Golden Nugget Spring Wine Fest 2017

 

 Golden Nugget Hotel, 129 E. Fremont Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101, USA

 

The 9th Golden Nugget Spring Wine Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada was held on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 May, 2017.  It is an annual celebration of the best wines from California, with a large representation from Napa and Sonoma. The two-day event featured a Poolside Wine Reception on the Friday evening, two masterclasses during the day on Saturday and a fabulous Grand Tasting on Saturday evening, complete with silent auction.

 

The Golden Nugget Hotel was built in 1946 and is one of the oldest and most beautiful hotel/casinos in downtown Las Vegas.  Located on Freemont Street, it is the largest casino downtown and sits alongside the Freemont Street Experience, a wonderful sound and lights show which operates nightly. 

 

The first event of the weekend was a very relaxed and intimate Poolside Wine Reception.  It was a lovely warm evening, despite being a little breezy, and a great opportunity to meet fellow wine aficionados and some of the producers.

 

The Grand Tasting on Saturday was a larger scale event featuring a vast array of both wine and food.  From hot carvery stations to artisanal cheese and handmade chocolates, there was an amazing selection of fine food to complement the wine.

 

Some new producers and a selection of the more memorable wines from my two days at the Wine Fest are listed below:

 

Schramsberg Vineyards

Schramsberg Vineyards was founded in 1862 and is located in Calistoga in the Napa Valley.  They are considered to be one of the premium producers of sparkling wine in California made by the traditional method. 

 

Blanc de Noirs 2013

Appellation: North Coast

Alcohol: 12.7%

Grapes: 85% Pinot Noir & 15% Chardonnay

This medium-bodied sparkling wine is fruity, elegant and smooth.  It has crisp acidity, aromas and flavours of green pear, white peach and apricot with hints of toast and cream.

 

Blanc de Blancs 2014

Appellation: North Coast

Alcohol: 12.8%

Grapes: 100% Chardonnay

This bright, vibrant Blanc de Blancs was aged on its lees in the bottle for 2 years prior to disgorgement.  It has fresh acidity, green apples, ripe apricot and sweet pineapple with a touch of brioche, honey and a long creamy finish.

 

Trione Vineyards & Winery

The Trione family has been farming in Sonoma County for three generations.  They established the Winery in Geyserville in 2005 and specialise in the production of small lots of wine from grapes grown on their own estates in the appellations of the Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.

 

Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Appellation: Russian River Valley – River Road Ranch

Alcohol: 13.35%

Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Prior to bottling, 50% of this wine was aged for 4 months in neutral French oak to fully integrate the flavours.  This elegant Sauvignon Blanc is extremely smooth with aromas of yellow grapefruit, rose petals and white peach.  It is dry with refreshing acidity, a touch of minerality and a hint of sweetness on the mid-palate.  

 

Sbragia Family Vineyards

Sbragia Family Vineyards is located in the Dry Creek Valley in Geyserville.  The Sbragia label was created by Ed Sbragia in 2001 to focus on the production of small parcels of wine from grapes grown in select blocks in the Dry Creek Valley, Napa and Sonoma.

 

Home Ranch Chardonnay 2012

Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Alcohol: 14.5%

Grapes: 100% Chardonnay

This beautifully smooth, rich, creamy Chardonnay has an abundance of citrus, stone and tropical fruit.  From a combination of perfectly ripe fruit, careful lees stirring and malolactic fermentation, this full-bodied wine is bursting with fresh apricots, orange marmalade and overripe banana. 

 

DeLoach Vineyards

DeLoach Vineyards was created by Cecil and Christine DeLoach in 1975.  It is located in Santa Rosa and was one of the first wineries to be established in the Russian River Valley.

 

Estate Chardonnay 2014

Appellation: Russian River

Alcohol: 14.5%

Grapes: 100% Chardonnay

This rich golden Chardonnay has aromas and flavours of mandarin orange, sweet red apple, brioche and baked bread.  It is full-bodied and tropical with complementing acidity and has a creamy finish with hints of toffee and caramel. 

 

Rombauer Vineyards

Rombauer Vineyards was established in 1980 and is still owned and operated by the first, second and third generation family members.  It is located on the Silverado Trail in St. Helena and has vineyards in the Napa Valley, Lake County and the Sierra Foothills.

