Monday, January 16, 2006

Four Wineries

Now, the idea of my reviewing wine is a little absurd. I could live on Charles Shaw alone, or at least, instead of wines up to $12. But I'm in wine country. And my comments aren't so much reviews as guides.

Our 10:30am reservation for an in-depth tour at Cakebread turned out to be brilliant. By the time we had our tasting at 11:30am, it felt kinda normal to drink. Note that the winery is by appointment only. Cakebread was started 30 years ago, and today remains a family business. Our friendly tour guide, Todd, certainly acted like a proud member of a happy family, and by the time we tasted, I was ready to buy myself a bottle full of their good life. The 2004 Sauvignon Blanc hit us with its oaky, smoky notes; non-fruity wine lovers were smitten. The 2004 Chardonnay, though mellower, also downplayed its sweet notes, but in favor of a mineral finish. The 2002 Merlot charmed with its vanilla and plum flavors, probably the most fruity that we tried. The 2003 Pinot Noir started off with a cherry-ness that turned into a tea-like finish. The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon continued to dry out the mouth with its acid strength. The wines seemed geared to a very certain kind of palate--the drier, less fruity palate, which, unfortunately, is not mine. I left empty handed.... but toasted.

In an adult version of my drunken Burger King runs in college, we went to the Oakville Grocery. Free samples.... Sweet! Steak chimichanga shaped like a burrito.... Perfect! Yes, warm it up! We're in a rush to get to our next tour appointment, so we're going to eat in the backseat of our friend's car.... Mmmm.... Steak chimichangas are hot and juicy! Nice car!

I love Frog's Leap (so will you if you go the website: you get to catch flies). Our affable, organic-vibed guide started us off with wine as we sat at a table on the second story of their barn. As we walked around she checked our glasses and filled us up for our next taste when it felt right. Brilliant. The particulars of the wine are a little hazy. I liked all of them -- Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford, Syrah... Mellow flavors, yet often just skirting a fruity fullness. The Rutherford, my favorite, was $65 a bottle. I whispered it goodbye. My boyfriend and I couldn't quite agree on another varietal. In their grand tradition, we all took a shot at their crooked basketball hoop with an under-inflated ball. Add my twice-over tipsiness, and you bet I made it. Granny-style. I am now the proud owner of the best ever winery poster, which will be framed and prominently displayed in my new apartment.

We then went on to Pina Cellars. They only make cab's. One very good cab available to taste. Served atop a barrel in their, um, barrel room. Our pourer also graciously sucked their soon to be released cab from a barrel, with a device that would probably work just as well extracting gas from a car. It had depth, though I think it was too refined for my wine-soaked mouth. I put down half the glass, and was almost knocked over by my friends' eyes that bugged out. So, I finished it.

Then to the fourth winery. St. Supery. They sold no solid food--and I looked everywhere--but their wines were quite charming. It was the biggest, busiest one we had been to all day. We were momentarily stunned when the pourer said that they no longer honored our friends' lifetime tasting cards. We were stumped.... a lifetime means... a lifetime.... Then he laughed at us, and we were off and drinking. I ended up buying the 2000 and the 2001 Dollarhide Cab. I'll have to drink them again to remember how they differ.... and next time remember to pay the same attention to detail at the end of a wine tasting day as at the beginning.... And for goodness sake, eat breakfast and let middling wines go unfinished.


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