Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vino Noceto

Six weeks before graduation, I could not resist an invitation to visit Amador County. The journey began with an urgent message from the Road Dawg on Facebook. "Vino Noceto is pruning Sangiovese!" I did not wait to get approval from the winery before showering, dressing, eating a quick bite, and flying out the door to see if I could possibly snatch a few canes before they hit the ground! I was determined to get my beloved Sangiovese...even if it meant trespassing! I called as I entered my car. It was well before opening time, and they warmly invited me to come up and take a few canes.

After struggling to close the trunk and both of the back doors on the car, (they did say, "help yourself") I was invited to come and taste. Oh my, do I love Sangiovese! The tart, tangy, spice of this grape is "orgasmic!" This wine screams for food pairing. Pass the pasta and the tomato's, it's time to get my grub on! And that is exactly what we did..

As the sign above says, we began the day with a warm greeting and an abundance of hospitality.

For $15.00, we were given a wine glass, a $5.00 coupon toward a bottle of wine...not that their wines are overly priced, and all of some of the freshest, most delectable food you could eat!

Salad, Wine, Focaccia bread, Wine, Risotto, Wine, Pasta, Wine, Asian Chicken Salad, Wine, Crab Salad, Wine, Caesar Salad, Wine, and then saving the best for last...

OMG...the caramel was to die for! The people from 3D's Candies (916) 317- 4038  delighted us with some of the most unusual flavors of caramel. Jalapeno, Lemon Thyme, and other flavors paired very well with the wines. I had trouble avoiding the "Yellow Belle" caramel. For some reason, the creaminess followed by the somewhat fruity, nutty, spicy characteristic was too difficult to avoid.

What I most enjoyed was how generous the portions were, and how each caramel literally melted in your mouth. Yes, it was a difficult task to come up with the right words to describe these exotic wares. It took several samples of each flavor and a few repeats to come up with the single most descriptive word, "Orgasmic!"

On to the vineyards...

Vino Noceto is known for it's Sangiovese. Owners Jim and Suzy Gullett are passionate about this Noble Italian Varietal.

Vineyard tours were also offered on this day. Because I was so involved in caramel research, I missed the tour, but Jim was kind enough to grant me an interview afterwards and was generous in sharing his knowledge with me. Because I have canes from their vineyards, I was eager to learn as much as possible about how to care for the vines.

New growth
Grapevines are very interesting. For anyone who is gardening challenged, I
would recommend that you hone your green thumb by planting a row of vines.

Unlike other perennials, grapes grow with little care after the initial root stock has been established. Jim explained that water is vital in the first year of growing and understanding that too much water is never a good thing once the roots have been established. He also described pruning methods which are necessary to not only control the yield of grapes, but to also encourage the vines to grow along a trellis for support. I could have sat at his feet all day!

Jim greeting guests before the tour

Vineyards are peaceful. I could walk through them all day!

On to the wine...

Located in the Shenandoah Valley in Plymouth, California, the winery produces several Italian varietals. Founded in 1987, the winery produces about 9,000 cases annually of Sangiovese from the estate and nearby small vineyards. Jim grows 24 acres of Sangiovese and one acre of Syrah.

Specializing in Sangiovese, the winery offers an everyday favorite red wine blend known to fans as "Nutz!" This blend consists of Sangiovese, Sangioves Rose', Barbera and a small amount of Alicante Bouschet.

Brian talks "Barbera!"

One of our pourers, Brian was ever so gracious with his vast knowledge of wine and his sense of humor. He could talk "wine" talk without going over our heads. We appreciated his candor and of course his more than generous pours!

To say that this was a rough day for wine tasting and fun is an understatement. However, the Coup de Gras for the day involved a treat that only a true wine lover can appreciate to its fullest. We were invited to do a 'blind" blend.

Beginning with a dark base of an unknown red wine, we were given  three beakers of additional red wine, a stir stick, three glasses and a measuring vial. By initially tasting the wines independently, we came up with several different concoctions. The first attempt, not bad. The second went terribly wrong. The third even worse, but we were not to lose hope as we were introduced to flavor essences that could completely change the character of the wine with just a few drops.

This made all the difference in the world! After adding as little as two drops of this enhancer, our blending was drinkable! I have to admit, it would take some time to come to a consensus on what everyone liked in their wine. However, we were all amazed that the base of our wine was Zinfandel, and that the other blenders were Syrah and Alacante Bouschet! I got the Alacante correct as it is an unusually dark colored grape due to its' having red skin as well as red meat. 

Overall, the blending experience was my favorite part of the day...except that wine has a tendency to make you hungry. Next stop...more food!

At no time did the winery run out of least while we were there.  We gorged our way through the food line once more and decided that white wine was needed to cleanse our palates.

Pinot Grigio is also available at the winery. Light, crispy and not too fruity, this wine was perfect for the third round of eats! Feeling a nap coming on, we decided to sit and enjoy the band for the day that belted out rock and roll one minute and blues the next. 
Guests were dancing, more wine was being poured and the day could not have ended on a happier note. Vino Noceto really knows how to throw a party. The $15.00 fee provided my out of town guests with an experience they will never forget...and they got to keep the glass! 

Visit Vino Noceto soon, and check their website often for upcoming events!

11011 Shenandoah Rd. Plymouth, Ca. 95669

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