It was a sunny day and moderately hot there on the lawn near the Hyatt’s great Lone Eagle Grill restaurant, so starting with a sparkling wine was a good choice. The Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut is easy drinking. Some might call it an entry level sparkler, but it’s very flavorful and neither too dry nor too sweet. Aroma of apple and citrus, and citrus comes through in terms of flavor with a light toasty finish. Ste. Michelle is perhaps most famous for its Rieslings, but they have been making sparkling wine since the late 1970’s. This Brut clicks in at 11.5 percent alcohol, and retails for between $10-13 per bottle.
Keenan Winery from St. Helena is both solar powered and sustainably farmed, and in their last seven vintages, 38 of their wines were rated between 90-97 points by Robert Parker. Reilly Keenen, third generation, was spending his summer vacation from University of Oregon as the classic cellar-rat, which is the bottom of the rung in any winery and pretty much your best place to learn about winemaking from the ground up. He was happily pouring the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. This nicely balanced wine was redolent of black fruit, and medium tannin on the finish. 14.3 percent alcohol $45/bottle. The 2009 Chardonnay sourced primarilyfrom Spring Mountain District vineyards had aroma of citrus, ripe pear and green apple, and taste of lush white peach with oak character. I enjoyed its crisp acidity and medium body. 1.39 percent alcohol, between $28-32/bottle.
The 2009 L’Ingenue from Elyse sources its fruit from Naggiar vineyards near Grass Valley in the Sierra Foothills. This is an exquisite white Rhone blend of 40% Roussane, 34% Marsanne, 20% Viognier and 6% Grenache Blanc. “Aromas of honeysuckle, lycee nuts, peaches and a hint of orange zest. Explosive fruit flavors,” notes the winemaker. 14.6 percent alcohol. $28/bottle.
Another lovely Rhone blend from Elyse is the 2007 C’Est Si Bon, also sourced from Naggiar vineyards. This red blend is a fruit, berry-flavored wine, with low tannin and, I confess, very much my favorite style in a Rhone blend. The blend is 46% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, 18% Syrah, 5% Cinsault, 4% Counoise and 1% Viognier. I am a pushover for Châteauneuf-du-Pape lookalikes, and the Counoise grape is the grape is a key component of many of these wines. Legend has it that Counoise was introduced from Spain into France and it was offered it Pope Urban V when the papacy was based in Avignon in the mid-14th century. This yummy wine from Elyse is 14.4 percent alcohol, $28/bottle.
Sineaan poured its 2009 Oregon Pinot Noir, sourced from 6 different famous Oregon pinot vineyards: Resonance, Able, Yates Conwill, Maresh, Wyeast and Schindler. This is a spicy, rich and very delicious Pinot Noir, dark, aromatic and with great natural acidity. 13.6 percent alcohol, $30/bottle.
Laird’s Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc was the perfect end to a summer tasting, with its lovely pineapple flavor at the end of the palate. Aroma of apple, citrus and tropical fruits, and a hint of spearmint in the flavor too. 13.8 percent alcohol, $17/bottle.
The Hyatt Regency at Incline Village is located at 111 Country Club Drive, Incline Village, NV. All proceeds from this event are donated to the Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe.
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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 September 2011.
Book in Process: "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".