Showing posts with label Arroyo Seco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arroyo Seco. Show all posts

Monday, May 11, 2020

Bonny Doon's Pink Wine Of The Earth

From Bonny Doon Vineyard comes the 2019 Vin Gris De Cigare.  The winery's flagship pink wine is named for the reported alien spacecraft "banned by decree of the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape." The flying cigars may not be allowed to land in France, but they land in my place a lot. They are welcome visitors from another appellation far, far away. Well, just a bit north of me, anyway.  Their rosé is a favorite of mine.

The grapes for Vin Gris De Cigare were grown in Central Coast AVA - 79% Grenache, 5% Grenache Gris, 5% Grenache Blanc, 5% Vermentino, 3% Cinsault, 1.5% Picpoul and 1.5% Clairette Blanche.  Vineyards include Rava, Loma Del Rio and Alta Loma of Monterey County, Steinbeck of Paso Robles and Beeswax of the Arroyo Seco AVA.

Winemaker Randall Grahm says "the Grenache dominates this blend."  He continues the practice of leaving the wine on its lees post-fermentation.  Grahm feels that the spent yeast cells give a "wonderful creaminess and length" to the wine.  This rosé is not made in the saignée method, where juice is bled off in the process of making red wine.  The grapes were selected and used specifically for this wine. The iconic label art is from an 1855 edition of Bordeaux Chateau, with a spaceship courtesy of Jules Verne, circa 1870.  The wine hits 13.5% abv and sells for $15.

This pink wine's nose is dominated by strawberry, melon and tropical notes.  Graham says a suggestion of cassis and grapefruit is possibly a function of the cooler 2019 vintage.  On the palate, the wine has heft, a discernible weight I don't usually find in rosés.  There is a creaminess, too, owing to the time it spent sitting on its expended yeast cells.  The savory hallmarks of Graham's wines shine through, but the fruit is the star.  Despite the full mouthfeel, acidity is quite fine.  The finish is lengthy and somewhat citrusy.


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Monday, May 4, 2020

Lip Stinging White Wine From Bonny Doon

If you're looking for something a little different, a glance in the direction of Bonny Doon Vineyards is always a good idea.  Bonny Doon's 2019 Picpoul was made entirely from Picpoul grapes, of French origin but grown in California's Arroyo Seco AVA, in the Beeswax Vineyard. 

More closely aligned with France's Languedoc region, the Picpoul Blanc grape has taken root in Monterey and Sonoma counties, as well as in places like Texas, Arizona and Washington state.  The grape's name has been said to mean "lip stinger" in French, a nod to its high acidity.

Winemaker extraordinaire Randall Grahm says, "Beeswax Vineyard produces white grapes with the scent of, well, beeswax."  He says that fruit imparts a "unique savoriness, discernable brininess" to the wine.  Graham calls the Picpoul "super-savory, nay almost waxy/salty, with perhaps a bit more weight than in previous vintages."  He says the 2019 may be his favorite BDV Picpoul to date.  He also notes a floral quality in his recent Picpoul vintages which he feels is often missing in versions from the Old World.  The wine lays back at only 11% abv and retails for $15.  Wendy Cook did the label art, which has a graphic pronouncer for Picpoul.

There is a huge citrus aspect at play on the nose, limes, lemons, oranges, the works.  That floral quality has a lot of competition in the sniff.  The palate offers up a fabulous acidity, with salinity and minerals to join the aforementioned fruit.  This is a serious white wine that can serve as so much more than a sipper with salad.  It's a perfect wine to pair with with crustaceans and mollusks. 


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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Bonny Doon's Flagship White Wine

Bonny Doon Vineyards' Le Cigare Blanc is the white counterpart to the always awesome Le Cigare Volant red blend, named for the alien spacecraft which was "banned by decree of the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape." The flying cigars may not be allowed to land in France, but they land at my place a lot. They are welcome visitors from another appellation far, far away. Well, just a bit north of me, anyway.

Bonny Doon's 2019 Le Cigare Blanc is crafted from California Central Coast grapes - 46% Grenache Blanc, 34% Vermentino and 20% Clairette Blanche.  The fruit came mostly from Arroyo Seco’s Beeswax Vineyard, with a smidge from Creston Ridge Vineyard in Paso Robles.  Randall Grahm says the Vermentino really shines through in this beverage, which he describes as "Delicious, refreshing gulp of wine, perfect with seafood and more delicate fish."

