Have you heard of Yolo County? It’s okay if you haven’t; the area is not a household name yet. But if producers such as Berryessa Gap continue to put out distinct wines that offer the same kind of value as the following quartet, it won’t be too long before Yolo County is on the tip of people’s tongues.
About six months ago, I wasn’t at all familiar with either Yolo County or Berryessa Gap wines. Around that time, I was asked to participate in a virtual tasting of some current releases from Berryessa Gap, and I was intrigued. By the time the tasting came to a close, I was well past interested and very impressed. It was immediately clear that winemaker Nicole Salengo is doing an outstanding job respecting each variety she works with as well as allowing those grapes to represent the specific part of California they’re grown in. Usually, after I taste a number of wines and take notes, the rest of each bottle goes down the drain in my kitchen sink – that’s just the reality of tasting a lot of wine on a regular basis. The Berryessa Gap wines were different; I was drawn back to them later that evening and again the next day. So when the opportunity to sample four spring releases presented itself, I jumped on it.
Berryessa Gap 2018 Sauvignon Blanc ($24)
Fruit from two blocks of their Coble Ranch Vineyard was used for this wine, which is entirely Sauvignon Blanc. Fermentation took place in stainless steel. Bits of tropical fruit, minerals and savory herbs are all at play. This Sauvignon Blanc is quite gentle on the tongue, yet it has nice depth and is super fresh too. Avoid the temptation to overchill this wine. Many whites express their charms more easily a couple degrees warmer than most are actually served. This is an example of that.
Berryessa Gap 2018 Rosé ($19)
An even split of Grenache, Zinfandel and Barbera were blended together to create this Rosé. The two Rosés produced by Berryessa Gap employ the Saignée method. That process involves using juice bled off from red wine production. This wine is fresh and light up front with red fruit aromas, and then the finish reveals some tart dark cherry flavors. It’s tasty and mouth-watering. It’s tempting to drink all by itself but will impress you with the wide scope of foods it will pair with. Nearly anything coming off your grill will be a terrific partner for this delicious Rosé.
Berryessa Gap 2018 Chardonnay ($27)
This offering stands apart from the others in that the fruit is sourced in Sonoma County. The Petaluma Gap area is perfectly suited to the growing of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As such, it’s a region that has seen increasing acclaim for releases grown there. Fermentation and aging took place in a combination of new and neutral French oak. If you’ve had too many over-manipulated examples of Chardonnay and forgot what the grape tastes like, this wine is for you. It’s a who’s who of Granny Smith apple, Anjou pear, flinty minerals and subtle bits of spice. It’s got texture and mouth-feel to spare. It works wonderfully on its own and will complement light- to medium-bodied foods quite nicely.
Berryessa Gap 2018 Tempranillo Rosé Alegría ($19)
This Rosé is 100% Tempranillo. Aging was accomplished in a combination of neutral oak and stainless steel. It’s sold in a four-pack of cans. I love this Rosé for a lot of reasons. It has red fruit aromas and flavors as well as sufficient acidity to keep it fresh and lively. It will pair with most of the light and casual foods that are on everybody’s summer BBQ and picnic menus. The can also makes it super convenient. It doesn’t need an opener and is small enough to slip into your picnic basket or pocket. Whether you’re getting together with friends for a game of softball or need to sneak something in to church to liven up the Sunday sermon, this is a delicious choice.