Great deals on Pinot Noir and Cabernet

I belong to a group of friends, self-proclaimed “The Fun Bunch,”
which recently enjoyed the Santa Clara Valley Passport weekend.
I belong to a group of friends, self-proclaimed “The Fun Bunch,” which recently enjoyed the Santa Clara Valley Passport weekend.

The Fun Bunch consists of four couples that, well, always have fun whether we’re rotating dinner parties at each others’ homes, dancing a conga line or spending a weekend together in Tahoe. The “guys” in our group have been good friends since elementary school and so none of us is shy about voicing our opinion on wine – or anything else for that matter.

Since the Beverages and More five cent sale is going on until Oct. 23, it was natural to enlist the Fun Bunch to taste some recommendations from Mike, BevMo’s manager in Gilroy, to find some great values. Here are two that got our thumbs up.

– Pinot Noir is a popular varietal for the fall, but it’s a difficult grape to grow and it can be just as difficult to find a great bottle at a decent price. Look no further than the Dahlia Reserve 2009 ($29.99/five cents), made by Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos. It is a medium body wine with a silky texture, lively acidity and bright flavors of strawberries. Delicious with lamb.

– The Buccaneer Cabernet (2010, $19.99/five cents), rated 93 points by Wilfred Wong, is a new Cabernet that is flying off the shelf. Even though it’s considered “young,” it’s a big Cab with nice tannins and dark fruit. Drink now with your favorite steak or cellar for a couple of years.

Local Winery Buzz

During the Passport weekend, we especially enjoyed Creekview Vineyards, 12467 Creekview Court in San Martin.

I spent some time with Teri Peterson, who, along with her husband, Greg, owns this family-operated winery. Their property, lush with fruit trees, flowers and vines, stretches to the edge of a creek with a view of the surrounding hills. The tastings take place on their beautiful patio alongside a swimming pool and a gazebo where musicians entertain on the weekends.

Teri and Greg started out as farmers – growing fruits and vegetables in their San Jose backyard. When they moved to their 2 1/2 acre ranchette in San Martin in 2000, their vision was to have a self-sustaining farm, complete with chickens. They planted grapes and made wine “just for fun.” The wine was so good, however, that in 2003, their Syrah won a double-gold in the amateur category at the California State Fair. This was the spark that ignited their passion to pursue a wine-making business. Amazingly, Teri and Greg, planted 1 1/2 acres with vines and do all the winemaking in small lots by themselves.

Their estate wines include Zinfandel, Syrah, Chardonnay and an exquisite blend. They source grapes from small family vineyards within Santa Clara Valley to produce other varietals. Teri talked about the camaraderie that the local wineries share with each other, each rooting for the others’ success. Although many of the wineries produce the same varietals, the outcomes in the finished wine are very different from each other and each winery offers a unique ambiance.

Creekview is renowned for having the “best Syrah in the valley;” having won a double-gold in 2007 from the San Francisco Chronicle, and 2010 was also a bumper year with gold medals for their Sauv Blanc, Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Their Old Vine Zinfandel, from 110-year-old vines, sells out every year.

Sherman Cellars, the only tasting room in the heart of downtown San Jose, features Creekview wines exclusively Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As we said good-bye, Teri wanted to show me one more thing – their converted three-car garage that holds 50 wine barrels (60 gallons each). Gives a whole new meaning to starting a business in your garage!

Creekview is open every third weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can talk to Teri and Greg as they pour their award winning wines. Through the holidays, mention this column and you will receive a free wine tasting good for up to eight people.

Drizzle wild honey over creamy blue cheese or gorgonzola. Servewith crackers. This is a Fun Bunch fave!

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