Friday, August 04, 2006

Jewel of Lake County

After a recent visit to Lake County Scott Carpenter host of Food and Wine Coast to Coast and I returned with a selection of North Coast wines. Our first stop as it turns out and quite a surprise I might add was at a vineyard we thought promising as a source of excellent quality wine from this North Coast Region of California. Specifically, Ceago Vinegarden located in Lake County near the shores of Clear Lake, producing estate grown wines from both Mendocino and Lake Counties. I thoroughly enjoyed tasting through these four selections presented to me to try. Ceago Vinegarden is located on the north east side of Clear Lake in the North Eastern part of Lake County American Viticultural Area. Stunned by the unparalleled beauty and sense of timeless peace in these vineyards by the lake. Still in shock from the awe of the location our anticipation quickened as we discovered that the vines here are being managed with biodynamic principles to ensure the wines achieve the highest quality. I love wines of biodynamic origin for their unique quality of displaying the vines impressionistic representation of the area from which the grapes are grown.

With this said, and on a slightly serious note, in my humble opinion the special character each of these wines carries, lies in not only the effects of terroir but to special qualities that are provided by practicing Bio-Dynamic farming methods and the dedication it requires.

Everyone, people and plants benefit from Biodynamic farming. Living soil produces living foods. These sustainable farming practices help to prevent further deterioration of our planets fragile eco-systems while still providing our sustenance needs.

So here are hats off to these and other leaders in the wine grape industry helping bring awareness to agribusiness worldwide showing sustainable farming in its’ rightful place as the only solution for long-term management of our agricultural resources on this planet. For those of us who don’t like consuming poison in our dinner beverage this commitment to offering pesticide and herbicide free wines is really a motivating factor for me in making the final decision to purchase or not.

After strolling the grounds, we tasted through six wines of which four of we are reviewing here and two others at a later date. As well as our tasting room experience we also purchased the same six bottles to try with a few different dishes.

The following notes were my impressions of the wine alone as well as my observations with food prepared to have the benefit of keeping company with likes of wines like these.

Ceago tasting notes

Ceago Vinegarden 2005 Estate Grown Kathleen’s Vineyard Clear Lake Sauvignon Blanc
The green gold color is reminiscent ripening mango. The wine is packed with superb aromas of pears, honeysuckle and lychee fruit. A smooth textured mouth full of tropical fruits with just enough zing to keep it lively right through the finish. Hints of spices mingle in that liveliness together with the rich fruit to make a wonderfully refreshing and balanced wine.

Ceago Vinegarden 2005 Estate Grown Del Lago Mendocino Chardonnay
This Mendocino Chardonnay reaches out for a food accompaniment of skewered and grilled chicken tenderloins. The beautiful fruit aromas will be set off with the smoky scent of the chicken and the sumptuous tropical fruit will envelope the meat in a way that is usually associated with sauces. Yet this crisp, no malolactic style chardonnay, chicken combination will complement each other like nothing else. Try it and feel the power of this wonderful match!

Ceago Vinegarden 2005 Estate Grown Del Lago Clear Lake Syrah Rose´
A lovely salmon garnet color followed up with pomegranate, thimbleberry and dusty scented cherries and a hint of oak. This lead up of aromas is transformed into flavors of baked strawberry rhubarb pie with notes of brown spices emanating from the slightly crisp and citrus finish. Paired well with cold sliced marinated and grilled tri-tip pieces dipped in a mild Dijon with tarragon mustard and a pepper gouda on sliced sourdough.

Ceago Vinegarden 2001 Estate Grown Camp Masut Mendocino Merlot
One can’t help but love the ruby red color of this wine. It is everything the fond memories of wine, cheese, a loaf of bread and thee are made of. This supple wine displays aromas of black currant, black cherry, vanilla, sage and notes from the tack room. A long pleasurable persistent fruit finish holds up for what seemed like minutes. A wonderfully structured merlot that supported the strips of sautéed beef with mushrooms, and sweet piquillo peppers flavored by the addition of mild smoked Spanish paprika served over whole-wheat fettuccine noodles. I used some of the wine in this dish. While drinking the wine with the pasta the black fruit flavors meshed well with the deep earthy nature of the mushrooms and accented well with the smoke from the Spanish paprika. The lengthy finish emerged surprisingly even after the beef pasta flavors subsided leaving me totally satiated.


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