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Issue 2 2013


A Golden Gem In The Backwaters Of Venice!

El Dorado Wine Country

California’s Rising Region Hits Rhône Gold!



pa s s p o r t







THE RITUAL Step Nº 3 : The Liquid Alchemy

With the Chalice held at 45-degrees the beer comes to life, creating the correct proportions of foam and liquid. Perfection is in the details, and a perfect Stella Artois is no different.

Always Enjoy Responsibly.

© 2011 Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A.,

Stella Artois® Beer, Imported by Import Brands Alliance, St. Louis, MO

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Christopher and Darcy Davies judging the ‘A Tavola con il Nobile’ fine food and wine competition in Montepulciano with Italian Wine Celebrity Bruno Gambacorta.

Editor’s Letter Our tasting panelists for VinoTasting are comprised of sommeliers, on-premise wine professionals and wine educators. They have spent thousands of hours tasting wines and becoming certified through such prestigious organizations as WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust), SWE (Society of Wine Educators) and The Court of Master Sommeliers. We are fortunate to have such a talented, dedicated team with all of their certifications and credentials participating in our tastings. With their help, we are creating an attitude-free, intuitive wine rating system that will make it easier than ever for wine lovers to buy and enjoy wine. The VinoTasting rating system is based on a scale of 1 to 5 (indicated by wine glasses), similar to a hotel rating system. Our feature story takes us to the hills of California’s Gold Country. El Dorado Wine Country is nestled between South Lake Tahoe and Sacramento. The region has historical roots dating back to the Gold Rush. The industry dried up during prohibition, but began a second renaissance in the 70s. Today Eldorado wines are increasing in quality and approachability. We visited the region recently and fell heads over heels with this laid back, diverse region with rolling hills and gained expertise in producing powerful, aromatic Rhône wines. Growing grapes and making wine in Venice, Italy is not something that one would expect would be possible. The tiny Venissa vineyard the Bisol’s planted is slightly more than 1 hectare in size and is located within a city park adjacent to the boutique Venissa Hotel and Michelin Starred Venissa Ristorante Ostello. I hope that you will love reading this new issue! Please be sure to subscribe for free on Issuu so that you will automatically be notified when future issues are available. Cheers! Christopher J. Davies Publisher & Editor @chrisjdavies59 Issue 2 2013



Contents Wine Country International ® Magazine Christopher J. Davies Co-Founder, Editor & Publisher Darcy R. Davies Co-Founder & Design Director William Davis CSS, CWE, Senior Tasting Editor Managing Editor Beth Prieto Food Editor Clair Walter Lifestyle Editor V.G. Walsh Public Relations Kuvy Ax Director of Photography Christopher J. Davies Contributing Editors: Lisa Carley Dean Smith Madeleine de Jean Ron Kapon Barrie Lynn Radio Show Producer Tom Sheffield Advertising, Sponsorship and Club Sales Deborah Terry Eastern Advertising Sales Emily White East Coast Business Manager Dorothy Brown Website Design A publication of Wine Country Network, Inc. Christopher J. Davies Chairman & CEO, Co-Founder Darcy Davies President & Co-Founder James Alterbaum, Esq. Corporate Counsel Wine Country Network, Inc. P.O. Box 6023 Broomfield, CO 80021 Tel. 303-664-5700 Fax. 303-648-4199 e-mail: Address editorial inquiries to VINOTASTING Newsletter at Twitter: @vinotasting

WINE WORKS Pages 6-9

Harvest 2013 Sonoma

Julia Child Champagne Tribute Luncheon

Gordon Ramsey’s Hells Kitchen

Champagne Styles

Three Notable Barbaresco producers

2013 Denver International Wine Festival

Wine Country International Digital Magazine is published 5 times per year by Wine Country Network, Inc. To view & subscribe visit: Wine Country International Magazine does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, drawings, photographs or other works. All letters sent to Wine Country Network will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes. Contents © 2013 by Wine Country Network, Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or part without written permission of the publisher. All photography in this publication, unless otherwise noted is copyrighted by Christopher J. Davies,, all rights reserved.

Destinations Pages 10

Martinhal Beach Resort, Portugal

Ahwahnee Hotel Yosemite 2014 Chefs Holiday Series



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Passions & Portraits Pages 12-15 Venissa

Cover Feature Pages 24-42 El Dorado Wines

Next Issue


Winery Spotlight

Pages 18-21

Pages 46

Pages 44-45

Wine Reviews

Issue 2 2013

Tuscany & Venice

Growing Malbec With Altitude




Harvest 2013 Report St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Sonoma. September 3rd marked the winery’s fifth consecutive “September Harvest” with the arrival of 13 tons of hand-picked Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Alexander Valley. The fruit was mildly sweet (23° Brix) with a “more green than gold” color. Floral notes and rich tastes and aromas of honeydew from warm Alexander Valley balanced these grapes with bright acid levels typical of early picked Sauvignon Blanc. The 2013 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc will be introduced to the market in spring of 2014.

Photo Credit: Denise Truscello/WireImage

New! Julia Child Tribute Champagne Luncheon (Sunday 11/10) This year we are introducing an intimate Champagne Luncheon and Sabering Demonstration, featuring Julia Child’s All-American menu paired with selections from the great Champagne houses known famously throughout the world.

CHEF GORDON RAMSAY AWARDS HELL’S KITCHEN SEASON 11 WINNER July 25, 2013. Super star chef Gordon Ramsay is the world’s most recognized celebrity chef on television. He recently named Houston resident Ja’Nel Wit the 11th winner of Hell’s Kitchen at his Gordon Ramsey Pub and Grill, Cesar’s Palace, Las Vegas. Ja’Nel Witt and Chef Gordon Ramsay celebrate as Witt receives her official chef coat.



Special Guest Host Madeleine de Jean, known in the industry as Madame Champagne. Madeleine was former Ambassador and Director of Sales for Champagnes Veuve Clicquot, Gosset, Laurent-Perrier, GH Mumm and PerrierJouet. A dear friend of Julia Child, Madeleine will lead the afternoon activities with a Sabering demonstration and stories of Julia’s love of food and Champagne. 100% of the net proceeds will benefit the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. For festival schedule and ticket options visit:

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WINE WORKS CHAMPAGNE STYLES by Madeleine Sophie de Jean

Everyone agrees that the French are big on style. Le Style is that je ne sais quoi factor which defines the things in life that the French hold dear: personality, character, success and individuality. Le Style has no gender: all French people are, frankly, fashionistas about everything. And everything must have Le Style. Not the least in this competition to stay ‘en style’ (in style) is Champagne, the French national beverage of celebration and lifestyle, with international glory. No two fashion designers have the same style, and no two Champagne houses have the same style. Some fashion designers and some Champagne houses are most modern in everything, including taste, while others are more old-fashioned when it comes to taste­—and design.

Many factors contribute to the multitude of Champagne styles:

1. Vineyards: The depth and density of the all—important

chalk in the vineyards from which each house sources

their fruit.

2. Grapes: The three classic Champagne grape varieties

(Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier) a particular

house employs.

3. Location: Is the Champagne house in the area of Reims,

or the area of Epernay?

4. The philosophy of the owners and the Chef des Caves

(the head winemaker, responsible for maintaining the

house style): Are they more innovative, or do they prefer

tradition? Who is their target audience?

In each category there are multiple possibilities that will influence the style of Champagne. These factors contribute subtly in some ways, and more evidently in others on both the taste and packaging of the finished Champagne. In order to get the most enjoyment out of the Champagne you select, it is good to study the Style of several Champagne houses before you purchase. Just as one fashion designer will select an Italian silk and another a Chinese silk, one Chef des Caves may use 60% of Chardonnay grapes grown in vineyards with moderate chalk content to blend into his “House Style” (the Non-Vintage) Champagne, while his neighbor may use 40% Chardonnay from vineyards with a much higher percentage of chalk. Both dresses will be gorgeous—and both completely unique. The same is true for the different Champagnes—both delicious, but totally different. These and a myriad of other factors play a huge role in the finished product you will be enjoying one day. Once you know your very own personal Style—your je ne sais quoi – you will find the Champagne style that is right for you.

