“Come, come, good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used; exclaim no more against it.”

“Come, come, good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used; exclaim no more against it.”

Thus spake the bard, and of course we are referring to William Shakespeare. And, forsooth, no one could exclaim against the many interesting wines that you can sample at the wine tastings that are offered at the Shakespeare on the Lake performances in Sand Harbor. It’s a fact that not only great drama, but also good wines, are part of these unforgettable evenings under the Tahoe skies.

For $25 you can enjoy three exquisite samples of a dozen or more wines, and a lovely Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival souvenir wine glass to take home. If you enjoy one of the wines enough to want a bottle to complement your picnic dinner, the wine tasting staff will oblige you.

Foster’s Wine Estates Americas is a sponsor of the 2009 Shakespeare Festival. Many of the wines from their far-flung empire are featured at the wine tasting. Below are a few that you can sample and enjoy at the Festival, and a note about average retail price for a full bottle purchased at large wine shops and supermarkets.

Chateau St. Jean 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a delicious Bordeaux-style wine, very fruit-forward with a taste that makes you think: berry, berry, berry. There’s a bit of spice from oak, and the finish is smooth and elegant. 13.8% alcohol. Average retail price: $13-15/bottle.

Greg Norman Estates 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California. The North Coast appellation covers Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties. This appellation is renowned for the depth and richness of its Cabernet Sauvignon. With access to grapes from a larger region, the winemaker has the luxury to choose the best fruit in order to create a balanced wine with lushness and firm tannins. On the nose, tobacco and chocolate. Deep and rich flavors of blueberry, cassis, mint; velvety mouthfeel. 14.4% alcohol. Average retail price: $15/bottle.

Tunnel of Elms (Beringer) 2007 Merlot, California. A soft merlot, with aroma of with ripe plum, cherry and raspberry. Delicious flavor, with a bit of oak. 13% alcohol. Average retail price: $7/bottle.

Two Tone Farm 2004 Merlot. This is a nice drinkable merlot, not too tannic on the front, but the merlot fullness persists through the back palette. 13.9% alcohol. Average retail price: $8/bottle.

Beringer California Collection 2008 Pinot Noir. This pinot has a love rose color, caramel at the side, and is only slightly peppery on the nose; there is also an oakiness in aroma. Nice tannins mid-palate, and berry, cherry, blackcurrant, raspberry fruitness that almost explodes in your mouth. One reviewer called it “simply the BEST inexpensive Pinot Noir I've ever tried!” 13.0% alcohol. Retail prices range from $5-8/ bottle.

Annie’s Lane 2006 Clare Valley (Australia) Riesling. On the nose, a fresh lily-of-the-valley aroma. In the mouth, peach and citrus flavors, a bit tart, with a balanced dryness. On the finish, a hint of sweet fruit and lime. Lovely as an appertif or with food. 12.5% alcohol. Retail prices from $10-15/bottle.

Beringer California Collection 2008 Pinot Grigio. Vanilla aroma, lots of oakiness and floral notes. Clean on the palate, flavors of white peach and citrus. The finish is flinty-minerality. 13% alcohol. Average retail price $8/bottle.

Tunnel of Elms 2005 Chardonnay. Aroma and flavor of citrus, tropical fruits, light oakiness. Light finish, rich and creamy texture throughout. . An easy drinking table chardonnay. 13% alcohol. Average retail price $7/bottle.

Matua Valley 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough New Zealand. A bouquet of flowers on the nose, and overtones of citrus. Fruit-driven on the palate, with classic Marlborough acidity. Nicely structured, with a long finish. 13% alcohol. Average retail price, $12/bottle.

About the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival:

One visit to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and the reason that more than 30,000 attendees travel from across the United States to attend each summer is crystal clear. Nestled between the pristine Sand Harbor State Park beach and the towering pines, The Warren Edward Trepp Stage, built at a cost of nearly two million dollars, provides a first class performance venue with breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding basin. At Reno-Tahoe’s premier summer event, Shakespeare’s works come alive outdoors, just as they were meant to. The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor is a fun, casual evening on the beach, that has become one of the outstanding outdoor cultural events in the United States.

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© 2009 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in August 2009.


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