On Saturday, July 3, I visited Browns Valley Market in Napa, California, which has one of the most interesting – but small – wine sections in the city. I saw a wine I knew would be great, but instead, the label – yes, the label – and the variety – Vermentino from Carneros – caught my attention. I hesitated because it was a 2018 vintage wine and I was unfamiliar with the producer, but at $16.99, I took a chance. I am glad I did.
In my research, I discovered that Fleur de California is one of the labels of Carneros Wine Company, along with Mahoney Family Vineyards and Carneros Ranch Wines. Founders Francis and Kathleen Mahoney have been growing grapes in Carneros since 1972. The Mahoneys own three vineyards, Las Brisas Vineyard in Sonoma Carneros, the Mahoney Ranch in Napa Carneros, and a newly acquired vineyard in the nearby Suisun Valley Appellation.
The Fleur de California label was added in 1987 as a distributed brand to restaurants and wine shops as a means of introducing consumers to their wines in an affordable and approachable way. Fleur de California has come into its own with the Mahoneys using mostly estate fruit, like the 2018 Fleur de California Vermentino Estate Vineyards, Carneros.
Although this is an older vintage, this Vermentino remains lively. It is floral on the nose and bursting with fruit flavors and bright acidity on the palate, running the gamut from tart citrus and Granny Smith apple, to white peach and cantaloupe, a veritable fresh fruit bowl in a glass. It won Best in Class, Double Gold, at the 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Winemaker – Ken Foster
Alcohol – 13%
Winery DTC Price – $20.00
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