About The Author Madeleine de Jean is known in the industry as Madame Champagne. Madeleine was former Ambassador and Director of Sales for Champagnes Veuve Clicquot, Gosset, Laurent-Perrier, GH Mumm and Perrier-Jouet.

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Three Top Barbaresco Producers

I started at Moccagatta with Sergio and Marina Minuto. Moccagatta is the modern Italian word meaning ‘pristine beauty’. I had a good rapport with Sergio and a great rapport with Marina whose English was impeccable. We determined that the best vintages to taste for complexity were 2010 and 2008. I went on to Bruno Rocca for a tasting with Bruno and his whole family (five in all). The photo shows three of the five in the barrel aging cellar. Bruno is on the left and his son Francesco is on the right – they are the winemakers and vine tenders. In the middle is Bruno’s daughter Luisa who handles the administration and sales. The photo was taken in the spring of 2012. From Bruno’s face, it is almost unbelievable that he was 61 at this time – a living testimony to the Piedmontese good life and the joy of living of a person who is really on the top of his game. The whole family enjoyed sampling my 2010 Pommard. At first Francesco offered me only the 2008s to taste, but when he tasted the 2010 Pommard, he also offered the 2010s.

by Dean Smith, Burgundy Importer, Winemaker, and Judge for the Denver International Wine Competition In March of 2012 I visited the Barbaresco producers Bruno Giacosa, Nada Fiorenzo, and La Spinetta. The visit at Bruno Giacosa was especially meaningful, with their enologist Francesco Versio who served a 2004 Bruno Giacosa Santa Stefano Barbaresco to which I gave 95 points. The scores given to the wines, all of which for 2012 and 2013 were 100% Nebbiolo, are based on the 100-point scale used by the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. These producers were quite far apart, one in Treiso and two in Neive (see the map) and my top scores for Nada Fiorenzo and La Spinetta were 91 points. In March of 2013 I visited the Barbaresco producers Moccagatta, Bruno Rocca, and Produttori del Barbaresco, all of which are within 1 km of the town of Barbaresco. If you appreciate complexity in wine, this Barbaresco region is home to about 75% of the most complex wines of the Barbaresco D.O.C.G. (see the map). Not surprisingly, all of my highest scoring wines either came from a single vineyard in the Barbaresco region of the Barbaresco D.O.C.G. or a selection of the best fruit of several vineyards dominated by vineyards in this region. It would be misleading to give anyone the impression that a person without my credentials would be welcomed as I was. Besides giving my credentials in emails setting up the appointments I told these wineries that I would be bringing a sample of a 2010 Pommard from the village part of the La Platiere vineyard for them to taste. This 2010 Roger Sauvestre Pommard is a very complex wine with a score of 93. Thus, these winemaking families had every possible motivation to treat me well – and treat me well they did because we spoke the same language leading to a deep mutual respect.



The Maria Adelaide is named after Bruno’s mother and comes from a selection of the best grapes of their vineyards with the lowest yield for any of their wines of 35 hl/hectare. It is their flagship wine and although now the Rabaja and Maria Adelaide rate the same scores, the Maria Adelaide will score higher than the Rabaja in the future with further aging. It is rare for me to give one winery two 94-point scores for even the best wineries in Burgundy. True, these wines were 2008s with some bottle age. Even so, it is an indication of the quality and complexity of these wines. The yield for the Maria Adelaide is exactly the same as the average yield for a Grand Cru Red Burgundy. Again both 100% of the Rabaja and the majority of the Maria Adelaide are from the Barbaresco region of the Barbaresco D.O.C.G. The name Rabaja means ‘pure breed’. Rabaja (see the map) produces a quintessential Barbaresco, one of the most complete and balanced of the single vineyards. The vineyard lays at the conjunction of two main ridges from the Barbaresco village, one starting at Rabaja and going west towards the Tanaro River (with progressively less calcium and higher fertility in the soil) and the other one going from Rabaja to Ovello, south to north (with higher calcium content in the soil). The meeting of these two different soils gives to Rabaja its incredible complexity. Bordering both Asili and Muncagota it combines the personalities of these two great vineyards with an extra richness due to the warm southwest exposure. I traded a bottle of the 2010 Pommard for a bottle of the Maria Adelaide 2008 and everyone was happy. This was my top tasting and it was apparent that Bruno and every member of his family were enjoying it just as much as I was. It made no difference that Bruno did not speak English because both his wines and the 2010 Pommard spoke for themselves in a way that was ostentatious in the best sense of the word. My final visit was at Produttori del Barbaresco with Luca Cravanzola. It was a one-on-one tasting and I had great rapport with Luca. He really appreciated the 2010 Pommard and provided me with the map and vineyard descriptions as well as a soil map of the Barbaresco region of the Barbaresco D.O.C.G. He helped me to understand why the Barbaresco region is home to about 75% of the most complex wines of the Barbaresco D.O.C.G. I only obtained the cost of the Produttori del Barbaresco

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WINE WORKS Muncagota Riserva which was 24 euros/bottle at the winery. Let me tell you about the Muncagota vineyard (see the map) whose wine was on the same level as the highest scoring wines from Bruno Rocca. I obtained a bottle of this wine. Muncagota means ‘pristine beauty’ as the piedmontese dialect of the word Moccagatta. This single vineyard looks southeast, facing the cooler morning sunshine instead of the warmer afternoon sun. Because of that, the Muncagota vineyard shows beautiful floral characteristics and often a specific mint character on the nose. Calcareous soil and a low level of sand gives to the wines of Muncagota extremely focused fruit and firm, stylish tannins. Muncagota is a perfect example of the elegant and intense qualities that make Barbaresco one of the most interesting and unique wines of the world. Produttori offers an excellent source of high quality, reasonably priced Barbaresco. If I were an ordinary wine enthusiast without my credentials, it is the winery of the three reviewed here on which I would concentrate my buying. This strategy would result in maximum value for the money spent. Note that all of the Riserva wines from Produttori come from the Barbaresco region of the Barbaresco D.O.C.G. (see the map).

2013 Denver International Wine FestivalNovember 6 to10, 2013 Wine Country International’s 9th Annual Denver International Wine Festival is the premier wine and food festival in the Rocky Mountains, showcasing more than 400 international wines from 18 countries! This incredible event also features selected premium spirits, sake, craft beer, and a Belgium Beer Garden complete with gourmet food samplings expertly paired with famous Belgium beers, served in their custom glassware. Attendees enjoy a multitude of delectable food and wine tastings, fresh produce, gourmet food products, wine accessories, fine art, and exhibits by luxury travel destinations. The DIWF is pleased to continue its partnership with Riedel Crystal, using Riedel and Spiegelau glassware exclusively. In addition, VIP Deluxe guests will attend a Riedel Vinum XL Glass Tasting seminar that includes keeping this deluxe set of 4 glasses ($159 value). This year’s host hotel The Four-Diamond, award-winning Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield welcomes you to a retreat into modern luxury. Nestled against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, this year-round Colorado resort near Denver offers a wealth of 
on-site pleasures. Special festival room rates begin at $99 per night

In summary, visits to all three of the producers reviewed here is well worth the time. They all have wines from the favored Barbaresco region of the Barbaresco D.O.C.G. and represent high points for everyone who appreciates wines of the greatest complexity.

Issue 2 2013



Photo Credit: DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.


Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel in Sagres on Portugal’s Western Algarve is “Europe’s leading villa resort” and “Portugal’s leading family resort” at World Travel Awards 2013. Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel is located on Martinhal beach and is surrounded by acres of dunes, cliffs, and conservation land in the Costa Vicentina area of Portugal. The resort’s commitment and dedication to excellence in service and quality of accommodation was sited in this award. World Travel Awards are voted on by travel and tourism professionals worldwide as well as the general public. This award positions puts the resort among the leading European hotel groups, and affirms the brand of “Europe’s Finest Luxury Family Resort.” Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel was designed with families in mind and combines stylish design, luxury, child-friendliness and hospitality.

