Time to get away from Tahoe for a while? You might go to Carmel-by-the-Sea on California’s Monterey Peninsula where everyone is proud of the fact that Wine Enthusiast magazine cited Monterey County as one of the top 10 worldwide wine areas to visit. While you are there, spend $50 to get a Wine Tasting Passport at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (San Carlos Street between 5th and 6th).
A short walk takes you to lovely tasting rooms with the opportunity to experience wine flights of local estate-grown still and sparkling wines. You can visit Caraccioli Cellars, Figge Cellars, Galante Vineyards, Vino Napoli, Scheid Vineyards, Manzoni Cellars and Wrath, with more to be added to the Passport in the future.
On one lovely spring-like afternoon, I visited two tasting rooms to prep my palate for dinner at one of the many good Carmel restaurants.
Caraccioli Cellars features wines from the 120 acres it farms in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Their tasting room is located on Dolores Street between Ocean and 7th Avenue. Known for its sparkling wines, you can read more at caracciolicellars.com.
The Caraccioli 2007 Brut Cuvee is a blend of 60/40 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, vinified in the “methode champenoise” style. It is fruity, fresh and the two fruits blend nicely to result in a pleasant acidity and soft yeastiness. 12 percent alcohol. $52 by the bottle.
The Caraccioli 2007 Brut Rose also is a 60/40 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend. It is youthful and powerful, nicely balanced and with a crisp acidity. This is a favorite for customers as a celebratory wine. $57 by the bottle.
The Caraccioli 2008 Pinot Noir is powerful and complex with a peppery zest in addition to the cherry, cassis and licorice flavors. It has a long and delicate finish. 14 percent alcohol. $47 for the bottle.
The Wrath tasting room is just two blocks away, near Carmel Plaza. They specialize in site-driven Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc from sustainable vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Read more at wrathwines.com
The 2010 Wrath Chardonnay from the McIntyre Vineyards has a bright taste of pear and lemon, a great minerality and a nice long finish. 14.6 percent alcohol. $45 by the bottle.
The 2010 Wrath Pinot Noir from Pommard 4/777 clones is intensely aromatic, sweet and creamy. 14 percent alcohol. $35 for the bottle.
The 2010 Wrath Syrah, KW Ranch, is a cool climate Syrah with a full taste of leather, pepper and smoked meat. 14.6 percent alcohol. $39 for the bottle.
Learn more about the Wine Walk and other activities at carmelcalifornia.org. Most tasting rooms are open every afternoon.
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