Gems at Culinary Grand Tasting


One of the wonderful things about the Culinary Grand Tasting at Northstar, part of the annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival, is its timing. This is the festival for serious foodies and wine drinkers, held outside the rush of summer activities.

At this Grand Tasting, too, you find wines that will be available for enjoyment for the coming months. Twenty-two wineries were paired with purveyors of good food from the region, including restaurants, caterers and resorts.

ZD Winery poured its 2012 Chardonnay, California. The winemaker at ZD has developed a signature style of rich, yet balanced, fruit-driven Chardonnays. The aroma reaches out from the glass and is redolent of bright tropical fruit, and you also may note some vanilla and orange blossom, too. You’ll taste a full-bodied chardonnay with primarily pineapple and mandarin notes with a bit of lemon. This wine has great natural acidity and, yes, it is oaky, but the oak is subtle. 13.5 percent alcohol. $37 by the bottle at

The Davis Bynum 2011 Pinot Noir, Jane’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County is produced in the golden triangle of the Santa Rosa plain region of the valley, according to the winemaker, an area that has iconic local climate for grape growing. The result is a wine that is food friendly, a little lighter than many Pinot Noirs, fruit-driven and crisp with a round soft mouthfeel, from aging in French Oak barrels. 14.5 percent alcohol. $35 by the bottle at

Long Meadow Ranch poured its 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, featuring fruit from their Rutherford Estate. This estate is regarded by many as one of the finest sites for white wine in all of Napa. The aroma and taste feature layers of stone fruit, pineapple and melon. There also are floral notes of jasmine, guava and citrus. It is a dry wine with a mouthwatering finish. 12.9 percent alcohol. $20 by the bottle at

The 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, CrossBarn, is a project of the well-known Paul Hobbs. An aroma of wild berries and rose petals leads to layers of taste of blackberries and perhaps cola, with spice of vanilla and anise. Fine tannins and balanced acidity lead to a lovely long finish. 14.5 percent alcohol. $31.99 by the bottle at some Internet sites. Sold out at the winery.

The Renwood 2011 Zinfandel, Fiddletown, is a complex zin with flavors of dark chocolate, fruit and toffee intermingling. There’s a nice tannic structure to this wine that gives it great body. It is made from high-elevation Sierra Foothills grapes, and has a long finish and a hint of sweetness. 14.8 percent alcohol. $24.99 at

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