THE AHWAHNEE ANNOUNCES 2014 CHEFS’ HOLIDAYS LINEUP FEATURING 27 OF AMERICA’S BEST CHEFS The country’s best culinary talent from New York to San Francisco convene in the wintertime splendor of Yosemite National Park to share their talent, expertise and cuisine with guests at the 29th annual event YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. The Ahwahnee, a National Historic Landmark and AAA Four-Diamond hotel, nestled in the heart of scenic Yosemite Valley, announces the lineup for the 29th Annual Chefs’ Holidays event series in January 2014. Celebrating the creativity and excellence of these culinary leaders in the breathtaking natural setting of Yosemite National Park, Chefs’ Holidays will be held over a series of eight sessions from January 12 - February 6, 2014. For each session, guests are invited to take part in a “Meet the Chefs” reception, educational cooking demonstrations and tastings, a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour and a five-course Chefs’ Holidays Gala Dinner in The Ahwahnee Dining Room prepared by the headliner chef complete with wine pairings. For more information on Chefs’ Holidays at The Ahwahnee or to make reservations, call 801-559-4884 or visit



Issue 2 2013


Passions and Portraits

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A golden jem in the backwaters of Story & Photos by

Christopher J. Davies,



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* * *

piece of Venice’s storied past, restored with love and patience. That is what the Bisol family of Prosecco fame can be proud of today. They had the vision to revive the long forgotten indigenous Dorona grape on the Island of Mazzorbo. A timber bridge connects this island with the Isle of Burano, and it is just a stone’s throw from Torcello.

Photo Closeup of Dorona Leaf

Venice was a major maritime power during the middle ages and the most important shipping point for the world. In 1300 ad Venice was known as the most prosperous city in Europe.

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Mazzorbo is the place where the original settlers of Venice first resided. Back in the day, they farmed the island and grew Dorona grapes to eat at the table and produced Dorona wine for daily consumption. They later packed up all their belongings and relocated to Venice’s main island. The Dorona grape vines were left to wither and die. Matteo and Desiderio Bisol tasting 2010 Venissa Dorona wine



Passions and Portraits

* * *


fter meticulous research, the Bisol family was able to track down small amounts of Dorona vines and clone them onto rootstock for replanting in a modern vineyard.

The tiny Venissa vineyard the Bisol’s planted is slightly more than 1 hectare in size and is located within a city park adjacent the boutique Venissa Hotel and Michelin Starred Venissa Ristorante Ostello. When we visited in August, the vines were netted and harvest was estimated at being just two weeks coming. Alongside the vineyard is a vegetable garden of the same size that produces many of the vegetables and herbs used at the restaurant. Left over vegetables are shared with neighbors.

Venissa’s first wine release was their 2010 vintage. Only 4,880 ½ bottles, 88 magnums and 88 double-magnums were produced. During our visit we were fortunate to enjoy a private tasting with winemaker Desiderio Bisol and his nephew Mateo. Venissa 2010 Dorona ****1/2 (150 E) Bright golden color with oozing dried aged fruit. This fruit forward wine is packed with spicy fruit, mocha flavors and salty maritime notes. Great acidity and balance. 13% alc. Winemaker Desiderio Bisol, commented, “The aim is to improve the wine over time. It is my goal to offer a six-year vertical tasting in the future showcasing the 2010 through 2016 vintages”. Venissa’s Dorona wine labels are made from real gold and are custom baked onto their bottles on the Island of Murano. This makes the finished wine bottles collectible and useful as vases or decorative bottles. The wine is available for sale at Venissa, at several Venice hotels, and online. Prices are expected to increase in the future as people start investing and collecting the wine.


enissa Ristorante Ostello dishes out some the top culinary creations in all of Venice. This 1-Star Michelin awarded restaurant has a newly appointed, talented young female chef, Antonia Klugmann, at the helm. Chef Klugmann sources local ingredients from around the lagoon as well as from her native Veneto-Friuli region. Antonia continues her close collaboration with Arianna Dalla Valeria, her trusted assistant during 2013. Venissa is said to have “the female touch” in the kitchen! Venissa Ristorante Ostello seats only 18 guests. Their 11-course degustation menu offers a strong culinary statement for 95E per person. The wine offerings are abundantly Italian with a full range of Bisol Prosecco and dessert wines.

The hotel has 6 rooms. Rates are 150 E per night, which are quite competitive for the region. We recommend Venissa as a must stop for any food & wine lover. You will enjoy the laid back, less crowded Islands of Mazzorbo and Burano. Best of all you are just a 30-minute public water taxi ride from Venice. Venissa Ristorante Ostello Fondamenta Santa Caterina, 3, 30170 Isola di Mazzorbo Venezia Italy

During our visit we enjoyed every dish, including:

• • • •

Tel. +39


Warm Octopus with Lemon Moose, Green Pepper and Tapioca Zucchini Flower with spicy seasoning Polenta in the Sea, Sea Urchin and Oysters in Red Tomato Broth Basil Ravioli with John Dorry


Fax +39 GPS: 45.439639, 12.322887

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Photo by Darcy Davies

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Issue 2 2013

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Our tasting panel meets several times monthly to taste wines blind, thus providing unbiased evaluations of the newest wine releases. HOW WE RATE WINES Outstanding 17-20 Excellent 13-16 Good 11-12 Tasty 10


Best Buy ratings are given for those wines that we feel offer exceptional quality for their price. Most “Best Buy” wines are $20 or less. “Best Wine” ratings distinguish exceptional quality wines of any price point, when compared with other similar wines. For each issue our editors sometimes share their impressions about wines that stand out in the tasting.


Issue 2 2013

Sparkling Wines

Bocceli Prosecco NV, Valdobiaddene DOC, Italy $15 12/20 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Mauzac. Pale straw, medium-sized bubbles with medium persistence, distinct aromas of white mushrooms, marzipan, tree fruit (apple, pear skin), with a bitter, apricot pith finish. Aggressive mousse. Pair with Waldorf salad, warm brie with sautéed mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts. 11.5% abv.

White Wines

Madroña 2011 Dry Riesling, El Dorado, Ca. $18 13/20 Pale lemon color. Aromas of peach and ginger, spiced green apples and lemon curd. Lighttextured on the palate with racy acidity and loads of lime and white peach flavors. A zippy style!

Mirassou 2012 Riesling, California $10 15/20 Best Buy! Medium lemon color. Concentrated aromas and flavors of ripe peaches, golden apples, lime and orange blossom. Off-dry style that is very well balanced with a mouthwatering, fruit-filled finish that makes you want to come back for more!

Skinner Vineyards 2011 Grenache Blanc, El Dorado, Ca. $28 14/20 Medium lemon color. Exotic aromas of Thanksgiving spices, Frangelico, baked pear, apricot kernel and vanilla. Creamy, viscous texture, with a nutty, spiced pear flavor that lingers nicely.

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Skinner Vineyards 2010 ‘Seven Generations’, El Dorado, Ca. $26 16/20

Rosé Wines

A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. Medium, bright lemon color. Creamy and nutty with pretty floral aromas along with white peach and mandarin. Uplifting, well-integrated acidity for such a full-bodied, hefty white wine. Additional flavors of Meyer lemon, jasmine and honeysuckle sing on the long finish.

50% Mourvèdre, 50% Grenache. Medium salmon color. Unusual style – full-bodied with low acidity and high alcohol, but plenty of intense, ripe strawberry, watermelon juice, and nectarine pith to admire on the nose and palate. Just a hint of residual sugar, and the finish lasts a long time.

Holly’s Hill Vineyards 2010 Patriarche Blanc, El Dorado, Ca. $25 17/20 70% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc. Medium lemon color. Good aromatic purity, with defined aromas of fresh apricot, marzipan, freshly cut orange rind that really comes through on the palate. Creamy texture but focused, well balanced, and quite simply delicious.

