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Top Picks from the El Dorado Wine Association Tasting

Last Saturday, March 20, the El Dorado Winery Association held a tasting at Postrio in San Francisco. The public tasting was preceded by a trade tasting which gave me the opportunity to taste through quite a few wines and give them some focus. Nonetheless, there were way too many wines available for me to be able to taste them all.Below is a list of my favorite wines from the tasting. As always, any omissions from the list may simply be due to the fact that the wines weren't poured or that I didn't get to them. Non-inclusion on the list is not a recommendation against. On the other hand, I am fairly confident that you will enjoy most, if not all, of the wines that I do recommend.

About the El Dorado AVA
El Dorado is an interesting appellation. While the vineyards are united in being situated at fairly high altitude (1,200 to 3,500 ft), the varying slope facings and microclimates plus three primary soil types, etc. create a lot of diversity in growing conditions. Add to those variables the fact that almost 50 different wine grape varietals are grown there and you have quite a wide range of wine profiles. The most used varietals are Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, and Zinfandel. Of course, many of those grapes are heavily planted in California overall. But El Dorado also gives you the opportunity to try wines made from grapes less common in California, such as Charbono, Nebbiolo, Pinotage, and Vermentino.

The El Dorado AVA is part of the much larger Sierra Foothills AVA. The most important factor distinguishing El Dorado from other California AVAs is the altitude. While many vineyards in California are cooled by fog of breezes coming in from the ocean, El Dorado's vines are cooled by the altitude. This means that the grapes get full sunlight during the day, but still experience the necessary temperature drops overnight. I have found that the best of the El Dorado wines are very accessible young with ripe, but not over-ripe, fruit flavors and, in the reds, soft fruit tannins.

El Dorado is roughly 40 miles northeast of Sacramento. There are several towns in the AVA, but the largest is Placerville. El Dorado's next Passport Weekends are April 10-11 and 17-18. If you prefer to tour wineries when they're a bit less crowded, you can go up to El Dorado anytime though. Almost all of the wineries are open every weekend and several are open seven days a week. For more information, go to the El Dorado Winery Association web site..

Highly Recommended
2007 Auriga Cellars Zinfandel
2009 Boeger Sauvignon Blanc
2008 Boeger Barbera
2006 Boeger Petite Sirah Walker Vineyard
2007 Cedarville Viognier
2008 Cedarville Viognier
2008 Cedarville Grenache
2006 Colibri Primitivo
2008 Gold Hill Vineyard Viognier
2009 Holly's Hill Viognier Estate
2005 Madroña Vineyards Qunitet (Bordeaux varietals blend)
1996 Madroña Vineyards Qunitet (Bordeaux varietals blend)
2007 Miraflores Zinfandel
2006 Mount Aukum Vertigo
2007 Perry Creek Syrah Altitude 2401
2008 Sierra Vista Viognier
2008 Single Leaf Vineyards Viognier
2007 Single Leaf Vineyards Zinfandel Reserve

Recommended
2006 Boeger Meritage Reserve
2007 Busby Cellars Zinfandel
2005 Colibri Mourvedre
2007 Crystal Basin Triumphant (Bordeaux varietals blend)
2007 David Girard Grenache
2005 David Girard Coeur Rouge (southern Rhone varietals blend)
2006 Gold Hill Vineyard Meriticious
2005 Gold Hill Vineyard Cabernet Franc
2006 Granite Springs Winery Estate Zinfandel
2006 Granite Springs Winery Petite Sirah
2007 Holly's Hill Vineyard Patriarch (southern Rhone blend)
2006 Holly's Hill Vineyard Wylie-Fenaughty
2006 Latcham Vineyards Cabernet Franc
2007 Latcham Vineyards Zinfandel Special Reserve
2007 Lava Cap Winery Barbera
2007 Lava Cap Winery Petite Sirah Reserve
2008 Madroña Vineyards Riesling (dry)
2007 Madroña Vineyards Zinfandel Estate
2005 Miraflores Syrah
2007 Narrow Gate Primitivo
2007 Perry Creek Viognier (unoaked)
2006 Perry Creek Petite Sirah
2008 Sierra Vista Roussanne
2006 Single Leaf Vineyards Malbec

Here is a list of all of the participating wineries:
Auriga Cellars
Boeger Winery
Busby Cellars
Cedarville Vineyard & Winery
Chateau Rodin
Colibri Ridge Winery & Vineyard
Crysal Basin Cellars
Fenton Herriott
Fitzpatrick Winery & Lodge
David Girard Vineyards
Gold Hill Vineyard
Granite Springs Winery
Holly's Hill Vineyards
Latcham Vineyards
Lava Cap Winery
Madroña Vineyards
Miraflores Winery
Mount Aukum Winery
Narrow Gate Vineyards
Perry Creek Winery
Sierra Oaks Estates
Sierra Vista Vineyards & Winery
Single Leaf Vineyards & Winery
Windwalker Vineyard

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

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