Tasting Notes: Nevada City Winery, Sierra Starr, Pilot Peak and Andis

NEVADA CITY WINERY’S FIVE NEW RELEASES
The winery is releasing five new vintages this summer under winemaker Mark Foster, who is celebrating 40 years of winemaking. This includes grenache, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, zinfandel and Rough and Ready Red (a blend) — all for vintage year 2016. Foster and the winery also are releasing a reserve cabernet sauvignon—part of a series of varietals made from premium grapes.

The winery also offers a happy hour at its tasting room every day from 3-5 p.m. that includes $1 off any glass of wine. Its innovative “Bird Box Blind Tasting” is an evaluation of six different wines and six aromas (AKA “six wines and six scents”). While seated in the library room, guests try to pair each aroma with the correct glass of wine a fun and educational activity. No wine experience required.

SIERRA STARR’S 90+ POINT SUMMER WINES
The winery has received high marks for a duo of 2019 sauvignon blanc wines — fume blanc and Solstice sauvignon blanc. Jackson and Phil Starr’s wines scored 92 and 91, respectively, in Wine Enthusiast magazine.

“This outstanding wine has deeper and riper fruit components than many of its type, ranging from kiwi to lime to green apple in the aromas and richer tropical fruits on the palate, where subtle oak and white-pepper nuances emerge,” the magazine said of the fume blanc. The winery’s “Sun Spot” rosé won “Best of Class” at the El Dorado County wine competition.

LOBSTER AT THE PEAK
The Penn Valley winery released a delicious 2017 cabernet sauvignon wine with grapes from the Alexander Valley.

The Cousins Maine Lobster food truck also is visiting the winery this summer, offering fresh lobster rolls, lobsters or shrimp tacos to pair with Pilot Peak’s crisp and refreshing white wines while sitting on its flower-filled terraces. It is an ideal Sierra Vintners experience. Lobster Day at The Peak is August 10 and September 14, from noon to 4 p.m.

AMADOR VINTNERS AND SIERRA VINTNERS SHINE AT STATE FAIR
Dick Cooper Ranch won the “Vineyard of the Year” award at the California State Fair, and Jeff Runquist Wines won “Golden State Winery of the Year” in the 2019 Commercial Wine Competition at the California State Fair. Cooper will celebrate the birthday of owner Dick Cooper (“the Johnny Appleseed” of barberas as wine writer Mike Dunn put it) on August 18 from noon-4 p.m.

Among Sierra Vintners, Sierra Starr won silver for its “Rising Starr” wine; Avanguardia won silver for its Tre “T”; Lucchesi won silver for its petite syrah and bronze for its “Masque’ red; Montoliva won silver for its aglianico and three bronze medals (sangiovese, Sierra Bella and Mark’s Magia); Szabo won silver for its petite syrah and two bronze medals (primitivo and syrah); and Nevada City Winery won two bronze medals (barbera and tempranillo rosé).

This summer Szabo is releasing its 2018 sauvignon blanc, a wine that is “clean and crisp, in the Szabo tradition,” owner and winemaker Alex Szabo told us.

Avanguardia is releasing Ampio (a dry red wine that goes well with grilled meats) and Due Fiore (a dry white wine), according to owner-winemaker Rob Chrisman.

ART & WINE AT ANDIS
Artist Anje Olmstead is hosting art classes at Andis Winery in Amador County, including birch tree collage (Aug. 17), acrylic drip painting on canvas (Sept. 8); and creating a unique clock out of a wine barrel stave (Oct. 12). Andis’ tasting room features the collage-like art pieces. As with Pilot Peak, the Cousins Maine Lobster food truck also is visiting Andis on September 8.

WINE LUNCHES AT TASTE
Taste in Plymouth, the award-winning restaurant in Amador Wine County, hosts memorable wine lunches that are four- courses paired with four wines, from 12:30- 2:30 p.m. On August 25, the lunch features Chateau Davell wines and an imaginative menu that includes fresh local produce.

MONTOLIVA’S MOVIES IN THE VINEYARD
What do you get when you mix a warm foothill evening, wine, pizza, popcorn and an outdoor movie? Montoliva’s Saturday Night Movies in the Vineyard, of course. Bring your lawn chair and blanket. The cost is only $20 and includes a glass of wine and pizza ($16 for wine club members). The movies are “City Slickers” on August 10 and “French Kiss” on August 17.

(Image: Karel Hendee)

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