Grahm feels lucky to be able to blend in Clairette Blanche in the cuvée for the first time.  He says it helps contribute additional length to the wine.  Alcohol tips 13.5% abv and it sells for $20.  By the way, the label art is from an 1855 edition of "Bordeaux Chateau," with the spaceship courtesy of Jules Verne, circa 1870.

Le Cigare Blanc's nose carries a whole bunch of tropical fruit with a touch of savory coming from the Beeswax Vineyard grapes, no doubt.  The acidity here is a ripping affair, so seafood is a must.  Lemons burst forth on the palate, with traces of pineapple, grapefruit and mango also showing.  The finish is long and and lanky and leaves the memory of Meyer lemon behind.


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Monday, July 15, 2019

CA Négociant Delivers Great Rosé At A Bargain

California wine négociant Cameron Hughes owns no vineyards and has no official winery.  He buys already produced wine from established makers on the down low, with an agreement not to reveal the source.  He then sells the wine online through his wine club, which he calls a wineocracy, bringing top-shelf wines to lower-shelf wallets.  Hughes says he keeps prices low by removing the middleman, the distributor and retailer through which store-bought wines must pass.

The sustainably farmed grapes for the 2017 Cameron Hughes Lot 639 Rosé were grown in California's Central Coast region, specifically the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey County.  Hughes says the pink wine was made by "perhaps the most famous producer on the entire Central Coast," without giving up the identity.  Hughes claims he's selling the wine for nearly half its original price.  The grape is Valdiguié, which not commonly found outside of the south of France.  Alcohol tips in at a reasonable 12.8% abv and the wine sells for $13.

This rosé is a rich salmon pink, a really beautiful hue.  The nose shows ripe cherry and melon aromas, while the palate brings strawberries and apricots to the table.  It's a very complex pink wine.  The acidity is gentle, so it's a great sipper.  However, you can pair it with a salad, light appetizers or white meat with no problem. 


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Monday, August 6, 2018

Wine Of Arroyo Seco - Have Mercy

The Zabala family is in their seventh generation on their Monterey County property in the Arroyo Seco appellation.  In a dry riverbed full of granitic soil, the vines were planted in 1972.  The land is described as wind battered and rock strewn, so it's fitting that Mercy made a wine that will likely refresh you when you feel that way.

For the Mercy 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Zabala Vineyard, the Musqué clone Sauvignon Blanc grapes were whole-cluster pressed and fermented in steel tanks, where they also aged for six months.  Alcohol checks in at 13.5% abv and the wine retails for $24.  As they say in the press literature, "Have Mercy"

This Arroyo Seco, single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc has a green-gold tint and a nose showing fresh-cut grass, a hint of flowers and generous grapefruit and lime notes.  The palate is lush and juicy.  Acidity is notable but somewhat gentle.  It may be the wine or that I recently returned from Baltimore, but I want a crab cake or oysters with it.


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Monday, May 28, 2018

Wente Vineyards Chardonnay

If you love Chardonnay, you probably love Wente Vineyards, and you may not know it.  The grape clone which is used to make 80% of American Chardonnay is here thanks to Wente.  In 1912, German immigrant C.H. Wente planted a cutting from from the vine nursery at France's University of Montpellier.  That Chardonnay plant became the Wente clone of the grape.

To get a bit geeky, In viticulture a "clone" refers to vines descended from a single plant by taking a cutting or bud.  Each vine grown on a clone is said to be genetically identical to the original vine.

Wente is the country's oldest continuously operated family-owned winery, now run by the family's 4th and 5th-generations.  A virtual tasting event was hosted recently by the family historian, Phil Wente, and winegrower Niki Wente, who walked us through five different styles of their line that defined California Chardonnay.  You can visit that experience here.

Wente's Celebratory Chardonnay celebrates 135 years of making wine.  2018 marks that accomplishment, and they've come a long way since 1883.  It's 100% Central Coast Chardonnay which is sourced from their estate vineyards in the Livermore Valley and the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey County.  Karl Wente made a thousand cases of the wine, which clocks alcohol at 13.8% and retails for $40.

The wine was fermented both in barrels and stainless steel, with the barrel lots receiving malolactic fermentation for a full, rich mouthfeel.  It was aged for 16 months in a combination of new and neutral American and French oak.  They stirred the lees a couple times a month.

