So far, this winter season around Lake Tahoe has been the year with no snow. Luckily for ski-starved travelers, there is still plenty of good wine to be consumed while sitting and hoping for the fluffy stuff. And the best place around the lake to sit and consume wine is definitely Après Wine Company, aptly named for a wine bar immersed in a ski town.
The bar celebrated its third anniversary this past New Years’ Eve — which is quite fitting, considering the owner, J.P., takes enormous pride is his collection of grower Champagnes available for purchase. I was lucky enough to taste one of them — the 100% Pinot Noir Pehu Simonet Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru. And it was one of the best Champagnes I’ve ever tasted. Maybe I was in a good mood or it was the high elevation, but I found the wine to be a raspberry explosion of the grandest caliber.
It so happened I was visiting the bar on a Tuesday during their weekly Tuesday Tasting series. That week, they were pouring five southern hemisphere wines, and pairing them with small bites for $20. Among the five wines, my favorites were the 2006 Errazuriz Chardonnay from Casablanca Valley, Chile and the 2008 D’Arenberg Shiraz “The Love Grass” from Mclaren Vale. Perhaps I was biased on the Chardonnay, as the front label emphasizes its native fermentation, but I found it’s limey minerality to be something rarely found in new world Chardonnay. And I’ll be purchasing this if I see it in the future.
The Love Grass Shiraz inspired me to create a new years’ resolution, since I had not done so already, of drinking more Australian Shiraz. I wouldn’t want those over-ripe plum and blackberry flavors every night, but this sure hit the spot as they so often do when consumed in moderation. Maybe 2012 will be the year of the Shiraz comeback, and just maybe the weather forecast will finally hold true and Tahoe will become the ski resort town it’s famed to be.