On the Wine Road

Yesterday was one of those days where it’s just great to be me.  The Sommelier drove, showed up on time, left on time and got there on time.  You can call us what you want, but don’t call us late for dinner.  The event started at 11am and we were in Healdsburg, tickets purchased, wristbands in place, cookbooks tucked away and ready to go at 10:50.  Our first stop Longboard Vineyards.  These guys rock.  My palette was a little dead to start with, a little bit of a hangover from my head cold.  I had the Sommelier describe the Sauvignon Blanc and worked my way through it until I could get the not quite ripe pineapple, the nice finish.  We then moved to the Petite Syrah.  Not your run of the mill Petite Syrah.  This guy was rich and velvety, lots of fruit on the back end, but gentle in it’s approach.  A gorgeous wine.  We were a little incredulous when they gave us the Petite Syrah in front of the Merlot.  Then they poured the Merlot.  Wow.  I’ve never had a Merlot that had so much going on.  Lots of fruit forward, tannins all over the place, kind of a three ring circus, but in a good way.  We finished with the Pinot Noir.  It had a lot of cherry going on.  Not that ripe cherry and not the not ripe cherry, almost a candied cherry without the candy.  A very nice Pinot that would be excellent with anyone’s turkey dinner.  The snack they served was the owner’s risotto recipe with a couple of substitutions.  Usually it has crab and seafood.  They didn’t feel that would hold all day in a catering setting, so they substituted Santa Rosa Meat Company’s Fennel sausages.  I thought it was pretty good, needed a little salt, but pretty good.

Next stop, Selby Winery.  The only wine that had any interest at all for me was the Rose of Syrah.  Nothing much else to write home about.  They were serving Smoked Pork Tacos with a very nice little sauce on them.  Too bad the wine just wasn’t there.  Next stop Chateau Felice.   I’m pretty sure they were pouring their Celebration, a Bordeaux blend, with some really tasting little chocolate torte like things.  It was a good pairing and really great people.  Next stop, Sunce Winery.  Very interesting wines.  A lot of Italian influence.  The one that stood out was the Malbera, a Malbec/Barbera blend.  Really interesting and well priced at $20.  They only made 14 barrels of the stuff but it was a great drinking wine.  They were serving Barbera soaked beef skewers.  Very tasty.  Next stop, Camillia Cellars.   I liked their wines, although nothing jumped out at me.  Very nice people and a Tuscan Turkey snack.  Then we walked next door to Sapphire Hill.   Their wines were very interesting.  The Zinfandel’s stuck out in my mine.  I picked up a lot of pepper and I like peppery Zins, so that made me happy.  They were serving Lamb Sausages with Lentils and Pinot Noir Mustard.  Those were tasty treats.  They also had some very good bread and hard cheese that made me happy.  Then we went off of the tour map.  It wasn’t the plan, but upon return to the car the driver’s door wouldn’t shut.  Now you’d think out in the country that someone would have a bit of rope.   We were feeling a little Jed Clampett thinking we’d tie it shut.  No one had any.  So while the Sommelier worked on the car door, I wandered into Holdredge Winery.   They were serving Black Pig Cassoulet, it was killer.  They had the wines divided up as Hellfire and Damnation.  How great is that?  I started with Hellfire.  She was pouring their Lover’s Lane and it was delightful.  As I was working my way toward Damnation the owner came over and brought us over to another table where they were pouring a late harvest Gewurztraminer.  It was one of the best dessert wines we had all day.  Cool dude too.  The Sommelier returned to the limp door and I wandered across the street to Davis Family Vineyards.    None of their wines really impressed me, although they were really nice and had tie dyed company shirts, which always gets you a few points with me.  They were serving Porchetta Sandwiches with Salsa Verde from Zasu and they were very tasty.  From there we went to Forchini Winery.  The Sommelier was particularly interested in their Papa Nonno and BeauSierra.  The BeauSierra was quite the wine at $13 a bottle.   Full of bright flavors, yet subtle.  They were serving Curried Chicken from Behar.   It worked very well with the wine and it was the tastiest treat of the day, for my money.  Next stop, Dutcher Crossing.  By far the prettiest winery we went to.  They were serving Chicken with Herbed Goat Cheese & Basil.  Nothing really jumped out at me about the wine or the food.  Last stop, Gopfrich Winery.  The owner/winemaker was there, nice enough guy, but we didn’t like his juice at all.   It was one of those by appointment only places so we wanted to take advantage of the open doors.  By then it was 3:45 and the food looked like it had been out a while and we skipped it.  That’s the problem with the Dry Creek area.  Some of them just don’t make very good wine.  Still, it was a gorgeous day, nearly 80 all day.  We drove with the top down all day and it’s great way to forget you’ve been sick for a week.