E Wine of the Week
By Bruce Cochran
North Coast Wines
Off the beaten path Mendocino and Lake Counties producing excellent blends
This week we’ll look at a California appellation, or place name, whose grapes find their way into a lot of wines. Sometimes it’s listed on the label, sometimes it’s not, and when it is, a lot of people aren’t quite sure what it means.
If you’re going to be in Little Rock, there are a couple of wine events happening. On Tuesday, there will be an After Work Wine Tasting at Gypsy’s, 11401 N. Rodney Parham Road. Drop by between 5 and 6:30 p.m. and taste through the wines for $10.
Oct. 7 is the date for a wine dinner at Benevita on Cantrell Road in Little Rock. For a complete menu and wine list go to brucecochran.com.
As you can see, there are already a lot of fall events for wine lovers. You can see many of them on our Bulletin Board at brucecochran.com.
And remember, all of the wines that I write about are locally available.
Try a new wine this week!
“New Gewurz” from Alexander Valley Vineyards
We’ve all heard the word “coastal” used for California wines, and many of us know that vineyards near the coast of the cool waters of the Pacific can be cooled by ocean breezes, helping to define the style of many wines.
But that’s the west coast. What comes to mind when a label says “North Coast”?
California’s North Coast is an official appellation, or place name. It’s one of the first places in California that became popular for wine, as it includes Napa County (comprised mostly of Napa Valley), Sonoma County, and the two counties to their north: Mendocino and Lake.
Both Mendocino and Lake Counties are off the beaten track, so fewer tourists venture up there (actually, not a bad reason to go). Mendocino is just north of Sonoma County, and borders the Pacific. Its southern parts are becoming increasingly known for pinot noir. Lake County is just inland from Mendocino, just north of Napa. It’s probably best known for Fetzer, which began there, and many other well known wineries own vineyards there.
Taken together, these four counties offer very diverse growing conditions, and wine styles can vary a lot within each county, much less between them. This can be great for blending different styles together, and grapes blended from among these counties is often labeled “North Coast.”
One I enjoyed recently was a Gewurztraminer from Alexander Valley Vineyards. This grape is known for two things: a flowery nose, and a hard name to pronounce. It’s grown in many countries—Italy, France, Germany, Austria and more. At one time California “gewurz” was extremely popular in this country. It tends to be softer in acid than many other grapes, and it can pair well with many dishes from salads to seafood.
Along with its fragrant nose, AVV’s “New Guwerz” has a soft spiciness that follows through the palate to a lingering finish It’s refreshingly light, off-dry, unoaked, and most importantly, has that soft spiciness from which this grape gets its name (“gewurz” is a German word for “spicy”). It retails for around $10 a bottle.
E Wine of the Week