Lava Cap Winery 2011 Chardonnay, El Dorado, Ca. $18 16/20 Medium lemon-gold color. Intense aromas of sweet spice, baked pear, nectarine, cantaloupe, ripe pineapple and butterscotch. The oak is evident but so well-integrated with the concentrated fruit that it all comes together very nicely. Crushed apple and vanilla flavors come through on the palate. This is a powerhouse, fullbodied Chardonnay yet it remains refreshing and the finish is very long. “Well done.”

Skinner Vineyards 2012 Rosé, El Dorado, Ca. $18 14/20

Red Wines

Skinner Vineyards 2011 Grenache, El Dorado, Ca. $26 14/20 Deep ruby color. A high-octane Grenache, with lots of smoky, baked red fruit, strawberryrhubarb pie, raspberry preserves and cola flavors. A well made wine for fans of the Skinner style – very ripe fruit, full body, low acidity and high alcohol.

Skinner Vineyards 2010 ‘Eight Sixty One’, El Dorado, Ca. $30 14/20 A blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache. Medium ruby color. Nice complexity of aromas and flavors, with cranberry, strawberry, red cherry preserves, black cherry, mocha, sage, thyme, vanilla, and “root beer float” coming through. Again, that Skinner style is present, with lots of sweet, super-ripe fruit, viscosity and noticeable heat on the finish.

Skinner Vineyards 2011 Mourvèdre, El Dorado, Ca. $26 15/20 Deep ruby color. Pleasant aromas of black cherry jam, vanilla, freshly tanned leather and sage, with lighter intensity of flavor on the palate. Smooth, no rough edges here. A good wine for grilling out.



Windwalker Vineyards 2010 Mourvèdre, El Dorado, Ca. 12/20 Deep garnet color. Rich and ripe, with prune, fig, blackberry jam and toasty oak flavors. For fans of the style.

Lewis Grace Patriot 2010 Syrah, El Dorado, Ca. $ 14/20 Deep ruby-purple color. Intense aromas and flavors of blackberry, mocha, vanilla, blueberry and black cherry. Viscous, mouthfilling texture with a slight tannic grip to frame the concentrated fruit. Quite ripe with discernible oak but not overdone.

Synapse 2008 Hangman’s Syrah, Sierra Foothills, Ca. $28 13/20 Opaque ruby-purple color. Massive structure and depth, with intense aromas and flavors of prune, blackberry liqueur, boysenberry, toasted coconut, violet and licorice. Firm, with a long, oaky, tannic finish that needs six months to a year to resolve. Will pair well with barbecued pork, brisket, or grilled lamb.

Synapse 2008 ‘Diffusion’ Syrah, Sierra Foothills, Ca. $26 12/20 Opaque ruby-purple color. Massive structure and depth, with intense aromas and flavors of prune, blackberry liqueur, boysenberry, toasted coconut, violet and licorice. Firm, with a long, oaky, tannic finish that needs six months to a year to resolve. Will pair well with barbecued pork, brisket, or grilled lamb.


Sierra Vista 2010 Syrah, El Dorado, Ca. $28 13/20 Deep ruby color. Interesting aromas of chicory, cola, coffee, blueberry, and raspberry that unfold on the palate which displays additional boysenberry jam flavors. Sweet fruit that is held in check by juicy acidity. A good wine for glazed, barbecued chicken or pork.

Boeger Winery 2010 Barbera, El Dorado, Ca. $15 13/20 Medium garnet color. Light aromas of blueberry Pop Tart and wild red cherry. There’s a nice burst of sweet fruit on the palate with moderate tannins and acidity on a medium bodied frame. A pleasant, if slightly simple, wine made for quaffing.

Windwalker Vineyards 2010 Malbec, El Dorado, Ca. $28 16/20 Opaque ruby-purple color. A smooth, lush style with ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit, cola and mocha aromas and flavors with an intriguing dried orange peel and violet note in the background. If you like the Argentine style, try this!

Madroña 2011 Signature Malbec, El Dorado, Ca. $28 12/20 Bright purple color. Candied boysenberry and underbrush aromas. Not as intense and satisfying as the Windwalker version, though pleasant enough. “A good cocktail wine.”

Bocceli 2009 Sangiovese, IGT Toscana $15 13/20 Deep ruby-garnet color. An easy-drinking, low-intensity wine with sour cherry and dusty earth aromas and flavors. “Good for pizza or spaghetti night.” (WD)

Madroña 2010 Cabernet Franc, El Dorado, Ca. $22 16/20

Deep ruby color. Dark red fruit aromas – pomegranate, black cherry, and black raspberry. Medium to full bodied with velvety tannins and moderate acidity. Excellent definition of fruit and good mingling of oak that plays out on the long finish. Try this with seared duck breast or pork roast.


Boeger 2011 Merlot, El Dorado, Ca. $15 12/20 Medium garnet color. Soft aromas of red cherry, black plum and vanilla. A bit confected. A fairly straightforward wine that is medium bodied and well balanced.

Sierra Vista 2010 Merlot, El Dorado, Ca. $28 12/20

Deep garnet color. Well-delineated aromas and flavors that clearly speak of this often underappreciated variety! Violet, ripe black plum, black cherry and vanilla flavors wrapped up together nicely, with good structure and weight on the palate. Long finish. “Made for the dinner table!”

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Shadow Ranch 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, El Dorado, Ca. $24 16/20

Shadow Ranch 2010 Zinfandel, El Dorado, Ca. $20 14/20

Deep ruby-garnet. A ripe, polished style that is beautifully true to the variety with blackcurrant, black cherry, cigar box, charred Serrano pepper, eucalyptus and smoky vanilla oak. Full bodied with soft acidity and good length.

Deep ruby color. Loads of sweet fruit and oak – chocolate raspberry, black cherry, mocha, and vanilla flavors. Full bodied and rich with big tannins and ripe fruit. Amped up Zin!

Lava Cap Winery 2010 Jana Winery 2011 ‘Ultimo Zinfandel, El Dorado, Ca. Beso’, El Dorado, Ca. $20 $24 17/20 Best Buy! 13/20 A blend of Zinfandel and Barbera. Deep, bright ruby color. Pretty cinnamon and nutmeg aromas with black cherry and vanilla. Medium to full bodied, with just enough tannins and acidity to support the fruit. Ripe and smooth, with a long, spice and fruit-filled finish.

Windwalker Vineyard Zinfandel 2010 El Dorado, Ca. $24 17/20 Best Wine! Deep ruby-garnet color. A beautiful expression of Zinfandel, this wine really shows depth and focus. Blackberry, raspberry, black pepper, and bramble flavors are clearly defined – classic Zin. The 15.5% alcohol is surprisingly in check. “Remarkable!”

Boeger 2010 Zinfandel, El Dorado, Ca. $18 12/20 Medium ruby-garnet color. A light, entrylevel version of Zinfandel, with candied red fruit and vanilla flavors. Soft and easy – a good cocktail wine or for a backyard cookout.

Deep ruby-garnet color. Aromas of pomegranate, crushed rose petals, rhubarb, raspberry and red Twizzlers. A less-ripe style with dry tannins on the finish that need a juicy cut of meat to resolve.

MiraFlores 2006 Zinfandel, El Dorado, Ca. $22 12/20 Deep garnet color. The age is starting to show, with smoky caramel and burnt sugar aromas along with dried raspberry. Medium bodied with some tannic grip on the finish. Drink up!

Lava Cap 2010 Petite Sirah, El Dorado, Ca. $30 15/20 Best Wine!

Opaque ruby-purple color. Pronounced, polished ripe blackberry, fig, violet, and juniper aromas. Additional black plum jam and toasty oak flavors on the palate. Massive, massive wine but incredibly well-managed. Buy a case to enjoy this beauty over the next decade. “Perfect for a standing rib roast”

MiraFlores 2010 Botricelli, App $40 18/20 Best in Class, Best Wine! Best Splurge Wine! Oh, my – botrytised Semillon! Are we in Sauternes? Deep gold color. Gorgeous aromas of honey, beeswax, clove, lanolin, cream, vanilla, dried apricot, and lemon pie that seem to linger endlessly. Viscous, lusciously sweet yet bright and mouthwatering on the finish. “Unbelievably good. Sip on its own or try it with peach pie à la mode!”

