Posts Tagged With: wine world

MOCK SOMM: Interview with Arista Winery Winemaker, Matt Courtney

I started by asking him what his “oenological voice” was, rather than just plainly what his style was in IMG_8912his mind.  He smiled lightly, and said that would be a question better suited for someone like me, a writer.  He then added that he didn’t think that most winemakers approached making wine with a style in mind, it’s more a matter of making the best wine you can, the most expression of site.  The “style” that so many address is more an understanding from the consumer’s mentality.  He said he can speak on what his goals are, his approach, and that is about as close as he could get to answering me–  But more than anything, he noted, “I want to make wines that are delicious, that are profound, but that are balanced.” And if you taste the Arista lineup, the appellation blends or single vineyard translations, Chardonnay or Pinot, you’ll appreciate this methodology and practice, as it’s palatably executed.

Matt’s character is empowered by his synthesis with his favored varietals, not inoculating with any commercial strains of yeast or malic bacteria.  You can blow out the nuances of a given site if you overwhelm it with commercial yeasts, he stated with low-volume, easing and nearly poetic rhythm to his speech.  The emphasis is on the vineyard, and doing an unprecedented familiarity with the vineyard site so that when the fruit comes in, it’s only a matter of shepherding the wine, as he said, through vinification.

“You are stripping something away, even if you improve it,” he says about fining and filtration.  Maximum amount of material in the bottle, he stressed.  I told him I found his style of winemaking as more “truthful”.  He preferred the word “transparent”, that gives the sipper the most optimal picture of the microclimate and geographic specificity where the wine comes from.  You’re stripping less away, you’re adding less.  It’s clear Mr. Courtney values the site where the Pinot and Chardonnay come from, and how that site can be tasted and the picture needs to be maintained, shepherded as he said.  “We’re measuring three times before we cut.”

Chardonnay and Pinot to this winemaker walk a funny balance, in that they can be light on their feet, as he specified, but also be complex and layered.  It’s a magic trick, he said, trying to have either of those varietals be that delicious dichotomy, keeping them interesting and captivating.  “I want people to go back for that next glass.”

He likes Chardonnay that’s diligent and develops in the bottle.  And with the Chardonnays he’s produced for Arista, since his start in 2013, we see this bright presence of fruit but yet this interesting palate weight and unique complexity, layered and savoringly compounded with flavor.  He said that Chardonnay and Pinot can be all things to all people in ways that other varieties can’t.  And that ties into this assertion of the magic trick.  There’s a special relationship with this winemaker and these two potentially moody varietals.  And his Pinots demonstrate the same verisimilitude and ardor as the Chardonnay, just ten, twenty-fold.  His Pinots provide this tasty spacial awareness.

Our talk was briefly interrupted by one of his crew members coming in to ask him a question, something about malolactic fermentation, or something.  Can’t remember precisely but it reminded me I was taking him from his day, that these winemakers, especially of this stratum, are always moving, always measuring three or four times then deciding, deciding…  So I had to close, quickly.  Of course Matt being the convivial chap he is didn’t say anything of any dire or rushed tenor, but I intensified my momentum. 

“Really quick, thoughts on ’15…” An interesting year in his mind, partially because of the drought, but as well attributed to the early bud break and the challenging weather during fruit setting.  Diminished yields in some sites, and some vineyards hit much harder than others.  But, in his words, “very variable”.  This will affect the amount of fruit yielded.  He also cited the uneven ripening and the heat spikes have provided challenges in their own arena, making it “interesting” as he said.  But he assures the wines in tank and in barrel are tasting quite good.

I told him that I heard some people, some winemakers say the shatter out there is “winemaker shatter.” He smirked, and said, “I don’t even know what that means.” But Matt expressed optimism about the wines that were fermenting and vinifying, and he again returned to this subject of shatter, and said that in some of his vineyards it didn’t harm the pick and eventual fermenting wines that much.

We returned to the topic of Arista, and what the winery, or label has done for him as a winemaker, and then I had to ask him which of his wines, notably the 13’s, is his favorite.  “That’s like asking which of your kids is your favorite,” he said.

