark Twain's Jumping Frog, the Zodiac Killer and psycho killers Charles Ng and Leonard Lake. However...

They have some fine wines.

Let's have a look shall we?

Chatom Winery located along Hwy 4 before you get into Murphys is a great little first impression of the wine country here. The owner is Gay. Seriously! (note: pun) My favorites are the Syrah, the Sangiovese and the Merlot. They have two Syrah's actually. One's a reserve that is pretty good and bold Syrah. The Sangiovese is light and dry. Good turkey wine actually though a nice pasta would be great as well. I am usually terrified of Merlots. Don't get me wrong but after the movie Sideways, I know why you should be scared. Merlot is a sucker wine. It makes people believe they can taste, "a red wine". But Chatom's Merlot is very tasty and would go great with a nice steak. Chatom's Chardonnay is good but white win is for...

Zucca Mountain's tasting room in Murphy's is located in a basement of a 19th Century building. I am not tall, just 5 foot 10 and I nearly banged my head along the low ceiling of the tasting room and with my back it was difficult to limbo into the door, especially after you have been tasting a while. However... again another Merlot hit my taste buds. I envisioned sitting inside Lawry's Steakhouse, diving into a Lawry Cut Prime Rib. It was really subtle in taste. Again Calaveras County also produced another fine Sangiovese. Zucca Mountain's to me was light and delicate and very smooth. I also enjoyed their Tesoro which was a Merlot/Syrah blend. All of the tasters made a big stink about the Barbera. I was not seeing it. Too bland for a Barbera. I know my Italians and this Barbera was made far from Italy.

Black Sheep Winery is a great for bargain hunting. Their Syrah is 10 bucks a bottle and could be easily sold for 30 or 40 in a upscale grocery store. A case right now is $72. 72 bucks!!! How can you go wrong. I enjoy their Sangiovese as well. For some reason, I don't like the Cabs up here. Maybe at 2000 feet, the grapes get too cold or maybe it's too warm in the summer and the grapes don't cool enough. I don't know, Alexander Valley down in Sonoma County has the best Cabs.

Millier Winery has a small tasting room along Main Street in Murphys. Used to be an old gas station. We (my sister in law and I) were both floored by the "Ghiradeli" Zinfindel. Zins go either way with me. Either they are too fruity or too dry. This one reached the middle and hung there. The old heavy handed pourer, poured us some hefty tastes which really set up the buzzes for today. They had a great Syrah but I only gave myself a $100 budget today. Easily spent up here on 4 good bottles of wine.

If you bargain shop and basically just like red... you can do that too. Great wines at low prices at Kautz, Black Sheep, and Stevenot.

It's a habit up here for us to hit these wineries. My wife's family grew up here and her parents live close to Main Street here in Murphys. Very addicting habit and even if you don't like to buy wine, it's good for a free buzz.

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