Behind the Cork™ - PARS Old Vine Zinfandel

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2016 PARS Old Vine Zinfandel ($8)

This was a recent unexpected fine. I really enjoy the wines of Amador County and that’s what caught my eye about this one. And, at $8, I had to give it a try.

The grapes of Amador County didn’t let me down. This is a nice Zinfandel, especially at the price. But it’s not typical. It’s not jammy or peppery. It quite light. Almost tending toward a Pinot Noir.

Unfortunately, there’s not much to be learned about this wine or the winery. The back label shows that it’s bottled by Avid Vineyard. And, the winemakers are listed as Robert Goyette & H. Namdar. Now, the fact that it’s “bottle by” Avid Vineyard would lead me to the conclusion they didn’t produce it. That’s Ok. Apparently, they bought the wine and put their own label on it. But, there doesn’t seem to be any trail to Avid Vineyard. Again, Ok.

But, a quick search for Robert “Bob” Goyette shows that he got started in winemaking in California in 1970 and, in 1979, he and noted winemaker Rod Berglund started La Crema Venera, known today as La Crema. Now, that’s a good label with a proven track record. Then, in 2005, he started his own wine brand, Robert Goyette Winery, producing wines from Sonoma Coast’s top Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Sonoma County’s top Cabernet Sauvignon.

Regardless of the origins of this PARS Amador County Old Vine Zinfandel, it’s a nice one and great value. If you happen to see this one, pick it up and give it a try. Cheers!

The Wines of Amador County

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California’s Gold Rush of the 1850s included the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. As fortune seekers flocked to the Sierras to prospect for gold, small wineries also began to appear. But the decline of gold mining in the late 1800s, followed by the start of Prohibition, brought devastation to this small wine community. But, some of the vineyards planted during that era survived and today are once again fueling the wineries of Amador County.

With some forty wineries in the region, there are some excellent wines being produced. Wineries such as Amador Cellars, Sobon, Turley, Helwig, Terra d’Oro (Montevina), Dillian and Renwood are just a few of the wonderful wineries producing great wines, some of which are distributed to wine sellers for your enjoyment.

Amador County wineries are focused on producing red wines including Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, and Petite Sirah, but you’ll also find a few whites and rosé wines being produced.

My ah-ha wine moment came years ago when I experienced an Amador County varietal that I’d heard of before my visit to Northern California. Upon learning it was a Barbera from Amador Cellars, my eyes were opened to more than just California Cab. And while finding a variety of Barberas continues to be a challenge outside of this region, you’ll “strike gold” in Amador County.

I’ll be featured a few of my favorites on Instagram (@EverWonderWine) in the coming days. But, if you are in Northern California, near Sacramento or Lake Tahoe, it’s worth a visit to Amador County, and it neighboring El Dorado County wineries. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the wines of these regions. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2015 1000 Stories Zinfandel ($18)

I’ve had my eyes on this one for a while now. It differentiates itself by noting on the front label that it is “Bourbon Barrel Aged.” Aging wines in oak barrels is common, but I’ve not seen a wine aged in Bourbon barrels.

So, I was actually a bit hesitant. I’m not into gimmicky wines. And, I certainly don’t need a Bourbon-flavored wine.

This 1000 Stories Zinfandel is aged in new and used Bourbon barrels. But, don’t let that dissuade you. The barrels do not impart a big or smoky flavor. Actually, I found this Zinfandel on the fruity side.

So, the back label states that the Bourbon barrels impart “…charred vanilla, dried herbs and a hint of caramel.” Just what you’d expect from an oak barrel.

If the “Bourbon Barrel Aged” 1000 Stories Zinfandel has not been on your list, give it a try. It’s a worthy Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week with its attainability and affordability. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2016 Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel ($18)

This Zinfandel comes from California's Mendocino County that has a climate with warm days and cool evenings that provides for great growing conditions and optimal ripening. Winemaker Randle Johnson, who has been with Artezin since its inception in 2002, blends this Zinfandel with Petite Sirah and Carignan. He describes this wine as having "a concentration of juicy bright cherry, pomegranate and boysenberry aromas with flavors of raspberry and currants."

His description is right on. It starts out with big, bright fruit flavors and finishes by leaning toward being a bit jammy with the rich currant flavors. It is very smooth, has moderate tannin, and the French oak provides a hint of spice.

The Artezin wines are family farmed and sustainably grown. And at this price-point, a terrific value. Be sure to keep an eye out for this one and give it a try. It's a winner.

Artezin wines is part of The Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio that is family owned and a fifth-generation company producing excellent wines.

Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Donna White Communications