Russ Winton: Wine List

Russ Winton: Wine List

Zinfandel Fan? Check Out ZAP

I like zinfandel wine, especially California Zinfandel. I wouldn’t say I was a zinphomaniac or anything like that, but when I fire up the barbie, it’s my go-to red. It pairs well with ribs, chicken, lamb, a juicy rib-eye and marinara sauced pasta. Zin’s typical flavors and aromas are of blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry and cherry, laced with black pepper, cloves, anise and herbs. It’s grown in all of California’s appellations and expresses the essence of each region. It can be made in a blush style or picked early to make a light, spicy berry-flavored red or harvested later to produce a full-bodied rich wine. Zinfandel, in my opinion, is the best value red wine in the marketplace. Your favorite zin will be based on where it’s grown, the altitude, the clone used, the age of the vines, the sugar at harvest, weather conditions, vineyard maintenance, the yeast and fermentation process, oak barrels used and the winemakers’ whims. There are excellent zinfandels sale priced under $15 (see below) and many 90-plus pointers in the $20 range. What red wines are that complex, at that price? Such a deal.

Russ Winton: Wine List

A taste of Lodi

The Navigator (for some readers, I am referring to my partner, not an SUV) said she was feeling a bit “cabin bound” and needed an outing. I suggested a wine walk in downtown Lodi. She nodded approval and off we went. Lodi now has about 15 tasting rooms, three breweries and more than a dozen restaurants, all within four city blocks. It is more tasting than walking. Here are a few basic suggestions for a rehab day in Lodi.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Liberating the redheaded maiden

The redheaded maiden is back. Yes, back to the proper supermarket shelf. She’s now among friends with similar taste, style and price. This is where she started 13 years ago. Her development, which many said was too rushed, caused her to be exiled to those bottom shelves of the wine wall. And there she sat, a damsel in distress. For a long time. And then came the Wine Hooligans.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Three serious sipping events

There are plenty of wine events in May to consider. Here are three, and if I could, I would go to all of them. I’ve written about these festivals before, so I’ll cut to the quick and give just a brief summary of each.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Wente Vineyards celebrates

Wente Vineyards, the country’s oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery is celebrating its 135th anniversary this year. The Livermore winery is well known for industry-wide contributions to innovation, sustainability and hospitality. Carolyn Wente, fourth generation winegrower and CEO stated “while honoring the rich history of the 100 percent estate-grown vineyards we also are celebrating the fifth generation who are leading Wente Vineyards into the future.”

Russ Winton: Wine List

Gold medal bargains

Wine is not complicated. All you have to do is find a wine that you like, at a price you can afford and drink it. That’s it. However, if you want to learn more about wine, you need to taste more and that can get pretty expensive. Here’s a suggestion, go to www.winejudging.com and click on the 2018 San Francisco Wine Competition medal winners.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Keep it simple

In 2007, I wrote five mission statements to remind me to always keep this column consumer friendly. In summarizing a recent public wine presentation, I could only remember four (age?). I was so embarrassed. I told the Navigator that will never happen again. So now, I am down to three. Here they are:

Russ Winton: Wine List

A passport to Santa Cruz wineries

Last year I wrote about the passport program in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I said it was one of the best wine tasting deals. It features over 50 wineries, is offered four times a year and is good for two years. On the third Saturday of January, April, July and November, passport holders are welcomed at participating wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. I must have really sold the program because relatives gave the Navigator and me passports for Christmas. Which makes me think, I’ll start putting my Christmas wish list in “Wine Line” every year.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Turlock’s Dust Bowl celebrates

Dust Bowl Brewing Company produced its first beer in May of 2009 with two employees, the owner and the brewer. Within a short time they opened the Dust Bowl Taproom in downtown Turlock. With a great location, outstanding food and an expanded portfolio of craft beers, the taproom became an immediate success. The cool words then buzzing around Turlock were “Hops of Wrath” and “Oakie Nachos.” Demand seemed to be nudging in on supply so expansion became a necessity. The new Dust Bowl Brewery, on Fulkerth Road, opened last July 18.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Anderson Valley: Pinot perfect

Our first visit to Anderson Valley was in the late 1970s. I had to pull the car over. The Navigator was car sick. The squealing tires should have been my clue. I drove the speed limit through Boonville, Philo and Navarro and then realized we were in one of the most beautiful wine regions in California. We stopped, did some tasting and discovered bone dry Alsace style wines. Our hosts were friendly and helpful with tons of information and most notably, no glitzy pinkie-waving crowds or snootiness. We loved it and still do.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Wine Line: Where to find affordable warm weather wines in the Modesto region

I normally put the “What’s On Our Table” section at the end of this column. I always run out of space. Not this time. I’m listing my table selections first and then my wino ramblings next. Here are some good value wines to beat the summer heat. If you’re into 2016 rosés, look for the Vinas Chilenas Rosario Estate Reserva (a steal at Trader Joe’s) and the Bokisch Vineyards Rosado Terra Alta Vineyard from Lodi. Le Grand Courtage Brut Rose is a French sparkling wine made in Burgundy. It’s a bargain at $18, about half the price of a bottle of an average Champagne.

Russ Winton: Wine List

SLO wine country calls us back

The Navigator and I returned to Avila Beach in August to celebrate my birthday and to use “our week” at the San Luis Bay Inn. When we stayed in January, we had a great time and decided that we would like to stay at least one week a year, every year (read timeshare).

Russ Winton: Wine List

Which chardonnay for you?

Chardonnay is the most popular white grape variety and is planted worldwide. France is chardonnay’s original home and there it’s called chablis or white burgundy. If planted in cool climates (France), it will taste of citrus (lemon, grapefruit, lime) or minerals (wet rock or flint). In warm climates (California), you’ll get tropical fruit (pineapple, mango or banana), stone fruit (apricot, peach), tree fruit (apple, pear) and melon (cantaloupe, honeydew).

Large fire damaging homes in Atwater

At least two homes were damaged by fire Sunday in Atwater.