“Which of your kids is your favorite?” I said, laughing, then he laughed, but he then disclosed that he holds a beaming affinity for the estate wines, the Two Birds and Harper’s Rest Pinots.  If you’ve ever had these wines before you can see why–  bold and complex, the volume and layered magical beauty of each…

We closed our conversation with the new production facility on the Westside property and getting the vineyards to where they want them to be, to always push the envelope of quality, getting the vines in better health, year to year.  Again, only optimism and a soft, understated but still vibrantly visible confidence about this winemaker, and for anyone loving wine, it rubs off on you.  You’ll walk away from the chat, length no matter, feeling closer to wine, closer to Arista if you’re already a fan.

“It’ll be a huge help for us in the cellar,” he noted, when the facility is on the property.  Getting more precise with irrigation strategies… vine-water status…  “There’s no limit to how good we can get, that’s what keeps it fun.” Again, the yay-saying sentiment I expected from him toward the end of our talk.  So his “style”, or his voice, if I can attach a new “descriptor”– balanced, just like what he aims to bottle year to year.  And, profound, whether he intends it or no.  Balanced in his tone, his demeanor, and his explanations.  Profound in his presence.

Oh, then there’s the extraordinary, magical wines he brings to fruitful fruition.  There’s that, too.  So, I, the writer, goes back for that second glass.


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MOCK SOMM: Sanglier Cellars, Sonoma County, “Touché”, Grenache, 2012

IMG_7923It had been a while since I last tasted the Grenache from one of my favorite little producers in the county but I thought it warranted, last night just wanting to have something a little different.  It wasn’t too hot outside as it had been and the commonplace SB or Chard didn’t hit me in thought and meditative angles.  “I need something red and celestial, gentle but assertive in certain corners of the palate,” I internally intoned.  So I pulled the last Sanglier Grenache from my cellar.  And immediately I was riled by the spiral of earthy red fruit, meaning mostly raspberries and pleasant medium-red jam-reminiscent tremolos that talk to the palate and encourage those second-looks which aren’t bizarrely over-analytical, or even analytical at all.  That’s not why I opened it, I didn’t want to be a wine critic and I didn’t want to be critical, I just wanted a charming musical soar of a red and I was sure I’d find it here in Sanglier’s translation of Grenache.  And I did, oh… I did.  Small run on this bottle so I’d get some soon, if I were you.  Just don’t buy too much.. this writer needs some more.  [JOKE?]  And with the food I’m used to ordering or enjoying here in the writerhut, like Mexican or light red pasta, or even a burger from this place my wife and I love down the street, it’s perfect, versatile and vivacious from sip one to last.  The blend on it’s 75% Grenache and 25 Syrah, so it’s linear in its note sequence of the fruit complexion and tempered oak talk, but not in any way simplistic or plebeian.  This is a bottle that any Rhône or red adorer should have on their home shelf.  Perfect beat and bravado but as I affirmed nothing excessive in volume, or ‘voltage’ as I sometimes say.  The Touché will have saying to yourself, “Touché”, a bit seductively startled that a Grenache could have such depth and amorous modes.

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Race Racing – Wine Oh

This morning, a day off, no winery just time devoted to grading papers or at least that’s my plan.  Jackie has more energy this morning and pride in everything he does than I’ve ever seen. I envy him.  Or am I jealous?  Not sure what it is but I wish I were more like him as a writer, just play and see what happens and be faithful in whatever you, I, do.

Studied the Selby Merlot last night and even more evened than the night prior; better integrated alcohol and a more concerted intention about all its facets and flavors.  What I would do: not let the alc get so high, and less new French Oak, and for longer, top with more oak’d Merlot– that is to say the Merlot I use to top the primary barrels would see more visible oak integration.  And would I blend anything else into it?  CS?  CF?  PV?  Malbec?  Not sure.. where would I get it?  All in winemaking, or much either way, is determined by budget.  But where the winery will be build, in the timed sequence of my visions, I’ll be of more means having sold the startup and mmc at greater altitude.

