Kickstarter Campaign rolls out for Vineyard in Reno

I'm proud to be the first participant in the Kickstarter campaign to create a vineyard and winery promoting Nevada Vines & Wines; read about it here..

The intro email:  "Here we are, Ryan and Danny sitting in the winery, asking you to take a look at our proposal.  CABNR and Nevada Vines &Wines have struck a deal to build a vineyard in Reno.  You are invited.  If you like our plan, help out with a tax free donation or some supporting comments.

The best way to create excitement about a new project according to Kickstarter is to generate some funding right away.  So, if you intend to support Nevada Vines & Wines with a year end tax deductible donation, please do so right away."

Through my Wine Time column in The Tahoe Weekly, I keep an eye on Nevada's developing wine industry.  This is a great step in the right direction!


Thanksgiving Wines - in Tahoe and Beyond

Tahoe House on the West Shore offers “everything but the turkey” for Thanksgiving on an advance-order/take-out basis, and their wine selection to go with Thanksgiving foods is as well thought out and varied as their Thanksgiving menu.

I’d opt right away for a bottle of the Seaglass 2011 Monterey County Riesling.  This is a great wine as an aperitif, light and refreshing.  Flavor of peach and pear, with aroma of honey and fragrant flowers are what greet you in the glass, with a sweet fruitiness.  The vibrant blue bottle in which it is packaged also sets a festive mood for the feast to come.  13 percent alcohol.  $16.99 the bottle.

The 2011 California Pinot Noir from Mark West is a tasty and affordable wine for those who like red wine with turkey.   This is a delicate and juicy red wine with medium body.  Flavor and aroma of  raspberry, sweet cherry, and nutmeg spice makes this Pinot Noir a great pairing with turkey.  It is complex, fruity and silky.  13.8 percent alcohol.  $9.99 the bottle.

If some of your guests will want a white wine with your turkey, that’s a good choice too.  Reach for the 2012 Hanna Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River Valley.  Turkey, specially the basted and infused preparations so popular at Thanksgiving, will pair well with the minerality of a Sauvignon Blanc.  The color is a straw yellow, and aroma is grapefruit, tangelo, quince, mint, basil and pear.  The winemaker notes a taste of kiwi and lime zest, and, on the mid palate, more flavor of lemon, peach, honey and a touch of grassiness.  The finish is bright and clean. 13.2 percent alcohol.  $17.99 the bottle.

To end the meal with the classic pies and other goodies, I recommend two choices:  a rose or a dessert wine.  The Stags’ Leap 2011 Napa Amparo Rose, Napa Valley, is a vibrant pink that leads you to expect its aroma of raspberry and then melon.  Flavor is of wild strawberry and a touch of pomegranate, with some creaminess and a hint of caramel.  It is refreshing with a nice finish.     14.1 percent alcohol.  $23.99 the bottle.

A classic dessert wine, one of my favorites is the Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2006.  It has a wonderful mouth-coating flavor of dark berries, strawberry, coffee and chocolate, with a vanilla smoothness, soft tannins and a long lingering finish.  14.5 percent alcohol.  $10.99 for a 375 ml bottle.

Oh, by the way, Tahoe House does offer the turkey too – free range Diestel turkeys have to be ordered well in advance and cooked at home.  Tahoe House Bakery & Gourmet is located at 625 W. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City.  530-583-1377.

And, if you have turkey leftovers, making a salad with cooked turkey chunks, celery, grapes and walnuts, with mayo or sour cream, is a great treat.  I suggest you pair it with an Italian Chardonnay.  Pomino Bianco 2012, from the Marchesa de’ Frescobaldi estate near Florence, is a recently-promoted Italian white wine It will, of course, accompany a Thanksgiving feast magnificently!  A few notes from the winery:  Pomino Bianco comes from one of Tuscany’s most renowned areas for the production of high-quality wine; it is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco grapes that have been at home in Pomino for many years.”  l liked its intense yellow color, and the aroma of white flowers like lily of the valley and jasmine, with apple and pear.  It is a balanced and fresh wine, with delicate minerality, and a long and lovely finish.  It was fermented primarily in stainless steel, with the riper grapes fermented in French oak.  The winemaker tells an interesting story about the exciting harvest of the Chardonnay in this wine:  without precedent … gathered during an extremely prolonged stormy period of weather that gave us a thousand and one inflections.” 12..5 percent alcohol.  $17.99 suggested retail price.  Available at

