Tahoe Yacht Club Winemaker Dinners Feature Unique Wines and Wineries

lef to right, Erik Miller of
Kokomo Wines, Andreas
Papaliolios of VinoClast
There’s a very wine savvy young man, Andreas Papaliolios, who is guiding the Tahoe Yacht Club into a wine program including winemakers dinners that are outstanding. Andreas has a wonderful palate and a taste for the unusual wine and an interest in independent-thinking winemakers. So it was with delight that I attended the Kokomo Wines dinner at the Yacht Club recently.

In part, the delight comes from hobnobbing with a fellow Hoosier, namely owner/winemaker Erik Miller, and in part from enjoying the fine job of paired foods due to the skill of guest chef Scott Yorkey of Tahoe City’s Jake’s-on-the-Lake.

Kokomo Wines is a Sonoma County winery that produces 5000 cases total of some very good wines. We started nibbling appetizers with a 2010 Grenache Rose, with fruit sources from Pauline’s Vineyard in Sonoma. This light and refreshing rose had both aroma and taste of strawberry and red grapefruit. Winemaker Miller attributed the dryness of this rose to the gravelly soils in the Dry Creek area, and also the fact that he decided to go with a cool fermentation process, essentially treating it like a white wine. 14.1 percent alcohol. Only 150 cases made, just released in May 2011. $20 the bottle.

The Kokomo 2009 Chardonnay, Peter's Vineyard, Russian River Valley, was served with a halibut cerviche stack with salmon carpaccio. This Chardonnay has tremendous balance and complexity. Winemaker Miller notes that this is one of the last fruits they harvest each year, as the vineyard is ten miles off the Pacific Coast and these grapes ripen late. “We’ve been told that this is a far west as you can ripen Chardonnay,” Miller said, “and so these grapes have a lot of hang time.” In the winemaking process, Miller decided to keep this wine in French oak for 16 months, resulting in a very creamy chardonnay with a nice citric bite and some interesting acidity on the side palate. 14.5 percent alcohol. $28 the bottle.

A pheasant roulade was the next course, served with a 2008 Pinot, Peter’s Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. This is a winemaker’s reserve wine, truly scrumptious and worth the price ($48 a bottle, only 485 cases produced) . Erik Miller’s grower-partner in the enterprise, Randy Peters, manages the vineyard that produced the grapes for this wine. The vineyard is a former Granvenstein Apple orchard that was replanted in the early 80's by Randy. The wine is redolent of intense black fruit, with mellow tannins on the top palate, a tinge of smokiness, vanilla and spice. 14.1 percent alcohol.

Kokomo’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is also a winemaker’s reserve selection. Grapes were sourced from the Mountainview Ranch in Dry Creek Valley, and it is a jammy jammy jammy cab that paired perfectly with the braised bison short ribs over polenta. Taste and aroma or Blackberry, black cherry, the wine offers a nice tannin on the mid palate as it opens up. Fermented in stainless and then put in 100% French Oak barrels for 20 months. Only 145 cases were made. 14.5 percent alcohol, $45 the bottle.

Finishing the event, the 2008 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanch from the Timber Creek Vineyard was the perfect dessert wine, sweet but light . Apricot, honey and a little honeysuckle flavor was ideal with the Stilton bleu cheese and Fiji apple serve over basil sorbet. 11.8 percent alcohol, $28 the bottle.

Kokomo Wines is located at 4791 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA (Sonoma County). www.kokomowines.com

Interested in a tour or membership in the Tahoe Yacht Club? Contact general manager Marianna Dye at (530) 581-4700 or stop by at 700 North Lake Blvd. 2nd Floor in Tahoe City.

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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 July 2011.

Book in Process: "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".

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