This Chardonnay comes on big and bold, sporting a nose of apples, peaches and oak.  The mouthfeel is creamy, but the acidity still zips.  Wood dominates the flavor profile, too, but if you're in the mood for it, it hits the spot.  Behind the oak lies stone fruit, pineapple and citrus flavors.  The finish carries the memory of those barrels quite a distance.


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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wente Celebrates Chardonnay Day With Online Tasting Event

Tomorrow, May 24th 2018, is Chardonnay Day, and Wente Vineyards in California's Livermore Valley is putting together an online wine tasting to mark the evening.  It's a Brandlive event (5pm PT, 8pm ET) which will feature five different styles of Chardonnay made by the winery that literally changed California Chardonnay forever.

In 1912, German immigrant C.H. Wente planted a cutting from from the vine nursery at France's University of Montpellier.  That Chardonnay plant became the Wente clone of the grape, which is reportedly used to make 80% of American Chardonnay.

To get a bit geeky, In viticulture a "clone" refers to vines descended from a single plant by taking a cutting or bud.  Each vine grown on a clone is said to be genetically identical to the original vine.

Wente is the country's oldest continuously operated family-owned winery, now run by the family's 4th and 5th-generations.  The virtual tasting event is to be hosted by the family historian, Phil Wente, and winegrower Niki Wente, who will walk us through the different styles of their Chardonnay line.

Wente 135th Anniversary Celebratory Chardonnay 2016

Wente's Celebratory Chardonnay celebrates 135 years of making wine.  2018 marks that accomplishment, and they've come a long way since 1883.  It's 100% Central Coast Chardonnay which is sourced from their estate vineyards in the Livermore Valley and the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey County.  Karl Wente made a thousand cases of the wine, which clocks alcohol at 13.8% and retails for $40.

The wine was fermented both in barrels and stainless steel, with the barrel lots receiving malolactic fermentation for a full, rich mouthfeel.  It was aged for 16 months in a combination of new and neutral American and French oak.  They stirred the lees a couple times a month..

This Chardonnay comes on big and bold, sporting a nose of apples, peaches and oak.  The mouthfeel is creamy, but the acidity still zips.  Wood dominates the flavor profile, too, but if you're in the mood for it, it hits the spot.  Behind the oak lies stone fruit, pineapple and citrus flavors.  The finish carries the memory of those barrels quite a distance.



Friday, April 27, 2018

Serious Sauv Blanc From Monterey County

The Arroyo Seco AVA is centered around Monterey County's Arroyo Seco River, a seasonal waterway that brings rain and snowmelt from the Santa Lucia Mountains to the Salinas River.  Commercial grape growing started there in 1961 and has grown to some 7,000 acres under vine.  The region is about 40 miles away from the deep waters of Monterey Bay and parts of it get direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean through the Salinas Valley. 

The 2016 MuirWood Sauvignon Blanc grapes were grown in their Suter Vineyard estate plot in the Arroyo Seco Canyon.  They are the Musqué clone of the variety, and as such offer more aromatics, typically with a lean to fruit, away from the vegetal aspect for which the grape is known.  Surprises abound, though.

The wine hits 13.9% abv on the alcohol meter and sells for about $15.

The nose this wine offers is unlike any I've experienced with Sauvignon Blanc, even of the Musqué variety.  There are apple notes and flower aromas, but an overriding smokiness - muskiness? - lends a savory effect.  The acidity is zippy but not mind-blowing, and the weight is medium full, like a Chardonnay.  It's an extremely satisfying drink, and one of the more impressive of the variety that I've tasted.  Sauvignon Blanc generally means spring to me, but this would be great next to a Thanksgiving ham.


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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sauvignon Blanc Wine From Monterey County

Chesebro Wines come from beautiful Carmel Valley, with vineyards there, as well as in the Arroyo Seco AVA.  That's where the Sauvignon Blanc grapes for this wine were grown, in the Cedar Lane Vineyard farmed by Michael Griva

The Arroyo Seco AVA is centered around Monterey County's Arroyo Seco River, a seasonal waterway that brings rain and snowmelt from the Santa Lucia Mountains to the Salinas River.  Commercial grape growing started there in 1961 and has grown to some 7,000 acres under vine.  The region is about 40 miles away from the deep waters of Monterey Bay and parts of it get direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean through the Salinas Valley. 