Nevada Wines and, now, Brandy from Churchill Vineyards

Family-owned estate winery, Churchill Vineyards, releases Silver State’s first legally-distilled spirit
Churchill Vineyards, the only estate winery and first legal distillery in Nevada, released Churchill Vineyards Brandy, Nevada’s first legally-distilled spirit, for retail purchase on November 2. Churchill Vineyards, owned and operated by 5th generation Nevadan Colby Frey and wife Ashley, expanded their already successful winery business into the spirits market providing Nevada’s first and oldest legally commercial distilled spirit.

Colby Frey, winemaker
“This is a very exciting time for the expansion of our business,” said Colby Frey. “We’ve been aging the brandy in premium French oak barrels for five years, allowing us to use the prestigious V.S.O.P. designation. Since 2006, we have been experimenting with our Nevada grapes, grains and other Nevada grown products to produce high quality spirits. With the passage of recent legislation, we are now able to sell our long aged spirits.”


The distilling equipment
Frey handcrafted and distilled the brandy in small batches using the same grapes used to produce Churchill Vineyards’ esteemed wines. The quality of the brandy can be seen in the natural amber hue, characterizing the extraction of the oak flavor and color from aging for 5 years in premium French oak barrels. 

 “Wine and spirits have a well-documented place in the history of the old west,” said Frey. “Coming from a long line of Nevada farmers, we’re excited to tap into Nevada’s history and bring to market a great product made from Nevada resources."

The brandy is priced at $25/bottle.

About Churchill Vineyards:
Family owned and operated, Churchill Vineyards is a 10 acre vineyard and winery located on the historic Frey Ranch, a 1,200 acre plantation, located in Fallon, Nev. The Frey family comes from a long line of Nevada farmers, with roots going back to 1854, growing corn, wheat, barley, rye, alfalfa and teff. Churchill Vineyards is the only Nevada winery producing Nevada grown, produced and bottled (estate) white wines in addition to being Nevada’s first commercial distillery.  The tasting room is open by appointment at 1045 Dodge Lane in Fallon, NV.  Tel 775-423-4000. For more information, visit
Churchill Vineyards’ wine can be purchased at major Nevada retail outlets Whole Foods, Scolari’s Food and Drug Co. and Total Wine & More. The brandy is projected to hit retail stores around Nov. 11. To stay up-to-date on the release date, visit or follow them on Facebook at

Thanks to Ashley Brune of Reno's Draper Strategies and Communications for keeping us up to date on this vineyard!

Tasty Wines by the Bottle and also on Tap at Moody's - a Well-Known Truckee Destination

Moody’s Bistro is practically an institution in Truckee, always jammed with diners and music lovers.  It has a busy bar as well as dining room, and you’ll find many interesting wines by the glass, served from a bottle or on tap, as well as full bottles. 

JJ Morgan, the owner and wine director, chooses his wines both for affordability and uniqueness.  “I want to offer my customers a nice selection of wines that can’t be found in the supermarket, and I like to find wines from many appellations,”  he said. 

One of the white wines-on-tap  is the Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc 2001, a blend of four Rhone varietals:  Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. Fruit from eight vineyards in Paso Robles is selected for this blend, and it has a rich mouthfeel and crisp acidity.  The aroma is both floral and fruity, with taste of peach, lemon and a creamy texture.  13.3 percent alcohol.  The wines-on-tap list changes, and prices range from $8-13 per glass.

2011 Napa Slingshot
Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2011 Slingshot Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, is  a wine crafted by winemaker James Stewart, well known for his high-end Cabernets.  I got a kick out of the label, which cited the wine as “irreverently made in Napa Valley”. Its ripe aroma of berries,  currants and dried herb with oak is classic, and the mouthfeel shows a tannic and medium-body.  Flavor of berries, dark cherries, currants and herbs follow on, with a bit of astringency in the long finish. 14.5 percent alcohol.  $12 the glass.

