Anyone in California can make chardonnay and zinfandel. And, they do. So I was definitely intrigued by Dancing Coyote’s portfolio. Exotic, food-friendly white wines at an approachable, drink-me-know price point of $9.99 to $12.99.
Maybe you can’t affored that Austrian tasting at Fort Mason in San Franisco on May 3. Maybe you’re not sure how to pronounce gruner veltliner, and so never bring it up to your local wine merchant.
That’s why producers like Dancing Coyote, which make 10,000 cases that they farm from 600 acres in Sacramento Valley, are important. They’re introducing value-shopping Americans to gewurztraminer, verdelho, and to my surprise, gruner veltliner, of which barely any is planted in California. Bravo.
They also make two reds - petit sirah and pinot noir.
Here’s a taste:
2009 Verdelho: I love this Portuguese grape, and I’m glad it’s gaining popularity in the States. Dancing Coyote’s dry version is surprisingly high in alcohol for a white wine (14.5 percent) with lovely aromas and flavors of pear and honeysuckle. I get a slightly bitter metallic finish at the end, but it’s not off-putting enough to keep me away. Especially with a bite of Greek salad.
2009 Gruner Veltliner: Anyone in California who wants to take a stab at this steely Austrian varietal is OK by me. My gut reaction when I taste one from here, however, is that it’s not cold enough to grow gruner here. So you’re not going to get the acidity and minerality that are the core characteristics of the wine. Particularly at this price point, however, I think Dancing Coyote’s is great. It has peach aromas and flavors and finishes clean with a touch of pepper, another hallmark of the grape.
2009 Gewurztraminer: Ah, this is the stuff. Aromas of rose and lychee. Flavors of pear and honeysuckle. A hint of sweetness on the finish followd by a spicy exhale. I’d rock this wine with a spicy Thai noodle dish. A wine of this complexity and beauty at a food-friendly 12 percent alcohol? Get some before it’s gone.
2008 Petit Sirah: I don’t typically reach for wines like this, but I’ve judged many in competitions, and this one is spot-on accurate. Inky with big, mouth-drying tannins, and aromas and flavors of just-baked blackberry pie cooling on the windowsill while hickory wafts in from the outside grill.