Chesebro Cedar Lane Sauvignon Blanc, Arroyo Seco 2016

This wine has a lovely golden tint.  The nose is full of citrus zest and a lanolin component, with only a slight grassiness.  It's a very California SauvBlanc.  On the palate, there's more lemon, some apricot and a gorgeous salinity with a zippy acidity to carry things along.  The mouth, however, is full and rich while the long finish leaves lemon peel lingering.  Alcohol sits at 12.5% abv and the wine sells for $18.


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Friday, January 26, 2018

Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc From Arroyo Seco AVA

The Arroyo Seco AVA is centered around Monterey County's Arroyo Seco River, a seasonal waterway that brings rain and snowmelt from the Santa Lucia Mountains to the Salinas River.  Commercial grape growing started in 1961 and has grown to some 7,000 acres under vine.  The region is about 40 miles away from the deep waters of Monterey Bay and parts of it get direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean through the Salinas Valley, both adding to its cool-climate stature.

Bernardus Griva Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Michael Griva's vineyard - reportedly planted specifically for Carmel Valley's Bernardus - contains Sauvignon Blanc grapes, the aromatic Musqué clone, and a small section of Sémillon grapes.  The sandy, stone-laden soil drains very well and provides a great place for the fruit to soak up enough sun to ripen to great varietal expression.  It's mainly a Sauvignon Blanc, with the Sémillon providing just a 5% splash.

The Bernardus Griva was fermented in steel tanks, then aged several months in large neutral French oak barrels.  Alcohol is restrained, at 13.9% abv and the wine retails for $30.

This is a beautiful California Sauvignon Blanc.  It has a wonderful nose that offers more salinity than grassiness.  Citrus and minerals are also in play.  On the palate, the savory herbal flavors get the citrus treatment, too.  Zippy acidity brings a lively food friendliness, so pair it with shellfish, salads or spinach.


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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

J Lohr Sauvignon Blanc

Jerry Lohr led the way in Monterey's Arroyo Seco District and was an early advocate of Paso Robles' suitability for the growing of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  He's been a mainstay in California's Central Coast wine community for decades and his wines seem to get better with every release, still garnering awards and high ratings and still selling like crazy.

I generally find California Sauvignon Blanc to be a little too ripe for my taste, a little too pretty.  This one straddles the fence between a California close-up and an old-world postcard.  There's plenty of tartness, balanced out with acidity and flavor.

This Sauvignon Blanc wine was named for the original concrete water channel that connected two vineyards.  The J Lohr Flume Crossing comes from a cooler 2016 vintage which allowed longer ripening for the grapes yet maintained the acidity needed in this style of wine.  The white wine was aged for five months, 45% in stainless steel, 55% in barrels.  Alcohol hits 13.8% abv and the retail price is $14.

Flume Crossing is an extremely pale wine with strong mineral and citrus notes on the nose, laced with a gentle herbal edge.  The palate shows lemon, peel and all, with a handful of wet rocks minerality.  The acidity is zippy and refreshing and begs for some crustaceans, immediately.


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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blanc

In the same way that rosé gets a seasonal shun when the weather turns brisk, wine lovers sometimes forget about Sauvignon Blanc over the fall and winter.  I admit I'm guilty of letting Sauvignon Blanc fall into that "harbinger of spring" category.  It performs extremely well there, but Sauvignon Blanc also has a place at the holiday table, not just the picnic table.  In the coming weeks we'll be covering some nice choices from the Arroyo Seco AVA of California's Monterey County.

The Arroyo Seco AVA is centered around the Arroyo Seco River.  It's described as a seasonal waterway that brings rain and snowmelt from the Santa Lucia Mountains to the Salinas River.  Commercial grape growing started in 1961 and has grown to some 7,000 acres under vine.  The region is about 40 miles away from the deep waters of Monterey Bay and parts of it get direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean through the Salinas Valley. 

Luli 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Arroyo Seco

Sara Floyd partnered with the Pisoni family to create her line of Luli wines.  The Sauvignon Blanc grapes were grown in Griva Vineyard, a cold, windy, ancient riverbed with soil full of shale.  Winemaker Jeff Pisoni fermented the wine in neutral barrels, not stainless steel, so the mouthfeel is a little weightier than one might expect from a Sauvigon Blanc.  It was selling for about $18, but the winery lists it as "sold out."  That's no surprise.  Alcohol is a middling 14.2% abv.

