For the fifth year in a row, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared that September is California Wine Month. Dozens of retailers and restaurants throughout the country are participating in the promotion to support our most important wine producing region. Want to celebrate it too? Here are a few California wines I have particularly enjoyed lately.
The Governor's declaration is in recognition of how Californian grape growers and wineries contribute to tourism, job creation, the community, and the promotion of socially and environmentally responsible practices.
Lots of information about the campaign, events in your region, as well as helpful information on visiting wineries can be found on the Wine Institute's consumer website:
Retailers and restaurant partners celebrating California Wine Month around the country include:
Safeway, Von's and Pavilions stores (Newspaper ads and in-store displays in stores nationwide)
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Posters and shelf talkers in stores throughout the state
Kimpton Hotels (Special wine promotions in all restaurants)
Beverages & More! (Posters in stores)
Costco (California stores)
Roy's Restaurants (Special wine promotions in all restaurants)
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (Special wine promotions on board all ships)
The Melting Pot (Special wine promotions in select restaurants)
Vino Volo (Special wine-by-the glass promotions in all airport locations)
California Wine Merchants (In-store tastings with vintners)
Gary's Wine & Marketplace New Jersey (Three stores doing in-store tastings with vintners)
Grande Harvest Wines New York (In-store tastings with vintners)
Morrell & Company New York (In-store tastings with vintners)
Sherry-Lehman Wine & Spirits New York (In-store tastings with vintners)
Union Square Wines New York (In-store tastings with vintners)
Zachy's New York (In-store tastings with vintners)
Cork Bar Los Angeles (Special California wine flights throughout September)
So lots of opportunity to check out what is latest and greatest from the Golden State.
A few great tasting and great value California wines that I've enjoyed recently include:
• NV Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, $19 - A constant favorite in our house. Traditional method sparkling wine. Persistent bubbles and aromas of toasty biscuit and brioche, ripe apple and some citrus notes.
• 2007 Newton Red Label Chardonnay, California $15 - Ripe stone fruit, creamy apple pie and sweet spice flavors make this a very appealing wine. It has a lovely crisp freshness.
• 2007 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Chardonnay $17 - Rich and ripe, yet elegant with Old World nuances. Ripe stone and tropical flavors, and toasty, buttery notes are very well balanced by crisp acidity and mineral notes.
• 2007 Qupe Central Coast Syrah, $14 - I've been a fan of this wine for a long time. It is rich and intense brimming with ripe fruit, blackberry, black cherry, raspberry as well as peppery spices, leather and some overly gamey notes. A big wine for hearty meaty dishes.
• 2007 Ridge Vineyards "Three Valleys" Sonoma Zinfandel Blend $19 - Another favorite in our household. This is a very affordable Ridge wine. It is a blend of 76% zinfandel, 8% petite sirah, 7% syrah, 6% grenache and 3% carignane. What I particularly like about this wine is that it does not taste overly alcoholic, as many zins are up to 15 and 15.5% abv. Rich and fruit forward this is a well structured wine, with a smooth, rich texture, bright acidity and smooth tannin.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. She hold the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program.
(Images: Discover California Wine)