All the noise, noise, noISE, NOISE

I was looking for advanced quiet. I wanted to escape the frenzied, masturbatory noise of election season. I had just turned 47 and the Giants were on the cusp of a world series. I decided to take a drive up to Healdsburg (no speeding alleged or actual took place during this day trip).
Lack of disclosure time; No one gives me nothin’! I don’t identify myself as anyone but a vino dilettant. I haven’t been asked to give a qualified accounting and you should probably disregard anything that follows.
I’m happy to report the state of the grape is good. The juice in bottle and juice in the fermenting tanks were all anyone wanted to talk about; that was like a prescription. Fruit in the tank: the 2010 growing season was weirder than the political season. We had a long cool summer and few scares. You’d think that’s good. When I asked the growers in Dry Creek and Russian River how the harvest went, they got all perplexed. They talked about some cluster shatter and they talked about rapid sugar spikes. They talked about the threat of mold and they talked about the threat of dilution (due to the grapes soaking up the rain water). They talked about low, difficult harvest yields. I heard from two different growers that stems had shut down prior to full veraison (veraison is the process where the grapes mature and develop sugar). The stem works like an umbilical cord; it delivers water and energy to the maturing grapes. If the stem shuts down, the grapes start to decay.
Why did I say the state of the grape is good then? Because no one knows what this harvest will be like. No one can remember a growing season like this one. I hope the complexity of the season will be evidenced by the complexity of the resulting wine.
In the bottle; We stopped by Thomas George, Arista, Lambert Bridge, Quivera, Preston of Dry Creek, Ferrari-Carano/ Lazy Creek and Longboard.
Pinot was uneven. The fruit at Thomas George was intense. Great berry, anise, flint all stacked on awesome acid. Arista had some elegant Pinot, too. However, they had a berry bomb of a Zin and a perfectly dry Gewürztraminer. I LOVE dry Gewertz ala Alsace. This one has 0% residual sugar. It blooms as it warms with aromas of lychee, honeysuckle, peach and spice. They made it with the help of Rod Berglund of Jospeh Swan. Rod was the first winemaker that I’m aware of who has successfully taken Gewertz to 0% residual. The fruit was from Anderson Valley, near Booneville. It was a treat (for a real treat, go into Booneville and Philo. Taste the Gewertzs Navarro, Toulouse, Breggo and Handley produce. They’re spectacular).
Lambert Bridge has followed a trend into being a small, expensive producer. They try to sell all of their wines through the tasting room, exclusively. They specialize in Bordeaux blends. Their Sauvignon Blanc wasn’t too hot. It lacked acid and the gooseberry fruit and pungent cat pissyness that I enjoy in SB. They had elegant Cabs, Merlots and Meritage blends. They were aged beautifully. They were soft and complex. They were expensive! They have a 2 year old St. Bernard who looks like a bear skin rug, with a pulse.
Quivera was the stop of the day. They changed ownership a couple of years ago. The new owners have changed wine making staff and I’m here to tell you this is Change you can believe in! They produce Mourvedre, Grenache, Sauv Blan, and many other varietals. The staff was great. The wines are lovely and priced well.
Preston’s LP is gorgeous. It is velvety and full of mature berry. It is a Rhone blend so it features Syrah, Cinsaut, Mourvedre, Carignan, Viognier, Roussanne and maybe some Grenache. Matt, the wine maker did a great job of blending the 08 vintage. Their Zin was great example of Dry Creek zin, too. Not too ripe, great acid and luscious fruit. If you’re up there on a Sunday, they have a 3L jug. Lou pours it out of the barrel and into the jug, while he chats you up (at least as much as Lou chats). The 09 is a very nice mix of red wine. That’s it. You can taste some of the elements of the LP plus a big helping of the zin. It’s $30, so it’s a great value, too (that’s the equivalent of 4 750ml bottles).
Longboard had the best Merlot. Their 08 Dakine Merlot is spectacular. Forget Sideways. This Merlot is worth tasting. It’s soft with good acid and abundance of dark berry.
The drive back over the Golden Gate was highlighted by the Orange erection propped up in the middle of the city. Coit Tower was lit orange in support of the Giants. We went to the base of the tower and snapped some pictures. Even under threatening skies, this was the perfect day to get away close to home.

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