Monday, September 10, 2012

A Picnic At Rideau Vineyard, Santa Barbara County


Sometimes the best trips to wine country are spontaneous - off-the-cuff, spur-of-the-moment, play-it-as-it-lays explorations of the magic moments that seem to lie around every bend in the road.  Denise and I woke up recently and just decided to gather our friend Guido and head up to Santa Barbara County.  It’s not that long a drive from Los Angeles - a couple of hours - and the conversation in the car makes it seem like no time at all.

Most of my excursions to the nearby wine regions are well-planned, often to the last detail.  It’s nice every now and then to throw away the itinerary, and just do whatever comes next.  That makes it truly a getaway.

Entering Santa Barbara without any plan at all, we decided that lunch would be at a picnic table instead of a restaurant.  There was a brief stop at the Trader Joe’s just off the freeway to pick up some bread, cheese, olives and an avocado.  Then off to a Santa Ynez Valley picnic at Rideau Vineyard in Solvang.

I had been to Rideau before, and remembered how pastoral the picnic area looked when a wedding party was held there.  We had it all to ourselves.  Denise loves fresh food and cheese, and I think Guido keeps the Kalamata olive trade in business all by himself.  Throw in that beautiful avocado and a glass of wine, and everybody’s happy.

The Rideau Viognier 2010 is an unoaked beauty.  It has a really nice yellow-green tint and a bouquet of tropical fruit with some vanilla custard.  Very creamy in the mouth, yet with a nice level of acidity, the palate shows rich layers of pineapple and golden apple.  An excellent pair with the baguette and goat cheese, as well as the avocado.

For the same $36, Rideau also makes a Viognier in which just under half the wine gets five months aging in neutral oak.


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