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Open flame cooking, Amador County terrior

Amador County (County Appellation)

Amador 4 Fires, A Taste of the Foothills

Besides legendary Zinfandel, Amador County has taken to Rhone, Italian and Iberian variety wines with laudable results. Now the Amador 4 Fires brings the foods of those regions to an open flame to explore a total experience

by Roger King
March 6, 2015



This coming May 2nd an event to showcase more than just the known Zinfandels of Amador County, Shenandoah Valley (CA) and Fiddletown AVA will be convened in Plymouth, the historic Sierra Foothills town that centers this wine district., It will be known as Amador 4 Fires. It is an interesting concept that explores the regional character of 4 grape/wine catagories; Rhone, Italian, Iberian and CA legendary Zinfandel from Amador. These four will be paired with open flame cooking by 4 executive chefs creating dishes native to each area. A bit of a food and wine terrior extravaganza



Amador County has transformed over the years from a very sleepy lower Sierra Nevada wine production area of small boutique producers into the most significant production region of the entire Sierra Foothills AVA, spanning multiple counties east of Sacramento. There is little doubt the Shenandoah Valley (CA) AVA and Fiddletown AVA has some of the steepest history. Long time Amador vintner Bill Easton of Domaine de la Terre Rouge commented "The Rinaldi Vineyard in Fiddletown dates to 1869 as a producing vineyard, so we say it was planted (four acres by Mr. Cox) in 1865 and a few of these vines remain. Many of the oldest vines are in 100-120 years range. 35 acres approximately out of 70+ remain now in vine". Then there is the old Original Grandpere Vineyard and 120 year old Mission vines at Story (that first cultivar) present as well. The Rhones, the Iberians and the Italians all came later than these originals but it might have been Italian immigrants that did the early planting and winemaking.

While Zinfandel has long held the position of ‘king of the region’ more recently a flood of Barbera plantings have emerged as the newcomers seeking to take charge. In between this timeline Syrah, Garnacha/Grenache and Mataro/Mourvedre quietly took hold as well. The white varieties have struggled a bit in these soils, yet Viognier and Verdelho have been outstanding.


Today’s vetting for wines for the event was a considerable opportunity to look into what Amador expresses as regional character, and it could be found throughout. With strong granite underlying and red soils spread over the top, this region expresses earth and spice across the various varieties in a convincing fashion. Tannins are rather fine grain, resolved yet somewhat dry. These wines reflect the region that offers towering Sierra Nevada peaks just to the east, which provide cooling evening down drafts to preserve acidity while days can get warm too hot for ripening in a somewhat shorter growing season than most of California. Look close and quartz can be found sprinkled all over the place (same rock that would catch a gold miners’ eye in the 1800’s).


It will be some time before learning the actual identity, other than variety and all from Amador, of wines vetted today but attendees of Amador 4 Fires this coming May 2nd should be ready for one amazing experience. The Foothills will likely have lost their green spring feeling found this early March and surrendered to warm temps and golden dried grasses, yet the chefs who come to match these wines will have a broad canvas of flavors to pair great dishes with.

For more details visit amadorfourfires.com

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