MiraFlores 2009 Estate Zinfandel, El Dorado, Ca. $25 15/20 Deep ruby-garnet color. This is Zinfandel. Bold, ripe berry and pepper flavors, full bodied with lots of structure and a long finish. “Bravo!”

Panelists Christopher Davies, Wine Writer, Editor-in Chief & Co-Founder of Wine Country International Magazine Natalie Guinovart, DWS CWE FWS CS, Wine Writer and Educator William Davis, CSS, CWE, Terroir Radio, Court of Master Sommeliers (Master Candidate) the WSET-Certified Brandon Tebbe CWE MS Issue 2 2013



Jus award-wt $26 per month inning, h andcrafftor two ed wines .

For 23 ye ars, c l u b ow n e r s Br u c e a n d Pa m B o r i n g ha ve e x p l o re d l e s s - t r a ve l e d ro a d s s eek i n g t h e h i d d e n g e m s of t h e C a l i f o r n i a w i n e c o u n t r y t o i n t ro d u c e yo u t o t he vint ne r s, t h e fi n e w i n e s t h e y c r a f t a n d t he r i c h hi s t o r i e s t ha t o n l y f e w e ve r k n ow. Be a mo n g t h e pr i v i l e g e d a n d e x p e r i e n c e t he f l a vo r, t he s t o r y a n d t he p e o p l e b ehi n d f i ne a r t i s a n w i n e s . Re c e i ve Br u c e a n d Pa m’s p e r s o n a l l y s e l e c t e d w i n e s a lo n g wi t h a m e m b e r s - on l y p u b l i c a t i o n d e l i ve re d t o yo u r d o o r s t e p.


Call Us Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm PST.



Also Makes a Fun & Unique Gift Issue 2 2013

Wine Lovers, Report to Duty!

3Rd Annual Som m e l ie r Boot Camp JANUARY 31 – FE BRUARY 3, 2014

IF YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR LEARNING ABOUT WINE (and drinking it), this is your tour of duty. In this boot camp you will learn similar information to what is taught in the courses for an intro level sommelier test. You


won’t earn the title of “sommelier ” but you

will take your wine knowledge to the next

level, and graduate from Sommelier Boot




*Limited availability. Not applicable to groups. Rates do not include applicable taxes and fees.

Standard accommodations Sommelier classes with materials and wine tastings included Saturday wine pairing dinner in the Penrose Room Friday night reception (2- and 3-night packages only) Sunday winemaker dinner at Summit (3-night package only) $150 one-time resort credit 15% discount on select retail 40% discount on published suite rates

Feature : El Dorado Wines



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It is time to discover California’s high altitude wines without an attitude! From Rhone gold, blue-blooded Bordeauxs and sexy Italians, El Dorado wines exhibit strong character and finesse, and deliver outstanding value. Story and photography by Christopher J. Davies California produces almost 90% of all American wine. While Napa and Sonoma reap most of the fame and glory, more rural regions like Lodi (110,000 acres) produce more grape volume than Napa (43,000) and Sonoma (60,000) combined.

blowing. Traveling from Tahoe to Placerville, on Highway 50’s twisting and turning roller coaster-like road gives one a better understanding of El Dorado’s unique terrain.

By comparison, the El Dorado appellation is “boutique” with just 2,200 acres under vine. Size does not always matter though! Just take a look at other self-titled, world-class wine regions like Long Island, New York, the Bordeaux-like growing area with 3,100 acres under vine. Long Island keeps its head above water, even in the shadow of New York’s larger and most famous Finger Lakes appellation (11,000 acres planted).

El Dorado Wine Country is nestled between South Lake Tahoe and Sacramento right off Highway 50. It’s one of those places that many folks drive by on the way to somewhere else, not realizing what they are passing up. Placerville is the undisputed epicenter of El Dorado Wine Country. If you are like me, you know where Placerville is, even though you may not have every stopped by to visit. The heart of town is located where State Highways 50 and 49 cross.

Our editors decided to feature El Dorado wines for several reasons. Reliable sources have raved for years about the quality of fruit being grown in the region. Others sources related stories about El Dorado’s rich history and approachable, un-crowded wine country. So, in July, we jumped into our SUV and headed west from Colorado to Placerville. The 1,000-mile drive was safely accomplished with an overnight stop in Salt Lake City.

Location and History

In the early 19th century, Placerville was a one-horse town, like so many other western towns. But all of that changed quickly with the Gold Rush of 1848 when the population swelled from a handful to more than 15,000 fortune seekers. Back then the town was called Dry Diggings. A year later it was renamed Hangtown because it was also the county seat where the main courthouse was located and numerous hangings had occurred there. Today the town makes light of this distinction by displaying a hanging dummy in the center of town. Many locals use this symbolic dead guy as a central place to meet.

The scenery along the way was breathtaking, but our descent into South Lake Tahoe was mind (L) Hangman dummy in downtown Placerville

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Feature : El Dorado Wines

The history of winemaking in El Dorado goes back to before the Gold Rush. But the first significant commercial wine production was fueled by the miners’ appetite for the finer things in life. Wine, booze and booty were on their short list, but not in that order. In 1870 El Dorado was the third largest wine-producing region in California, after Los Angeles and Sonoma. The El Dorado wine industry was virtually made extinct after Prohibition and that era’s extended weak financial times. Wiser landowners made a switch from grape growing to planting apple and pear orchards. Pears peaked in 1958 with 52,000 tons produced from 3,400 acres. A pear disease epidemic dramatically destroyed pear crops by 1962. In the 1970s several baby boomer entrepreneurs jumped in feet first and laid the foundation for El Dorado’s current wine renaissance. With the guidance and encouragement of University of California Davis viticulturist, vintners planted vines that yielded promising results. One of the founding fathers of the rebirth of El Dorado’s wine region, Greg Boeger, a graduate of UC Davis, gained his experience making wines at his grandfather’s winery, Nichelini winery in Napa. Boeger was attracted to the region because vineyard land was available at a fraction of the cost of Napa. He acquired his original vineyard land in 1971. Today Boeger is the region’s largest vineyard, owning and leasing a combined 75 acres of grape vines producing between 16 to 24 thousand cases annually. Back in 1971 the cost of an acre of vineyard land in Napa was $7,000 to $10,000 versus $1,000 for El Dorado. Today, prices for an acre in Napa can reach $500,000 to one million versus $15,000 for El Dorado.


During our visit to El Dorado, we were struck by the varied elevations and rolling hills. This, combined with varied soil types, makes it possible to grow a wider range of grapes than most other regions in the US. WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL

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A number of new-generation producers have hunt their hats on producing Rhone varietal and they are doing a darn good job with these wines. El Dorado’s two largest plantings, Zinfandel (392 + acres) and Cabernet Sauvignon (340 + acres), are producing world-class, award-winning wines.

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ACCOMODATIONS 1A. Albert Shafksy House Bed & Breakfast - 2942 Coloma Street, Placerville 2A. Bed & Breakfast Inns of El Dorado County 3A. Camino Hotel - 4103 Carson Road, Camino 4A. Eden Vale Inn - 1780 Springvale Road, Placerville 5A. Enchanted April Inn - 5950 Salmon Falls Road, Pilot Hill 6A. Fleming Jones Homestead Bed & Breakfast - 3170 Newton Road, Placerville 7A. Historic Cary House - 300 Main Street, Placerville 8A. Holiday Inn Express - 4360 Town Center, El Dorado Hills 9A. Larspur Landing Hotel - 121 Iron Point Road, Folsom

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How To Get There Nearby Lake Tahoe is one of America’s most scenic playgrounds. It’s an alpine lake, fueled by melted snow. The second deepest freshwater lake in the US has a shoreline spanning 71 miles into California and Nevada. South Lake Tahoe is part of El Dorado County, California. This is the most commercially built-up part of the lake, with numerous resorts, motels, campgrounds, restaurants and services. The Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe is littered with casino resorts, appealing to tourists like a mini-Reno, with many slot machines and card tables. There are many dining options available from fast food, casual and fine dining establishments like Evan’s American Gourmet Café. Sacramento is about 40 miles west of Placerville. California’s state capital has a modern International airport that is your best/ closest gateway for visiting El Dorado Wine Country. Sacramento is considerably denser in population. lists 95 Sacramento restaurants. Luckily a large percentage carry wines from El Dorado.

