Far off the beaten path, Fenton Herriott is one of the smaller wineries in the El Dorado area. I only learned of them through taking a flyer and ordering one of their lovely wines off the menu at the Smith Flat House (arguably the best restaurant between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe).
One sunny Sunday, we went on a pilgrimage to find this wine mecca, and were not disappointed in our tasting experience.
An overall observation - most El Dorado wineries specialize in wonderful reds and have a few token whites. Fenton Herriot has a full selection of great whites, roses and reds, plus yummy dessert wines. I have about five pages of tasting notes, so will attempt to condense them down to what I found to be the very best of the best (although every wine I tasted here was excellent).
On the "white and light" side, we loved the 2015 Gewurtztraminer for its purity, perfumey floral nose and rich creamy, peach, mango and citrus flavor with the hint of spice for which Gewurtz is famous. A tiny hint of earth in the finish gives it character and complexity. And a most interesting blend - the Jane Way Lot 4 , tones down the sweetness of the Gewurtztraminer by adding Chardonnay. This wine had a beautiful light straw color, a floral and spicy nose, and nice acidity with some white pepper and nectarine flavors in the finish.
I usually hate Rose', but the 2016 Rose' captured my fancy with a nice salmon color, only 1% residual sugar (so not sickeningly sweet like a lot of pink wines), and cranberry/strawberry flavors with a hint of nutmeg. At $18 a bottle, this is truly a bargain!
On the red side (always my favorite), we LOVED the 2014 Sangiovese and scored a few bottles of it for our Italian meals. Only 100 cases were made and at $23/bottle, we suggest getting them while they are available. This Italian wine has a rich cedar and licorice nose, with forward flavors of spice, oak (was cellared in 25% refurbished oak), black cherry, dark chocolate and mixed berries. A long, satisfying finish rounds out the experience of tasting this fine wine.
Velvety and rich, the 2014 Syrah is a medium-bodied and delightful wine with a dark, garnet color and rich flavors of coffee, dark cherries, plum, elderberries, and just a hint of vanilla and eggnog. This wine is rich and warm, and would be an excellent accompaniment for just about any type of meal (yeah - I don't think I would serve it with hot dogs, so as a qualifier, let's say any ELEGANT meal).
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon was the star of the red wine show, with a beautiful forest and olive nose, early flavors of Honeydew melon erupting into rich fruit-forward flavors of blackberry, cassis, oaky vanilla, and blueberry jam with just a hint of cardamom. At $30/bottle, we felt it out performed many of the $100/bottle Cabs we have had, and were happy to score a bottle of this wonderful stuff.
Our tasting included three outstanding dessert wines as well; the standout here was the 2015 CC Ruby Syrah of which only 63 cases were produced. I tasted silky, rich chocolate cherry flavors with a hint of cocoa bark and mint. It is very different from most dessert wines, and is totally free from the "raisiny" flavor that many inferior dessert wines have. It is a deep garnet color, and would be great with vanilla ice cream or as a nightcap (preferably while in a hot tub).