Friday, October 2, 2009

Cambria - 31-Aug-2009 - 20th Anni Trip

Monday, August 31st. Got up bright and early, finished packing, ran a few last minute errands, and got on the 101 at 9 a.m. Traffic was a little slow until we got past the 170, and then everything opened right up and we hit a good cruising speed up the coast. It was already in the 80’s, and heading up thru the west SF Valley was warmer. The temp started to drop as we got thru Camarillo and Oxnard, and it was lovely by the time we hit Ventura. The air was still very smoky from the La Canada/La Crescenta fires, but by the time we got to Santa Barbara, the air was clear and cool, there was a lovely marine layer hanging off the coast, and we could see the Channel Islands and the fleet of oil rigs riding shotgun on the coast. Stopped in Solvang, as always, for breakfast/lunch at Paula’s Pancake house. JD had a Danish pancake with Danish sausage, sprinkled with confectioners sugar and dipped in maple syrup. I had a Danish omelet – eggs, Danish sausage and Havarti cheese, with fresh fruit and a biscuit on the side. And LOTS of coffee. Stopped at Olsen’s Bakery next door for a bucket of Danish cookies. A Danish trend – unavoidable in Danish Solvang! Drove to the east side of town to check in on Taste of the Valleys wine bar. Ash and I were already Facebook friends, but had not actually met. Once the store opened, a little after noon, we were treated to some truly lovely wines. 2008 Storm Sauvignon Blanc. Ernst Storm has made a crystal clear SB, with a floral and slightly grassy nose. Crisp and refreshing, with an interesting creaminess – maybe malolactic? Ash wasn’t sure. Storm is the winemaker at Curtis, but this is his own wine. Beautiful, creamy, odd, cocktail-ish. I liked it, but wasn’t sure what I would pair with it. 2004 Au Bon Climat ‘Hildegard’. 73% Pinot Gris, 23% Pinot Blanc, 4% Aligote. Had a kind of strange mid-palate taste. I wasn’t that happy with it, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I love Jim Clendenen’s wines, so this seemed a little off to me. JD also thought it wasn’t quite right, but we couldn’t actually say what was wrong. So we moved on. Another ABC wine from what Jim Clendenen is calling the Santa Barbara Historic Vineyards. This was a 2006 Pinot Noir. Pale red, beautiful nose, soft, well-balanced tannins. Lovely. 2006 Arcadian Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. WOW. The winemaker, Joseph Davis, was previously with Morgan up in Carmel/Santa Lucia Highlands. This was deep pinkish red, perfectly clear, smelled and tasted like cherries, in the best possible way. Outstanding. Bought 2 bottles. Our favorite so far. Today. Retails for $56 – we bought 2 bottles, and Ash generously discounted the price for us. Ash opened a bottle of Doug Margerum’s Cimarone – Le Clos Secret. It’s from Three Creek Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, etc. – just a lovely Bordeaux-style blend. Lots of anise in the nose and back palate; beautiful dark fruit. Ash had a small amount left in a bottle that had been open for 2 days – it rocked. The anise was more evident, the wine a bit smoother. Lovely. Retails for $60. Finished with a 2006 Buscador Cabernet Sauvignon. A big, jammy, fruity wine from Matt Kowalczyk. $40. Had a really nice time with Ash and his wife, Lissa. We would have liked to have stayed and tasted more, but we felt we needed to get on the road. Cambria awaited. Got back on the 101 and headed up thru Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, Oceano, Pismo, etc. We had been talking about stopping in San Luis Obispo to check out the new tasting room for Sextant Wines, so we got off the 101 at Higuera and wound our way thru SLO until we found the tasting room. A charming room in a kind of industrial strip mall. Full of fun sailing oriented and wine oriented gifts and objets d’art. The young man who behind the counter was fun and knowledgeable about the wines, and is planning on a major in wine and viticulture at Cal Poly. So many wines: 10knots 2007 ‘Beachcomber’, Paso Robles. Floral nose, a bit sweet for my taste. $21 10knots 2007 Chardonnay, Edna Valley. Strangely tropical and exotic; not necessarily in a good way. $21 10knots 2008 Syrah Rose, Paso Robles. 97% Syrah Rose, 1% Viognier, 1% Mourvedre, 1% Grenache. Beautiful fruity nose filled with strawberry, cherry; lots of red fruit. Very DRY. I really liked this, and I’m not a big rose fan. $13 – we bought a bottle. Windemere 2005 Pinot Noir, Paso Robles. Slightly acid start, nice soft finish. $22 10knots 2006 ‘Moonraker’ Paso Robles. 48% Mourvedre, 32% Grenache, 20% Syrah. Smoky nose, lots of fruit and spice. $26 We liked this, but didn’t buy it. Not sure why. Sextant 2007 ‘Wheelhouse’ Zinfandel, Paso Robles. 81% Zinfandel (Primitivo clone), 16% Syrah, 2% Petite Sirah, 1% Mourvedre. Well-balanced. My notes say ‘nice’ and ‘ok’. Not sure why I was so terse. $20 Then we got into the Reserve wines: Sextant 2008 Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands. 100% Chardonnay. High alcohol nose, VERY oaky. Not my cup of tea. So to speak. $27 Sextant 2007 ‘Holystone’ Zinfandel, Paso Robles. 75% Zinfandel, 19%Syrah,, 6% Petite Sirah. Lots of cherries, black currants, violets on the nose. Red fruit – raspberries mainly – in the mouth. Very drinkable. $27 Sextant 2005 ‘Kamal’, Paso Robles. The ‘Kamal’ was a device that preceded the sextant for nautical measurements. 23% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc, 13% Syrah, 9% Mourvedre, 8% Petite Sirah. Lots of tobacco on the finish after a deliciously earthy nose. $39 Sextant 2007 ‘Nightwatch’, Paso Robles. 45% Petite Sirah, 32% Zinfandel, 19% Syrah, 4% Grenache. These folks love to blend! Coffee on the nose – a breakfast wine! Deep ruby red in color, black and red fruits – cherries, violets, plums. Lovely. $49. We bought a bottle. Sextant NV ‘Genoa’, Paso Robles. An ’07 release, although no specific vintage. 40% 2006 Zinfandel, 35% 2005 Syrah, 13% 2005 Petite Sirah, 12% 2006 Petite Sirah. Did I mention these folks love to blend? Smoky, tasty. I really liked this, but the $79 price tag stopped me from buying it. We finished up and went on our way. Up the 1 thru Morro Bay, which was fogged in – could only see the tip of the rock. Past Avila and Cayucos, and then into Cambria. Turned onto Moonstone Beach Drive and headed to the White Water Inn, our favorite place when we’re not renting a house. It’s always like coming home. Unpacked. Turned on the TV to try to get some news about the fires, but nothing was on. Quite by luck found ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ on TMC. Great Cold War movie based on the book by John Le Carre – who knows his spies – with Richard Burton, Oskar Werner and several other great actors. We were just riveted in front of the tube. Finally, the tragic, but unavoidable, ending. Headed over, by foot, to the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill. Had a gift certificate for dinner and a bottle of the Arcadian Pinot Noir with us, so we knew we’d be happy. Got there just in time for sunset. Gorgeous. Nice, but talkative waitress, Victoria, who was, of course, from Burbank. We shared the Calamari Fritta appetizer. I had the rack of lamb, JD had the Mahi-Mahi with Cajun seasoning. We finished off the evening with decaf cappuccinos and walked back to the Inn. In bed by 9. JD fell asleep pretty quickly. I read for a while, but turned out the light earlier than I thought I would. It had been a long day.

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