More than once, a mea culpa has been published on this blog: I was wrong about California wine.
My experience writing and editing for the Slow Wine Guide to the Wine of California has really reshaped my perceptions of the wines from my home state.
Like many people in my generation coming up in wine, I toed the party lines: California Chardonnay is overly oaky and lacks acidity; California Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are overly oaky, excessively extracted and fruit-forward, etc.
But over the course of my tastings and winery visits for Slow Food publishing, it became abundantly clear to me how abundantly wrong my thinking was.
One of the wines that really turned me around was the 2015 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay Trout Gulch Vineyards by Ceritas, one of the wineries included in the 2018 and forthcoming 2019 editions.
Our family budget doesn’t allow us to drink it liberally. But a generous friend recently gave us a bottle that Tracie and I shared on Monday night for Rosh Hashanah dinner.
Man, what a wine! A nearly Platonic expression of laser-focused stone and tropical fruit dancing atop a seascape of saliva-inducing minerality and electric acidity.
There are a handful of wines from the ancient seabed soils of Skyline Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains that have truly thrilled me. And this one is a stand-out among them. (I just wish we could afford it! Thanks again to our generous friend who shared it with us!)
Now that all of our editors tastings and winery visits have been completed. I’m working diligently on putting the guide together. It will include Oregon this year as well. Stay tuned…
In other news…
SO MUCH great wine was poured this week in Houston at the Abruzzo wine growers association tasting.
One of my stand-outs was this pergola-trained Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Baldovino by Valentina Di Camillo at I Fauri. Like Valentina, this wine is authentic as they come, with the brilliant fruit but also the classic notes of earth that I consider a sine qua non of great Abruzzo wines.
I loved it and I also love that her father is an enlightened Marxist like me (we also tasted her family’s “Red October” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo).
Tracie and I probably drink more wine from Abruzzo than any other Italian region (no joke). The price-quality ratio in Abruzzo wines is hard to beat. And the pristine, undeveloped countryside there, combined with its mountain-meets-sea topography, makes it easier to grow grapes using wholesome farming practices.
Hopefully, her wines will make it back to our market soon!
In other other news…
When was the last time that Maurizio Zanella (above), Chiara Lungarotti, Alois Lageder, Piero Mastroberardino, Alberto Chiarlo, Giovanni Gaja, and Francesco Marone Cinzano were in Houston? When was the last time they were all here at the same time, at the same tasting pouring their wines?
They and a bunch of other marquee producers will be here on Monday, October 15 for the Grandi Marchi (Top Estates) trade tasting.
I’ll be presenting them and leading a guided tasting of their wines. (I’m actually kinda nervous about it!)
Click here for more info and registration. I hope to see you there! It’s going to be an amazing tasting.