The Mendocino Crab & Wine Days festival is a great event in that you’re eating local Dungeness crab and drinking local Mendocino County wines with it. I tasted many of them as a component of the wine competition for the Crab & Wine Days event. The same five judges in the the crab cake cook-off sipped and spit 48 wine entries. Our mission: choose the wine best paired with pure crab meat.
In the blind tasting lineup there were only white wines, except for one sparkling Rose. Lots of Chardonnays were entered, but many were over-oaked or butter bombs. The top three wines were #1 Graziano Chenin Blanc; #2 Navarro Vineyards Gewurztraminer; #3 Yorkville Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.
At the public crab and wine tasting, my favorite discoveries were the wines from Toulouse Vineyards, and the wines from Elke Vineyards. I almost don’t want to tell you about Toulouse because he’s a small producer and he sells out quickly. Owner/winemaker Vern Boltz is a character, as I found out at his tasting room. Loved the Gewurtz and both his Pinots — the reserve just rocks! Please save a few bottles for me!
Mary Elke was one of the few vintners pouring a pink wine, a Rose of Pinot Noir. I just loved it, lots of strawberry fruit character. Her Chardonnay is unoaked and fabulous, clean, crisp and fruit-forward. Love those unoaked Chards!
A People’s Choice award was also given for wine. It’s not an apples to apples with the judges; we tasted the wine with just crab meat, while the people tasted wine with crab cakes. Also the public vote was for best overall winery, not just one wine. The choices were #1 Toulouse Vineyards; #2 McNab Ridge Winery; #3 Maple Creek Winery. All are worth seeking out either online or through your local wine merchant.