featured-food-and-winefood and wineIssue 30

On Cloud Wine

By Noel Daniel

It’s fall—the leaves will be falling soon, the harvest season for vineyards has begun, and that means it’s time to relax with a fine wine and relax as the summer heat simmers out of the air. Crush season is upon us, and there are any number of delicious choices to sip and savor.

Gallo Winery is an area staple for a reason, boasting selections like André and Gallo Signature Wine.

André is a collection of go-to bubbly for festive gatherings. For fifty years, André sparkling wines have been synonymous with sensational quality and outstanding value. Available in nine great-tasting flavors, André sparkling wines offer the opportunity to turn everyday moments into memorable celebrations. Brunching on a fresh frittata? Whip up a Pink Mimosa to go with it, consisting of two ounces of André Pink Moscato, one ounce of André Strawberry Moscato, one ounce of pink grapefruit juice and a sliced strawberry to slide onto the rim.

Maybe you’re more interested in some Gallo Signature Wine. Perhaps you should try the complex, confident Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. It has aromas and flavors of black cherry, rose petal, pomegranate, and lavender—with a lingering finish highlighted by notes of ripe boysenberry and black spice. Well-integrated notes of oak and vanilla from barrel-aging complement a soft, silky mouthfeel and frame this rich expression characteristic of this renowned Central Coast region.

Planning a harvest-themed dinner? Don’t get caught without Ironstone Vineyards’ Reserve Cabernet Franc—an elegant and rich yet soft wine, which recently won “Cellar Selection” -91pts by Wine Enthusiast magazine in May 2017. It’s a sure fit for both light and hearty dishes, as well as an excellent choice for chicken marsala, roasted pork with apple stuffing and roasted, or grilled red meats. It can also be a great starter with a salad of sliced Anjou pears with roasted walnuts and bleu cheese crumbles.

Lucca Winery is located in the farming community of Ripon—a part of the San Joaquin Valley. In this thriving rural environment, they create wines from grapes that are cultivated in robust vineyards lining the Delta basin in Oakley. Grape vines grown in the sandy soil in and around Oakley have the advantage of being forced to reach deep into the earth for water and nutrients, thereby creating grapes that are deep in flavor.

The climate in Oakley fluctuates between the warm days of summer, and the cool Delta breezes, and the soil and climate coalesce to produce the fine wines of Lucca Winery. Consider sampling Lucca Winery’s award winning wines, from the Grande Blend to the Mourvedre Varietal.

Modesto locals, the Bruno Family presents wines from fruit of some of the most sought-after vineyards in the Napa Valley and surrounding area. Releasing their first vintage in 2009, focusing on the importance of bringing family together through the appreciation and enjoyment of good food and wine, the Brunos set out to create a premium wine brand. Their limited production single vineyard wines represent the unique atmosphere of the Napa Valley.

Mathew Bruno Wines currently produces a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and a Dry Creek Valley Rosé. As the season begins to shift, and the weather cools, their Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect to pair with hearty fall meals, pastas and red meats of all kinds. Sourced from one of the most acclaimed vineyards in the Napa Valley, their Cabernet Sauvignon is a salute to the characteristics and complexity of exemplary Cabernet Sauvignons sourced from Rutherford. It is intensely colored, with complex red and black fruits and supple tannins—and perfect for a fall evening. While their wines are produced and bottled in Napa, their brand was born and raised here, in the Central Valley—just like their owners.

When it comes to McManis, it’s hard not to recommend the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit for their 2015 Cabernet was harvested between Sept. 5 through Oct. 3, produced, then aged on new and used French and American Oak for four to six months. The wine is a deep ruby in color and has aromas of bright blackberry. The medium body is accompanied by flavors of black cherry and black currant. The well-rounded, creamy tannin structure is followed by hints of mocha and a smokey finish.

Jayton Gates, the Wine Director of Bistro 234, has a light and refreshing recommendation—a Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s number one wine. It’s light, similar to a pinot grigio, but has more of a honeydew melon flavor. The wine also has a hint of peach and of citrus, like a lemony zest, and is commonly found by the rieslings. Gates recommends pairing this wine with shellfish or a light strawberry salad—anything nice and refreshing to accommodate its delicate taste.

If you’ve booked yourself a weekend in a cabin surrounded by cool, fresh woods, you might want to reach for a Petite Sirah—Co-Owner of Dewz, Scott Aspesi, had a particular fondness for the Alicante Bouschet last year. It has the petite sirah characteristics, namely it’s a nice inky, heavy red, but the acidity is surprisingly fresh and it rounds off the finish. And there’s just enough fruit to play off the gaminess of a braised lamb shank and some roasted vegetables prepared on your rustic stove for a chilly forest night.

Rivi’s has the perfect sense of what wine pairs with your plate. Whether it’s a carnival or just a celebration for the leaves finally falling, you might end up with a roasted corn on the cob that you’re dying to pair with a fine wine. No matter the smoky festival food, you might want to consider trying and Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi, a fruit-forward zinfandel that’s a plummy, jam masterpiece and the perfect foil to your barbequed festival food. Last year, it was Rivi’s Wine Bar Owner Paul Rivera’s wine of choice, and one you should pick up before taking a seat on a hay bale for a local show.

After a hot summer and a tendency to drink more white wines, red wine returns to the table and festivities. And let’s not forget the popularity of dry rosé wines at this time of year. They can be a perfect match for fall menus with Mediterranean influences. Wine Bar Manager Tom Bender recommends them with sliced ripe tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, olive oil and basil drizzle, and topped with shaved Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar cheese. For rosés, he recommends opening a bottle of McManis Family Rosé of Pinot Noir or Edna Valley Rosé, which is produced by Gallo Winery. Red varietals with a Mediterranean connection that get the O’Briens vote for fall consumption are Syrahs, Grenache, and Italian varieties such as Barbera and Sangiovese. The nearby Sierra Foothills are a great source for these wines. Check out wineries in Gold Country towns of Jamestown and Murphys for plenty of choices and tasting opportunities.

There are other great picks for local wine stops, as well—like Camp 4 and Concetta in Modesto, or The Most Wanted Wine Bar in Oakdale. This crush season, make sure you set a course for Wineville no matter your pick, we think there are plenty of great local options to get you on cloud wine.

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