Whatever I wind up doing today I need get closer to my office, in downtown Healdsburg– oh, which reminds me I need to look in my cellar for something.. right back…..

Found what I needed and rearranged certain parcels of the closet and my little wine collection.  In theIMG_8855 dream house, purchased by the startup and mmc, I’ll have a more extensive cellar.  Not one of the ones crafted for boasting, but just one I can enjoy and be proud of.  I’ve had a couple people visit wineries that insist I see pictures of their cellar, on phone, ready for show.  And they’re quick to show.  Why?  What reaction do you want?  The only reaction I want would be from me.  And maybe a bit from family– I’d walk through the little halls with Mom, Dad, Katie, and survey certain bottles and pop a couple at tasting stations I’d set up.  Just for tasting.  No bragging.  Just fun and family–

Ugh, grading papers.  I could be adding content to the new blog/startup and doing work for clients.  Uploaded the video last night of Glenn at the crush pad talking about the Cabernet he brought in.  Just watching the grapes in that “must pump” reminds me I’m a winemaker, studying, and that’s where I need put all energies.. and I am, I will– I am.  Last night with my study of the Chard and Merlot, and the tasting Kevin and I did at the Valdez room, more and more telling me I need to be completely autonomous in my relationship with wine and be in a position where I have TOTAL crEATive control.

And on with the day, nothing slowing or discouraging me only propulsion–  And write for my life like I always have..  thinking of my relationship with wine and wine’s story and voice.. content content content and all for ME.

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Merlot Parcel Persona

IMG_8793Later at night I enjoy a Thumbprint Cellars Merlot and go into my wined visions, me making wine and the type of Merlot I want to make and starting my studies of wine on everything from alc % to tannin, to TA & Ph, oak, filtration, anthocyanin.. skin treatment, everything.  But I also just enjoy the wine and let it talk to me, what its poetry concedes and convinces me of, the integral intermission of its layered and positioned dialogue about my senses.  My winemaking Comp Book (started today) is over there, on the counter, alongside the glass full of Merlot so I don’t drink it too fast– my rationale: as it’s far from me, I have to rise, sip then return to keys.  And I don’t want to sip quick, I want to listen to its speak, this translation of ’12 Merlot.  And no before you expect me to I’m not going to gallop on with these sentences in how heralded 2012 was.  We all know that.  I’m in this moment and I’m letting the wine wheel away the writer..  no over-analysis or diatribe, or score for this ‘TC’ Merlot.  Just know it’s talking to me and I’m listening, something these self-anointed wine sages need IMG_8792more do.

Jackie asleep already with his mama, on my side of that delightful set of sheets atop the all-solving mattress.  So the writer has the couch.  And I’m more than at peace with such, as he’s with Mama.. his mama, and the way he falls into her hold is something I can only smile at, and all the more reason I need be closer to home next term, next year.  No more of these colleges taking me from my Autumn Walk base– no, no…  They didn’t take me.  I let them take me.  But not next term.  Next year motions the family businesses.. the blog, the publications, all wine-wound, then the winery.  Small.  3-5k css/yr.  Another sip of the Merlot, see what talk it now talks.  And I’ll offer no critique.  Only more listen.


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The next morning, odd

vibes and vertices about the day’s development.  Just came from the crush pad where Glenn showed me the Syrah pressing, next to the Grenache and Mourvedre add, for their Rosé project.  The first press or “rain” as I thought of it of Syrah was darker than you or anyone would expect from a Rosé effort, nice thick strawberry and cherry, wild berry rile to its presence, while the second rain was IMG_8662lighter and with more wildness to its fruit quality, almost like a (though I hate the word) tartness.  Britt and I went to see what the brix was on the GR/MV co-ferment.  About 24.6, if I remember right.  Then they press that and add to tank, but it seems this vintage there is a concern with juice.. all the more to my winemaking momentum.