2012 Luli Pinot Noir,
Santa Lucia Highlands
My personal favorite in this tasting was the 2012 Luli Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands.  I might be looking on the internet to acquire a few bottles; it is that good.  Luli Wines are made by the famous Pisoni family, who partners in this brand with Master Sommelier Sara Floyd.  It is a fruit-driven wine, with typical Santa Lucia Highlands flavor of juicy dark cherries, cola, sweet spices and mint.  The aroma is vibrant, and the finish is long with firm tannins.  14.7 percent alcohol    $14 the glass.

Turley 2012 Napa
White Zinfandel
The Turley 2012 White Zinfandel, Napa is a bright dry rose. Aroma of orange blossom and raspberry lead to a refreshing light wine.   11.4 percent alcohol     $12 the glass.

Decoy 2012 Merlot,
Sonoma County
We ended the tasting with Decoy’s 2011 Merlot, Sonoma County.  Winemaking notes cite “aromas of strawberry compote, plum and cherry wood, supported by hints of clove and cinnamon from the well-integrated oak. The red fruit continues on the palate with layers of fresh strawberry and raspberry. Bright acid lengthens the finish, which concludes with soft, mature tannins.” Decoy is a secondary label of Duckhorn.    13.5 percent alcohol   $15 the glass. 


Moody’s Bistro is located at 10007 Bridge St Truckee, CA 96161.   www. (530) 587-8688


This review appeared in Wine Time, a column written for The Tahoe Weekly, on October 31, 2013. You can find this and other Wine Time columns in the online edition of The Tahoe Weekly.

Spectacular Service and Wines to Match at Martis Camp's Cliff Room in Truckee CA

I rarely start off a wine review with “those lucky people at…”, but the spectacular wines and service-to-match at The Cliff Room at Martis Camp merit that statement.  Joshua Plack is the talented Wine Director who constantly revamps the wine list at this private residential club to match the fresh and inventive creations of Executive Chef Shaun King.  This truly is wining and dining at its best at Lake Tahoe, but in case Martis Camp is not on your agenda, don’t worry.  I found all of the wines reviewed below on the internet.

Commanderie de la Bergemone,
Rose 2012 from Provence
The 2012 Rose, Commanderie de la Bergemone, Provence, France, is a pale salmon-pink sparkler with flavor of melon and pineapple, and a floral and strawberry aroma. It is rich and fresh, and was a wonderful pairing with Sashimi.  Bargemone is among the foremost estates of the Coteaux d'Aix, a small fine wine district inside the larger Appellation of Provence.  Provence is famous for dry rose. 12.3 percent alcohol.  Internet pricing was around $15 the bottle.

Domaine Huet 2011
Chenin Blanc, Vouvray
2011 Chenin Blanc, Domaine Huet, Le Haut Lieu  Sec. Vouvray, France, is a crisp and clean wine with a nice acidity that paired well with the scallop dish.  Aroma of citrus and exotic fruit, with a touch of grapefruit to add to the favor of nectarine and peach makes this a lively dry wine.  13.5 percent alcohol.  Internet pricing was around $25 the bottle.

La Follette 2011
Pinot Noir, North Coast

The 2011 La Follette Pinot Noir, North Coast, California, was a taste treat of red fruit, chocolate and black cherries in the glass, with an earthiness that helps you remember why coastal Pinot Noir is so good.  The acid and tannins are well balanced, and there are notes of rosemary, sage and rose petal to add to the complexity of this wine. 13.7 percent alcohol.  Internet pricing around $25 the bottle. The Cliff Room pairing was a grilled Matsutake Soup.

Louis Martini 2010
Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Louis Martini, Napa, was a great pairing with braised short ribs.  The dark berry and ripe cherry flavors in this smooth and drinkable wine led one wine critic to term it “an inexpensive beauty”.   I liked its medium body, soft tannins, and cherry and blackberry aroma too.  14.5 percent alcohol.  Internet price around $12 the bottle.