Grenache at Skinner Vineyards

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Feature : El Dorado Wines



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oeger is producing 30 different varieties of wine today. Their most popular wines are Barbera, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. They are also producing Spanish varieties. Boeger sells 40% of their wines to their wine club members. Their wines are popular in the Sacramento market, sold in 12 states, plus exported to Germany and Switzerland. Over the years Boeger wines have won critical acclaim and have even been served at the White House. Boeger Winery is a family affair. Greg runs the vineyard while his son Justin, who has been making wines since 2000, is winemaker. Greg’s wife Susan is CFO and Marketing Director and his daughter Lexi handles label design and graphics. Entering the Boeger Estate is a breathtaking experience as you immediately see cascading terraced vineyards at multiple elevations and pitches. “The key to El Dorado’s winemaking ability is its slopes and exposures. We have three different soils; granitic, volcanic plus shale and rocks,” comments Greg Boeger. The Boeger property is a blend of historic buildings with a modern winery and tasting room. The family has painstakingly tried to maintain history, preserving an old winemaking and distillery building and a blacksmith shop.

Photos from Boeger Winery, Placerville, (Above) Greg Boeger in his historic old tasting room. (Below) Boeger’s modern new tasting bar.

TOP Boeger Wines: Boeger Winery 2010 Barbera, El Dorado, Ca. $15 Medium garnet color. Light aromas of blueberry Pop Tart and wild red cherry. There’s a nice burst of sweet fruit on the palate with moderate tannins and acidity on a medium bodied frame. A pleasant, if slightly simple, wine made for quaffing. Boeger 2011 Merlot, El Dorado, Ca. $15 Medium garnet color. Soft aromas of red cherry, black plum and vanilla. A bit confected. A fairly straightforward wine that is medium bodied and well balanced. Boeger 2010 Zinfandel, El Dorado, Ca. $18 Medium ruby-garnet color. A light, entry-level version of Zinfandel, with candied red fruit and vanilla flavors. Soft and easy – a good cocktail wine or for a backyard cookout. Other El Dorado patriarch family-run wineries include Madrona, Lava Cap, and Jodar Vineyard and Winery. All are located off Carson Road, which is the main wine route, passing through apple orchids at Apple Hill.

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Feature : El Dorado Wines

Madroña Vineyards

Madroña is now spearheaded by second-generation winemaker Paul Bush and his wife Maggie. Their tasting room is no frills, but bustling with visitors who are passionate club members and excited to purchase a case or more of Madroña wines to take home. Paul is a passionate surrogate for the region. “Our location reaches as much as 3,000’ (or 3,000 feet) in elevation. Compare that to 300-1,200’ (or 300-1,200 feet) on average for Napa and Sonoma. Our cooler climate improves flavor,” claims Mr. Bush.

Editor Christopher Davies with Winemaker Paul Bush

Bush also admits that there is no set style for the region. He makes 27 different varieties of wine, grown on 80 acres. “We get firmer tannin structures with a citrus aspect in our white wines. Our reds show clay characters. Our clay loam produces a low ph. We produce wine that is truly expressive of the region.”

Madroña 2560 High Hill Rd Camino, CA 95709 Tel. (530)644-5948

Top Madroña Wines: 2010 Zinfandel Hillside Collection, $18, Well-balanced, claret-style Zin with moderate 14.5% alc. Delicious red fruit, raspberry flavors with hints of black pepper. Pair with grilled meats, cioppino or fresh figs 2011 Malbec, Signature Collection, $28 A Malbec blend from several vineyards. Light hints of oak, complex and not over ripe. For complete tasting notes go to :



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Grace Patriot Wines

A promising newcomer with a talented, seasoned winemaker at the helm. Conveniently located on Carson Road. Specialty wines include Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting room is friendly and the patio overlooks grape vines with vistas of former gold mines and vineyards.

Grace Patriot Wines 2701 Carson Road, Placerville, CA 95667 (530) 642-8424 Issue 2 2013

Tyler Grace, Winemaker



Feature : El Dorado Wines

Synapse Tasting Room

Synapse Wines

The term micro-distillery or micro-brewery are commonplace. But microwineries are a newer concept. Synapse differentiates itself from other wineries in the region by embracing this concept. The company is owned by two families with medical backgrounds. The word synapse is a medical term for the nerves connecting in your brain. Syrah and Viognier are signature wines while more recent releases use Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel. Label designs are conversational. Winemaker Debbie Knutzon is one of the region’s only female winemakers, creating feminine and macho wines. But the wines speak wonders. Synapse tasting room is conveniently located on Main Street in Placerville in a small shop in the Historic Cary House Hotel.

Synapse Wines 304 Main Street, Placerville, CA 95667 (530) 626-9463 Synapse 2008 Hangman’s Syrah, Sierra Foothills, Ca. $28 Opaque ruby-purple color. Massive structure and depth, with intense aromas and flavors of prune, blackberry liqueur, boysenberry, toasted coconut, violet and licorice. Will pair well with barbecued pork, brisket, or grilled lamb. Winemaker Debbie Knutson lifts her wine!



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Holly’s Hill

This is a mature vineyard with second generation, visionary winemaking focused on Rhone varietals. The wines are top notch and the view from the tasting room is breathtaking. Holly’s Hill Grenache makes a major statement for the region’s potential.

Holly’s Hill 3680 Leisure Lane, Placerville, CA 95667 (530) 344-0227 Co-Winemaker Carrie Bendick

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Feature : El Dorado Wines

Winemaker Chris Pittenger shows his grapes and rocky soil



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Skinner Vineyards One of El Dorado’s premier winery projects is creating wines in the traditional French style. Skinner is a modern estate with all of the modern winemaking tools at its fingertips. Seasoned winemaker Chris Pittenger has all the experience and expertise to create world-class Rhone wines. His latest wines are outstanding, elegant yet chock full of ripe fruit. The long-term potential for future vintages and aging wines should make Skinner one of the leading wineries of the region. Today’s Skinner family has recently learned that they are descendants of a winemaking family rooted back to the Gold Rush era!

Skinner Vineyards

Skinner Vineyards 2011 Grenache Blanc, El Dorado, Ca. $28 Medium lemon color. Exotic aromas of Thanksgiving spices, Frangelico, baked pear, apricot kernel and vanilla. Creamy, viscous texture, with a nutty, spiced pear flavor that lingers nicely.

8054 Fairplay Road, Fair Play, CA 95684 (530) 620-2220

Skinner Vineyards 2010 ‘Eight

Skinner Vineyards 2010 ‘Seven

Sixty One’, El Dorado, Ca. $30


A blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache. Medium ruby color. Nice complexity of aromas and flavors, with cranberry, strawberry, red cherry preserves, black cherry, mocha, sage, thyme, vanilla, and “root beer float” coming through. Again, that Skinner style is present, with lots of sweet, super-ripe fruit, viscosity and noticeable heat on the finish.

El Dorado, Ca. $26 A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. Medium, bright lemon color. Creamy and nutty with pretty floral aromas along with white peach and mandarin. Uplifting, well-integrated acidity for such a full-bodied, hefty white wine. Additional flavors of Meyer lemon, jasmine and honeysuckle sing on the long finish.

Skinner Vineyards 2011 Grenache, El Dorado, Ca. $26 Deep ruby color. A high-octane Grenache, with lots of smoky, baked red fruit, strawberry-rhubarb pie, raspberry preserves and cola flavors. A well made wine for fans of the Skinner style – very ripe fruit, full body, low acidity and high alcohol.