At the Starbuck on Hopper, which had the longest line I’d ever seen here, so far, since my consistency of visits, taking nearly 15 minutes to get my mocha and sit here for my morning words and expressions, musings or whatever you’d want them to be tagged– my visions and dreams wander sitting here thinking about the wines I’ll make and how I’ll write about them, what my sister and parents and everyone would think.  What Doug, my lunching friend from yesterday, would think.  And my other projects…  Would love the whole day to just STOP, focus, get done what I need.  But now I head to Arista where for sure there’s only more content.. more and more and more than I can handle but somehow I’ll find a way to press it out like this morning’s Syrah and have it settle in my barreled prognostications, measurements of a literary life and winemaking anchor-theme..  Like I always say, I’ll write everything for the day, everything and show my readers, you, what I see in this wine world, the conversations and what’s said, everything from a worker’s worry of what’s on the schedule, who they have coming in, do we have enough bottles open, to what time does the wedding start and when do we close (if we have a wedding).

The slow nature and character of this coffee hole continues, with people collecting and pocketing just in front of me, mostly with scowls about, wondering what the hell is taking so long and will they be late to whatever.  And many have the day to themselves today, normal people unlike me as it’s Saturday, and they frown and frown, and roll their eyes when name called.  I sit here and laugh below the moving characterization of surface, wondering how the rest of my day’s to go.

Now all these flies fly around me for torment or amusement, I’m not sure, but I’m annoyed and wonder what else the day plans on throwing at me–  Started with the sun in my eyes, so much I had to lean my head out, on San Miguel.  Then again on Hopper causing me to nearly miss the crush pad– 

And now someone sits next to me.  Leaving.

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El Work (coffee talking)

Cup 2, earlier this morning.

Cup 2, earlier this morning.

Waking this morning to be in the Kick Ranch vineyard, to shoot and blog and write about the pick– but no one there.  Glenn held up at another site and me driving around Kick looking for him.  No blame, no blame at all!  In fact, at one point I was quite lost and turned around in that pitch black stage and somehow finding my way out.  Proud of myself for solving that little vine block puzzle.  Not sure how, only time I’ve been out there with him is during day hours.  But what a world and dark universe, stage it is out there by yourself; no light and only random animals running ‘round you and across the road.  Jack rabbits, bobcat (saw 1), skunk (saw 2).  One rabbit, not at all afraid of my Passat creeping by.

So, I went back to sleep when again home, surprising Alice I was back so early, and thankfully not waking little Kerouac.  Just before sitting to these keys I thought about and nearly overdwelled on how tired I was, am.  But I wouldn’t let it stop me and I can’t as this Thelonious song plays, “Work”, he tells me something through his notes and rhythms and I can hear Beat writers past telling me to keep playing, keep writing, write till you find IT.  I’ll get in the shower around 10, then head to Petaluma for my 12PM meeting, then to the crush pad to meet up with Glenn and film more of whatever I can from the ’15 lenses.  Wine in everything in my thoughts.. and I do want to, if I can, get by Cellars of Sonoma to taste a bit and add to compiling content for the startup.. and individual pages today, clean the desk’s top, and organize further.. sooner than soon I’ll be in the office and I can’t let the overload or apparent deluge of content and to-do’s muffle or mute me or my progress.

Cup 3 at left, haven’t taken a sip, not yet.  More thoughts of selling wine creatively through the blog and through other crEATive streams.  And then my creative works, for ‘Mike Madigan, Author’, no forgetting that.  In fact, last night after the students at Mendo left I remained in the classroom taking advantage of the quiet and odd scene of the empty space and only me there still in my teaching position, sitting on the desk at class’ helm, one foot on ground and the other on the desk’s lower support bar.  And just wrote.  Week 5, done.  So now we see real progress into Time and what it put on a plate for me to work and suffer and write through.

Writings on wine.. the types I love and the types I avoid, and how to “analyze” wine or think about it– no, shouldn’t be a ‘how-to’ for any of it, I don’t think.  That’d be like someone telling me how should be listening to and appreciating this jazz.  Ridiculous.  Wine is music and it is a voice, a conversation between palate and flavored pulse.  It’s always yours and you should think of it and remember it so.


