19 March 2014

Stark Wines of California

The fourth season of Game of Thrones will premiere on Sunday, April 6, 2014. And what better way to celebrate than to open up a few bottles of Stark Wine.

Now, I have to admit that there is no connection between this winery and the sword and sorcery works of George R. R. Martin. Nor have the publicists for the winery made any connection with the TV show. But as a mild fan of the series, it was the first thought that I had. Tonight, I'll be sipping from the cellars of House Stark.

In the reality of the world in which we live, the company was founded in 2003 by the husband and wife team of Christian and Jen Stark. The couple produce Rhone and Mediterranean style wines in Healdsburg, Sonoma. These are small production wines, so your best bet for finding them will be to visit the winery or order from their online store.

2012 Stark Viognier
Damniano Vineyard
Sierra Foothills
100% Viognier
$28, 14.2% abv.

A little caramel and toast with deep overripe pear flavors and a slightly vegetal finish. Utterly amazing with a chicken pot pie. I don't encounter Viognier often, but when I do, I always wonder why I don't have it more frequently.

2012 Stark Carignane
Trimble Vineyard
Mendocino County
100% Carignane
$34, 13.5% abv.

Ripe red berry flavors with firm tannins and a long finish. Gentle notes of tea and stewed fruit as it opens up over time. A rare and delicious opportunity to sample a great French grape that does not get the love it deserves.

2012 Stark Cuvée Julian
Mendocino County
100% Syrah
$44, 13% abv.

Light blueberries and raspberries, touch of black pepper, spicy tannic aftertaste. Out of the three red wines, this is the one that cries out for a hearty grilled lamb chop with lots of rosemary and a final dash of rich olive oil. While tasty now, this wine should improve over the course of the next few years.

2012 Stark Barbera
Damiano Vineyard
Sierra Foothills
100% Barbera
$36, 14.1% abv.

Gentle red plum aromas and flavors, low tannins, very smooth and delicate on the palate, almost like a Pinot Noir in its overall profile. I would recommend serving this one with gently seasoned pork tenderloin or rabbit, accompanied by a mesclun salad.

Note: These wines were provided as samples for review.

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