Saturday, May 1, 2010

THE LONG & WINE-ING ROAD - Day Four - Pt. 2

Day Four – Pt. 2

After our terrific lunch at Restaurant Charcuterie it was time to get back on the wine-ing road. To recap: Richard and I were fending for ourselves on this day because my brother was at the condo nursing his sore back and Nguyen was in San Francisco w/ their daughter and brand new grandson.

The first winery we hit was Simi where we learned that fume blanc means that the wine is a sauvignon blanc ‘aged’ in oak. The tasting menu was $15.00 (again, this was free for us since we had a complimentary tasting coupon from our condo complex) for eight tastes. (Tip: If you go to you can find many coupons for free tastings or two for one tastings.)

I really loved Simi’s Alexander Valley 2007 Viognier ($30), but for some reason, the winery has stopped making it. The 2006 Russian River Chardonnay ($28) was the best of the three chardonnays I sipped, and I enjoyed the 2006 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah ($35).

After our tasting, we were given a tour of the venue which included an outdoor patio and dining room downstairs that are open to the public from May to October which serves high-end food pairings from Chef Eric Lee

 but also pizzas (they have a great pizza oven) and ‘grill’ food.

A bit of winery lore: Though founded by two brothers in the late 1800’s, Isabel Simi, a daughter of one of the brothers, became the youngest female winemaker in 1904. She continued to make wine throughout Prohibition (thought that was cool!). And since her reign, Simi has had a long tradition of female winemakers.

Onward! Our next stop was the tasting room of Clos du Bois

where Robyn West was our delightful “barista.” She was outgoing, a lot of fun and quite knowledgeable. And as we started our tasting, we learned another piece of fume blanc trivia: Robert Mondavi made-up the term to make his oak-aged sauvignon blanc “special.” I’m not a ‘blanc’ person … fume or sauvignon doesn’t matter, it all usually tastes like dishwater to me… but the Clos du Bois 2008 Reserve Fume Blanc – Russian River Valley ($18) was the best ‘blanc’ I’d ever tasted. Really, it was… and not just because we were enjoying Robyn’s company or the fact that the large space was bright (even though it was raining outside) w/ oversized vintage vinegar bottles made into ceiling lights,

a vintage bike hanging from the ceiling, and lots and lots of windows.

The premier tasting was $10.00 per person and we hoped that the rest of the wines lived up to the ‘blanc.’ They did. A few favorites: 2006 Old Vine (85-90 year old vines – hence the “old” adjective) Carignane – Alexander Valley made from 81% carignane grapes and 19% zinfandel grapes ($30). Sadly you cannot buy this wine commercially, only on-line or at the tasting room. The same holds true for the best zin we had so far… the 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel – Alexander Valley – 100% zinfandel ($35). Another terrific wine and a great value was the 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a varietal composition of 93% cab, 5% petite verdot and 2% cab franc ($22).

All and all, the wines we tasted were delicious and I wanted to sip there forever, but believe it or not, we weren’t the only people tasting these fine wines, so we reluctantly gave up our positions at the bar and waved goodbye to Robyn.

Next on our agenda was the Stryker Sonoma tasting room. Great space w/ floor to ceiling windows, an ‘industrial-style’ wood ceiling, a modern bar and a roaring fire in the fireplace… something Richard and I appreciated as we ran through the rain from the parking lot to the entrance.

Patty Stryker from Fort Collins, Colorado is the winery’s owner (the feminist in me loves the fact that there are so many women in the wine business). Tim Hardin is the winemaker. The reserve tasting was complimentary and I had a few favorites: I thought the 2005 Merlot: Rockpile Vineyard ($36) was ‘lovely;’ enjoyed the rich ‘huskiness’ of the 2006 Zinfindel: Speedy Creed Vineyard: Knights Valley ($34); and thought the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: Alexander Valley ($27) was a terrific wine for the price. Number one of the Styker list, however, was the 100% cabernet sauvignon 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Rosso Vineyard (an old growth vineyard) - Sonoma County ($48) which had a creamy blackberry flavor w/ a hint of cloves and coffee and I don’t know what else – but it was good.

As we finished our sipping, we checked the time – 5:00 may be the cocktail hour for most of us, but for the wineries, it was closing time and time for us to pick up some dinner, head back to Bob and the condo and map out our next day’s tasting adventure.


Babe said...

Bill would have had a ball! & such great pictures xxx TY

ilona saari said...

Glad you liked the piece, Babe. Hope you get to read Days 1-4 of our Sonoma road trip. Working on Day 5 ;o)

Richard said...

Clos du Bois... no relation to Blanch. "I've always depended on the kindness of wineries.")

ilona saari said...