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MOCK SOMM: Taft Street Winery, Alexander Valley, Merlot, 2012

IMG_8603Usually I wait till the next day to write a reaction to a wine that catches me, but this one I have to write in the moment.  Never heard of this producer before but found it at a local wine shop and since my penchant for Merlot is always a-bubble, I bought it.  Opened it just before dinner letting it breathe for not that long.  I was looking for candor, true truth of Merlot and that’s what I found, a certain whirling and whimsical honesty in the wine and what it noted for my senses.  Purest texture and potent palate, from front to summation with darker fruit that you may expect, but maybe that’s the Alexander Valley talon landing.  Either way I’m smitten and swayed by its sequencing.  The type of Merlot that has me remembering travel and a more imaginative me.  And this Merlot does offer what I look for– unique varietal translation and a certain stubborn echo at sip’s close (what most would simplify and dumb to “finish”).

Everyone who knows me knows I want to get back to making wine, and Merlot is the varietal that coerced me to wine’s curve, and I’ve never backward stepped. So I dance forward and jig with this bottle’s janiform song.  Its complimentary duplicity in form and and palate is precisely what punctuates its uniqueness.  I’ll go back to that store, obviously, and walk with a few more bottles.  I measure with the structure of the nose and mid of this Merlot crafting it’ll go at least 7 years.  But there’s no possibility of any wine with this tier of strenuous orchestration lasting so long in my writing base.  So I pour myself another glass and don’t overthink it, and see what new chords the wine wants to play for me.

MM 92

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On Hands

The day begins with the dive out to Solano, and my mood falling from the distance of the last caffeine sip.  Already nearing 90 outside, and I’m dreading what the heat will feel taste smell look like in Ukiah.  But what can I do?  What can I do but be an adjunct…  Mom wrote me this morning saying I appear scattered and her assessment is fair– need to consolidate more.. so away with the teaching blog, and away with the distance-campuses.  Back on this computer I consolidate everything and have all writings in one spot, the adjunct in one spot– isn’t that contradictory?  Shouldn’t we be all over the place and at like four different campuses teaching eight different courses?  That’s what they want for us but not what this writer wants for himself.  A little less than 90 minutes to myself and I use it for collection.  Going to write out the plan for class, for the 370 meeting where we’re set to go over outlines, talk about a piece of writing we read (in theory) for homework, then back on the Road for the adjunct/writer– or WRITER/(adjunct).

Could use more coffee, but I’m letting the innate and intrinsic fire about Mike Madigan push him forward in this sitting and I know just what I want from this sitting and this day– tomorrow more than likely I’ll be in the vineyard, but I’m going to approach it differently.. touching more the soil the vines, the clusters if any, and asking Glenn or whomever I’m with what they think the vines want to say in such a challenging vintage.

An adjunct sits at the table next to me, takes out her laptop and earphones.. I should do the same with the phones but I like for some reason the chatter and bustle of the copy room on the other side of the door, right– the employees or techs singing and joking with each other, the roar and waving pulsating sounds of the machines as they spit out stack after stack.. collate, collate.. job done.  “Here, come get this one!” one of the techs shouts.  “I don’t want anyone else to…” couldn’t hear the rest of what the tech said, but she sounds annoyed, or bothered by one of the others, then she starts talking about how she left an iron on a table cloth.  Then the conversation stops.  And I’m waiting again for more material and motivation, some propulsion for me, “Hurry! Hurry!” she says to one of the other techs.  And all on the other side of that door.  Would they mind if I just watched them and wrote every single word they exchange?  Just wishing.. what the job does to the character, how can you not find that interesting and want to write about it– the people that love their jobs and those that loathe.  Again, just interesting and rewarding for me as the one typing what they say.. “OH, perhaps.. PER. HAPS.” she says.