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Feature : El Dorado Wines Jodar Vineyard and Winery

Jodar has been producing award-winning, handcrafted wines for over twenty years. Jodar vineyards overlook American Canyon below. These steeply terraced vineyards are near the edge of El Dorado National Forest. They literally blasted their vineyard from a granite hillside. The remote location of their vineyard made it necessary to open a tasting room off of Highway 50 at the Carson Road exit. Top Jodar Wines: 2011 Chardonnay, $18 Stainless steel fermented. Citrus on the nose, with hints of pineapple and carmel. Vinasaurus Rex-NV Red Table Wine, $13, A great value-priced every day red, loaded with cherry and lavender flavors and lingering finish.

Lava Cap Winery

2009 Apollos Lyre, $34, Jodar’s signature Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (40%) and Cabernet Franc (20%). This is a well-balanced, big fruit wine ideal for pairing with meats, cheese or chocolate.

Signature wines include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Mr. David Jones was a pioneer in El Dorado, writing the industry guide “Growing Grapes in El Dorado: The Magic of the Mountains.” His son Tom is winemaker and his son Charlie is managing the vineyard with sustainable farming practices. Lava Cap is producing 14,000 cases of wine annually.

Tasting Room 3405 Carson Court Camino, CA 95667 Tel. (530) 644-3474

Lava Cap Winery was started by the Jones family in 1981. They constructed their winery in 1986. A family of geologists, the Joneses chose their location for its prime volcanic soil.

Lava Cap Winery

Top Lava Cap Wines:

2221 Fruitridge Road Placerville, CA 95667 530-621-0175

2010 Chardonnay, $18, A blend of Chardonnay from 7 vineyards, 100 barrel fermented.

Jodar Vineyards & Winery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, $16, Neutral oak, fruit forward, golden color. A rich, old-world, Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Barbara, $25, Estate blended with Petite Verdot.

Mount Aukum Winery

The owners have French roots and focus on Bordeaux varietals. Signature wines are Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux/Rhone blends. Owner Winemaker Michel Prod’hon’s philosophy is to, “produce French-style, smoother, light-on-oak wines.” The view from Mount Aukum is one of the most spectacular in the region.

Mount Aukum Winery

6781 Tower Road, Somerset, CA 95684 (530) 620-1675



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Jim Taff, Co-Proprietor

Windwalker Vineyard

This is a well-established winery in the foothills. Their seasoned winemaker has won a truckload of medals during the past decade. The winery is family run and has one of the most progressive wine clubs in California. Zinfandel is their signature varietal, but Windwalker offers more than a dozen handcrafted whites, reds and a port wine.

Windwalker Vineyard

7360 Perry Creek Road, Fair Play, CA 95684 (530) 620-4054

Miraflores Winery

This is a beautiful, expansive wine estate with a Mediterranean-inspired tasting room overlooking 40 acres of estate vineyards that are planted on decomposed granite. The winery’s main production is Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. They are also producing a small batch supply of exceptional Sauterne-style Botricelli (Botrytis wine). Can anyone in California whisper the word Foie Gras?

Miraflores Winery

2120 Four Springs Trail, Placerville, CA 95667 (530) 647-8505

Summary El Dorado Wine Country is a must-visit for every serious wine enthusiast! You will find passionate, attitude-free winemakers who make honest, premium quality, hand-crafted wines. Unlike other more famous touristic-themed regions, tasting and touring in El Dorado is less crowded and significantly less expensive. Many wineries offer complimentary tastings or charge only $5 for a tasting (with tasting fees waived when you purchase a bottle or more). You will find creative chefs with inventive cuisine and good selections of local wines on their lists. There are also numerous affordable dining options and cuisine types to choose from. Lodging options include full-fledge hotels, B&Bs and low cost motels. For camping enthusiasts, there are many campgrounds nearby offering picturesque sites. Resources: El Dorado Wineries Association El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce

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Feature : El Dorado Food Where to Eat: Cascada ($$) Location: Downtown Placerville Located in the recently renovated historic Round Tent building, Cascada offers eclectic MexicanCalifornian-Latin Cuisine. They have a vibrant bar with top-notch cocktails, beer and wines. For starters, we tried Jalape単o Bottle Caps, a mix of red or green chiles stuffed with cheese and supplied with Ranch Dressing for $6.95. We also loved the Salmon Asesino, a wonderfully prepared salmon stuffed with crab meat and topped with capers, tomatoes and a dill cream sauce for $18.95. The Pollo San Marcos, a lightly breaded chicken with chile relleno topped with salsa for $15.95 and Enchiladas Supremas, a blend of lobster meat and white fish with a mild cream sauce and green onions for $13.95 were also highlights. 384 Main Street Placerville, CA Tel (530) 344-7757

The Historic Smith Flat House ($$) Location: Placerville, North of Highway 50 Smith Flat House is located in an historic building that dates back to 1853. This place dishes out super cool, healthy dining in an historic building dating back to the Gold Rush era. Their cellar connects to an old tunnel that extends three miles into an old gold mine! The Italian-themed cuisine is focused on ingredients from local farmers and artisan producers. Offerings include Starters, Small Plates, Flat Breads, Soup & Salads, Sandwiches, Primo (1st course), Secondo (2nd course), Sides & Desserts. Top Appetizers: Focaccia with olive oil, pancetta and spicy cream sauce ($3), Eggplant Involtini ($9), Fig & Prosciutto Flat Bread ($7.50) Sample Entrees & Dessert: Pork Gemelli: natural pork, Smokey Ridge chorizo, mushrooms, and spicy tomato cream sauce ($16), Braised Spring Lamb Shank: local peas, sweet corn, fresh herbs, and garlic mashed potatoes ($22) 2021 Smith Flat Road Placerville, CA Tel. (530) 621-1003



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Gold Vine Grill ($$) Nestled in the foothills of El Dorado wine country is an unpretentious restaurant located in a mini strip mall. This family-owned bistro is a local secret, dishing out amazing, inventive gourmet cuisine like Chef Greg’s Famous Calamari Dore, sautéed and served with capers and white wine. The menu has a great selection of seafood and meat entrees. On Wednesdays locals pack in for Hamburger Night. For those looking to try local wines or creative cocktails, the Gold Vine Grill has got you covered! 6028 2021 Smith Flat Road Somerset, CA 95684 (530) 626-4042

Henry’s Steakhouse at Red Hawk Casino ($$$$) The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians created Red Hawk Casino with a vision for quality. The property is located on a hilltop with magnificent views. While the Casino has 6 different dinning options, Henry’s Steakhouse is it’s flagship restaurant, earning the title as the top fine dining restaurant in Placerville. Henry’s is open Wednesday to Sunday for dinner. Whether it’s Oysters on the half shell ($14), Colorado Rack of Lamb ($52), 8 different cuts of Steak ($29-$49), Prime Rib ($29/$39), Kobe Wagyu Filet Mignon ($8 oz), Surf n’ Turf ($68), Lobster Tail ($60), Alaskan King Crab Legs ($50 lb) or decadent desserts like Molten Chocolate Lava Cake ($7), Henry’s will satisfy every indulgence! Henry’s serves more than 70 wines by the glass and carries over 700 wines by the bottle. Their expansive selection includes wines from El Dorado, Napa, Sonoma and International bottles. Photos at Restaurant Le Don Quichotte,

Red Hawk Casino Canet-en-Roussillon. to R) FoieParkway Gras paired 1 (L Red Hawk with a Roussillon VDN wine, Placerville, CA 95667 Lobster & Seafood stew in 530-677-7000 broth, Chef owner Gilbert Gris, Baked Custard with fresh fruit,

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Feature : Where to Stay

Alberty Shafsky House

Cary House Historic Hotel Located in the heart of downtown Placerville on Main Street, the Carey House was built during the Gold Rush in 1847 by William Cary. When you walk into the lobby you are transported back in time, viewing antique furniture, stained glass murals and vintage photographs. The hotel’s tiny elevator transports only one guest with luggage per trip. Rooms are clean and well appointed but need some TLC. Many folks have stated that the hotel is haunted. We did not meet any ghosts, but were awakened by our alarm clock, which rang at 5 am. The hotel provides complimentary continental breakfast and many good restaurants are just a block away. If you are up for wine tasting, the hotel houses a tasting room for Synapse Wines, which provides daily tastings and wine sales by the bottle or case. 300 Main St Placerville, CA 95667 Tel. 530 622-4271



