Food & Drink

Two wines fests create dilemma for Modesto columnist. Perfect pinots or zesty zins?

Tribune News Service

I have a major problem. Two of my favorite wine festivals happen to be on the same weekend, May 17-19. Both the 22nd annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and the 15th annual ZinFest Wine Festival in Lodi are near the top of my list of wine festivals.

If you’ve been a long time reader of Wine Line, you know I’m a zinphomaniac and a serious pinotphile and therein lies the problem. Both festivals have the best chefs preparing fabulous food, live music, interesting technical seminars, major grand tastings, winemaker dinners, cellar tours, casual barbecues, free winery open houses and both benefit local charities.

One is focused on Pinot Noir (plus rose and sparkling wines) from 50-plus producers and is near the Pacific Ocean. The other is focused on Zinfandel (plus Iberian and Rhone varietals) with 200 wines from 40+-plus wineries and held in the beautiful Lodi Lake Park. Help, I honestly don’t know what to do. Checkout and What would YOU do?

Alera Cellars Shines

Last year I wrote that Alera Cellars, barely a year old, won the best of show award, best white, best of class and double gold medal for their 2017 Grenache Blanc in the 2018 Central Coast Classic Wine Competition. Wine Business Monthly named Alara Cellars one of the Top Ten Hot Brands of 2018. And that’s not all, Janu Goelz, owner and winemaker, also had seven wines score 90 points or more in a recent Wine Enthusiast magazine. The 2016 Pinot Noir scored a 92 and the 2016 Tempranillo and the 2017 Grenache Rose a 91 and four more scored 90. Gilroy’s Stomping Ground (way cool) is where you can taste Alera wines and also the wines from Jason-Stephens Winery, J. Winston Winery and Calerrain Wines.

Trust Your Palate

I believe that blind wine tasting is the best way to determine your favorite wine. It shouldn’t be the price or the fancy-smancy label or what your wine snob friend tells you. It’s your palate, trust it. And, when you do find a wine you like, one you can afford then buy it and enjoy it. That’s all there is. No mas! Here is a good example. I bought a $5, a $10 and a $20 Chardonnay, all very well-known brands. Everyone knows the $5 wine, the $10 pick was a best seller in the US and the $20 wine was from a very prestigious wine region. I bagged them and poured into our guests’ three glasses then asked them to pick their favorite wine. I’ve done this tasting three times this year and the outcome has always been the same, NV Barefoot Chardonnay. Cheers!