Left: 2008 Royal Tokaji
Red label Aszu 5 Putonyos
Finally, a wonderful dessert wine, the 2008 Royal Tokaji "Red Label- Aszú 5 Puttonyos" from Hungary.  I loved this Tokaji, a honeyed and fruity treat with fruit flavors of citrus, apricot, and pineapple.  A nice minerality leads to a long finish.  11.5 percent alcohol.  Internet price around $35 for 500 ml bottle.


Lucky Me! Enjoying being a guest 
 at The Cliff Room
The Cliff Room in the Lodge at Martis Camp is a key feature of this elegant private residential community located in Truckee.
This review appeared in Wine Time, a column written for The Tahoe Weekly, on October 16, 2013. You can find this and other Wine Time columns in the online edition of The Tahoe Weekly.

Wine Pairings at Farm to Tahoe Dinner at Northstar

Be sure to include vineyard visits during your Harvest weekend ventures. You’ll find many dishes from chefs around Lake Tahoe where local produce and natural and organic meats are featured.  They go so well with wines!

Recently,  Chef Steve Anderson of Northstar featured ingredients from Mountain Bounty Farms during a wine pairing dinner at the mid-mountain Lodge at Big Springs, Northstar.  Two California wineries, Stanger Vineyards and Pasoport Wine Company, were showcased.

Violeta Port
Pasoport’s 2007 Violeta Port, a traditional Portuguese style port, was a surprisingly good pairing with a beet-carpaccio-feta-green salad.  This wine, a traditional dessert wine, is made from Paso Robles grapes.   It’s a dark colored black-purple, with great aromatics that come from blending several Portuguese grape varietals sourced from their Glenrose Vineyard with brandy.  Cassis, elderberry and dark chocolate flavor with aroma of spice, herbs and dark fruit characterize this wine.  19 percent alcohol.  $32 the bottle.

Vinho Blanco
A second Pasoport wine, the 2011 Vinho Blanco is 100% Albarino from the Paragon Vineyard in Edna Valley.   It is bright, crisp and citrus in flavor, with a nice minerality that paired well with the stuffed chicken dish.  It has an aroma of tropical fruit with vanilla and green apple.  13.5 percent alcohol.  $24 the bottle.

Stanger's winemaker,
JP French

Winemaker JP French from Stanger Vineyards, Paso Robles, introduced his wines paired with the next four courses. 
Stanger Tempranillo
The Stanger Tempranillo 2009 Library Reserve is a classic Tempranillo with a crisp tannic structure, taste and aroma of black current and dark cherry and a hint of licorice.  This red wine, a popular varietal in Spain and Portugal, was paired with duck leg confit.  14.5 per cent alcohol.  $39  the bottle.

The Stanger Bench Cuvee 2008 from the West Side vineyard is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Syrah and 12% Tempranillo.  If you like tannins, try this wine!   There is a chocolate and blackberry aroma with a taste that is complex and a lasting finish.  It was paired with the Korean-style short rib dish. 15.1 percent alcohol.  It is available at for $39 the bottle.


Paired with a lamb loin, Stanger’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Library Reserve was a great choice.  It is a silky wine with aroma of raspberry and currant, and the fruit taste is highlighted with clove and tobacco notes.  Well oaked and complex, the wine is a bit tannic. 15.1 percent alcohol.  Available at Amazon for $49 the bottle.

The 2007 Stanger Syrah Library Reserve complemented the peach cobbler dessert course.  Dark violet in color,  the aroma is of ultra-ripe fruit. Flavors of blackberry, plum, licorice, and spice lead to a dry smooth finish. 15.5 percent alcohol.  $44 the bottle at

Dinner in the Lodge at Big Springs, Northstar
 This review appeared in Wine Time, a column written for The Tahoe Weekly, on October 2, 2013.   You can find this and other Wine Time columns in the online edition of The Tahoe Weekly.

