Drink These: Standout Wines from the High Museum Wine Auction

This year’s High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction was a huge success, raising more money for the museum than ever before. Guests who attended the events had the chance to meet winemakers and winery owners as well as taste a large selection of wines available in the Atlanta area.

At the trade tasting more than 100 wineries poured one or several of their wines. The event featured a majority of California wines and included big names like Stag’s Leap and Shafer, plus a good selection of lesser known and boutique wineries.

With so many wines it was impossible to taste them all, though I certainly gave it my best effort.  Among the whites and reds I sipped, a number stood out. All are available in Georgia so look for them at wine shops and on restaurant wine lists.

Arkenstone Vineyards

My favorite white wine of the tasting was Arkenstone’s 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s the kind of wine that makes a believer out of someone who says he or she doesn’t like Sauvignon Blanc. Full of flavor and elegant, it was a wine I really enjoyed sipping.

Arkenstone is located on the western shoulder of Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc is made entirely of grapes grown on the estate. The wine was aged for 11 months on the lees in a combination of French oak (some new), and stainless steel barrels. Rich and complex, the wine has flavors of green apple, lemongrass and ripe melon with lovely floral notes and flinty minerality. The finish is clean and satisfying with lingering citrus. Arkenstone also produces a delicious Cabernet blend and a Syrah.

Arkenstone Vineyards, Angwin, California

Big Table Farm

I was first drawn to Big Table Farm’s wines because of their labels and was sold after my first taste. Clare Carver, who manages the 70 acres and markets the wine along with winemaker Brian Marcy, draws the label art. Each image is inspired by life on their northwest Oregon farm. The labels are made by hand using a letterpress, then hand cut and hand glued to each bottle. The same loving care is put into their wine.

The wine with the cow label is the 2009 Pinot Noir from Resonance Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Some of the grapes were stomped by foot, though Brian and Clare are sure to mention they wash their feet first.  The wine was aged on the lees in French oak. Oregon Pinot at its finest, this wine is a must-taste for Pinot Noir fans. Pictured is Haley the cow with the first calf born on the farm in spring 2010.

The wine with the ham is the 2007 Syrah from White Hawk Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Opulent with dark fruit flavors and silky tannins, the wine is a real treat to sip. The ham pictured was raised, cured and smoked on the farm by Brian.

Big Table Farm, Gaston, Oregon

Hidden Ridge Vineyard

Compared to the neighboring tables that were lined with different bottles of white and red wine, the one bottle on Hidden Ridge’s table looked lonely. But after tasting the Cabernet Sauvignon it was clear to see that this wine was worthy of the entire space. Proprietor Casidy Ward poured the 2006 55% Slope Cabernet Sauvignon, which has chewy and intense notes of red plum, cherry and strawberry jam along with fennel seed and black tea.

Hidden Ridge Vineyard is located between Mount Hood and Diamond Mountain in the Mayacamas mountain range, on the western side of the Napa Valley. Casidy and her husband Lynn Hofacket are Oklahoma natives who purchased the property in 1991. Their wines are made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grown at Hidden Ridge.

Hidden Ridge Vineyard, Napa, California

Pali Wine Company

Pinot Noir can be very hit or miss. But when you want a Pinot that is a hit every time, pick out a bottle from Pali Wine Company.

Out of all the wineries in this article, Pali is the one I know best. I went over to their table at the Wine Auction tasting when my tongue was getting tired from too many big reds, knowing Pali’s great Pinot Noir would refresh my palate.

Pali produces a variety of Pinots from different regions and vineyards in California. The flavors differ but the high quality is consistent throughout each wine.

Pali Wine Company, Lompoc, California

Tres Sabores

Perhaps the only thing better than tasting the wines of Tres Sabores is chatting with winemaker and owner Julie Johnson. Incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about winemaking, Julie makes you a fan of Tres Sabores even before your first sip.

Tres Sabores, meaning three flavors in Spanish, is a small family-owned ranch on the western Rutherford Benchland of California’s Napa Valley. The three flavors refer to the three components that contribute to the wine’s unique taste and characteristics: the terroir, the grapes and the winemaker.

I especially liked the 2008 Rutherford Zinfandel with its spicy notes of blackberries and pepper, as well as the 2008 ¿Por Qué No?, a robust blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet, and Petit Verdot.

Tres Sabores, Rutherford, California

Vineyard Seven and Eight

I couldn’t decide which of the two Cabernet Sauvignons I liked better; both reds poured by winery manager and assistant winemaker Wesley Steffens were delicious.

This 40 acre vineyard and winery is located at the top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley. The 10 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and four acres of Chardonnay were established in the early 1980s and benefit from the volcanic soil and location above the fog.

The 2007 “7” Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of younger estate fruit and Spring Mountain fruit from select growers that was aged for 18 months in new French oak. It has big flavors of blackberries and cassis with mineral notes and sweet tannins. The 2007 “Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon is made entirely from estate fruit. Concentrated and intense with black fruit, licorice and floral notes with a long finish.

Vineyard Seven and Eight, St. Helena, California

Click here for more photos from the High Museum Wine Auction Trade Tasting

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