Catching Up with Amador and El Dorado County Wines

Sierra Wine Country

We generally enjoy, but do not specifically search out Sierra Wines–wines which focus primarily on Zinfandel and Rhone and Tuscan varietals. Our primary exposure to them is from trade tastings including Zinfest, Rhone Rangers and this week’s Wines of El Dorado tastings.

We were, however, been anxious to revisit some of these wines. And, since we were way—on this very trip the date of this year’s El Dorado trade tasting, our trip to Carson Pass provided a great opportunity to visit both of the Sierras’ primary wine producing areas.

Our brief visits—about five hours in each, produced some nice treats.

Amador County Tastings.

This trip consisted of visits to eight Amador wineries: Turley, Vino Nocetto (specializing in Italian varietals), Easton/Terra Rouge, Amador Cellars, Scott Harvey, Jeff Runquist and Borjon. Our favorites included Turley 2012 Judge Bell and 2013 Cobb Vineyard Zins; Amador 2012 Syrah; Scott Harvey 2012 Vineyard "1869" (a legally permissible name for the respected Grand Pere Vineyard) Zin and 2011 Jana Old Wine Zin; Borjon 2013 Barbera Reserve and 2012 Xinfandel Reservation; and the Jeff Runquist 2013 Dick Cooper Vineyard Barbera and Enver Salman Vineyard Cabernet Franc, and an off dry dessert wine, the 2014 Sierra Foothills Muscat Canelli. Our three greatest favorites were all Zins: the Turley Judge Bell and the Scott Harvey "1869" and Jana Old Vine.

El Dorado Tastings

We spend most of our half-day tasting excursion in the Fair Play sub-appellation of El Dorado County. Our stops included Latcham, Mount Aukum, Toogood, Windwalker and Perry Creek.

Among the highlights (in addition to our lunchtime glass of dkcellars Smart Bus Zin) were the Latcham Granite Springs 2010 Zin, Perry Creek 2012 Altitude 2401′ Zin, Toogood 2012 Estate Reserve Zin and 2011 Herbert Reserve Syrah and two of the wineries many ports–an 11 Year Tawny and a very interesting white Muscat Port. Our most entertaining stop was at Winwalker, where Jim, the gregarious, entertaining, unofficial wine guru, guided us through a long tasting of virtually all of the winery’s wares. We particularly enjoyed four: 2012 Barbera, 2011 Old Vine Zin, 2011 Cab Franc and 2012 Petite Petite (50/50 Petite Syrah and Petite Verdot). We also really enjoyed its 1999 Vintage Port.


Fair Play Restaurant

Lunch choices were few—two, to be exact—on the day of our El Dorado Country wine tour. Since Joyce is not a huge taco fan, we chose a more varied pub menu.

Pub at Fair Play. Food as you would expect at an upscale pub. Burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and so forth, we shared one sandwich (roasted turkey, tomato, basil and bacon with black truffle aioli on parmesan sourdough toast) and a half-pound burger with cheddar, mushrooms and bacon). The sandwich was good and the burger okay (albeit the weakest of the trip). We also got another that. Since a number of the wineries we hoped to visit weren’t open the day we were there, we took the unusual step of ordering a glass of wine at lunch–a very nice 2012 dkcellars Smart Bus Zin.

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