What an absolutely gorgeous day in the city. The rains have stopped, the clouds have parted and the sun is shining bright. What a perfect day to head up to Sonoma and do some wine tasting! James had the day off from events and cooking, so he hopped a ride up with us. My friend Brad had too big of a night, he might have been one of the people we passed en route home last night, dancing in the streets. So he passed on wine drinking and focused on his own recovery.
As soon as James showed up at our place, I could tell he had had a big night himself. He’s more of a student of the hair of the dog theory, so he hopped right back on the train. We stopped and got him some lovely gas station coffee… he said it wasn’t too bad.
Our first stop on the Savor Sonoma Valley event was VJB Cellars. I was interested to begin here, as we missed this winery on our last visit to Sonoma. I was pleasantly surprise in both the wine and the food pairings. The barbera was nice. But I liked their Primivito the best. With only 400 cases produced, you should try to get your hands on some of this delicious wine. Also of note was the Nero d’Avola. Needs a little age though.
Next up was Deerfield Ranch. I love the folks at Deerfield Ranch. Not just because they are lovely people, but they also know how to make excellent wine. My favs are their zins, but sadly, they weren’t pouring any. When we first walked into the caves, Robert Rex, surrounded by wine barrels, was conducting a barrel tasting. We hung out with Robert for a while, chatting about food and wine, then headed into the center of the cave to do some more tasting.
Inside we were greeted by PJ, Robert’s wife, rockin her leather jacket and leather boots. Here we sampled their Chardonnay, Merlot Cuvee, DRX and 06 Cab. The DRX and 06 Cab were my favs. The cab has big flavor, but still subtle tannins that dance in your mouth long after the finish.
We chatted some more with Robert on the way out. He and James really got into some cooking chatter.
Next we headed back up north to Paradise Ridge. I was bragging to James about their refreshing sparkling. In the state that James was in, this sounded great to him. Of course when we arrive, Annette was there to greet us, but sadly, without the bubbles. They sold out. Boooo! We settled for some of their Estate Sauv Blanc…still nice and refreshing. Of what we sampled, I liked their Estate Zin the best. Next, probably the Monte Rosso Cabernet. At this point…glasses of wine later, I’m sure my ears were playing tricks on me. We tasted a barrel sample of another cab, and I swear someone said it was like biting into a snake. Huh? Who knows what its like to bite into a snake? An Aussie, probably, but no one in that tasting room.
We walked up the road a bit to the petite Ty Caton/Muscardini Cellars shared tasting room. I was looking for my man George…sure enough, he was there! Bill was too. George is the guy that got me nice and loose last time we visited. Just kept pouring more and more and more wine. They have a lot of good wine between the two. We started off with George’s own Dry Riesling. Tasted pretty good after all the red wine we’d been drinking. My favs here are Muscardini Tesoro, Zin & Sangiovese. Ty Caton Ballfield Estate Syrah and Estate Tytanium.
At this point we were ready for some food, so we shot across the street to Kunde, figuring they’d have some yummy treats. I love Kunde wine. I don’t think I’ve had a bad bottle there. Some I like more than others of course, but everything is at least good. My favorite was their Robusto Zin, but sadly they stopped making it a few years ago. I think I have one coveted bottle remaining.
Unfortunately the food was only average. They had one or two items that were good, but I had higher expectations for the food. At least the wine was still good. Since I can no longer get the Robusto, their Old Vine Zin is my current favorite. They also make a nice Sauv Blanc, Estate Cab, Meritage and Barbera.
After being disappointed in the food at Kunde, we tried our luck at Benziger in Glen Ellen. Unfortunately my favorite tasting room guy, Ken, retired earlier this year. I missed the party apparently too. Benziger is a biodynamic and sustainable winery. Another gorgeous property and worth a tour. I really enjoy their reserve wines. To be honest, their regular tasting room wines, I’m not as much of a fan of. But the reserves are quite lovely. Their Signatura Series is very good. Sauv Blanc is very tasty as are their cabs. The queen mother at Benziger though is the Tribute. Its a must try!
At this point we’d have enough wine and were in need of more food. On the way in we passed a farm that James really wanted to stop in and see what they had. Now at this point its about 5pm on a Sunday. We pulled in and no one was home. There was a sign on the door though that listed a phone number to call for help. We did, we spoke with Scott, he directed us to a building with a red door. Told us to go in, help ourselves, write down what we took, and leave money in the basket. I love that this place still exists! We did as we were told. Took a bunch of meat, a dozen eggs, dropped our money in the basket and were on our way.
Now you would think that this might be an end to the day’s story. But it was only beginning. James volunteered to cook dinner at our place with the meats that we’d purchased at the farm. Misty was already planning to come over to watch the finals of the BNP Paribas Open that we’d recorded from earlier in the day.
Impromptu dinner party was born. James invited his friend Samir over. I popped open a magnum bottle of champagne…like we needed it. And James began to cook. We all drank and laughed while watching tennis. I’m sure Dan was just watching and shaking his head, enjoying the show.
By the end of the night, one magnum of champagne, 2 bottles of red wine, brandy and an Irish whiskey finisher. I can’t believe that 4 people drank that much, especially since 2 of them had been drinking all day. Thankfully we don’t have many days like this…the old body couldn’t take it. But every now and then, it sure makes for a great way to spend a day.