The day has started but hasn’t.  I haven’t “taught” yet.  I’ve wrote a little, two poems this morning, IMG_8189ones short, while sitting next to little Kerouac on the couch whilst he watches one of his cartoons.  One part of this commute that I hate is that I’m so far from him and Alice– just focus on next term, I tell myself.  Only two classes, my little girl, writing. — There, organized desktop of this devil device.. finally.  Now to type the poems from this morning.  I look at the adjuncts around me, the lady to my left and the two in front of me at the terminals (lady on left with a stack of papers.. I should be grading, but…), and they look so tired, obligated and stretched, commanded and confused.  I don’t want– no, I WON’T HAVE my babies see me like that.  I’ll be int he vineyards writing, in the barrel room or cave, WRITING; monitoring my wines making notes then writing more what the wine tells me.  Putting all the wined stories into the world and when my label’s aloft and people are in my Room tasting MY wines, they’ll see me as self-crafted, SELF-written.. my own story and direction.  They’ll be proud of me, seeing me as anything but lazy.  No, an animal, not NOT writing, always with pen and little pages in my hand like Jackie this morning: “Wh’ you doing, Daddy?” he said leaning over the little lines, me holding the pen to them.  “I’m writing, buddy.”

“Oh.” And he smiled.


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MOCK SOMM:  Cirq , Treehouse Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2012

IMG_8350Waited to open this bottle, and I wish I would have waited longer.  Just to see what else it would say and sing—or more so, wishing I had another 11 bottles.  But this was a gift from Michael Browne himself and I waited for the right occasion, with family, greeted by a rich and prominent palate, convincing and determined with dark meaty fruit qualities and illuminatingly proverbial tannins.  Usually tannin address doesn’t concern me, as I’m looking for fruit composition and profile, but the methods by which these tannins align themselves with the berried tenacity is admirable, worthy of study and ode, the slow sips where you think about what the wine’s telling you—you listen, you let yourself be instructed and shown, shown and delivered to a higher stretch wine wined reflection.  You do nothing but sip.  And slowly.  Study.  Listen, see feel fall and get lost in the fermented translation ebb

This Pinot screams drama and theatricality, not to get attention or connoting that it’s over-extractedIMG_8349 or any intricacy overdone, but that there’s so much attention-deserving dimensions to every step and syncopation of the bottle.  It’s obvious Michael Browne has a precise aim with this Pinot project, just like with the circus and how it seeks to not only entertain but help you escape the clasps of mundane modes and muffles.  Here you’re being shown something, something with Pinot that hasn’t before been done or perhaps even attempted.  And what is that exactly?  Not sure—or, I am sure but not with any words presently to characterize it.  It was an experience, it was visual and vivacious, credible and coded in flavorful aggression.  Not sure how to get another bottle, or if I can, but if I ever do I’ll note while I sip—and that’s another note to note; this wine had the writer solely in sip sequence, sans scribble.  Which never happens.


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And, finally, I’m back…..

IMG_8278And it had been, what… 5 years since I went last?  For this year’s mission and chapter I decided to enlist my dad, one savvy and swift with a camera, and always helpful to this scatter-minded and manuscripted writer, helping me find a more succinct way of gathering content.  So we showed early to acquire our press passes, and there was nothing but a general fluidity to each step of the process and our immersion onto the MacMurray ranch, which can only be described as one of those mesmerizing tourist-dreamy scapes; expansive and pervasive with each note and nuance to its character, story.  And we first started with Coffee, as I told Dad that I was in bad need of some caffeine.  After getting our passes and putting them ‘round our necks, we headed for what looked like a cold coffee tap.  And it was.  (And I apologize for not remembering the name of the shop making these incredibly ambrosial and fiery cold cups, but they were otherworldly, to be modest.. they deserve only praise and visits from the entire county!)

We then headed for the tents, each its own valley, just as I remember.  So many producersIMG_8287 I had never heard of but was incredibly elated to meet and taste (just a bit, had to stay focused and on the job as Dad reminded me.. this was not the time for me to be my usual Beatnik writing Self).  I wanted to capture everything at the event and the clear, linear and creative organization and parceling of everything made my mission simple and attainable in content objectives.

