With a bubbly turn now the water should churn, and push it way from the core. And a lady in white will bring
And a lady in white will bring sun to the night, brighter than ever before.
I know she waits below, only to rise on command.
When she comes for me, she’s got my life in her hands – Lady of the lake.
So goes the chorus of the song: Lady of the Lake, released in 1978 on the Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll album by the British band, Rainbow.
There is also a lot of brightness coming from Lake County in California, one of that state’s smaller wine regions.
Lake County is a hilly area of California just to the north east of the more famous Napa County.
Consisting of five distinct American Viticultural Areas (or AVAs) surrounding “Clear Lake,” the county is home to just a few dozen wineries.; however, it produces some excellent Bordeaux blends.
However, it produces some excellent Bordeaux blends.
Lake County is known as a high elevation wine region, with most vineyards planted between 1,500 and 3,000 feet above sea level.
While the region is hilly, Clear Lake (the largest body of fresh water in California), helps to moderate temperature extremes.
The region has cold winters. The Summer has lots of sunshine but also big daily temperature swings, leading to somewhat thicker skins on the grapes that create complex flavor profiles.
Winemaking in Lake County
Modern winemaking began in the region in the 1960s.
According to the California Wine Institute, the region today is still home to only about 30 wineries and 160 growers.
But this number is growing, and the area is well known for its emphasis on sustainability and the use of the latest technology and best viticultural practices.
Sampling Lake County Wines:
The Lake County Winegrape Commission and Lake County Winery Association recently held a tasting in New York City.
We couldn’t attend, but they kindly sent us four distinctive bottles to sample:
Chancewater Wine Company Sauvignon Blanc (2016: $18)
This is an organically grown Sauvignon Blanc varietal wine made from grapes sourced from Windrem Vineyards.
The wine was a clearer yellow in color with green hues.
On the nose the wine was citrusy and marine as one expects from the varietal; however, on the palate, the mineral notes gave way to fruits.
Cantaloupe and peach notes were pronounced along with the citrus, making this a much friendlier wine than a Sauvignon Blanc from say the Loire Valley. We had the wine with grilled salmon and it was an excellent pairing.
We sampled this wine with grilled salmon and it was an excellent pairing.
Langtry Estate and Vineyards Estate Petite Sirah (2013: $40)
This highly rated wine produced from grapes grown on the Serpentine Meadow Vineyard, is from the Guenoc Valley AVA.
This winery is the sole producer in the AVA which is a small alluvial valley surrounded by rocky ridges.
The 2013 Petite Sirah was an excellent wine with a dark red color. The nose was distinctive with blackberry and cherry notes enhanced by white pepper and a lot of vanilla. On the
On the palate, the wine was quite fruity with soft tannins. Cherry and dark fruit notes gave way to a sweet finish with tobacco, coffee and some vanilla. We were planning to have the wine with Greek
We were planning to have the wine with Greek food, but ended up having it with smoked bar-b-que ribs instead. The wine was quite
It made an impressive pairing with the smoky ribs enhanced by the tobacco notes in the wine.
Obsidian Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (2014: $25)
This wine comes from vineyards planted at about 2,500 feet above sea level in the Red Hills AVA of Lake County.
It is an excellent example of a California Cabernet Sauvignon, with a deep red color and a nose redolent with dark fruits and cocoa. On the
On the palate, the wine is fruit forward, with cherry, blackberry and black currant, with soft tannins that give the wine structure without being astringent.
We had the wine with grilled sirloin and it was a fantastic pairing, providing a good complement to the fats in the meat.
Six Sigma Ranch Christian’s Reserve Tempranillo (2013: $50)
This wine deservedly received very high marks from most of the larger review publications.
Released just a year ago, the wine is 100 percent Tempranillo, and really is designed to age.
The wine is dark red in color, with a leathery nose with notes of tobacco and pepper.
It’s complex with cherry, cranberry and blueberry fruit balanced with some leathery and smoky notes.
A solid wine, This one is much more complex and fruit forward than its Spanish cousins from Rioja or Rubera.
You might want to purchase this wine to age, and eventually pair it with smoked meats, lamb, prime rib or other rich dishes.
Praise For Lake County Wines:
If these wines are anything like what is coming out of the other Lake County wineries (and well, they do represent about 10 percent of them), it suggests that the more developed regions of California have a new competitor on the block – one that they should pay attention to.
While the price points are a bit high for California varietals, the taste profiles are distinctive, and the quality – at least of the four wines we sampled – is outstanding.
One thing we can say about Lake County, When she comes for me, she’s got my life in her hands.
For more on Lake County and its wines and vineyards visit:
The Lake County Winegrape Commission at: www.lakecountrywinegrape.org
The Lake County Winery Association at: www.lakecountywineries.org