The Wine Merchant offers a great selection of wines to taste in four sizes: 2 ounce, 5 ounce, 375 ml carafe, and full 750 ml bottle. When you see the prices below, they are in that order.
I started with a white wine, the 2012 Hawley Viognier, Sonoma. I’ve visited this winery in person several times, and appreciate the dedication that the father and his sons have to the art of winemaking and grapegrowing. This vintage, bottled in March 2013, has flavors of tangerine and peach, and aroma of tropical fruit and orange blossom. It’s a light floral wine, a classic Viognier, and Hawley ferments it in neutral French oak to add body and richness. 13.9 per cent alcohol. Prices: $5, $10, $19, $33.
It paired well with two cheeses from Oxbow Market: the Two Rock Valley, a raw goat milk hard cheese from Petaluma, CA, and the Boorenkaas, a type of farmhouse Gouda cheese from Holland.
The 2009 Viala Mattes Sabran Corbieres from Languedoc-Rousillon, France, is a somewhat dry red wine that is also juicy and smooth. The taste is of black fruits and the aroma has a hint of licorice and Asian spices. It is a nice blend of Syrah, Mouvedre and Grenache. 14 per cent alcohol. $4, $7.25, $13.25, $22.
To pair, I enjoyed a mild coppa from Molinari, and also Hobb’s wine cured salame.
Finishing with a wine that supports a good cause, the 2010 Hirsch FPWM Cuvee is a Pinot Noir from Sonoma that carries the FPWM (Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant) designation. This special blend from Sonoma is quite good, with bright fruit, a nice acidity, and is both delicate and complex. A portion of each sale is contributed to the San Francisco Food Bank. 13.6 per cent alcohol. $5.75, $12.25, $24.75, $38.
This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Time column, on May 9, 2013.