Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wining in a Labyrinth...

The Goddess of Wine's first real outing after shoulder surgery took place on 7/12. JD and I headed up to the coolth of Ventura to meet friend Jodi for lunch at the newly relocated Paradise Pantry. Love the new digs! Lots of room for the Goddess to prowl the wine racks without knocking over anything - as opposed to the first time I visited their old location leaving glass and wine debris in my wake. We started off the day with hearty paninis, a split of Le Grand Courtage for me and a glass each of Verdad Grenache Rose for JD and Jodi.

Having properly fortified ourselves, we walked up the block to the recently opened Labyrinth Winery tasting room. Labyrinth is the brainchild of Ariki (Rick) Hill, a New Zealand native who found his way to California's Central Coast. Besides creating the wines of Labyrinth, Rick is the winemaker for Tantara, another winery high on my list of Pinot Noir producers. Labyrinth has two "brands", one being Labyrinth, the high-end line of Burgundian-style wines, and HAKA (a Maori word descriptive of a dance form encompassing words, actions, history, and life force), consisting of full bodied, bold, assertive, complex wines reflecting the vineyards of the Central Coast.

To my delight, Rick's partner in wine, Eddy Schwartz, was in the tasting room along with tasting room manager, Amy Mintun, and the wines began to flow!

2010 HAKA Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County. Peach and pineapple on the nose, soft and creamy on the palate with a long finish. Not too oaky. Very easy drinking. $25

2012 HAKA Rosé, Santa Maria Valley. Rose of Pinot Noir with a touch of Tempranillo and Chardonnay. Very fruity, semi-sweet with overtones of watermelon and other summer fruit. A bit too sweet for me, but Jodi liked it a lot. $19

2005 HAKA Reserve Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard. Slightly oxidized. Cocoa and dried cherries on the nose mixed with an earthy funkiness that I really liked. Tart cherry and white pepper on the palate, and something herbal, tobacco-ish. After being open for a few minutes, even more cherry came forward. A lovely wine. $75

2009 Labyrinth Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County. Clear, medium red, lots of strawberry on the nose. Still kind of young. $40

2008 HAKA Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard. Cherry and eucalyptus, oh my. I have a star next to it, meaning it was really good. $40

2010 HAKA Freebird, Paso Robles. 50% Merlot, 40% Tempranillo, and some Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot thrown in to round it out. A tasty, fruit-forward pizza wine. $22

2011 HAKA Tempranillo, Paso Robles. Spicy with ripe cherry. I starred this one, too. $26

2011 HAKA Petite Sirah, Paso Robles. Opaque purple in color with brown sugar and blackberry on the nose. It was a fruit cobbler wine! Very tasty. $26

This barely covers the couple of hours we spent with Eddy and Amy. The conversation ranged from wine and food to history and philosophy and art. So much fun. We'll be back soon!

We stopped off at Four Brix to pick up a bottle of wine that was being held for me. A couple of months before I had participated in a blending party, and this was the result, the 2012 Brix Mix. Haven't tasted it yet. Winemaker Gary Stewart instructed me to let it rest for a couple of months. Stay tuned!

While there, we sat and visited with Gary and Karen, one-third of the owners of Four Brix. We tasted through most of the lineup, and then Gary brought out three special edition wines that were created with and for Radio Show Hosts Tom & Sandy, the Voice of the 805. All three wines have rock and roll names: Dazed and Confused, Half Moon and Celebration Day, and they are all very, very small production, fun wines.

I was beginning to fade - this was my first day out! - so we headed over to Jodi's for a home-cooked meal. Best chicken pot pie ever! Thanks, dear friend!

I rested up most of the rest of the week to prep for more wine adventures. Stay tuned for Rosé Night at the Tam O'Shanter, and a write-up of The Chardonnay Symposium in Santa Maria! Cheers!

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