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Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

Another ramble through DCV and RRV, thanks OT!

Posted by Richard Foxall, Oct 29, 2012.

I'll try to keep this one short.  A few months back, I had dinner with OutThere and JonDerry (not their real names) up in Napa.  OT and I traded bottles and I was so enthralled with the bottle of Syrah he provided that I jumped when he said we could go in on a mixed case and get it at $20 a bottle.  Folks, if you can get your hands on Halcon Alturas Syrah, I suggest you get on it, now.

You might also know that I am a big fan of Clay Mauritson's wines, and signed up for his wine club (the only one I belong to) so I can get his Cemetery Zin, one of GdP's "bucket list" wines. You may remember my last post about rambling through the RRV and DCV, so here's the update.

This month my allocation of Mauritons Cemetery Zin was ready, my Halcon was at OT's place in the RRV.  What's left but a road trip from the urban core of Oakland to wine country on a beautiful Sunday? 

After a trip to the Temescal Farmer's Market to buy lamb for our double family dinner, and dropping off my wife at the gym, it was off to the North Bay.  Hardly any traffic and I was there in 45 minutes, pulled off to call OT, who gave perfect directions, then into the heart of the RRV.  Down River Road, through vineyards, a left into his hometown, onto the sidestreets.  Boom, there we were.  Met his lovely girlfriend, their dogs, got my wine, including a hand-bottled Pinot from Gracianna, where his stepson is the winemaker.  OT knows this area like no one else, so I asked for his directions to DCV.  Coincidentally, they took me past Gracianna.  So I had to stop in.

But before I got there, I pulled off on the side of River Road.  Things are very quiet right now, so there's always room to park on the shoulder.  Walked into a vineyard and plucked a small bunch of pinot that apparently hadn't ripened in time for harvest.  Sometimes, home winemakers will pay to pick their own, but these were left.  Then I headed up past Porter Creek, Arista, Wiliams Selyem, and stopped at Gracianna for a taste.  I mentioned OT (I used his real name) and they let me use the restroom.  Actually, I had a great visit that I had to cut short because my car had almost a case of wine in it (some of it JD's!) and was parked in the sun.  I bought a bottle of Zin that was more like a Ciro.  Licorice and chocolate and that vine-y blackberry.  The pinot was ethereal, light, balanced; if there's oak, it's a kiss, and an air-kiss at that.  Definitely stop by if you are in the area.  Real family operations exist in the RRV and DCV, and this one is a labor of love.  Plus there's real talent behind it and they have Bacigalupi fruit.  I plucked another bunch of pinot (with their permission) from the tiny estate vineyard. 

Back on the road, I saw another vineyard that appeared to have some dark clusters left on the vines.  I pulled over, walked a couple rows and saw they were just darkened leaves.  As I was about to give up, I saw a cluster of light colored grapes and realized this was a chardonnay vineyard.  I clipped another bunch, and headed for Mauritson. 

As I pulled into the Mauritson parking lot, Clay was driving a forklift with his kids in the cab.  I headed into the winery and sweet-talked my way into two extra bottles of Cemetery Zin, upping my total to six for the year.  Chatted with the assistant winemaker, said hi to Clay's wife, and hurried back to the car--those bottles can't be left in the sun! On the way out, I walked into the rows and pinched off a bunch of Zin grapes. 

Back home an hour later, I roasted a leg of lamb and a couple shanks, put the bunches of grapes on the table for our guests, and opened a bottle of Clay's syrah and a N. Rhone and had dinner with my family and our very good friends.  Our guests couldn't stop eating the vineyard grapes that I had nicked on my trip.  Apple pie (another Sonoma crop) to finish it off, and, just to top it all off, the Giants finished their sweep of the Tigers.  Thanks to OT for giving me another reason to visit one of our great treasures, and for the entree to another fine winery. 

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Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 29, 2012.

Hearing stuff like this gets me thinking about moving up north. Have been enjoying all the talk of RRV lately, though DCV has always been a little more on my radar.

Can appreciate worrying about the cargo with the sun beating on your car...you couldn't find a shady spot to park? I had a similar issue toting that 89' Beaucastel on the trip up earlier this year. Really should've brought that in to Corison with us, it probably would've showed just a little better had I done that, but instead I learned that good wine is pretty damn durable.

