Year after year, the State Fair’s Wine Garden is my place of comfort and luxury. Most recently, the cool misters overhead, soothing Save Mart employees, and a cold glass of California bubbly provided me shelter from the easily-pleased crowd at the Hammer show.
More than 140 wines are available for purchase by the glass and/or bottle. The commemorative glass is now $7, a bargain considering it is twice as big as the alternative plastic wine cup. Swanky glass in hand, it was time for my annual review.
The Best of Show White, V. Sattui Muscat, is an seductive bomb of sweet richness that lingers on your tongue with layers of summer stone fruit. Great for indulgent summer sipping, but at a hefty $15 a glass, I will leave that one the ladies in the red hats, they are certainly enjoying it. I also recommended that they try the Double Gold winning Korbel Sweet Rose, which is only $20 a bottle. For the white zin crowd, this is the perfect choice for something sparkly and sweet to keep them dancing. They loved it.
I always fear sampling Chardonnay, as I generally do not like the stereotypical oak and butter “California-style” monsters. Both the Acacia and Frank Family selections are great Napa Chardonnays that didn’t offend my delicate sensibilities one bit. The Acacia is an excellent balance of bright fruit and subtle oak, while Frank Family’s Carneros selection was surprisingly dry and tart despite the tropical fruitiness with a big nutty backbone. With several estate Chardonnays to choose from, both wineries are on my list for future investigation.
The big winners for Sauvignon Blanc were Rancho Sisquoc and Seaglass, both in Santa Barbara County. Rancho Sisquoc’s Flood Family Vineyard produced a vibrant wine with sweet pear and melon, while the Seaglass selection was full of tart citrus and a dry finish. Either is an excellent pairing with the super funk of the Ohio Players and the SOS Band on Thursday.
If you want to try even more State Fair winners, including wines that were not available in sufficient quantity to pour at the Wine Garden, check out Taste and Celebrate the Best Wine! on Friday, July 29th from 5:30-8:00pm. Replacing the Grape & Gourmet, this new event features wine and cheese tasting, and the announcement of the Winery of the Year for $25. Proceeds benefit the Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship Program.
Check back in a few days after I try the reds.