Grand Tasting is just that - at Tahoe's Northstar Resort, part of Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival

The Village at Northstar pulls out all the stops (corks?) for its annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival.   Just when you think you can’t possibly squeeze another wine event into the summer season, this one proves you wrong by featuring the best chefs from the region, and a wonderful group of wineries.

Moldanado Chardonnay with
Seared Diver Scakkio
I thought that the best wine-food pairing of the event was the Maldonado 2010 Chardonnay, with West Shore Café’s seared diver scallop and Dungeness crab dish.  Constellation Brands is such a huge enterprise that I am sometimes reluctant to beat their drum when there are so many good small wineries around, but this wine is a winner with a seafood dish.  Grapes are sourced at their Los Olivos Vineyard, Napa.  It is a rich Chardonnay, with refreshing taste of citrus and a light sense of honeysuckle, and nicely lingering flavors. 14.5 per cent alcohol.

Taltarni Sparkling Brut
The 2010 Taltarni Sparkling Brut Tache Rose’  from SouthEastern Australia was delightful.  The winemaker notes that “Tache is a French word meaning 'stained', referring to the pale salmon color of this enticing sparkling wine.”  This is a classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes,  all of which are estate grown in Tasmania.   Aroma of rose petal, peach, and apricot, lead to tastes of red berries and a bit of a nut flavor.  The small bubbles are an element in its refreshing character.    12.5 per cent alcohol.   The Northstar chefs in charge of their banquet service paired it with a blueberry and chevre wonton.

Handley Cellars
Handley Cellars, located in California’s Anderson Valley of Mendocino County poured a 2011 Gewurtztraminer that was exquisite.  This valley is one of the coolest-climate winegrowing regions of the state, and winemaker Milla Handley is known for her well balanced wines.  It has aromas of honeysuckle, papaya, and nutmeg and flavors of oranges, honey, and guava.  The finish is dry, and this Gewürztraminer will complement many foods.   13.5 per cent alcohol.

Manzanita sommelier Gail Oversteg
and Stanger Vineyards General Manager
Stanger Vineyards, located on the west side of the Paso Robles AVA in California, is a true “garagiste” winery producing only 200-300 cases of the delicious Tempranillo that they poured.  This is a choice of Gail Oversteg, sommelier at Manzanita restaurant, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe at Northstar.   This estate-grown Tempranillo has a pleasant tannic structure with intense flavors of ripe cherries and a hint  of rhubarb, both of which are characteristic of  Paso Robles wines.  A nice finish of toasty oak, caramel, and toffee.  14.9 per cent alcohol.

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