Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wining around SLO County...Days 3 & 4

It rained all night, and was raining hard when I padded downstairs at Sara and Bill's. JD slept in while Sara and I caught up over coffee and eggs. Bill was off to coach at a basketball tournament, and it was a lazy morning, so the three of us sat and chatted about family matters for a few hours.

We paid a brief visit to JD's dad and stepmom in Morro Bay, but the rain deterred us from doing anything other than going back to Sara's, opening a bottle of 2007 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills), and waiting for Bill to return. By the time he did, we were onto a bottle of the 2005 Kiamie Kuveé purchased the day before. We munched on cheese and crackers, and talked way too much about family, and finally it was time to head out to dinner.

We had reservations at Giancarlo's in Morro Bay. We had eaten there earlier this year, but it was on Valentine's Day, it was a special - expensive - menu, and it was so crowded we had to eat in the bar. Not the best experience. This time, it was a WONDERFUL experience. We brought wine, of course. We had a Mosby Teroldego and a San Brès from the Languedoc (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) to accompany Bill's rack of lamb, JD's scorpion fish, and the huge bowls of cioppino that Sara and I dug into. The boys were happy with their choices, but Sara and I were ecstatic about ours. Just the best cioppino I've had. Ever. 'Nuff said. Oh. Pictures:

Rack of Lamb

Scorpion fish from New Zealand
There were desserts, too, including a glass of 20-year-old port for me, and a pile of whipped cream for Sara that completely obliterated the pumpkin cheese cake underneath it. Sara has a thing for whipped cream. Just sayin'.
JD & the Goddess

Afterward, we were happy (see pictures).

We went home, drank a whole lotta water and hit the sack. The next day brought all new adventures as we packed up our gear, bade farewell to our gracious hosts, and headed out in the rain. And was it ever raining!

Sara & Bill

We had to go back to Paso Robles to pick up wine at Dark Star Cellars, so we headed back up Rte.1 to Rte. 46 to Anderson Road. When we got there, the sign on the door read 'Closed', but we ventured in anyway - it wasn't locked.

Inside the tasting room was open, but we weren't actually in a tasting mood - too much wine the day before and a long drive ahead of us in the rain didn't seem like the right combo to start tasting, so we had a nice chat with the barista, whose name I have completely forgotten...senior moment...and with Brian Benson, who blew in from the rain. Brian is as talented a winemaker as his dad, and we've known him since he was just a kid making wines that he wasn't old enough to drink. He's old enough now, and getting great reviews for his wines.

We added the Dark Star case to the already full luggage area in the Edge, and hit the 101 South on our way home. It was raining really hard with bad visibility, so we stopped in Pismo Beach to see Ash and Lissa at Tastes of the Valleys Pismo branch. Lissa baked us a flatbread pizza with olives and feta, and we had some wine. I ordered a glass of Labyrinth Haka Zinfandel to go with the pizza, while JD had a glass of Margerum Aliso Canyon Syrah. Both good choices! When Ash got there and saw us, he offered us tastes of some wines that were new to us.

2008 Rangeland Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, Limestone Reserve from the Adelaida Springs Ranch. $39. My notes say 'Yum.' That is actually a technical term, you know!

2008 Sinon La-Valleé Pinot Noir, Talley Rincon Vineyard, Arroyo Grande. Very cherry with a nice long finish.

He also showed us some new wines from Autonom, a new venture by Paul Wilkens. The 2007 Law of Return Grenache, 2007 Red Cuveé and 2007 Law of Proportion Syrah all had the most beautiful and eye-catching labels (see photo left). We didn't taste them that day, but I look forward to the opportunity.

As a major purveyor of Doug Margerum's wines, Ash was also offering Doug's M5 red blend for only $20 a bottle. So we bought 2 plus the Rangeland Cab.

Driving back to Burbank was a long, wet slog. Luckily, traffic was fairly light, so we didn't get backed up anywhere, and actually made it through Santa Barbara without incident or slow-up - very unusual! Still, we left Pismo a bit after 4 p.m. and the rain never let up the whole way home. By the time we got in - around 7:15 - we were beat.

All in all, a pleasant trip despite the rain. Good friends, good food, good wine. I love my life! Hope the three of you who read this have a wonderful holiday and a happy new year. I'll be back in 2011!


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