16 Apr 2007

Sushi and Riesling

AT BREAKFAST I met a chap whose cattle ranch well ran dry when vineyards were planted bordering his property, forcing a sale well below par (forgive the pun). The other side of the great grape story?
A number of winery pit stops ensued. The highlights: Wild Horse Malvasia Blanc '05, an aromatic, bone dry beauty from nearly organic, or 'soft' vineyards.
Tasting at the Four Vines hut, bordering on a bakery, out of a stemless glass engraved with a motif reading 'Zin Bitch', the '04 Sophisticate Zinfandel had a rugged grip. Made from head-pruned vines (a.k.a. bush vines) and unconventionally, but stylishly packaged.
Justin's Orphan '05, a wine intially brought into being when earthquake damaged toppling and leaking vats were pooled rather than spooled had a slight eucylptis nose. Stirring the odds and sods reminds me of Easter Eggs - the best scrapings reused and reformed.
Tablas Creek Vineyard - a cordiale between Château de Beaucastel, and Bob Haas, a Californian winemaker with five decades of experience - had a pristine portfolio. The Côtes de Tablas '04 Grenache, Syrah, Counoise and Mourvedre had cherry, and strawberry and cream Frappuccino aromas. The Syrah '04 was excellent; their Tannat also was couthly mastered, with sika vension, herbs, mushroom, plentiful fruit and denture-adventure tannins. Special stuff.
In the evening, again propping up the Vinoteca counter, I sampled Justin's iconic Isosceles. The label, segmented into three, represents the blend of the leading Bordeaux grapes. Alas, it was a costly miss. Windward's Gold Label Pinot Noir '04 was a hit, however: generous, nurturing, devoting, with forrest floor and lipstick aromas rather than full frontal fruit. Growing Pinot Noir within the sight of Tannat seems vaguely massochistic.
Nadeau's '02 Mixed Black had a herbal, blueberry, 'forced spice' and putty aromas. Indeed putty comes to mind in quite a few of the Paso wines.
I was befriended by a young local couple who bought me spiced Sushi and dry riesling and promised me a tailored winery tour the following day.