Outside a few good restaurants and hotel wine lists, you have only one really good wine tasting stop to make on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe.
Apres Wine Company is a tasting bar/restaurant/retail shop tucked into a strip mall about a 20-minute walk along Lake Tahoe Boulevard from the casinos.
I discovered this oasis of wine on a weekend getaway to the mountains for some R&R after the holidays.
Lots of interesting wines for sale in the shop, including about 50 different tasting selections. About half are self-serve, using the Enomatic dispensing system.
I love these dispensers. They work with a smart card that you buy from the shop and then use to activate the multi-bottle dispenser.
There is also a traditional bar at Apres, but all the wine is dispensed from Enomatic dispensers, which use an inert gas to protect the contents of each open bottle from spoiling. The company promises fresh wines for up to 30 days after opening.
I had the opportunity to taste seven different California Chardonnays — all that were open on a recent Friday night.
Cattle Ranch Conversion
I enjoyed the 2008 Boekenoogen most of all. It’s a delicious wine I’d never seen before from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County.
The vineyards were planted on a working cattle ranch that founder John Boekenoogen realized in the late 1990s had great potential for grapes.
He was right.
The wine starts with a core of rich fruit. There are tropical pineapple highlights and some nice spice (clove?). Just the right touch of oak freshens up the nose and there’s a bit of vanilla, too.
This Chardonnay partnered well with a plate of bacon-wrapped figs and apricots stuffed with goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with a basil chiffonade. A $5 order of four pieces disappeared almost immediately and I just had to have another.
Stellar Sonoma Standby
The 2010 does not disappoint. It’s lighter in weight and color than the Boekenoogen. The flavor profile features more of a lemony tang that develops over time into more subtle hints of grapefruit.
This $20 Chardonnay — the winery’s entry-level bottling — is made from a blend of estate vineyards in the Sonoma Coast appellation.
I’m expanding my Chardonnay horizons this year and welcome our input on new wines to try.
I’d love to hear your suggestions. Post a comment here, if you like.