There is an East Bay Vintners Association. Who knew? Actually, I knew there were several tasting rooms in Oakland and Rosenblum in Alameda. Turns out they’re in Berkeley and Emeryville as well. We started on Sunday at Lost Canyon. We didn’t get a long ways past there. Really, if you’re a red wine drinker, you don’t need to. I originally met these guys at the Pinot Festival in Santa Rosa a couple of years ago. They belonged there. I remembered the Saralee’s Vineyard from two years ago. No fall off since then. I just wish that I had been able to taste the array back then. They were tasting seven wines on Sunday. Sonofabun thought it was 2005 all over again and bought two of each. I couldn’t blame him, there wasn’t a bad wine in the bunch. They were so good, you couldn’t decide which to bring home. The theme, if you will, for their style is good fruit forward with an elegant finish. They don’t do the fruit bomb thing that the Parkerized American palette expects, but you get decent fruit in every sip of every wine, but it’s so well balanced that it’s hard to put one of their glasses down. The Viognier was excellent. Apples forward, subtle dry finish. Nothing hits you over the head, it just says “more”, because you want more. Unique well balanced wine, very unusual for a Viognier. Of the Pinots, the Saralee’s, Morelli Lane, Los Carneros they are all very food friendly wines. Each are single vineyard with the difference being the fruit itself. The style is true to the winemakers. Subtle fruit forward, elegant finish. The Saralee has the sweetest of the fruit, if sweet is the right word at all, there’s a little hint of strawberry in that one. Every one of them would have been excellent with lamb chops or a pork loin roast for dinner. I liked the Morelli Lane the best, I thought it was the most developed with a polished mouthfeel. It’s one of those Pinots that’s got some of that earthiness to it. Just a beautiful wine. The last three were Syrahs. Stage Gulch, Trenton Station and Alegria. Every one of these was dark, rich and full of the things you like to see in a Syrah. (not a Shiraz) Leather, smoke, spice, blackberries. Of the three, I liked the Alegria the best. It was the best balanced of three beautifully balanced wines. The thing about Lost Canyon wines is that they are all so food friendly. We were able to taste each wine and name what we’d serve it with. That’s food friendly. If every in Oaktown, don’t pass these guys by. They’re at the 23rd St. offramp about 1/2 a mile on the right.
After all that we only had time for one more stop so we went to JC Cellars. We went there because Dashe Cellars shared the space. I originally met Michael and Anne Dashe at ZAP, prior to my nap in the roll up doorway. He’s been trained at Davis, she was trained in the Bordeaux. Yeah, THAT Bordeaux, she’s French. Delightful lady and rocket smart about wine. Somehow she tolerated me long enough to discuss winemaking at ZAP. So she’s a patient woman too. They make a Riesling that is pure European style. As a rule, in Europe, you drink German whites and French reds. Life’s just better that way. This Frenchwoman makes a rockin’ Riesling. It doesn’t hit you over the head, just beautiful crisp fruit with a velvety finish. Ripe apples and pears up front on this one without too much sweetness, followed by a gentle finish. Can’t say enough about this one. Although I’ve been on a Riesling kick. Don’t ask me what that’s about. Next up was their Zinfandels. They make three. The Tod Brothers, the Louvou and the one I can’t remember. The woman in the tasting room made comparisons with jazz singers and now I’m fixated on Ella Fitzgerald and Cole Porter. No matter, my favorite was the Louvou. The Tod brothers is good, but it’s old vine and I’m not necessarily always dancing in the streets for old vine. That’s a personal preference. It’s a very good wine with raspberry, spice and a touch of licorice. I would just go for the Louvou instead. Probably because of it’s pepper on the back end because it’s an old vine too. Also full of raspberries, very well balanced. Another great wine.
JC Cellars. The Caldwell. That’s it, there’s nothing more that need be said about this place. OK, there’s plenty more to say. They do a very good job too. Quite honestly of the three wineries, there wasn’t a bad one in there. You can’t hit three random wineries in Napa and bat 1000. The Caldwell is a Syrah. Deep coffee, smokiness, a very sexy wine. This one will sit with you late at night in a leather chair after the day is done and remind you how great it is to be alive. It will stand up to a roast nicely, hints of rosemary in there. Possibly priced a little high, but maybe not. I’m still trying to figure if I’ve got $45 worth of love for this one.
Hounds of Hell
I don’t know what was going on around here but the hacking has stopped. Beau seems to be out of his funk. Rita quit sneezing but she clearly has a sting or a bite on her nose. Who knows what she stuck her nose into, but at least it’s done with. She was a riot coiling up, bringing her butt curled around to her nose, closing her left eye and exploding with a series of dog sneezes. I was afraid it was a foxtail but it was a bite. The sneezing is done. I took them with me when I voted yesterday. Then I tricked them into the dog baths. Everybody is silky and clean this morning.
Is on fire this week. Mercury is in retrograde. (Not that Mercury, the one that makes everyone’s life a living hell…no not that Mercury…) I got my facts a little horse in front of the cart yesterday. This is like that section in the Chronicle that’s now nearly a page long where they correct all their screw ups. Do keep your eye on Pacer, but yesterday wasn’t the filing day. It’s coming, in the Northern District of California court…San Jose.
BARF and Budget
I ran into an old lifting buddy on BARF yesterday. He’s been riding the SOB for 16 years. He said everytime a budget fight comes up they drop a car or two off of every train and can’t get the trains to run on time to save their lives. What a bunch of ass clowns. I went to the Dr. yesterday afternoon so I took the 3:56 home. I stood ALL THE WAY HOME. Ridership is up, run more trains. It’s not rocket science. If the experience is horrible, which it teeters on daily anyway, no one will ride it when the cost of gas goes back down or when the economy catches up to the price of gas. Instead of every 20 minutes, make it 15, instead of 15, make it 10. For the most part every single person on those trains is spending between $6-10 bucks a day to ride it. How are you not making stupid money? Get your act together.