More than 200 wineries participated in the Third Annual San Diego Tasting of the Family Winemakers of California at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Some 1,100 restrauteurs, wine merchants and consumers registered for the event and jammed the tasting tables around the cavernous exhibit hall. For a strategy, we sought new wineries to sample, or vintages that we hadn’t tried yet from old friends. The quality was high overall. Here are notes on our favorites from the tasting (about one-third of the wines tasted, with scores of over 16 on the 20-point scale) with some recommendations on food pairings:
Terroir, 2008 Napa Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, $18. Graves-like nose; clean, flinty, herbaceous; round, ripe, long finish.
Spring Mountain, 2008 Napa Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, $35. Weedy, new mown hay nose, hints of stone fruit (13 percent Semillon); tight on the palate, good acids. Shellfish wine.
Mayacamas, 2007, Napa Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, $25. Graves-like nose; subtle, not over-the-top grassiness; balanced fruit and acids; tight, long finish. Shellfish.
Mayacamas, 2007, Napa Valley, Chardonnay, $30. Distinct varietal nose, then layers of oak; mid-to-full bodied; good style; long fruity finish. Seafood.
Shannon Ridge 2009 Lake County Chardonnay, $16. French and American oak, 25 percent stainless. Clean Chardonnay nose, light tropical; round, ripe, good acids (no malolactic fermentation). Good value. Seafood wine.
Saxon Brown, 2008, Cricket Creek, Sonoma , Semillon, $18. Stone fruit, ripe grape nose; round, mid-to-high viscosity; great fruity finish. Appetizer and summer grazing wine.
Saxon Brown, 2008, Durell Vineyard, Alexander Valley, Chardonnay, $48. Ripe Chardonnay nose, hints of oak; mid-to-big style; long soft finish.
Amizetta, 2006, Napa Valley Complexity (70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 percent Merlot, 5 percent Cabernet Franc) $37. Deep Cabernet nose, berries, hints of Merlot and French oak (100 percent French oak, 30 percent new barrels); Merlot softens the edges; balanced; good fruit, flavor and finish.
Amizetta, 2007, Napa Valley Estate Merlot, $35. Ripe fruit, earthy, mint, chocolate nose; ripe on the palate as well; chewy; long finish. Beef wine.
Amizetta, 2006, Napa Valley, Clone 337 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, $45. Ripe grape nose (15 percent alcohol), oak, jam; bigger style; a little rough and hot on the finish.
Amizetta, 2006, Vigneto Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $85. Dark purple; berries, oak, mint, wood (40 percent new oak); big fruit, balanced tannins, long finish.
Audelssa, 2008, Summit (five Bordeaux varietals; 40 percent new French oak) $52. Mint, berries, oak nose; bigger style; ripe grapes; soft tannins; good finish. More refined food wine.
Audelssa, 2007, Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $40. Berries, oak, mint nose; similar to the Summit in soft finish.
Audelssa, 2007, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Mt. Veeder grapes), $90. Complex mint, berries, plum and oak nose; tight tannins; bigger style; woody finish. Big beef wine.
Stepping Stone, 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville, Wooden Valley, Coombsville, Carneros) $35. Herbaceous, varietal nose, hints of oak; mid-to-big body; some nuances; a little hot on the finish.
Cornerstone, 2007, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $60. Mint, herbaceous, berries; mid-to-big body, good fruit, hints of oak.
Cornerstone, 2006, Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, $75. Intense Cabernet nose, hints of mint, oak; deep fruit, rich long finish.
Hestan, 2005 Meyer Vineyard, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (88 CS, 8 percent Petite Verdot, 4 percent Merlot), $45. Cabernet nose with hints of oak, chocolate, mint, berries; balanced on the palate; nice style. Beef and lighter sauces.