By the way, congrats on those Cemetery Zin's, 2009? Sounds like you have enough to go around!

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

Nice write up Fox! Was good to see you again. I'm happy you were able to stop by and visit the tasting room and even happier that you enjoyed the wines. Was a gorgeous day yesterday with temps hovering around 80 degrees and not a cloud in sight. The colors on display right now are breathtaking. (We need to teach this boy how to use a camera)

Next Snooth dinner get-together should be up here.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 29, 2012.

OT, I was going to take pictures with my phone but I realized that you would have better ones.  No kidding. I was also just enjoying being in the moment, with no one in the rearview mirror 95% of the time.  I could pull off and walk rows, pluck little bunches of grapes, kick the dirt.  Best of all, by the time I headed home, between all the freshly bottled wines and the clusters of grapes sitting on the front passenger seat, my car smelled like a winery.  That was never going to show up in a picture. Good thing I didn't get stopped. 

Officer ( on witness stand):  "An odor of an alcoholic beverage was emanating from the car."

Defense lawyer:  "But can you say which one?"

Officer: "Yes, it was wine."

Defense lawyer: "But what varietals, officer?  You do live in wine country, do you not?"

Oddly enough, I probably wouldn't have registered even .01 if I took a test, since I was drinking tiny sips and spitting the vast majority.  Used to kill me to spit, but there's really no alternative when you taste at bunches of places.  Drinking is for home and restaurants, tasting rooms are for tasting, sad to say.

Next time I'll take the camera.  There'll be lots of pictures of bare vines, since it's going to December. 

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

OK, I snapped a few on the go today. No color other than gray this AM in the fog.

But that didn't last long.

 

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

Color was popping at the Library Vineyard in St Helena

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

Things were turning to gold in Oakville

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

They had their Halloween spirit going on Siverado Trail

  

 

Sorry about multiple posts but Snooth/iPhone doesn't do multiple pics. 

 

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

Only in Wine Country

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

Carneros is turning a nice shade of orange. Looking NW towards Las Madres Vineyard

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

The Petaluma Wind Gap is looking pretty barren. Par for the course. Check out the action shot with the Red Tail Hawk making a dive through my shot!

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

Too much traffic  to take any pics until I got back to the RRV and Emeritus whose Pinot is almost dormant but the trees are fiery.

 

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

The Chard at Dutton Estate doesn't know what time of year it is.

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

and Cresta Ridge is a sea of yellow.

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

Almost home!

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Reply by outthere, Oct 29, 2012.

Ho hum, just another day in the life. Hope you all are staying safe and dry wherever you might be. Can I get some feedback on this bottle? Don't have a clue.

Jimenez-Landi Mentrida 2005

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 29, 2012.

Thanks for the pics OT, that one of Oakville stands out in particular. 

Also, a big thanks for the Gracianna you sent with Fox, really looking forward to trying that some time next year.

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Reply by EMark, Oct 30, 2012.

I may appear to have been AWOL, lately, but I have been lurking on an intermittent basis.

I always love the pics that are posted here.  (Well, I may not be crazy about GDP fashion poses.)  I have to agree with Jon that the Oakville shot was quite idyllic.  It turns out that software is really a wonderful thing:

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Reply by outthere, Oct 30, 2012.

Not bad for driving 45mph, cresting a hill, making a rt turn, through the windshield action shot. I've done much worse standing still. ;))

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 30, 2012.

You sure want to admit to all that, OT?  Oh, wait, as long as you weren't texting, calling, or throwing a cigarette out the window, it's okay.

It really is just beautiful out here right now, and I wish all our NY friends could be safe and warm and drinking our wines with us.  The lack of crowds is icing on the cake.  It's always more mellow in the RRV than most other places because it's farther off 101, it's not Napa, and the roads don't really favor big parking areas, driving fast, or anything that would raise your stress levels.  But probably every tasting room I passed had a nearly empty parking lot, except one that was hosting a private event. Just getting out and walking in the vineyards with no one honking when you slow down or chasing you away is priceless.

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Reply by napagirl68, Oct 31, 2012.

Gorgeous pictures, OT!  Here are some from calistoga that I took after thanksgiving, 2yrs ago:

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