Opened the ’12

Napa Cab I bought earlier.  About three sips into it, and I’m indecisive.  How to spend these last remaining hours of ’16?  And why dwell on it!  Or even think about it.  Just be in the moment.  My mood, a bit low and sluggish, but I’ll repair somehow.  Focus on the wine and all the wine writing to do in ’17.  On new bottles, new vineyard thoughts, new thoughts organic in me about wine.  My relationship with wine.  How wine’s tellings are diametrically different in other where’s of the world.  That’s what I want to get into– study, research, hunt.  Be a student again.  Self-educating, always chasing.  Write only about wine in these remaining hours.  Which are about 3… well, 2 hours and 59 minutes, some seconds to be fully transparent as I lean against the counter, right by the sink, staring at my glass, wondering how much the Freemark Abbey pour has decided to change, alter its voice and feel in the last few minutes. Sipping and…  even more of that smoky chocolate beso. With some concluding cherry and minty-something ebbs…  don’t know what exactly I’m tasting and why do I even need to have these sensations dumbed down and numbed down to some universally understood adjective?  Wines more than that.

To me.

wine sketchez

Is this the best Grenache I’ve ever had?  I don’t know.  I want to say yes but I’m hesitant–  why the balk?  Why?  Okay, it is.  Met Steve, the winemaker and owner of Les Caves Roties de Pente, the other day at an event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and he was convivial enough to trade a bottle with me.  This purposive of Grenache has more palate push and texture, communicate fruit and completion than other Grenache scenes I’ve seen.. Metamorphic and metered, more verse in the glass, prompting me to be more free and riled in my literary lean.  This wine is perfect for a poet/essayist/songwriter like I.  So, I fly into this wine further, more conversation code, rattled, from its fruit yodel as oxygen swings and digs into its tasty luminary.  Les Caves Roties de Pente, catching me with its storytelling stride and tasty candor.  So many I’ve heard call Grenache “the poor man’s Pinot”.  Well, they haven’t had this.  This bottle is defiant, delicious, something the over-heralded winemakers should study.  Interested in a way I am NEVER with other varietals.  I nearly feel indebted to Steve, for providing the most enriching wine education I’ve embraced in years.  Need another glass–

wine sketchez

Amphora Winery – 2012 – Mourvèdre – Clarksburg


Fun and funky little Rhône razzmatazz.  Earthy and rustic, raw berry and spice waves surround your senses.  This is not meant to be for the one who wants the regular, mainstream wine song.  The beauty of this wine resides in its innovative precision and defined defiance.  I found myself sipping this throughout the evening, last night, and it aligned like a swift jazz tune with the pasta with red sauce and blackened chicken.  I’ll be back by the twee little tasting room off of Dry Creek Road any day, to pick up some more.  Nice sipping wine— just what I would sip on a quite early evening to some Thievery Corporation, Miles Davis, The Doors— something to put me on edge a bit, make me think as this bottle does.

wine sketchez

Ramey Wine Cellars – 2014 – Syrah – Sonoma Coast

Laid-back Syrah…  Just what I needed after a long day.  Light, foggy, coastal fruit with that flirtatious ghostly edge.  Something you need to just speak to you with light blueberry and caramel carousels.  I sipped and just thought about the day, honestly, and I have this wine to credit for that.  One of the few times where the wine made me forget about the wine–  It ORDERED me to forget, just resign myself to the Now I was in.  I heard the bottle’s dialogue sing and speak to me through light but convincing texture.  It’s a song, a saunter, charm and atmosphere to itself.  There was something there in that bottle, in that translation of Syrah, that calculated my consciousness and flew past and around my rationale with unusually understated but poignant dynamism and capability.  After three sips I noticed a cherry-like subtle smatter but then it away skipped like a coquettishly phantasmic vixen.  I kept sipping.  I was done with my day and more relaxed than I could have measured.

wine sketchez

Williamson Wines – 2013 – Merlot – Amore – Dry Creek Valley/Sonoma County

This is one of those Merlots I wish all venomous, and vicious, and virulent toward the img_6824varietal would taste.  Just to shut them up.  But this is more than just a quick pleaser Merlot.  Initially, the olfactory is wrapped in thickly thrown riles of chocolate and cherry, vanilla and relaxed oak.  As it opens and wakes the notes show a tenacity that may startle the Merlot nay-sayers.  Williamson does an incredible job across varietals and vintages, but this offering shows a composition and voice that easily rivals their more expensive bottles, Cabernet or otherwise.  Sure, you could pair this with some burger with caramelized onions or some cut of steak, a pepper-said pasta, but I say sip this one on its own.  Let it educate you on how gorgeous Merlot can be and what a prominent presence can exude and echo from the glass.  While on glass two, and the bottle open for just under an hour, all the flavorous winks further purposed their collective and individual harmonies, chords.  I was smitten, I was instructed, I was encouraged.