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Albert Shafsky House Bed & Breakfast Inn Located just a block north of Highway 50 and downtown Placerville is the beautifully restored Albert Shafsky House B&B. The innkeepers’ attention to detail extends to the ultracomfy bedding with soft sheets (52,000 thread count) that you can purchase for home use. Shafsky has just three guest rooms, so book well in advance. Perks include an extensive library of books, free WiFi, afternoon tastings of local wines and Rita’s amazing breakfast spread. We went bonkers over the Shafsky Benedict! Albert Shafsky House Bed & Breakfast Inn 2942 Coloma St, Placerville, CA 95667 (530) 642-2776

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Feature : El Dorado Interesting Local Purveyors

Dedrick’s Cheese

Got Cheese? Dedrick’s has an amazing selection of 200 different cheeses and charcuterie. Their store is located down the street from Cary House. They also maintain satellite shops at several wineries including Boeger and Skinner.


If you are looking for artisan, certified extra virgin olive oil, Winterhill has award-winning oils available for tasting and purchase. 321 Main St

312 Main St, Suite 105

Placerville, CA 95667

Placerville, CA 95667


530 344-8282

Claudia Marie California Cookies & Chocolate Pairings


(at Creekside Place)

Just a block off of the main street is a popular producer of unique gourmet pot pies. They are open for lunch and dinner, dine in or take out. We spotted these intriguing and affordable pot pies, including Steak/ Cabernet ($7.95), Rosemary/Lamb ($7.95), Italian Sausage ($7.95), Thai/Chicken ($7.75), Chicken/Mushroom ($7.75). Beverages available include soft drinks and wines by the glass.

Placerville, CA 95667

3182 Center St

530 621-3102

Placerville, CA 95667

Chocoholics should make a visit to this quaint shop with its delectable selection of handmade chocolates, truffles and cookies. Owner-operated, this store has many great gifts. 451 Main St, Suite 5

Tel. 530 621-2626



Issue 2 2013

Issue 2 2013




Ernesto Bagda winemaker Gasc贸n



Issue 2 2013

Growing Malbec with Altitude in Argentina by Lisa Carley

When sampling wines from a particular grape variety grown in different locations, the key distinguishing factors are due to the particulars of each location – what the French refer to as “terroir”. Terroir basically means “place,” and encompasses all of the elements that make that particular plot of land unique. These translate to soil composition and depth, immediate climate or microclimate, altitude, and aspect to the sun, meaning the angle that the sun’s rays reflect onto the vineyard and for how long. These variables can differ tremendously from plot to plot, and especially within a large plot. Altitude is the least obvious of these specifics. ‘High-altitude’ is a nebulous term, along the lines of ‘old vines’. One winemaker may consider his 25-year-old vines to be old, while another winemaker would consider his 110-year-old vines to be old. There is no technical or legal definition. Altitude matters because it changes the vine’s growing environment, so that vines which are in an overall warm climate experience a completely different environment on a hillside. In fact, according to Professor Gregory Jones of Southern Oregon University, “One factor is that the temperature lowers 3.6°F for every 1,000-feet gain in altitude, or 1°F for every 275 feet. High-elevation sites have lower average temperatures, lower heat accumulation, but higher diurnal temperature fluctuations.” Diurnal fluctuation is the difference between the hottest daytime temperature and lowest nighttime temperature. This is important for grapes to ripen slowly and evenly, retain sugar-acid balance and develop their full aromatic profile. Argentina’s main grape growing region, Mendoza, is renowned for its high-altitude vineyards. Here lush vines grow in areas that previously did not receive enough precipitation to sustain any vegetation at all. Drip-irrigation technology has opened up prime grape growing areas at elevations of up to 5,000 feet above sea level. Altitude here has no relation to slope. In fact, the most interesting thing about these vineyards when you visit them is that they are entirely flat, located on the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

Phots by E & J Gallo

According to research conducted on Malbec vineyards by Ernesto Bajda of Bodega Escorihuela Gascón in Mendoza, vineyards at 5,000 feet compare to those at 2,850 feet in the following ways: •

Total anthocyanins (color pigments) increased dramatically with higher elevations.

Total tannin levels were higher, while bitter tannins decreased.

Malic acid was higher, giving more freshness to the wines.

The skins of the grapes (where anthocyanins, tannins, and flavor precursors develop) were five times thicker.

Issue 2 2013

At a recent tasting at Catena winery with Winemaker Felipe Stahlschmidt and Managing Director Laura Catena, we compared the four single-vineyard Malbecs that go into the creation of the Catena Alta Malbec, one of their signature wines. The four vineyards represented were Angélica, La Pirámide, Nicasia and Adrianna, all from the 2009 vintage and made using the same winemaking techniques. Angélica Vineyard Malbec was planted in 1930 at an altitude of 2,850 feet. The wine was initially a bit closed, but opened up elegantly to reveal plum and red fruit aromas and flavors, vibrant acidity, with a full and soft mouthfeel and silky tannins. La Pirámide Vineyard Malbec was planted in 1983 at an altitude of 3,100 feet. This wine was full-bodied wine with good mid-palate concentration and a long, peppery yet mouthwatering finish with sweet spice notes and fine-grained tannins. Nicasia Vineyard Malbec was planted in 1996 at an altitude of 3,870 feet. It displayed lovely aromatics of black cherry and floral notes; a polished style with intense, bright red fruit, richly textured with lovely balance and sweet tannins. Adrianna Vineyard Malbec was planted in 1992 at an altitude of 4,856 feet. Very tight upon opening, it eventually developed floral and black fruit notes, which turned savory on the mid-palate. Overall, this was a light and elegant style but well-structured, with crisp acidity and firm tannins. The final blended product was the Catena Alta Malbec 2009 ($50 US). The wine was dark and opaque with pronounced violet, lavender and ripe black fruits on the nose; a brooding wine with full body, good acidity, firm mid-palate, and velvety tannins on the long finish. All of the wines featured fresh acidity, ripe, sweet tannins, and a precise or tensile quality to the fruit, all of which can be attributed to the common denominators of grape variety and altitude. The slight variations in specific flavor profile and overall style are due to the varying soil compositions (sand and loam) and soil depth in each vineyard as well as its aspect to the sun. Tasting each component of this flagship wine and how each contributed its unique character to the final product was an eye-opening, insightful journey into the world of terroir – and world-class Malbec. About the Author Lisa Carley is a sommelier and the New York Wine Examiner for



Parting Shot

Kurt’s Camera Corral, Albuquerque, New Mexico The photo industry was turned upside down when high-resolution digital imaging became available to the masses. In the heyday, there were more than 1,000 photographic specialty stores across America. Today you can barely find 50 remaining. Earlier this year, Eastman Kodak, the iconic blue chip company founded in 1881 declared bankruptcy and sold off its core film business. Today’s cameras are sold by “big box” stores. 99% of the sales are conducted without consultation. Finding a camera shop like Kurt’s Camera Corral is like taking a trip back in time. You may even get to meet Kurt the proprietor himself! He is a bonafide camera expert who will show you how to operate the numerous extinct cameras in his collection.















Coming Next Issue:

issue 3-2013

• Tuscany & Venice

Colorado’s Chef farmers dish out sustainable and succulent cuisine!

• A Tavola con il Nobile Food Contest • Colorado’s Chef Farmers • Spice Shopping Tips • Book Reviews & Holiday gifts Vino nobile di Montepulcian tuscany’s Up and Coming red Wine!




pa s s p o r t








Issue 2 2013

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Issue 2 2013

Wine Country International  

Our feature story takes us to the hills of California’s Gold Country. Eldorado Wine Country is nestled between So Lake Tahoe and Sacramento...

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