CVIndependent

Wed08232017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Wine

12 Sep 2014
by  - 
My wine glass is half-full, its stem pushed flat into light sand. I aim my camera at the glass. Click. The top part of the glass distorts giant waves crashing into the shore. Click. A haystack rock occupies space between wine and brim. Click. Sky meets sea in a blur of blue. Plus wine glass. Dave appreciates the crashing waves while I capture the moment for perpetuity. He’s plenty ready, though, to drink some Tulip Hill 2010 Lake County Aglianico. We’ve brought a half-bottle, left over from last night’s dinner. Dave’s glass is half-full, too. That’s the way with wine: You don’t fill glasses to the brim. Plenty of space gives the wine room to breathe. And all that air is good—until it’s not. Too much exposure to atmosphere, and your wine gets flat, insipid, tasteless. It’s Labor Day weekend, and though we live apart, my husband and I have…
11 Aug 2014
by  - 
Desert dwellers crave wine. Rose Baker and her husband, Buster, suspected as much when they envisioned a wine bar in Yucca Valley. The venue is no slick wine-country rip-off. Rose and Buster’s Wine Tasting Room sports an eclectic vibe the couple calls “cowboy feng shui”—with Buddhas, cactus, dream catchers, Ganesha banners, mandalas, the headdresses of Southwestern tribes, craft beers, guitars and, of course, Northern California wines. Wines like Peterson Winery’s Mendo Blendo from Redwood Valley, Hop Kiln pinot noir from Healdsburg, and Rose and Buster's own private-label wines, from cab to chardonnay, bottled at Vista Verde Winery north of Paso Robles. The couple carries Tulip Hill’s sauvignon blanc, a summertime hit obtained from the winery’s Rancho Mirage tasting room. They’ve exhausted their supply, though, and can’t get more, so they eagerly await the next batch. “I’m bummed out about that,” Buster says. “I hope they’re making more. I have enough…
09 Jul 2014
by  - 
We are in a grape. Dave and I are in the grape—yes, you heard me right. It's a contemporary wonder of Italian architecture called The Acino, named after an Italian word for grape. We’re looking through its translucent ethylene skin at a steady rain drizzling over acres and acres of Piedmont-region wine grapes. Nebbiolo, barbera, dolcetto—the important reds. And arneis, a white grape with a loyal following in Northern Italy’s most-prestigious wine region. The interior of this structure is 500 square meters, large enough for a hearty wine tasting event. And that’s pretty much the purpose of Ceretto Winery’s little building, an addendum to their ancient estate. I’m reminded of a Napa wine mogul who built a European medieval-style castle just for fun. I write in my notebook: “Napa builds a castle with a view of grapes. Piedmont builds a grape with a view of castles.” Because we’re in Italy,…
11 Jun 2014
by  - 
The night I drink the Montefalco Rosso, Cesarini Sartori Fiorella, 2009—a blend of sangiovese, merlot, cabernet and sagrantino—might more aptly be dubbed Sunday afternoon. I’ve been napping, dozing between the bells that ring out from a nearby Italian church. The bells clang one long, low DONG for the hour, and a brisker, lighter dong for each 15 minutes incrementally. So 1:30 goes like this: “DONG dong dong.” That’s when I take a break from the hot day and sprawl out on my mattress. The power went out for a minute yesterday. The digital clock next to my bed is flashing the wrong time. No matter. The bells keep me on track. “DONG DONG DONG dong dong dong.” I roll over and reset the clock to 15:46. Because I’m in Europe. There’s no confusing repetition of a 12-hour cycle here. A girl trucks through life one ’til 24. So it goes.…
14 May 2014
by  - 
Wednesday On the night we open the Milano 2004 Redwood Valley Valdiguié, Dave skips his Italian-language class to stay home with me. Nice, right? Because of our jobs, my husband and I live hundreds of miles apart. We’re together a few days a month. The down side? Living alone; doing housework and errands and chores alone; cooking alone; and drinking good wine during our nightly Skype chats. Together—but alone. The up side? We make the most of time together. Doing housework and chores together becomes a novelty. Meals are magical moments. When together, we drink our spectacular wines—smooth golden oldies or obscure varietals, bottles we don’t want to drink alone. What’s not to love about a monthly honeymoon? This month, it’s my turn to drive from my California home to Dave’s place in Reno. The house is at the desert’s edge, overlooking the Truckee Meadows and Sierra Nevada foothills. In…
16 Apr 2014
by  - 
Some day in the not-too-distant future, I want to make wine. But I don’t want to ruin perfectly good grapes. So I’m training myself on bread. Sourdough bread, specifically. This spring, I’ve been nurturing a sourdough culture: lactic-acid bacteria and yeast, feeding and reproducing on wheat flour and water. What’s growing looks like gluey carbonated yogurt. Aptly called starter. The bread-making process isn’t unlike the wine-making process. Both grapes and wheat undergo chemical changes as bacteria and yeast reproduce, causing fermentation, alcohol and gas production, and the tasty conversion of acids. To be honest, I started messing with sourdough because friends were baking it. I enjoy gnawing on a tangy bit of bread while I slurp fermented red. So, yum! Sourdough pairs with cabs. With merlot and sangiovese and barbera and aglianico. A few great pairings: • An earthy mourvèdre with sourdough and baked brie, drizzled with honey and garnished…
19 Mar 2014
by  - 
An older couple in a BMW drove randomly, stopping in directionless confusion at one busy intersection before zipping illegally around a car parked at a stoplight and lurching up the Highway 101 onramp. “I’m going to assume everyone on the road is sloshed,” said Dave. Fair assumption. Drivers might be three sheets to the wine wind anywhere. But Paso Robles—not quite a five-hour drive from Palm Springs, just north of San Luis Obispo—sports 120 wine tasting rooms sprawled over a twisting, hilly maze of country roads. It’s no wonder the Paso Wines website recommends swishing and spitting when tasting. Or hiring a driver. Speaking of hired drivers: I must give a shout-out to my extremely responsible husband, who limited himself to tiny tastes so that I could drink. Which is why I was three sheets to the wine as I wrote notes for this column in the front seat of…
11 Feb 2014
by  - 
If you want to make it rain in wine country, you can try the usual magic rituals—like washing your car, planning a sunny picnic or forgetting your raincoat. Or you can simply decide to write about the impact of drought on the wine industry. The sky was clear when I started thinking about water and wine, as I drove up the bone-dry Interstate 5—desert dry, crispy dry, whispy dry—in late January. I’d been jarred by stark images from NASA’s Terra satellite, showing a swath of tan mountains reaching up along the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley, juxtaposed with a 2013 shot of a snowy white Sierra Nevada. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in California on Jan. 17. A few days later, state health officials released a list of 17 communities and water districts—from Mendocino County to Kern County—that could run dry before summer if no action was taken.…