Sake and the City: Richard Dare Writes from New York

Pouring 96 varieties of Sake
I must confess, your faithful correspondent was at first blush less than certain that sake -- in spite of being colloquially referred to as "rice wine" in the west -- would really fit within the taste profile loved by American oenophiles.  Yet I decided to be Zen about the situation and attend an invitation only event featuring Timothy Sullivan founder of Urban Sake ( who explained and then paired sake with mouth-watering wagyu beef prepared by executive chef Hiroki Abe of EN Japanese Brasserie (
Sake, as you may already know, is a beverage fermented from rice, a grain that to my way of thinking categorizes it rather closer to the beer family than to wine.  On the other hand, sake is not carbonated and tastes far more like wine than beer, and not even remotely like gin, vodka or other spirits.  So “when in Tokyo” do as the locals do, I always say.

Another award-winner

Beautiful Sake bottles on display
The primary distinctions between types of sake are based not so much on the varieties of rice used but rather on how severely each individual grain of rice has been milled or polished.  This is the case because the core of a rice grain has a greater concentration of starches than its exterior husk.  So more thorough polishing produces a drink with more intense and complex flavors.  Serious sake begins when at least 30% of the rice grain has been removed and 40-50% removal is not uncommon.
Unlike western wines, most sake is meant to be consumed young and fresh, so don't bother to open the bottle to allow it to breathe or the flavor will grow too soft.  And finally, expensive good sake is usually served chilled.  Cheaper sake, however, traditionally arrives hot, possiblya tradition from times past meant to mask the quality of the product being served.

At the table in New York City in late October was a dazzlingly diverse array of some 94 different types of sake including the very elegant Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo ($60 per 24 oz. bottle, a variable 15-16% alcohol) with its pronounced floral bouquet and Gold Medal prize from the 2008 International Sake Challenge; as well as the velvety smooth and semi-fruity Fukuju Junmai Ginjo ($34 per 24 oz. bottle, 15.5% alcohol) famously served at the 2012 Nobel Prize awards dinner in Stockholm and increasingly in demand worldwide.  Paired with fine Japanese wagyu beef they both presented perfectly, the Chokaisan feeling more appropriate as a dinner drink and the Fukuju as an apéritif. 

The unique fruitiness, fragrances of flowers, hints of mushrooms, earth tones and the like -- in short, the sorts of things one might look for in wines from Europe or America -- are present in sake as well.  In sake’s case, however, the nuances result largely from the specific yeast used (specified by number on most bottles for serious connoisseurs), the flavor of the local water, and so on.  Thus, many of the joys of sake stem from an understanding of the drink’s terroir just as they do with western wines.


Richard Dare is an author, cultural commentator and executive who enjoys fine wines and good food.


The Italian Job

The Italian Job
Richard Dare, guest columnist

The plan was flawless.  The heist was perfect.  The escape was clean.  The only threat was the one they never saw coming.  This autumn, they’re not in it for the pay.  They’re in it for the payback.  Nicosia Wines ( presents at the magical Culinary Loft ( in the heart of Manhattan:  Fondo Filara Frappato, Fondo Filara Etna Rosso, Fondo Filara Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico, and Sosta Tre Santi Nero d’Avola in The Italian Job.
Deep in the heart of Sicily, generous and untamed, labor Nicosia’s fine winemakers hidden in the shadow of a ten-thousand foot high volcano, Mount Etna, that dominates the horizon just behind their 115-year old winery in Trecastagni, Italy, nourishing the soil with thousand year old ash.  But this taster thinks more than the volcanic soil, more even than the perfect goût de terroir, is the skillful blend of Denominazione di Origine Controllata grapes Nicosia’s five generations of family winemakers employ to infuse Nicosia’s full-bodied, irrepressibly aromatic offerings with what can only be described as emotional intensity worthy of a Sicilian.

Graziano Nicosia, fifth generation winemaker

A delightful apéritif, Nicosia’s Fondo Filara Frappato (12.5% alcohol vol.) appears a vivid red in the glass, and at $15-20 per bottle (retail price) pleasantly fragrant bouquet of fresh red fruits, raspberries and blueberries to the nose with a fresh, lively profile not unlike a cheeky Beaujolais.  Frappato pairs well with cheeses and salamis or pizza, it is also a valid alternative to white wine, particularly when served with flavorful fish course dishes.  But unlike its sister wines, the Frappato is best served slightly chilled at about 57°F. 