This wine's nose offers up more of that wonderful grassy aroma than I usually find in California SauvBlancs.  There's a touch of orange peel and lemon zest in there, too.  The mouthfeel is medium full and graced with a zippy acidity.  There is a rich minerality here, as expected, with tropical fruit flavors trying their best to overshadow the stark rocks.  The rocks win.  Lay out an olive and cheese plate if you don't have any shellfish lying about.


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Monday, November 7, 2016

Wine Your Own Beeswax

The wines of Bonny Doon Vineyards are all about complexity. They are all about savory. Sometimes, they’re all about beeswax.

The 2013 Le Cigare Blanc is composed of 57% Grenache Blanc grapes, 27% Roussanne and 16% Picpoul Blanc. Those Rhônish varieties are grown with organic care in the Beeswax Vineyard of Monterey County's Arroyo Seco appellation. Three varieties, a single vineyard.

Bonny Doon chief Randall Grahm says the '13 vintage of the pale analog of his amazing Le Cigare Volant is richer than the "lean, taut '11" but has the hallmark complexity we've come to expect in his wines. It rides in at 14.5% abv and retails for $28. Grahm made 1,757 cases

The wine is a pale, greenish-gold in the glass. It smells, notably, of beeswax - not surprising given that the grapes were grown in the namesake vineyard. A light lanolin creeps over with a bit of yellow melon and a chalk minerality. The nose is elegant, not forceful. On the palate, its savory aspect is apparent, with waxy and nutty flavors presiding over the citrus and minerals. The mouthfeel is full and the acidity is just enough. Year after year, it’s one of the best white wines I taste.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Monterey Grenache Blanc, Celadon

Topanga Vineyards sounds more L.A. Than Central coast and, sure enough, the 90 vines planted in the SoCal hideaway of Topanga Canyon started the wine effort of husband and wife team Sandy Garber and Ralph Meyer. Those vines are for wines they use for a home winemaking hobby, though. They source fruit from more agriculturally-suited areas of California for their general release wines.

Their Celadon 2012 Grenache Blanc is made from Arroyo Seco grapes out of Monterey, from the Beeswax Vineyard. It is 100% Grenache Blanc and sells for $25 retail and it was $13 by the glass at Los Angeles restaurant AOC, although they had it listed as Santa Barbara County! Larry Brooks is the winemaker.

This fine Grenache Blanc carries a beautifully funky note from the nose right through the palate. Aromas of salinity, earth and lanolin lead to fennel flavors with limes and minerals thrown in. There is a great acidity which makes it superb for pairing with what we had at AOC: spinach salad with grilled chicken and bacon, lobster and shrimp roll and even the lamb share plate.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Monterey Tempranillo: Lee Family Farm

Lee Family Farm is a label created under the parentage of Morgan Winery.  Dan Morgan Lee wanted to be a veterenarian, but wine hijacked his career path.  Lee planted vineyards in Monterey County's Santa Lucia Highlands back in 1996.  Today he uses those grapes for his Morgan and Double L labels.  For his Lee Family Farms bottlings, he sources fruit from other Monterey County growers.

The folks at Morgan Winery quote the Oxford Companion to Wine’s summary of Tempranillo as "Spain’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon." And it's not a smart-alecky answer either. In fact, I'll take Tempranillo with a steak any old time. This Tempranillo hails not from Spain, but from Ventana Vineyard’s gravelly dirt in the Arroyo Seco subdivision of the cool-climate Monterey AVA. The wine spent 10 months in French oak, about a quarter of it new.  Alcohol is a rich 14.4% abv and the retail price is a tasty 20 bucks.

The nose on the Lee Family Farm Arroyo Seco Tempranillo 2013 is quite savory and rustic. Black fruit is predominant, but some nice cedar notes waft out of the glass as well.  Tobacco, spice and a bit of anise are also around in the aroma package. On the palate, that savory aspect holds strong. The very savory, very rustic black fruit is colored with sage and bramble.

This is a natural to pair with meat right off of a sizzling grill. Thick and juicy meat is what this wine is made for. I like mine a little pink in the middle, if you're cooking today. I can be over in about 20 minutes.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Sweet Wine From Bonny Doon Vineyard

Sweet wine is not just for the holidays, although many people feel that way.  These may be the same folks who only drink Champagne on New Year's Eve.  Sure, a nice dessert wine with pumpkin pie is great.  A sip or two while unwrapping presents on Christmas morning helps us give a picture-worthy smile even for the gifts we know we'll be returning on Boxing Day.   But does it pair with turkey?  Can we drink it all year long?  Yes, if we can afford to.