 

Chardonnay 2015

Appellation: Carneros

Alcohol: 14.5%

Grapes: 100% Chardonnay

This mouth-watering Chardonnay is packed full of ripe green apple, sweet orange, zesty lemons, white peach and mango.  It is rich and toasty with plenty of cream, butter and sweet spice.

 

Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Located a few minutes from downtown Sonoma, Gundlach Bunschu is a new name for me.  I was therefore surprised to learn that they are the oldest continuously family-owned winery in California and the second oldest winery after Buena Vista.  Gundlach Bundschu is still in family hands and now owned and operated by sixth generation, Jeff Bundschu.

 

Gewürztraminer 2016

Appellation: Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County

Alcohol: 14.3%

Grapes: 100% Gewürztraminer

This elegant, bone dry Gewürztraminer has naturally crisp acidity, green pear, lychee, rose petals and a lovely long spicy peppery finish.  Superb!

 

Cline Cellars

Fred and Nancy Cline have been making wine since the 1970’s.  Having originally opted to restore 100 year-old vines and produce Rhône varietals such as Mourvèdre, Carignan, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, they have since planted Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.  In 1993, they moved the winery to the Carneros Valley where they opened a new tasting room.  They now own vineyards throughout Sonoma County.

 

Cashmere Red 2015

Appellation: Sonoma

Alcohol: 14.5%

Grapes: 59% Mourvèdre, 22% Grenache, 19% Syrah

This gorgeous blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah is luscious, soft and simply stunning.  Packed full of red cherries, fresh raspberries, black plums and rich dark chocolate, this wine has a spicy, peppery nose, silky smooth tannins and a long finish.  It reminded me of a beautifully smooth elegant Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

 

Kosta Browne

Kosta Browne is a small boutique winery located in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, which specialises in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  It began life in 1997 when friends, Dan Kosta and Michael Browne pooled their funds to purchase some Pinot Noir grapes, a crusher de-stemmer and an old barrel.  Chris Costello joined the team in 2001 and together they aim to produce Pinot Noirs to express the beauty and terroir of their individual vineyards.  In addition to vineyard-designated wines, they produce three appellation Pinots from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands, and one Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley.

 

Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

Appellation: Sonoma Coast

Alcohol: 14.5%

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

This elegant and deeply coloured Pinot Noir is rich with ripe red fruit, cassis and black cherries.  With hints of wildflowers and more than a touch of garrigue, it has smooth fine-grained tannins and dark chocolate truffles which seem to linger on the finish.

 

Michael David Winery

Michael David Winery takes its name from brothers, Michael and David Phillips, who represent the fifth generation of the Lodi grape-growing Phillips family.  With more than 800 acres of vineyard and 30 years winemaking experience, the winery produces premium quality wines with eye-catching labels.  The most recognizable wine in their range – and a particular favourite of mine – is the aptly named 7 Deadly Zins, a blend of Zinfandel from seven of Lodi’s best old vine Zinfandel vineyards.

 

Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Region: Lodi

Alcohol: 15%

Grapes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Intense, rich and juicy, this bold Cabernet has plenty of luscious cooked black fruit, soft tannins, vanilla, sweet spice, black pepper, tobacco and leather. 

 

Inkblot Cabernet Franc 2014

Region: Lodi (Graton)

Alcohol: 15.4%

Grapes: 100% Cabernet Franc

This is the first Cabernet Franc produced by Michael David Winery and one of the few produced in Lodi.  It is dense and rich with aromas and flavours of black cherry, black plums and blackberries, silky tannins, cinnamon, old leather and a hint of cigar smoke.   

 

B.R. Cohn Winery

In 1974, Bruce Cohn, former manager of The Doobie Brothers, purchased an old dairy in Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley.  Having become extremely interested and involved with all aspects of grape-growing and after selling grapes to other wineries for a number of years, Bruce founded B.R. Cohn Winery in 1984.  In 1990, he began processing olives on the estate to create California's first single estate olive oil in over a century.  Today, in addition to wine, the estate produces a wide range of olive oils and wine vinegars.

 

Silver Label Pinot Noir 2013

Region: North Coast

Alcohol: 14%

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Sourced from select vineyards and aged in French oak, this rich elegant red is bursting with fresh raspberries, redcurrants and black cherries.

 

It is always a pleasure meeting new faces and learning more about the wonderful world of winemaking in California.  It is truly a pleasure to be able to taste such an amazing range of wines in one venue and the Golden Nugget Hotel provided the perfect backdrop for such an occasion. 

 

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