The summer of 2014 for the search of great wines was unlike any I’d seen before. For me, it started out in Colorado where the word is loose that their mountain wines were getting a foothold in the marketplace, when in fact they are but a few pioneers in covered wagons holding on to small niches that I still haven’t pinpointed.
Later into the season, there was a rush of new restaurants, wine bars and road shows that offered higher quality wines to “flight test.” There is heavy competition now between the trendy microbreweries that are getting into the “flight” business model and the established wine formats.
The micro beer boom is here to stay and wines will have to find new ways to keep their markets growing.
So with that in mind, it’s on to the TASTE OF WINE Great Eight for the summer of 2014:
• Chateau St. Michelle Eroica Riesling,Wash., 2012 ($17) A collaboration with one ofGermany’s best winemakers, Dr. Ernst Loosen and Chateau St. Michelle’s winemakers. A perennial favorite of our tasting panel, especially in the heat of the summer. Richness, with a bright acidity.
• Frank Family Chiles Valley Reserve Zinfandel, Napa Valley, Calif., 2012 ($55). This vintage NapaValley best in a decade, Here’s a highly focused vineyard vineyard-centric Zin from a proven winner in this varietal, ideal for smoked meats and BBQ.
• Laetitia Pinot Noir Whole Cluster Estate, Arroyo Grande, Calif., 2012 ($40). Big improvement over the previous year. Temperate conditions yearlong. Well rounded and expressive. Aged 11 months on new French oak barrels. Certified sustainable growing practices.
• Landmark Vineryards Overlook Chardonnay, Monterey Valley/Sonoma, Calif., 2012 ($23). Could be the best value in the group, a Burgundian style of Chardonnay reflects cool climate grapes. Crisp flavors of green apple.
• Lorimar Winery Nocturne Syrah/Viognier, Temecula, Calif., 2011 ($40). An eclectic blend of Rhone Valley French perfume-like wine that was a hit in the recent CRUSH event in the SouthCoast. This is a marriage of white and red, together and I hope forever. Congrats to re-incarnated winemaker Marshall Stuart.
• Niner Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, Calif., 2010 ($35). Nightime pickers keep the grapes cool during harvest and processing. Compelling fragrance leads to lovely aromatics and a tasting sensation. San Francisco International awarded Niner its Best of Show Red Double Gold in late June.
• Saxon Brown Camp Block Syrah, Sonoma, Calif., 2008. ($19). Lengthy aging produces a dark and dense coloration to this special vintage Syrah. Taste the cassis, blackberry, plum and notes of licorice and black olive. Small production makes this hard to get. We capped our Summer Search with this wine as the Wine of the Month for September.
• Orfila Montepulciano San Pasqual, Calif., 2012 ($35). Orfila produces a lot of award winning Rhone French style wines from estate grown grapes on its 70-acre property. Montepulciano, named after the hilltop medieval city in Tuscany, will change that after the 2012 is tasted. It’s a Sangiovese style grape only more velvety and silky.
Orfila Winery in Escondido will host a Cultura Flamenca event Oct. 5 with a reception at 5 p.m. and showtime at 6:30 p.m. featuring talented artists with the music and dance of Spain. Wines from Orfila with serenaded tapas. Two tiered pricing. Call (619) 518-3252.
A Taste of Italy to support the Italian American Museum in Los Angeles happens in downtown L.A. Oct. 11 from 5 to 10 p.m., and features 50 of downtown’s best restaurants, 100-plus world-class wines and entertainment. Adult admission starts at $55. More information at (213) 485-8432.
Big, Bold, Rich Reds headline the seminar and tasting at Sbicca Restaurant in Del Mar, Oct. 11 from 2 to 4 p.m. Cost is $55. Call (858) 442-2749.
A Pahlmeyer Napa Valley wine dinner is being held at Amaya in the Grand Del Mar Resort, Oct. 16 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. A three-course dinner pairs with Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Blends and Cabs. $85. Reserve at (858) 314-2727.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.
View and link up with his columns at tasteofwinetv.com. Reach him at email@example.com.