Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Van Ruiten Sauvignon Blanc 2010, California

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COST: $14

WHAT: This beautiful Van Ruiten Sauvignon Blanc 2010 helped make a recent trip to the beach with friends even more memorable.

It’s very pale in the glass, with a pleasant aroma of grapefruit and herbs. The taste is fruit-forward, crisp and refreshing, with flavors of grapefruit and green apple. I loved it.

The grapes all came from the great Rooster Vineyard in Lake County, north of Sonoma. The Sauvignon Blanc grape is a signature variety for Lake County.

Though the region has been overshadowed by neighboring Napa and Sonoma, it has blossomed in the last 50 years, going from fewer than 100 acres of grapevines in 1965 to more than 8,800 acres of vineyards today. The region has long been a favorite of mine.

The 2011 vintage should be available in a few months, and it should be spectacular for summer sipping. I would serve it well chilled.

WINERY: John Van Ruiten arrived in the United States from his native Holland shortly after World War II with a dream to own his own winery. After a few years of hard work he bought property in Lodi planted with old Zinfandel vines. He planted more vines and soon was selling grapes to wineries.

In 1999, the family opened Van Ruiten Family Vineyards with state-of-the-art equipment and a beautiful tasting room in Lodi. Three generations of Van Ruitens work the 2,000 acres they now own.

Zinfandel has become the winery’s signature grape. A few years ago the Wall Street Journal called their Lodi Zin the best Zinfandel in America. As Lodi has grown, it has become a world-class wine district, with large wineries and tasting rooms sprouting up all over the region.

Van Ruiten produces many varieties, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Old Vine Zinfandel a Cabernet/Shiraz blend and Cabernet Sauvignon.

GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had this recently when we shared a house at Edisto with our good friends Steve and Sandy. Their friends Rich and Nancy joined us for dinner.

The Van Ruiten was great as an aperitif, served with cheese and crackers, nuts, a spinach dish and some fruit. It was perfect. I also saved a little to try with the shrimp pasta we had for dinner, and it was even better. We all loved the flavors, and Steve loved the distinctive label.

It’s a versatile wine that you could serve with most shellfish, oysters or light chicken dishes.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, JAN. 31

Wine and tapas tasting, 5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas; $19.99; (706) 722-4805

FRIDAY, FEB. 1

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three reds, three whites; $5 with rebate on featured wine; (803) 279-9522

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

Wine tasting, 6-8 p.m., Evans Towne Market, 4460 Washington Road, Evans; $5; wines, cheese, music most Fridays; (706) 303-8591

SATURDAY, FEB. 2

Wine and beer tasting, 2-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market; (706) 922-9463

FRIDAY, FEB. 8

Beer tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World; 10 beers with matching cheese, $5 with rebate on 6 bottles of featured beer; (803) 279-9522

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 13

Wine tasting, 6-7:30 p.m., Bee’s Knees, 211 10th St.; $15 for wine and food; reservations, Ninth Street Wine Market, (706) 724-1442

THURSDAY, FEB. 21

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three reds, three whites; $5, with rebate on featured wine; (803) 279-9522


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