Not that long ago, I was wine tasting with a few friends at some of the wineries over Hecker Pass in the Gilroy area. One of the places where we stopped was Fortino Cellars. They have a lovely tasting room—and our little group was well taken care of and given a tour of the property.
Although we tasted some interesting wines that day, I was really taken with an almond-flavored Champagne they produce—although officially it really should be called sparkling wine. True Champagne comes only from the Champagne region of France—and the top dogs such as Taittinger and Bollinger are pretty expensive. Bollinger, as you may remember, was always drunk by the outrageous duo in the British series “Absolutely Fabulous.” They always referred to it as “Bolly” as in “Got any Bolly, darling?”
Although we don’t have a “Bolly” on our hands here, what we do have is a fun and refreshing Charmat-method sparkling wine—with a dash of almond flavor. At only $16.95 a bottle, this delicious bubbly made by Fortino is certainly well worth the price—and it’s a nice touch of something different. Colombard, an early fruiting white variety of wine grape, with pure almond extract are added to this wine—and the nose has a sensual impact of Amaretto, making this playful bubbly an absolute pleasure to drink. And as the Fourth of July is just around the corner, it’s definitely time to celebrate with something sparkling and fun.
Fortino Cellars also make delicious fruit wines of apricot and pomegranate, as well as a good variety of other wines. Their extensive grounds are used for weddings and corporate events, and Music in the Vineyard happens all through the summer with different groups and dancing.
I got talking to a very nice man at the winery—a customer who apparently goes there often. He had his beautiful vintage Rolls Royce parked in the driveway and offered to take me for a little spin. Things like this happen when you drink Champagne!
Fortino Winery, 4525 Hecker Pass Highway, Gilroy, (408) 842-3305. fortinowinery.com.
As wonderful as it is to celebrate the Fourth of July in this country, France has its own reason to celebrate in July. And that would be Bastille Day on July 14. The very French restaurant Ma Maison will be putting on a special buffet, and chef Lionel Le Morvan will be cooking up a storm. Imbibe on wine from the restaurant’s extensive list as you listen to the incredible accordion music of The Great Morgani—and think Vive la France.
Ma Maison, 9051 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 685-5566. mamaisonrestaurant.com.