Nicosia’s Fondo Filara Etna Rosso (13-14% alcohol vol.) is a skinnier wine for my taste, but still ruby red at $30-33 per bottle (retail price) and produces an intense bouquet with elegant hints of wild red fruit, spices and licorice.  It’s dry, robust and lingering with a long and pleasant balsamic finish that seems a wonderful accompaniment to such first-course dishes as risotto, roasted and grilled meats, or semi-aged flavorful cheeses.

Their Fondo Filara Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico (13-14% alcohol vol.) is the color of cherries, also $30-33 per bottle (retail price) and boasts a rich aromatic profile featuring hints of red fruit.  It’s warm with a smooth taste would pair well with roasts, grilled meats, small game, and sharp and aged cheeses—although to be fair I enjoyed it with a bit of Amedei chocolate from Tuscany (70% cacao blend) which created a sort of multiplier effect bringing the wine’s tannins to a luxurious effect ( 
And finally, Nicosia’s very satisfying full bodied Sosta Tre Santi Nero d’Avola (12.5-13.5% alcohol vol.) grown on 25-year old vines and $40 per bottle (retail price) appears dark ruby red in the glass, with a typically fruity aroma with touches of morello cherry.  The fruity aroma can be tasted in the mouth, warm and lingering, and would prove an ideal accompaniment to many of the tastiest Italian recipes including baked pasta with meat sauce or meat couscous, roasted game and aged cheeses.

The fine Nicosia presentation

After pulling off an amazing job in the great Sicilian winemaking tradition, the only thing left for Nicosia to accomplish now is to find a worthy and capable distributor to deliver this little bit of Sicilian heaven to the tables and taste buds of families in the United States.

Don’t worry though, they’re hot on the trail of a distributor even as we speak.  But until that deal is sealed, you’ll just have to take my word for how delicious and satisfying their wines really are!

The Culimary Loft, site of the Nicosia Wines event


Richard Dare is an author, cultural commentator and executive who enjoys fine wines and good food. 

Many Good Wines at Grand Tasting during Annual Lake TAhoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival

One of the wonderful things about the Grand Tasting at Northstar, part of the annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival, is its timing.  This is the festival for serious foodies and wine-drinkers, held outside the rush of summer activities. 

At this Grand Tasting, too, you find wines that will definitely be available for enjoyment for the coming months.  Twenty-two wineries were paired with purveyors of good food from the region, including restaurants, caterers, and resorts .

Ox from Sunnyside Resort
(in hat) pours ZD wines
for Scott Billeci
 ZD Winery poured its 2012 Chardonnay, California.  The winemaker at ZD has developed a signature style of rich yet balanced fruit-driven Chardonnays.  The aroma reaches out from the glass and is redolent of bright tropical fruit, and you may also note some vanilla and orange blossom too.  You’ll taste a full-bodied chardonnay with primarily pineapple and mandarin notes with a bit of lemon.  This wine has great natural acidity and yes, it is oakey, but the oak is subtle.  13.5 per cent alcohol.  $37/bottle at 

Monica Lara of
The Chocolate Bar poured
 for Davis Bynum wines
Davis Bynum 2011 Pinot Noir, Jane’s Vineyard,  Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.  According to the winemaker, Jane’s Vineyard is in the golden triangle of the “Santa Rosa plain” region of the valley, an area that has iconic local climate for grape growing.  The result is a wine that is food friendly, a little lighter than many Pinot Noirs, fruit-driven and crisp with a round soft mouthfeel, from aging in French Oak barrels.  14.5 percent alcohol.  $35/bottle at . 


Joshua Plack of Martis Camp
pours Long Meadow Ranch wines
for Pamela Schmidt
Long Meadow Ranch poured its 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, featuring fruit from their Rutherford Estate.   This estate is regarded by many as one of the finest sites for white wine in all of Napa.   The aroma and taste feature layers of stone fruit, pineapple and melon.  There are also floral notes of jasmine, guava and citrus. It is a dry wine with a mouthwatering finish.  12.9 percent alcohol.  $20/bottle at   


Lou Phillips, wine educator
and Director-School of Wine,
pours CrossBarn/Paul Hobbs
for Denis Dakoulis
The 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, CrossBarn, is a project of the well-known Paul Hobbs.  An aroma of wild berries and rose petals leads to layers of taste of blackberries and perhaps cola, with spice of vanilla and anise.  Fine tannins and balanced acidity lead to a lovely long finish.  14.5 percent alcohol.  $31.99/bottle at some internet sites.  Sold out at the winery.


