Sunday August 31st was the 26th annual Alpen Wine Fest at Squaw Valley. Thirty-Eight wineries were represented. As one would expect most of the wineries were from Napa, Sonoma and the Central Coast of California, although there were some wineries visiting from other states as well as a few from other countries.
Bardessono's Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 from Maxine's Vineyard uses organically grown grapes and native yeasts. The wine is aged in French oak, both new and old for a subtle, well-integrated oak flavor. It's a very elegant, balanced wine with blackberry and cocoa dust aromas and smooth tannins. The Bardessono Sauvignon Blanc is also made with organic grapes and has very crisp aromas of citrus and grass but very fresh, not at all herbal.
Stark out of Healdsburg was pouring a nicely balanced Syrah that had a smoky nose, some crisp red fruit that had depth and texture and some lingering spice on the finish. They were also pouring a great southern Rhone blend with Grenache, Syrah and Carignon that had strawberry and violet aromas with very smooth tannins.
Bjorn is an estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain. The wine is rich with smoky, baked cherry aromas and notes of mint and cardamom.
All three of these wineries are small producers that are making some real stand-out wines.
Other really well-made wines that were represented at the fest were Frank Family Vineyards' Chardonnay from Carneros. The wine tasted like a lightly dipped caramel apple with a twist of lemon. Gundlach Bundschu brought a Mountain Cuvée which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Zinfandel. The blend had nice red fruit aromas with coffee and herb notes. Novy was pouring their red blend, Four Mile Creek, a Zinfandel and Syrah that spent 14 months in French oak. The aromas were bright red cherries and smoke. Wrath out of the Central Coast was sampling a dry Muscat that was crisp and aromatic. The aromas were floral, but the flavor was crisp and fresh with no minerality.
The wine festivals in the Reno area are a great way to sample many boutique wines. There are a lot of small production wineries that don't, yet, distribute to our local stores in Reno. Bringing them all to Tahoe is a great way to discover some up and coming wineries without driving far from home.
If you missed the Alpen Wine Fest, don't despair. You can still make the Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival which goes from Friday, September 5th through Sunday, September 7th.