Exquisite Wines at Ability Bash: Charity Event for Disabled Sports USA

Heibel Ranch Vineyards pours
The Ability Bash benefit held at The Lodge at Alpine in March was a heart-warming culmination of a five-day event that highlighs the abilities of disabled persons. The principal fundraiser for Disabled Sports USA Far West, it honors wounded warriors from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The celebration of accomplishment included an auction of fine wines, and dinner included wine paired with an extravagant menu catered by Alpine Meadows’ Chris Patrick.

Contributors were Dalla Terra, Folio Fine Wine partners, Heibel Ranch Vineyards , Henry Winegroup , Justin Vineyards and Winery, Pennywise Wines, Saracco Adami, Skinner Vineyards, Steele Wines, Talbo, Thomas Coyne Winery, Thumbprint Cellars Winery, Truckee River Winery, and Uncorked at Squaw Valley. Jeff Boyer, a local wine expert, played an important role in sourcing many wines.

Steele Wines, located in Kelseyville (Lake County, CA) poured several of their wines that use grapes from Lake County. Owner/Winemaker Jed Steele honed his winemaking skills at Kendall Jackson; he has made wine in California for 42 years. The Writers Block Syrah primarily uses fruit from the estate Jacobsen vineyard, located on the Kelseyville Bench area of Lake County. The Syrah also contains fruit from four other Lake County Syrah vineyards. The Syrah has a chalky note to it mid-palette, taste of dark berry types of fruit, and has a hint of smoky and bacon-y flavor. 13.5% alcohol $13/bottle

Heibel Ranch Vineyards poured the 2007 Lappa’s Napa Valley Red. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah harvested from the certified organic estate vineyard on the family ranch in Pope Valley. There is a touch of Cabernet Franc and Syrah, and the result is a taste of rich black fruit and a bit of white pepper, a bit of licorice and mocha. This is a juicy wine with soft tannins that you can drink now or enjoy for many years. Only 186 cases were produced. 14.5 % alcohol, $34/bottle.

Local winery Truckee River Winery poured two of its Library Wines, a 2006 Pinot Noir, Monterey County, and a 2006 Zinfandel, Lodi. There are only a few cases of the Pinot Noir left, so hurry to get them. This delicious Pinot Noir is made with fruit from the famous Gary’s Vineyard in Monterey County. It is an unfiltered wine that benefits from winemaker Russ Jones’ slow fermentation treatment. Aged in French oak, this is a very delicate Pinot with complexity, depth, and soft tannins. 13.8$ alcohol, $45/bottle.

Skinner Vineyards and Winery, Fair Play AVA, El Dorado County, poured its 2007 Grenache and its 2007 Syrah, Stoney Creek Vineyard. I’ve tasted this Syrah many times, and it is a really yummy example of a great Rhone wine from the Sierra Foothills. Winemaker notes tell the story:”This Syrah is from the Skinner family’s Stoney Creek Vineyard, which is situated on a ridgetop that ranges from 2,610 to 2,740 feet in elevation. It offers aromas of blackberry and cherry pie, interlaced with hints of pepper, dried flowers, cinnamon, chocolate caramels, roasted coffee, and vanilla bean… medium-plus in body with a long, polished, and velvety finish.” 15.6% alcohol. $34/bottle.

Thomas Coyne Winery, Livermore, offers several Rhone varietals. Their 2005 Petite Sirah is sourced from the Quartz Hill Vineyard/Placerville of Bob and Margot Scharpf. Fruit is grown at 2700 feet elevation in the Sierra foothills of El Dorado County. After crush, the wine was fermented and aged in American oak barrels for eighteen months. The wine is full-bodied with blackberry and pepper, followed by a rich oak finish. 13.5% alcohol, $20/bottle.

Contributing Reporter for this event was Cathy Krauss, who braved the avalanches at Alpine to give us her tasting notes. She is inspired to go to future events of this group!

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© 2011 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 "Wine Adventures" in April 2011.
Book in Process: "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".


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