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Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’

IMG_2213The time-space continuum was definitely a wee bit out of wack that afternoon. One minute we were in downtown Healdsburg, the next, a Tuscan olive grove. Strange, yes, but not in the least bit unpleasant. We decided to explore.

DaVero is a beautiful olive ranch and biodynamic farm in the Dry Creek Valley. Not only do they produce amazing oil, but the rich, buttery green Manzanilla olives haunt me to this day. They also farm herbs and Meyer lemons (some of which make their way into a lovely Dry Creek Vally Estate Meyer Lemon Olive Oil that is phenomenal on fish, and even more of a revelation on simple steamed veggies. In fact, their regular Extra Virgin Olive Oil on steamed veggies takes the edge off the “greenness” making a steamed vegetable side more compatible with dry white wine, which can be challenging!)

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They also do a range of estate wines, mostly Italian varietals as well as Cabernet Sauvignon. For the most part (some exceptions) these are mid-priced ($22-$30) wines easy drinking, nothing too complex. The revelation, however, hailed from Portugal, the 2011 Tinta Cao ($28) with a Zinfandel nose but a Chianti palate. Tinta Cao is made from the same grapes that are used for Port, but isn’t at all heavy or Port-y, it’s more port as a young lass, all red cherry life saver sass and a kicky black pepper back. And at a relatively tame %11.7 alcohol, it’s perfect for a weeknight red sauce pasta dinner.

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Wandering out onto the patio with a glass of the DaVero Estate Sangiovese ($45) taking a snoot-full of the rich petrol nose followed by rich black raspberry and tar and a long, acidic, cayenne pepper finish, my thoughts turned to food. Hearty, Italian food. At that moment, another apparition appeared. A wood burning oven, rich, yeasty dough. The Rosso Pizza truck was there! Marone! I will get into a more detailed ode to Rosso in the coming days, but for now, just know there was much weeping, long stretches of blissed out chewing, and maybe, just maybe a little smooching of the biodynamic ground that made this perfect Tuscan afternoon in NorCal possible.

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The rustic tasting room is a lovely spot to try both the wines and the oils (and those incredible olives, if you’re lucky!)  So, if you should find yourself stepping through that tear in the fabric of space and time and wandering into Chianti, or even on the Westside Road, DeVero is definitely worth a stop.

DaVero Tasting Room
766 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
 
Open 10-5 daily
davero.com

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Chalk Hill Winery 10300 Chalk Hill Road Healdsburg, CA 95448. Phone (707) 657-4837

2007 Chalk Hill Sauvingnon Blanc ($28) Chalky, minerally, rich for a sauvignon blanc. No Green-ness whatsoever. Tasted blind I might mistake this for an un-oaked chardonnay. 93 pts. (Tasted 3/10)

2007 Chalk Hill Chardonnay ($45) Buttery, just short of flabby, this is missing some necessary structure, but it does go down quite smooth. 87 pts. (Tasted (3/10)

2006 Chalk Hill Pinot Gris North Slope ($40) Tropical typicity. Nice mineral backbone. 89 pts. (Tasted 3/10)

2005 Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon ($50) Carmel nose. Ready to drink. Very smooth, no green-nes to it. Lots of fruit. Not a woody or leathery cab, primarily fruit driven. 88 pts. (Tasted 3/10)

2006 Chalk Hill Merlot ($50) Green, young, needs some time. You can taste the rich mocha underneath all the green veggies that will probably be revealed in 1-2 years (2011-12) This is a massive wine. 90 pts. (Tasted 3/10)

2006 Chalk hill Botrytised Semillon ($80/375 ml) A desert wine without much to offer but an over-the-top cloying sweetness, no real  complexity here. 86 pts. (Tasted 3/10)

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It’s very rare that one’s first love is their greatest love. Sure, there are the lucky boys and girls next door, the hometown honeys and the high school prom dates. But for most of us, it’s years, decades even, of trial and error, high highs, low lows and experiences that you might deeply regret. Or look back at and laugh. For the most part, my ongoing love affair with wine has been fabulous, and there’s been something to look back at and love about each of my suitors, as badly matched as we may have been.

