We entered and were greeted cheerfully by Manager, Jeff Schultz, who, when we asked if they were pouring, responded, "If the doors are open, we're pouring!" My kind of place!
We took a walk thru the store, admiring the diverse selection of California wines, international cheeses, and charming wine and cheese accessories and gift items. Then we bellied up to the bar and checked out the tasting menu to see what was being poured.
Owner Tom Dugan arrived and took over the hosting duties. JD decided he would taste the Zins, and I opted for the Chards, but we shared the tastings, so we tasted 'em all!
- 2007 Lang - Oakmont Vineyard, Amador County - Dark, slightly oxidized red. Licorice and dark fruit with a mocha finish and a slight minerality. Lovely. 14.8% alc. $18
- 2007 Wine Guerrilla - Goat Trek Vineyard, Sonoma - Opaque red; blackberry and anise on the nose; raspberry, raspberry, yep, raspberry in the mouth with a mocha finish. 7% Cabernet Franc/6% Petit Sirah make it an interesting Zin. 15.5% alc. $25
- 2005 Mill Creek - Old Vine, Dry Creek Valley - Big, big alcohol - 15.9%, which means it's probably 16.2%. Nothing but alcohol in nose and mouth. Couldn't taste anything but alcohol. Ick. $30
- 2007 CalStar - Za Za Zin Old Vines, Lodi - Brown-purple color. Lots of herbal accents - sage, mint in the nose. Soft raspberry, wood, anise on finish. 15.5% A great value at $14
- 2007 Gamba - Russian River Valley - Big, jammy cherry, and not much else. 15.9% alcohol made it very hot. $35
- 2008 Athair - Russian River Valley - Deep gold color with some soft oak and vanilla in the nose. Surprising balance considering the 14.7% alcohol. $32
- 2005 DeMuth - Anderson Valley - Deep gold in color with an extremely American oak nose. High acid, crisp and apple-y, but between the oak and some serious malolactic, it was too much for me. 14.2% alc. $26
- 2007 Maldonado - Parr Vineyard, Sonoma County - Medium gold color, a bit of oak, but lots of pears and figs. Very nice. 14.2% alc. $25
- 2007 De Sante Old Vine, Napa Valley - 35-year-old vines produced a golden-hued wine, brimming with soft pear and banana overtones. Very refreshing. $32
- 2007 Kenneth Volk Santa Maria Cuvée - Big American oaky nose, but beautifully balanced fruit and acid. 14.2% alcohol. Oh yeah, saved the best for last. $24
2007 Lazarre Pinot Blanc, Santa Barbara County (Santa Maria) - 15 months in neutral French oak. Lovely. Winemaker Adam LaZarre
2005 Vergari Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Big, big wine from David Vergari, who had been at Ca. Cheese and Wine the week before.
2007 Graves Mourvedre, Ohana Vineyard, Paso Robles. High alcohol; not that interesting.
But the best wine of the whole day was a wine that Tom doesn't carry! A young man - obviously a friend of Tom's and a regular at the bar - came in, asked what was being poured, and ran back out to his car, bringing in an unlabeled Burgundy bottle. After a bit of chatting back and forth, he had Tom pour us some of this glorious Sonoma County Pinot Noir. I can tell you that some of the grapes were from some of the best-known vineyards in Sonoma, but I can't tell you about the winemaker, except to say he definitely has a gift. And I want to be on his gift list!
I passed my business card to our new friend, Thad. He read it, said 'Denise Lowe, Denise Lowe...Chris Lowe.' I cautiously replied, 'Chris is my nephew.' Thad said, 'Chris works with me! He's told me all about you, and that we needed to meet!' Small world - considering that Chris is in Northern CA! So we called Chris, compared notes and had a good laugh at serendipity!
I love my work! Cheers!