Shame on me, I overlooked Bantam Cellars when writing last week's Dunne on Wine column about the white wine vermentino. My excuse: Well, the winery, which is in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley, is aptly named. At least I didn't run over any of the bantams scurrying about the grounds and the parking lot when we pulled into the place over the weekend. We were there to check out a report that Garth and Jonna Cobb also are gambling that vermentino could play a growing role in the region's limited lineup of refreshingly fruity and crisp white wines.
What we found was the Bantam Cellars 2007 Bella Grace Vineyard Vermentino ($16), the family's first release of the wine as a varietal. It's a terrific wine, a bit fleshier and richer than other interpretations of vermentino I've tasted, though it retains the grape's inviting aromatics and refreshing acidity even when grown in a warm area like Shenandoah Valley. That, and the wine's peachy fruitiness, should help it stand up to even the North State's spring asparagus that will arrive any day now. In fact, Jonna Cobb plans to pour the vermentino with a pasta primavera based on spring asparagus at her next wine dinner March 28. For more information, check out her lively blog.