Fess Parker, Tamas Estates, Orin Swift Wineries Represent California Proudly ; BOTTLE BY BOTTLE

Article excerpt

Writing our wine column every other week, it's hard to avoid talking about California. Looking for a Cabernet Sauvignon? Chances are that most bottles sold in the Tri-State will be from this third- largest state in the nation. Chardonnay? That happens to be the state's most widely planted grape, according to www.discovercaliforniawines.com.

Overall, almost 90 percent of the wine produced in the United States comes from this home of Hollywood, technology startups, surfers and Disneyland. More than 100 varieties of grapes are grown there.

Not that we're complaining, mind you. What's great about California is that it also produces worthwhile wines for affordable prices. Here are three that we had recently

The 2009 Tamas Estates Double Decker Red is from the Central Coast of California. Livermore is in the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area. For less than $10, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Barbera is an easygoing, likable wine that has minor tannins and definite red fruit, but a muddled flavor overall.

That's not a criticism, since all it means is that it's hard to distinguish which specific red fruit it exudes. But what's great about this Weinbach Avenue Winetree Liquors purchase is that it's flexible. We could see it pairing well with chicken or pork, assuming that your recipe isn't too sweet or acidic. 13.5 percent alcohol.

Schnucks is selling a tasty 2010 Fess Parker Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County these days for about $15. Santa Barbara is on the coast, north of Los Angeles, and the winery is in Los Olivos. The winery was founded by the actor of the same name who portrayed frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the late 1950s and early 1960s. His children now run the business.

What's great about this Chardonnay is that it's not too buttery. Sure, some malolactic fermentation - put simply, it's a process that makes a wine silky and changes its flavor - is there, but the Fess Parker group didn't let it go too far. …


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