A Look at the Winners of the North Coast Wine Challenge: Part Two

The 2022 North Coast Wine Challenge brought together an amazing assemblage of wines from throughout this important wine region. Here, we’ll take a look at a few more of the Gold Medal Winners from these super wine regions that include Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties.

This is a vast area of 3,000,000 acres and home to more than half of California’s wineries. Each region produces wines of a distinctive style, but all are excellent in terms of climate, soils, and winemaking know-how. In the northern Mendocino County, for example, foggy cool weather helps produce exemplary Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Lake County to the east of Mendocino, is acclaimed for approachable Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma grows a wide variety of grapes, but may be best known for its abundant, high quality Pinot Noir as well as rich, but structured Cabernet Sauvignon. The most famous wine region of Napa is home to 600 wineries. Los Carneros, which is wedged in between Napa and Sonoma, produces outstanding sparkling wines. When a wine carries the North Coast AVA label that’s because grapes from more than one of the nested AVAs within the North Coast are blended together to suite a particular winery’s desired expression based on that year’s conditions.

The best wines for ordering online include:  2021 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc, which won Double Gold! Fume Blanc refers to a wine made from Sauvignon Blanc, a phrase first coined by Robert Mondavi. This wine is a blend of grapes from three appellations in Sonoma County — Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys. You will discover aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lemon grass, lychee, pear, citrus, and peach complimented with mineral notes. “The Fumé Blanc has bright acidity and crisp freshness from the cool, stainless steel tank fermentation,” says the famed Sonoma producer. The best thing? The price is just $13.99 when you order wine online!

Continuing with expressive white wines, the 2021 Husch Anderson Valley Dry Gewurztraminer offers aromas of jasmine, rose petal, and exotic spice, with lush fruit notes of lemon, pear, and tart apricot. Note this is a dry Gewurtztraminer, so it has greater structure and crispness; it will not be sweet but is packed with flavor. The winemaker says, “Following in the footsteps of the Alsatian winemakers, we carefully choose our harvest date to find the perfect moment when the flavors are ripe but the grapes still have enough crisp acidity to build a balanced wine.” The Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, fruit was hand-harvested, with picking dates for different blocks carefully chosen to create an Alsatian style wine. “Picking in the dark of the night yields grapes that are cold and ideal for winemaking, a modern improvement that would meet with approval from our Alsatian tutors,” says Husch. Price? $14.99.

For a best red wine that’s a bit unusual for California is the 2018 Mengler Family Wines Alegria Vineyards Dolcetto. Dolcetto is rarely grown outside of its home in Italy’s Piedmont region, where it joins Nebbiolo and Barbera. Dolcetto makes lighter but fruit forward red wines that are extremely adaptable to the winemaker’s skill. These are the everyday-drinking red wines of Piedmont, but here is one from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma! Note that the grape name’s root, dolce, means “sweet,” but these are not sweet wines. The name refers to the sweet juice of the grapes prior to fermentation, just in case you might think this is a sweet red wine. The winemaker says it “has great acids and bright fruit flavors that make it an extraordinary versatile wine.” Adding to its complexity, which helped it win Gold, was ageing for for 20 months on American Oak (30% New).

These wines and many other winners are available for easy ordering and shipping across the USA.

Written By: - Charlie Leary

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