Erin Crain of Blends/Renwood
pours for Adam Cishop
of 941 Eatery & Bar (Incline Village)

The Renwood 2011 Zinfandel, Fiddletown, is a complex zin with flavors of dark chocolate, fruit, and toffee intermingling.   There’s a nice tannic structure to this wine that gives it great body. It is made from high elevation Sierra Foothills grapes, and has a long finish and a hint of sweetness.  14.8 percent alcohol.  $24.99 at
This column appeared in The Tahoe Weekly on September 25, 2013

Wines Pair Well with Food at Gunbarrel Tavern in Heavenly Village, South Lake Tahoe

Great wine selection
at Gunbarrell Tavern
If you wander over near Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe, plan to stop for dinner and wine at Gunbarrel Tavern .  Newly opened under the guidance of Alex Cox, Gunbarell’s chef Billy McCullough produces food that is so beautifully paired with the wine list that you’ll want to sample lots of both.

Pinot Grigio and Tuna Stack
I began with white wines, and enjoyed the 2012 Ruffino Pinot Grigio.   This is a smooth and fruity wine from Tuscany.  The aroma is clean and intense, with notes of flowers, pears and golden apple, and a hint of sage and mint.  Typical for a Pinot Grigio, it has minerality, yet the medium-body and structure shines through on the palate.  This lemony-sagey crisp wine was terrific with the tuna appetizer.  12 percent alcohol.  $7/glass.  $28/bottle.

My next white wine choice was a 2011 Sean Minor Chardonnay.  Kudos to Alex Cox for finding this winery; they produce wines in a cooperative production facility in Napa Valley and source their fruit from various family wine grape growers.  This Chardonnay features a lovely balance of ripe tropical fruit flavors and the classic crisp apple and minerality you expect from Central Coast vineyards and grapes.  It has an aroma of pear, apple and orange blossom, and a nice acidity with medium body that leads to flavor of apricot, green apple and toasty marmalade. 13.5 percent alcohol.  $8/glass.  $32/bottle.

My first choice from the red wine list was the 2011 Seghisio Zinfandel.  This particular vintage has rave reviews all over the internet!   With fruit sourced from Sonoma, this Zinfandel is spicy with lush flavor of black fruits and in particular raspberry.  It is balanced and elegant, with berry, mineral and toast nuances and good tannins. 14.8 percent alcohol.  $14/glass.  $48/bottle.

The value deal on the list is the 2009 Lange Twins Cabernet Sauvignon.  At $7/glass and $28/bottle,  I am hard pressed to recommend a California Cabernet that is so delicious and yet so reasonably priced!  The winemaker’s notes tell it succinctly:  “Concentrated aromas of vibrant ripe cherry with a trace of chocolate. The aroma mingles with flavors of fresh cherry and dark blackberry notes which are balanced by a mellow spice from nine months of oak barrel aging.”  13.9 percent alcohol.

The last red that I tasted is the 2010 Artesa Pinot Noir, Carneros Estate.  This is a nicely complex Pinot Noir, with flavor of raspberry, strawberry and black cherry.  The texture is indeed silky and intense, and there are hints of spices like vanilla, cedar and cinnamon to round out the palate.   14.4 percent alcohol.  $14/glass.  $48/bottle.

Gunbarrel Tavern & Eatery is located at 1001 Heavenly Village Way, #33/34, in South Lake Tahoe, CA.  Telephone 530-452-1460.

This review first appeared in my Wine Time column in The Tahoe Weekly on September 18, 2013.  For a look at the many interesting places to Wine in the Lake Tahoe area, plus a variety of wine reviews, click here to go to the Wine Time section of the Weekly's website.