Why the wonder years? I WONDER why I keep doing this. Not that it’s a bad thing mind you. Read on for a better understanding.
So here I am on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. 70°, sun shining, my shopping done for the next few days, but most importantly, I’m NOT doing any wine tastings today. That’s unusual for this time of year and for being a Saturday. I fully expected to have EVERY Saturday filled with wine. To make that more humorous, I could say something like “and me too!” But I won’t.
So how do I decide to make this day even better, at least in my book? There happens to be a wine tasting going on very near me. Come on now, does anyone believe that I wouldn’t find wine somewhere and take advantage of it?
The tasting starting at 1 o’clock, I decide to be fashionably late and arrive at 1:30 or so. Hey, I can’t look too anxious (what the heck, sure I can). But 1:30 it is. I start my trek perusing the tasting sheet to see what I “just can’t miss!” Luckily I find a good baker’s half dozen. That actually might be six and a half, but I round it to seven.
As I finish my lucky seven (I have NO idea why I’m thinking it was luck), I happen to find myself in front of a table with a friendly face on the other side. As we begin our hello’s she mentions that she wasn’t supposed to be there. Something happened to the original pourer.
So I hope with even that little bit of introduction, you can guess what I said next?
“Would you like me to pour for you?” Not sure if those were my exact words, but the drift is the same. She says something to further strengthen her desire not to be there, to which I can’t remember (although I think it had something to do with a wedding, so you can see why I would tune that out) and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference, I WAS GOING TO BE POURING!!
I was back around the table in record time, in fact, if it could have been a 100 yards, I think I would have set a new land speed record. She says “thank you” and the next thing I’m doing is sipping each wine to make sure I have a grasp on the situation. I’m going to do something I rarely do; compliment me on my ability to step in, sample and have a pretty good grasp of the wines. With the exception of one winery, I had little knowledge of the wines being poured, but it was easy to see how the wines had been arranged.
In over 16 years, I can not remember a setup like this. I had 6 wines, but only 2 grape varietals. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 3 each. The wines were represented by 3 wineries. So I had a Chard and Pinot from each of the 3 wineries. They each represented a slightly different level of production and area. How interesting is that? That became my mantra for the tasting. Pointing out to the tasters that I had this very unique way of comparing wines. I was hooked and I think most of the folks coming to my table were as well.
Applying to both the Chards and Pinots, starting with the lightest with the least amount of oak aging and a generally larger region where the grapes come from, then moving to the second. Concentrating the region where the grapes were grown to the Russian River Valley and more oak aging as well. The third also from a smaller region (Anderson Valley) with greater oak maturation. Just describing the situation, I was in a grove and my element, like totally!!
This post wouldn’t be complete if I failed to mention the wines, all of which I found pleasant, one I fell in love with, but knew I would and were two of the “had to try baker’s half dozen.”
First up were the wines from a winery called Barrique. Pronunciation you need to think French. (bare-eak). A small producer sourcing their grapes from the Sonoma Coast region, mostly Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Carneros. Both wines seeing shorter periods and less new oak than their counterparts. Up next are the wines from L’Oliveto. All the grapes sourced from the highly acclaimed Russian River Valley. Slightly different oak influence than that of the Barrique wines.
On to “The Big Dogs.” While generally not having high visibility, except maybe in restaurants, Rhys Vineyards is one of those cultish wineries that produce excellent wines with some of the best pedigrees. As you might surmise, they also garner a much higher price. But wait! In order to bring their wines to usons (that’s not a misspell), they produce wines under the label of Alesia. Estate and Mountain Grown selection of wines that are generally more accessible early on. I use “generally” as these are wines which will show great promise in the near future. Never fear, a good decant if serving now, should provide enjoyment as well.
Last item on the wines; as you might expect, prices rise as does the quality. The Barrique $16 and $19, the L’Olivetto $19 and $23 for the Chard and Pinot respectfully and the Alesia both $46. These were the tasting prices, but you may find slightly different prices where you shop.
Once again, I go on and on. I do that when I’m excited about something like this tasting. Oh, and the “wonder why I keep doing this?” Do you really need to ask?