Thursday, April 19, 2012

Trying and Buying: SF Vintners Market performs for Sierra Foothill wines

“It’s the only event I will always pour at,” said Larry Aderman, owner and marketing director of Frog’s Tooth Vineyards, Calaveras County.

He’s talking about the San Francisco Vintners Market events held at the Fort Mason center in San Francisco. Billed as “a farmer’s market approach to wine shopping”, this is one of the rare events where consumers can both taste wines and buy them on the spot at tasting room prices, and without having to make the drive to the tasting room.
This was the 5th Vintners Market, and the crowds at the two day event (April 14-15) were testimony to its popularity. Started by Cornelius Geary and Jeffrey Playter, founders of Wine 2.0, in April 2010, these twice-yearly events offer a good opportunity to combine tasting and buying into one convenient trip.

“With market conditions enormously difficult for many smaller wineries, we realized the need for vintners to get even closer to their customers and offer their wines to larger auidiences than can be found in small tasting rooms in wine country”, the organizers said. “So the idea was born to bring the tasting room to San Francisco and help smaller brands find even more wine lovers in the city.”
General admission tickets are priced high enough to keep out the I-wanna-just-get-a-buzz-on crowd, and a surcharge on the ticket allows consumers to access a “reserve section” where wines priced at $50/bottle or higher are poured. Oh yes, you do get to keep the commemorative wine glass.

Most important, this format works for small wineries. I talked to, and tasted, at the tables of three Sierra Foothill wine enterprises: Clos Saron (Yuba County), Murphy Vineyards (sources grapes from Placer County), and Frog’s Tooth (Calaveras County).
Larry Aderman,
Frog's Tooth Winery
Larry Aderman of Frog’s Tooth was pouring his 2010 Torrontes, which won “Best in Class” at the California State Fair in 2011. Delicious, light, aromatic. “It’slow in alcohol and has aromas very characteristic of Viognier with subtle flavors of peach and apricot,” said Larry. “A great pairing with spicy foods. 11.5% alcohol, $16/bottle.
He also shared some of his 2009 Barbera Sierra Foothills. He only produced 230 cases of this yummy Barbera
, which is a nice ruby-red color, with flavors of berry. A very food-friendly wine and nice for upcoming BBQ events you might be thinking about for the summer. 15.3% alcohol, $24/bottle.

Frog’s Tooth winery will be pouring at the Barbera Festivalat Cooper’s Vineyards on June 9, by the way…. A festival NOT TO MISS!
VIP blogger "LusciousLushes"
tastes Gideon Bienstock's wines
Gideon Bienstock of Clos Saron is known for his innovative blends and his flavorful wines. He has a fervent group of followers who bring themselves to Yuba county for his events. He poured a 2011 Carte Blanche,which is comprised of 30% Albarino, 30% Verdelho, 30% Chardonnay and the remainder Petit Manseng. This is his first release of what is basically a new wine: Organically grown, sourced in Lodi and south of Marysville. Only 988 bottles bottled,unfined. It’s part of Gideon’s “Unique Cuvee” series, and website notes this wine to be: “Light, lively, and brightly aromatic, with a concoction of flowers and fruits. Dry & elegant, very food friendly. 12.5% Alc. Total amount of sulfur added: 10 mg/l. No inoculation, adjustments, or new oak.” $25/bottle.

Gideon also poured his “A Deeper Shade of Blue”, a blend of Cinsault, Syrah and Roussane. Not on his website yet, it has taste of pepper, black brambly fruits, and is a bit tannic. 75 cases produced. 12.8% alcohol, $32/bottle.

Peter Murphy,
Murphy Vineyard
A relative newcomer in the Sierra Foothill grape scene is Peter Murphy, whose basic business is vineyard management in Napa and the Sierra Foothill. He brought a 2005 Syrah Sierra Foothill to the Vintners Marketplace. These grapes were sourced from Placer County: “I’m very impressed with the quality of grapes in the Sierra Foothills, and so decided to produce some wines with them. My hunch was right – and I already have an award winner.” He made 400 cases of this Syrah, and won a Gold Medal in the 2008 Riverside International Wine Competition, and a silver at the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. 80% Syrah Sierra Foothills (Auburn’s Monarch Mine Vineyards), 18% Cabernet Franc Sierra Foothills(Loomis). Smokey aroma with clove and cherry notes, flavor of black cherry and allspice. Medium body, made in a light style. 14.4% alcohol, $16/bottle.

I also tasted Murphy Vineyard’s Sierra Red 2005. This is a 50/50 Syrah/Cabernet Franc blend. 300 cases made… and a great barbeque wine! 14% alcohol. $16/bottle.
Didn’t get to the Vintners Market? Try the winery websites and let your fingers do the walking until the next Vintners Marketplace.
p.s. Couldn't resist this photo opp from the Spirits tasting section...this guy is SERIOUS about staying close to his beverage of choice...

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