I’ve been fortunate to have attended nearly all the kickoff events for Oakland Wine Festival (OWF). The most recent one took place at Picán in Uptown Oakland. I first went to Pican about four years ago and it opened my eyes to the new and improved food scene developing in that part of Oakland. Southern cuisine from a New Orleans native and a drinks list that features more than 100 bourbons: what’s not to like?
The combination of the venue, the focused tasting of wines from Pride Mountain Vineyards, the presence of representatives of the NFL (yes that one!) one of OWF’s newest sponsors, and the ever-vivacious Melody Fuller promised a fantastic evening. To say that I was looking forward to this is an understatement. Though Oakland’s wine scene has exploded lately, it’s still rare to find wines from Napa being poured in a focused tasting.
In case you haven’t tried them yet, Pride’s wines, made by the Pride family, are terroir-driven collectibles. The vineyards’ high elevation—2,000 feet—and above the fog line means grapes benefit from more sun versus those on the valley floor. Meanwhile, big day to night temperature swings result in complex, age-worthy wines. The winery has the distinction of straddling the Sonoma and Napa county borders in the Spring Mountain district. Some of its wines bear the Napa appellation, some Sonoma, and some carry both.
If you like big, full-bodied wines that speak strongly of their place and don’t overpower you, you need to check these out. That’s if you can get your hands on them. Not only are these wines Presidential favorites, over the past two decades, they’ve been served 30 times at White House state dinners, several wines in Pride’s lineup are mailing list only.
2013 Vintner Select Sonoma County Chardonnay
Clean citrus scents the nose. Full-bodied and verging on rich, the palate has nice weight with a lively zing, and citrus, well-integrated oak, and vegetal flavors along with a burnt caramel note. Nice! 353 cases produced.
2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Grassy, with wheat and kernel aromas and an underlying floral scent. Lean on the palate, with concentrated fruit and a pleasing smokiness, this has supple texture and a full-bodied rich texture reflecting its fermented in new French oak then rested on its lees, 1,300 cases produced.
2014 Sonoma County Viognier
Beautiful, with a heady floral bouquet, and a confected scent, the nose is classic Viognier. Expressive, with white flowers and stone fruit flavors on the palate, this promises much, but could benefit from more structure. 1,108 cases made.
2012 Napa Sonoma Merlot
Nutty and complex, with flavors of vanilla, leather, licorice, coffee grounds, and bittersweet baking chocolate, this was matured in 100% new French oak. Best of tasting! 5,350 cases made.
2012 Napa Valley Cabernet (84%), Merlot (9%), Petit Verdot (7%)
Angular, and fruit-forward with black and purple fruit flavors of cassis, boysenberry, plums, and blueberry this displays elegance and finesse along with massive structure and a dry finish. 5,566 cases produced.
2012 Vintner Select Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
This 60%/40% Napa Sonoma blend made from the 337 clone featured a big flavor profile paired with an ample frame. Baking chocolate, sweet spice, and dark fruits fill the palate.
Give this baby some time to further develop. 592 cases.
The evening continued with great nibbles and a charity auction that included signed NFL footballs and bottles of Pride’s Viognier and Merlot, among other items. Proceeds from the Oakland Wine Festival will benefit several Oakland charities including: Children’s Hospital Oakland, Family House, St. Mary’s College High School, Cameron Fuller-Holloway Memorial Fun Fund, and Alternative Family Services.