There was early puppy love with a sweet, well-intentioned, but dumb as a box of rocks Temecula sparkler (Yes, they can make “Champagne” out of almonds…I’ll leave it at that.)

Then, the flashy, testosterone heavy, Alpha Male Napa Cabernet, who, all too often, had more money than sense, and questionable taste in decor (I suppose all that Travertine marble does evoke ancient Mesopotamia, but does that make it right?) He took me on a blinged-out ride, which was a ton of fun while it lasted, but The Sonomaist was ill-prepared to subsist entirely on rib eye steaks, duck confit and Cohiba Cigars.

A sand and sun soaked, lazy, hazy summer with the unfocused, Surfer Boy, Santa Barbara Syrah, a mellow, fellow to be sure, but eventually I realized, there wasn’t a lot of depth there and ended up with a splitting headache from his rather monotonous dude-speak.

Having “grown into my big girl pants” after some wild time abroad with très romantique Burgundies (red and white, The Sonomaist is an equal opportunity quaffer!) And mad Riojas, full of unbridled passion, clad in an exotic leathery wardrobes hissing promises to last until the end of time and beyond, I returned home to the good ole U.S of A. Older, wiser, and looking for love.

Where does a smart, wordly girl like The Sonomaist go next, you might ask? Why, the Pacific Northwest, of course. The place of Serious Pinot Noir, dark framed nerd glasses and earnest intentions. Willamette (I call him Will, he hates it) was an intense, brooding young pinot, intent on getting out from under the demanding, looming shadow of his French father, but aching to make him proud nonetheless. Will was an unheralded genius. One day he will change the world, and I’ll look back wistfully at our time together. But The Sonomaist needed someone to meet her halfway. Brains, beauty, a twinkle in the eye that speaks to an old soul with a wicked sense of humor. I think you know where this is going, don’t you?

I’d run into Sonoma a few times, you know how you do, mutual friends, shared turf. And here we were again, Carneros, neither here nor “There.” I was back on with Napa Cab (he’s so intoxicating, dontcha know) riding high on a wave of Louboutins and lobster tails. Every night a different gala event, another éminence grise. But this night was different. Darker, uncoreographed. It was a house party, more like a barn party really. Slumming, not “our kind of people” Napa said. But he was more than ready to mingle, every man wanted to be him and every woman wanted to be with him. I hugged a corner, The Sonomaist was never a real social butterfly. more of a social caterpillar, content to linger around the edges of any given event (true fact, if you stay stationary at a party, eventually, all the minglers and movers will circle around to you because they have to “do” the room, you just have to observe. It’s like being the sun, and they are but planets. Think of it that way, my dear wallflowers.) From my spot, I observed Napa Cab, working the room, reveling in the admiration. Flirting a little too seriously with the out of town girl, big hair, bought bustline and new money to burn. He couldn’t help himself. I finally saw him for who he really was.

I sipped the local Pinot Noir, how good could it be? It came out of this dusty old shed, not a single ode to Ulysses rendered in bronze  anywhere. But as I sipped, there He was. Nothing flashy, but good looking, in an aw’ shucks kind of a way. A native intelligence passed down through generations who worked equally well with their brains and their hands. Mud in the treads of his boots, tan earned not sprayed. Made for use, not displaying under a pinpoint spot. His fruity side got my jokes and his steady, firm, gravitas and depth stole my heart. Sonoma asked me to dance back in 1997. We’ve been dancing ever since, and he never fails to surprise me with new steps, twists, and always a good joke or two. He laughs his, deep, earthy laugh, and every time he looks at me with those hazel eyes, sometimes green as the leaves of a Gravenstein apple tree in July, sometimes as deep and brown as the loamy soil of the Valley in wintertime, I know he gets me. And I get him. And that, my friends, is what true love is all about. Which is why I was more than happy to take his name and start the journey of a lifetime. Come with, it’ll be fun.

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