Discover this young winery in Livermore, California. It's a testament to not judge a wine by the flashiness of the tasting room.
During a Thanksgiving trip to California I spent time with family in Livermore, California. These relatives live a few minutes away from the Livermore Wine Trail. To be polite (tongue planted firmly in cheek here) I tagged along as we went wine tasting.
Our first visit was to a large, flashy tasting room. Here the employees were more interested in selling subscriptions to the summer concert series than sharing the labors of the vintner.
Our designated driver was leading us to the next stop on our itinerary when we all spotted a small sign: Eckert Estate Winery. We made a hurried U-turn and went to park in the rough parking lot. Where was the tasting room? Was it the weathered barn? The small yellow building? We tried the small building first. As we walked to the door I commented, "This can either be really bad, or one of those great finds." It wasn't a great find. It was an amazing find!
We approached our host, Michael Eckert, who greeted us warmly. He shared the tasting list and asked our personal preferences. We then began a journey in flavors that was remarkable.
This wine won well deserved medals for its quality. This wine is crisp, full flavored, rich, and aromatic. It has an interesting citrus and tropical fruit nose. It is aged for 10 months in French oak, giving it low key oak and vanilla flavors. This would go well with Eggs Benedict Italian Style.
In the interest of full disclosure let me state that I don't usually care for red blends. This wine is the exception! By blending 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Carignane, 18% Zinfandel, 6% Syrah, and 3% Petite Sirah Eckert has created something marvelous. To add to the blending process, the wine has been aged in French and American oak for two years. This wine is friendly, flavorful, and fantastic. It has won both silver and bronze medals. It's also a fantastic deal at $10.
What a rare find. It is believed that the grape originated in the Savoie region of France and is considered identical to the Dolcetto grape of Piedmont. It was brought to California in the 1880s, but today there is less than 80 acres planted in the state. This wine is a deeeeeeep red with a bold flavor. If you are looking for the perfect wine for Lamb Osso Buco this is it.
2001 Livermore Cabernet
My tasting companion proclaimed that this wine is worthy of diva status. It is another blend, with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 5% Malbec. It has luscious dark berry flavors, with smooth tanins, and a long finish. It is aged for 24 months in French and American oak. It has won both silver and bronze medals, and scored #9 of Livermore wines in the San Francisco Chronicle tasting.
There is one word for this wine--Wonderful! There is nothing "petite" in this wine's flavor. It has a great tannin framework on which hangs flavors of dark plums, black cherries, and black berries. Are you picturing something dark? You should, the wine is inky-black, inviting you to dive into its depths. Another winner of silver and bronze medals.
The Eckerts have developed some other wonderful wines not listed here. If you are in Silicon Valley for business and would like to visit a great winery, this is the one. Don't head north, head east to Livermore and the Eckert Estate Winery. While the winery doesn't have flashy tasting rooms, or string quartets, the wines more than make up for the lack of cute. It's located on Arroyo Rd., just off the main wine trail.