Let’s see, what would be the least responsible thing to do on Christmas Eve? What would be the ONE THING that I could do that would be like waving a red flag at law enforcement? WWWDD. What Would the Wine Dog Do? Go wine tasting in Santa hats singing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. What else?
First stop, Chateau St. Jean. For the most part, my general feeling about them is the same as my general feeling about Chateau St. Michelle. I was wrong about them too. We tried a slew of their wines. They were all of journeyman quality, but a few stood out. The Robert Young Alexander Valley 2005 Chardonnay was a stand out. Definitely oaked, smooth with some cream to the palette, finishing with a toasty creme brulee finish. Really a nice wine. They ran a couple of the younger wines through a really cool toy they had there. I had to buy one. How freaking cool is that? It literally changed the taste of the wine. I wished I had one when I opened that 2000 Merlot last week. It grew on me because the oxygen got into it. With that cool little toy, I could have aerated it immediately.
Next stop Benziger. There’s a special place in my heart for Mike Benziger, simply because he owns a Doberman and makes organic juice. The Ricci Pinot was particularly interesting. Not your usual Pinot, dark, smoky with a dark chocolate finish. Left me thinking…hmmmm. The wine notes said something about grilled salmon and I made a comment to the guy at the tasting room. He admitted he didn’t know where that pairing came from. Another suggestion was pork loin and that made a lot of sense to me. Especially my pork loin grilled with an orange chipotle glaze. The Claret was also pretty interesting, but their Pinot was the one that grabbed me.
Next stop, their sister winery, Imagery. Last time I went to Imagery, we went to the Reserve room and were wholy ignored by the wine imp. He was so busy wetting himself over the Stag’s Leap event planner who was there tasting that he completely ignored the Wine Dog. I’ve been trashing them ever since. So under duress I returned to Imagery. Well, the same Wine Imp was present, but he was a lot more attentive today. We tried probably 8 or 10 of their wines. I came home with a bottle of their Malbec, but I could have easily brought home the Mourvedre. The Malbec was $38 and Mourvedre was $42. I had about $40 worth of love for either of them. The Malbec just jumped out at me and said “grill a steak”. I was helpless to it’s evil force. They also made a White Burgundy that I enjoyed, I thought it was priced well. Apparently it was an accident that occurred 10 years ago and was so successful they repeated year after year after year. It had a nice tropical beginning with a vanilla middle and toasty finish that I really enjoyed. I was definitely feeling the Chardonnay blends today.
Next stop, my good friends at B.R. Cohn. I have drunken pictures of Moose now. Here’s a professional picture of Moose, and Bruce Cohn, owner of B.R. Cohn and manager of the Doobie Brothers, uh borrowed from their website. OK, my pictures of Moose didn’t come out, but what a cool dog, eh?
I’m sure Bruce is a nice enough guy, but Moose rocks. Bruce makes damned good wine and excellent olive oil. The Olive Hill Cab is off the hook, but this year, very much out of my range. I’ve got a bottle in my cellar I got last year, that will have to do for now. Their Pinot was on sale for $36 a bottle, originally priced at $45. It was a deal at $36. It didn’t have all that fruity crap going on, it was quite smooth and elegant with vanilla and spice and a smooth finish. I almost brought that bad boy home. Final stop, the Girl and the Fig on the square in Sonoma. While we were starving by the time we got there, the duck was amazing. It came with a butternut squash gratin and some steamed spinach. it was a beautiful meal. By then I’d drank enough wine and had a Stella with dinner. All and all, the kind of Christmas Eve that’s worth repeating.