Latest St. Francis Visit, 9/29/15

IMG_8885So I finally had the opening in my schedule to visit St. Francis, the winery I’d argue that started everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  My passion for and relationship with wine, my family’s involvement with wine, and everything wine in my life.  I walked through those enigmatic doors through and under the bell tower, and to the bar, where my old friend Ronnie was pouring for two or three sizable groups and managing everything with a fluency and assiduous momentum that anyone in hospitality would envy.  My flight took off with the Sauvignon Blanc, a 2014 which showed all the versatile and vivacious qualities I look for in an SB, a bottle with not just a peculiar persistence to its form and fold, but as well food-pairing capabilities and a stern collusion of tropical qualities and texture.  Then the Estate Cuvée Blanc, a white Rhône blend which I’ve always enjoyed an not just from taking to white Rhônes perhaps more than others in Sonoma or Napa do– it’s just a finely revolving and musical white wine, with that acidic subtext and slight oak influence that grabs the sipper and instructs on a different way to converse with white wines.  Then the Chard which I always love, then a storm of reds Ronnie insisted I taste.  I tried to stop him but he wasn’t hearing it–  the IMG_8889RRV Pinot, then the ever-famous Behler Merlot, the Lagomarsino Cab, Rockpile Red– everything telling me I need to fall deeper in love with wine and its story and stay close to St. Francis as  a winery and why wouldn’t I as it’s always teaching me something new about wine and certain blends and varietals, and something even more rewarding about me as a wine-riled writer and how to see wine in my life.


St. Francis started out as a dream of founder Joe Martin and his wife Emma.  I’ve always found their story and path compelling and telling to me, one always scribbling alongside what I sip and intersecting me with magnetic and encouraging people like Ronnie, and all through this industry– only the positive and the love and family-sewn story that brings people over that small bridge from the parking lot and through the doors under the so-known tower.


Once the tasting was over I walked around a bit, out on the patio and to the lawn, and around the parking lot a couple times, just thinking and remembering all the family moments precipitated here, and where I am now with my wined life, and how it all started in that tasting room, on both sides of the bar.  When I used to pour with Ronnie and now just as an obsessed patron; one with a near-cult paradiddle to his ideations and speech whenever St. Francis lands in the conversation.


While finishing my entry here and remembering my latest elbow-on-bar scene I sip the Merlot, the ’12, one you’d find at several stores in this area and elsewhere.  Dad used to tell me whenever he was on a trip and he wanted a bottle of wine he’d go to a local wine shop, always look for a “Frannie red”, he’d say.  And it’s obvious why.  Nothing nears this phylum and forward of grape interpretations, red or white.  So I take another sip, find my Self in and on a new flight.


7:17, up, first thing

I do is come to the office, think of day’s planning and what I need done.  More and more I’m living by the calendar.  Part of me hates that while its opposing twin knows it’s necessary with a business like this.  Back at the winery today, I’ll be noting everything– “more videos,” I yesterday Self-scolded, and surround them with thoughts written in prose.  The aim is to not stop and have my style and client treatment reflect such.  The vines don’t stop, so why should I (I say to myself, just did).  Just put something on calendar.. and budget, budget more.. less mochas and more straight BLACK coffee.  And to think, why DO I get mochas anymore?  They take longer to make (which at the Hopper SBUX is anything but a positive, with how slow and inept and scattered that brewing enclave’s proven to be), there’s less caffeine, and they often get it wrong.  And when I order it with whip, which I always do, why do they need to confirm it?  It’s written on the cup, you twit!  This is just me and my morning mood…..  So back to today: everything, record everything..

Waiting for a video to upload.. waiting… I hate waiting, but I have to like or more so love it now with my own business.  Waiting to hear back from a couple prospects, going to follow up, using methods I learned while working for Roger the Insurance guy–  OH!  Just remembered, email that one winery… okay, okay.

So much on mind with this new mmc world.. some days I wish just one client would be enough then I’m of the ‘no, bring ‘em all on’ mentality.  Yes, bring ALL of them on!

Sun, up, and Autumn Walk comes to life.  And me, with .. what I do… brainstorming, my storming brain.. need be isolated.  In my office when I get there, which will be soon, I’ll have a “Storming Brains Room”.  Where the only articles aloud in will be pen, paper, people.

Need more time.  MORE.  Then take more.. don’t just wish for it.  Okay.

Got it.

Affirmations of a writer/entrepreneur, blogger or whatever I am, just a storyteller, telling others’ stories and my own.

First cup done.  And I’m still going.  Problem uploading the video.. shit.  So I start over, and see what I today will shoot, in my head; vineyards and Andy walking in front of me talking about them, then pictures of the ripening clusters and the whole Arista story.

Again with this video upload.  I don’t know what round I’m on.. but this is my life now, and forever.  A crEATor.  And that’s what I’ve always been, now solving problems through crEATivity– ah, more ideas, and I don’t need to write them down even though that’s my first impulse.

Nearing word limit.  One I set.  Charge camera, shoot sample vids on Autumn Walk, then take to vineyard.  Build build build!!!

Second cup made, ready, waiting for the writer.


(7/12/15, 7:54AM)

Rebellious Red, 2008, Napa Valley Red Wine [Sequoia Grove Winery]


Nice nose and body.. Rich, complex, darkened depth. Finish exudes surprising new notes: chocolate, a little herb, maybe some vanilla and mint. Just the type of red you want to open during dinner, at the end of dinner.. After dinner, or instead of. Texturally, it’s tannins will make themselves known but without any fruit suppression. Nice balance and progression the entire sip. Put in your cellar, maybe for a couple years if you pocket more than one, to see what happens, but my estimation is that it’ll age magically. –2/19/13