IMG_8325At the Sonoma Valley tent, I of course saw my always beloved St. Francis, then to the Russian River tent met with my beloved Sanglier, Susie Selby, and others.  This was a day for me to be a journalist and blogger, yes, but to also just be a Human lover of wine, nothing pretentious or competitive.  Just taking everything in at the Ranch, and this event’s coherent progression in all facets just welcomed everyone in attendance, no matter what kind of ticket they had.  Oh, and a new favorite of mine with their station, Acaibo, pouring their commanding blends that showed me a side and narrative of Bordeaux that I’d never met.  So again, yes, education is part of the event’s thesis, but so is that experience, finding wines that sing a song you want to hear and sip over, over, with your family and closest of friends, ones loved.  That’s what wine is.  That’s what Sonoma has always been.


Walking away from the tents and back over to where the beer and coffee were, I sat in on a bit of the seminar, or one of them, by my favorite Sommelier buddy, Chris Sawyer.  He made it fun and exciting for the guests, examining several wine types and getting reactions from the crowd, making it a true wine event, one for educational purposes, yes, but also just a simple enjoyment of the grape and the bottled contents we have at our diner tables and family occasions.

Sawyer on the 1's and 2's ...

Sawyer on the 1’s and 2’s …

Some of the resplendent tables for me had to be, one of them anyway, Lancaster Estate. IMG_8290 Always a might Sauv Blanc and Cab producer, and that day they poured both.  The 2010 Cab had never been so expressive, or at least that I can remember.  Maybe that’s demonstrative of this event’s successful nature, it even makes the best of best wines taste better.  Also ran into my old buddy Ed Thralls, Jr., owner and winemaker of Thralls Family Cellars.  He was pouring his Rose of Pinot, a 2012 and ‘13 Pinot.  I’ve known Ed for a long time and it’s blaringly apparent that he’s becoming more innovative and deadly with his oenological prowess, with the Rose having that bright and texture touch and musical quality, and the other two just tasting more than true with the varietal.  Pinot, transfixing both vintages with wizard-like intuition– Mr. Thralls and what he does, only added to the Wine Country Weekend.  Yes, I’m biased, but I’m candidly putting myself in the consumer’s shoes, here, pretending I came in from out of town with a friend and bought a ticket to see how these wine country people live.


The food could only be noted as divine, all over the event–  I mean, I don’t even know IMG_8280where to start.  John Ash of course, wowing everyone with their bites, and of course Costeaux’s bakery from Healdsburg, a mecca for so many things for locals and tourists.  This is the event that I remember, enjoyable at every corner and comfortable; nothing complicated, only rich imagery and interactions with other food and wine lovers.  Dad and I met up later, after gathering our content as we needed, then decided it was time for a couple beers, and if you’re a true beer lover like us then you wouldn’t be disappointed by what was offered; 3rd Street Ale Works, Russian River Brewery of course, Laguntias and St. Florian who I’d never heard of but served me my favorite IPA of the day.  And we were off…


Walking back to the car, Dad and I photographed some of the Chardonnay clusters, talked about what we saw and sipped and the people we talked to.  Part of me wanted to go back, make up some excuse like “Oh there was something I didn’t get!” But no, the day needed to end and I have to wait till next year.  Five years ago, I don’t remember this much representation from so many wineries, and I don’t remember so many people.  The organization worthy of study and mimicry I do remember but not with this much efficiency and cleanliness, and how helpful the event’s little hospitable army, from the parking area to the booths to the lawn where tents were.. everything.  And everywhere.  Everything and everywhere at MacMurray was halcyon and rich with the wine culture and way of life, our wined story here in SONOMA.


As I always do after one of my wild wine writing missions, I look through the pictures, and yes there’s that ‘awww’ feeling, that there was something I missed.  But that’s how the story went and was meant for the day, that’s what was in this chapter and whatever I didn’t get to I will next year.  WCW ’15 reminded me that wine’s an evolving story, and you share it with family and continue in the steps you’ve always embraced and put into the collective wine story of any county.  But I’m in Sonoma.  And the celestial scape that I saw can only happen here.  And I can only write this, from here.

Already in the visions of next year…


Categories: mikemadigancrEATive, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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