Posts Tagged Amador County

A Synaptic Journey

26 October 2011

After visiting some wineries in California’s Amador County, we headed to the town of Placerville to dine at Z-Pie, dedicated to serving creative pot pies. But before we dug into our pots of golden, flaky goodness, I spied a wine bar/shop which offered inexpensive tastings. It turned out to belong to a local winery called Synapse.

In their chic tasting room, samples aren’t complimentary as they are in the other wineries we visited, but the fee is waived if you purchase a bottle or two. I liked the look of the place, and I had yet to try a local Syrah, a varietal appearing several times on the menu.

I picked the oldest of the lot, a 2005 Synapse Syrah ($18). This wine, unlike many I had tasted earlier in the day, actually took me on a journey. A cherry, almost Robitussin-like aroma gave way to flavors of black pepper, some tangy fruit and pleasant finish of vanilla. I made my first purchase of the day.

On a whim, I tried the 2010 Synapse Rosé Noir ($17), a rosé made from local Syrah. Surprised by the wine’s very deep pinkish purple hue, I exclaimed, “Wow, that’s really dark for a rosé.”

“Oh yes,” the Synapse representative replied. “You know, last year’s was actually even darker, because we were all watching a football game. We got really into it and forgot about the rosé, and left it on the [grape] skins longer than planned.”

I had a feeling this would be my kind of rosé.


Highlights of Amador County

23 October 2011

We tasted about 25 different wines during our afternoon in Amador County in the Sierra Foothills. Fortunately I had perfected the use of the spit bucket at the Wine Bloggers Conference back in July.

Here are some quick reviews of my favorites. You may not see these on the shelf of your local wine shop, but most of these can be ordered from the wineries’ websites. If you live in Illinois, as I do, shipping wine to your home is no problem.

2010 Villa Toscano Shenandoah Pinot Grigio: I’m not usually a big Pinot Grigio fan, but I very much enjoyed the nose of honey and apples, the juicy mouthfeel and the flavors of citrus and lemongrass. ($18)

2008 Villa Toscano Tre Stellina: This blend of 50% Sangiovese, 32% Zinfandel and 18% Montepulciano tasted of chocolate and cherries, but it felt tight and dry, making me want a good steak. ($26)

2010 Villa Toscano Old Vine Zinfandel: Big flavor — spicy and lively, with a port-like aroma and a long finish. (Barrel Future)

2010 Villa Toscano Barbera: Though it had a chocolatey nose, there was also something green in there, piquing my interest. It turned out to be huge, spicy and chewy. In my notebook, I wrote, “Buy it!” (Barrel Future)


A Different California Wine Country

19 October 2011

Everyone has heard of California’s famed Napa Valley, home to many a cult Cabernet. It’s a wonderful place to visit, with top-notch restaurants and beautiful wineries set in a picturesque wide valley. But since everyone has heard of it, Napa Valley is best enjoyed on a weekday or off-season, when the traffic abates and tasting rooms have elbow room.

Some Sacramento-based friends recently introduced me to another wine country northeast of Napa and Sacramento: Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley (not to be confused with the Virginia AVA of the same name) in the Sierra Foothills.

The rolling, golden hills and unpretentious tasting rooms made this region a joy to explore and hop from winery to winery. Because it was so lovely, I thought I would try something a little different and post a series of photos of the experience, with tasting notes in a subsequent post. Enjoy!