Russ Winton: Wine List

Wine Line:Amador festival a success

The Amador Four Fires Festival, a new concept wine and food event, welcomed nearly 2,200 attendees at the Amador County Fairgrounds on May 5. The exceptional attendance for a first-time event surprised Deidre Mueller and Craig Palmer, co-producers of the festival.

Four large tents were set-up where 140 wines were poured from the four regions that inspire Amador winemakers and growers; Southern France, Italy, the Iberian Peninsula and Heritage California. Adjacent were smaller tents that served regional food cooked over open flame by Amador’s premier chefs. The Navigator and I had a terrific time. We’re definitely keeping the first week of May open next year. Cheers to Amador, well done!

Rose Competition Winners

The 2015 Rose Competition held at Simi Winery on March 25 had 192 entries from 19 states. The blind competition awarded the Best in Class in the “dry” category to Martin Ray Vineyards of Santa Rosa. In the “little sweet” category, the award went to Truett Hurst Winery from Healdsburg. Eleven double gold medals were awarded. Here are the California double golds you might want to find: Azur, Napa; Ellipses Wine Company, Healdsburg; Epiphany, Los Olivos; HammerSky Vineyards, Paso Robles; J. Rickards Winery, Cloverdale; Lange Twins Family Winery, Acampo/Lodi. The full list of awards can be found at

Wine Line reader Nancy mentioned that the Robert Hall Rose at Trader Joe’s was yummy. Yes, yummy is a good descriptor for this wine. Trader Joe’s sells out of it every year. It’s called Rose de Robles and is 48 percent Syrah, 39 percent Grenache and a touch of cinsault (sin-SO), counoise (coon-WAH) and mourvedre (moohr-VEHDR). It’s a terrific buy at $7.

If you are looking for the real-deal-steal, try the Rosa de Azul y Garanza from the Navarra region of Spain. It’s a 2013 vintage, is 60 percent tempranillo, 40 percent garnacha and $3 at the Grocery Outlet. One of my favorites is the Charles and Charles Rose from Washington’s Columbia Valley. It’s a great buy at $12 and I can usually find it at World Market for a few bucks less. The wine always scores in the 88 to 90 range in the wine magazines and always receives a “Best Value” designation. The 2012 rose even made Wine Spectator’s Top 100. It’s mostly Syrah (72 percent), mourvedre (8 percent), cabernet sauvignon (8 percent) and a smidgeon of Grenache, cinsault, and counoise. The 2014 is a vibrant salmon pink with flavors of wild red fruit of strawberry, raspberry and cherry with a touch of minerality. And yes, Nancy, I would call this one yummy too.

What’s On Our Table

The 2014 Niner Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($20) is a rich, elegant wine. A blend of sauvignon blanc, sauvignon blanc musque and semillon gives the wine tropical fruit aromas, a rich creamy mouthfeel and long crisp finish. This one is worth the hunt. Cheers!