Monday, April 29, 2013

Gamling And McDuck Santa Ynez Valley Chenin Blanc

Another trip to the movies was improved by wine.  That seems to happen to me a lot, I'm told.  It could be that everything is improved by wine, or it could be that movies generally need a little added excitement.  Maybe I'm just lucky.

We found ourselves at the mall on Pico again, with tickets to see "The Company You Keep" and "Trance."  There was just enough time in between for a bite and a drink.  We'd had a good experience at Westside Tavern before, so it didn't even need to be discussed.

The specials: Lobster Cobb and short rib grilled cheese.  It's a go.  Flipping open the menu to quickly choose a glass of wine, I see the phrases "Chenin Blanc" and "Santa Ynez Valley" adjacent to one another.  I'd better investigate this.

Our waiter tells me the Gamling and McDuck wine is "made by our head bartender, he's right over there."  The waiter motions to the bar behind him and across the room.  "He and his brother and his brother's girlfriend all collaborated on it.  The name of the wine is their nicknames, or something."  He later brought me the bartender's card.  Since he wasn't too busy, I stopped by to do a mini-interview with Dan McClary (right).

As it turned out, the other two-thirds of the company - Gabrielle Shaffer and Adam McClary - are in Napa.  "They are the winemakers," said Dan, "I write checks and act as the Los Angeles face for the wine.  We get our grapes from different sources.  The Chenin Blanc is from Jurassic Park Vineyard, out in the eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley.  We used Napa fruit for our Cab Franc."

In an email, Adam McClary told me that Gamling and McDuck is something he and Gabrielle do on the side.  "She's the Viticulturist at Stagecoach, and I make wine and manage a boutique Calistoga winery called Lava Vine."

Oh, those nicknames?  They are their pet names for each other.  Adam explains, "She was in a secret spy club with her neighbor when they were 5 years old, and her secret spy name was Galadrielle Gamling, which I found to be adorably precocious, and she became a Gamling.  I'm McDuck because ... I evidently waxed poetic about Scrooge McDuck's detailed lineage.  Gabe just started calling me McDuck."

So there you have it.  Their sense of humor bleeds over into the company's website.  It shows tasting notes like "The clean, white vinyl interior of Wonder Woman's invisible jet" and "The urge to tell the truth."  I must confess I get neither of those elements, but I still find plenty to like.

2013 will be the trio's fifth vintage of Gamling & McDuck.  They started with 150 cases produced in 2009, and will make about 800 this year.

The Gamling and McDuck Chenin Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, Jurassic Park Vineyard 2011 is poured for $14 by the glass at Westside Tavern.  Suggested retail is $22.  Alcohol content is quite low, at 12.8% abv.

A greenish tint emanates from the glass while a bountiful nose full of herbal and mineral aromas assures me that I made the right order.  Green melon and minerals appear as the dominant smells.  There is a hint of lemongrass in the bouquet, along with a trace of caramel.  The olfactory show alone is worth the price.  The mineral-driven palate shows citrus - lime and lemon jump out at me - and the acidity is zippy.  The full mouthfeel lends itself to pairing with comfort food and any sort of seafood.

The oak effect is very well played.  I imagine it is responsible for the caramel on the nose and the butterscotch note on the palate.  This wine spent seven months in neutral French oak, on the lees.

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