At $24 per 375 ml bottle, it's actually a pretty good deal for dessert wine.  Still, if you are serving a group of people it can get pricey to give everyone a good pour.  And everyone wants a good pour of dessert wine.

Bonny Doon's Vinferno 2013 is light on the alcohol - 11.2% abv - and heavy on the residual sugar - 14.6%.  The Grenache Blanc grapes are harvested from the Beeswax Vineyard in Arroyo Seco which has been put to such great use by winemaker Randall Grahm in other wines.  And props to Mr. Grahm, while we're at it, for producing a single-vineyard sweet wine.  Vinification took place in stainless steel tanks.

The grapes are air-dried, by the way.   Grahm waited for botrytis to set in - the mold that makes dessert wine sweet - but it never came to the vineyard in 2013.  So Vinferno turned out to be a late-harvest wine, in which the grapes dried on the vine.  It would have made for better marketing copy had the grapes been laid out for three months on top of a carport housing a Citroen, but it was not to be.  Hang time did the trick.

Vinferno is a sweet wine, to be sure, but there is plenty more going on, which lifts it from "dessert wine" status to the level of a great table wine.  First of all, there is a savory aspect to both the nose and palate that keeps it from cloying.  Second, the acidity is bracing, and it's especially noticeable when served unchilled.  It's definitely food-friendly.  Third, the flavors probably go best with fruit or a soft, creamy cheese, but they work well with lightly herbed meats, too.  Even bratwurst.  Salty peanuts.  At this point, you'll need another bottle.

This wine has color to burn.  It's a beautiful, whiskey-tinted amber that is quite enticing.  Aromas of pear, apple, apricot, pineapple and honey have a savory blanket of earth over them.   Fruit flavors come across sweetly, with a complex savory story of their own to tell, too.  The herbal notes are huge, and welcome anytime.  But I want this on Christmas morning.


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Friday, May 18, 2012

Table For Three At 3Twenty South Wine Lounge


The radio business has some nice euphemisms for being out of work. That’s probably because being out of work is a more-or-less natural state in radio. “Between gigs,” “on the beach,” “away from the mic” - nice, presentable ways of saying you’re jobless. I have been considered fortunate through my radio career to have stayed employed fairly consistently and for durations much longer than typical radio jobs usually last. My last gig was 22 years. My next one is - hopefully - just around the corner. After so long in a career which sometimes saw me working when others were playing, I now get to play while others are working. I stopped into 3Twenty South Wine Lounge in the mid-afternoon a while back after running some errands on La Brea. I wasn’t looking to prop myself up at the bar, I just wanted to pop in and say “hi” to my friend Edgar Poureshagh, the owner and sommelier. As luck would have it, another friend was there, too. Jamie Edlin, of Hollywood and Wine, was seated at a table in the otherwise empty restaurant. Her company represents and services “a select portfolio of boutique, artisan wineries,” and she was obviously ready to pour a few samples for Edgar to taste. They were both very kind to insist I join them. Jamie was pouring Pinot Noir from two Monterey County wineries, Chesebro Wines and Cima Collina. Chesebro Wines - in Carmel Valley - is a small, family-owned outfit which produces around 2,000 cases per year. They own vineyards in Monterey County. The Chesebro Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir 2009 utilizes a blend of grapes from two vineyards, Cedar Lane and Mission Ranch, in the Arroyo Seco AVA. The sandy, low vigor soil and cool, foggy mornings make for good Pinot-growing conditions. Big acidity is immediately noticed, and welcomed. The wine is very dark in color and taste - with black cherry, clove and dark spices coming forth. Cima Collina produces artisan wines which are unfined and unfiltered. The vineyards of the two wines tasted are on opposite sides of the Salinas Valley. The 2007 Pinot Noir, Lucia Highlands Vineyard, is rather oaky with cherries and plums in the forefront. The alcohol is restrained at 13.8% abv. Cima Collina's Pinot Noir, Chula Vina Vineyard 2007 hails from the northeastern side of the Salinas Valley in the foothills. The granitic soil is well drained and somewhat protected from the windy conditions in the area. Dried plum leads the way in this fascinating, very easy drinker. A big, full-bodied feel in the mouth and the fruit-forward attitude makes for a good example of California Pinot. The alcohol edges up to 14% abv.