Wine Tasting – Item 9 on List

img_3629Satisfied by going up the street to the little, or not so little, business park on Coffey.  Carol Shelton.  Always wanted to visit her tasting room in the park, and I was more suggested to go when some people from back east (think NY, other day in my tasting room) said they just came from Carol Shelton.  “That’s a long drive,” I said, they not knowing I do it and a couple blocks more five days a week.  One of the two ladies said, “Oh well we’re members there and she does amazing Zin.” Uh…  Yeah she does.  Went into the cozy, and air-conditioned-thank-god tasting room.  Greeted immediately by Caroline (no, not the owner/winemaker).  She started pouring whites, starting my chapter there with a white Rhône blend dubbed “Coquille Blanc”.  Everything I could ever want to sip on a 90-plus-degree day like this.  Pretty harmoniously distributed amalgamation of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, and Marsanne, that catapults tropical character atop more tropic notes and taps, paradiddles and subtexts.  A Rosé that I wound up purchasing, then into the Zins.  Hard to say which was my “favorite”, as I hate when people say that.  I mean, how can you say that one is, definitively and irreversibly img_3630your one favorite?  I suppose you could just say so, and that’s that, but Ms. Shelton’s wines are so expansive and masterful that I can’t just pull one and tag it my “favorite”.  They all stood out, made and impression and delivered genuine, non-contrived voice and varietal identity.  None were blatantly or obnoxiously jammy, or peppery…  They were all musical, jazzy, narrative and lively, cordial.  I will say, the Petite Sirah, 2012, from Florence Vineyards/Dry Creek was and is the wine that made me think about the body of the wine, its rhythm and shape, sensibility and what it wanted to communicate with me.

Was Item 9 on the day’s list of 2do’s, and I’m motivated to continue with my new demeanor on and with wine, my new perspective and mode, mood, that it’s a hobby.  It’s supposed to be fun, right?  And it’s cosmically clear that Carol Shelton is entirely having fun with her wine life, her creations and wined chapters.  She’s motivated me to be more into my own experience with wine, that it doesn’t have to be overdone, or overthought.  Just enjoy the wine…

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The bar at which Caroline poured is small, unassuming and gentle, inviting.  That was probably the most enjoyable wine tasting I’ve done in, I don’t know… years maybe.  Most certainly popping that Rosé tonight, and will deconstruct it not be excessively or abusively analytical, but to communicate with the wine, see what it wishes to communicate with me.  I want to love wine, even its industry, like I used to.  And this visit to ‘CS’ is a fantastic ignition.  Not too worried about the other items on list.  I’m fine if I get nothing else done.  Feel like I’m a student of wine again, just having attending a riveting and spellbinding lecture.  “Just sip, taste, that’s it,” I say to myself, realizing that those people are right to make it a point to stop into that room in the business park.

(5/31/16)

MOCK SOMM: Archival Wines, Napa Valley, Juliana Vineyard, Petite Sirah, 2013

With much PS interpretation you should expect darkness and a preponderance of texture and that’s about it– typically not a lot of complexity, and better left a blending appendage.  But with this bottle you find enigma and spells; the dark fruit and the texture, color most assuredly, but then you’re greeted by this subtext of earth and herbaceous reverb which I’m told, by winemaker Blair Guthrie, is the concomitant of picking earlier than 90% of California Petite Sirahs.  But for the consumer this wine does have its magnitude and severity in strength.  You’ll benefit from letting the wine collect itself a IMG_6609bit, for about two hours to let all those unrivaled flavor arrangements and dimensional shifts in this Napa PS catalyze and come to life, ready itself for showing.  And at the end of the wait, you have composure and accuracy with what the wine intends you to experience and know–  And as you MAY know, or you should, I look for wines that teach me something new either about the chief varietal in bottle or where the fruit’s from.  This victors on both accounts.  And I’ve never had these wines before, this.. my first impression, and that to me translates as Literature, the story and narrative, and a simple but puncturing reward for me as the sipper, reader…  Dickinson said, “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” Not to say I won’t buy more bottles from Archival, more of this capsuled vampiric whirl, but there will never be a first time, again; me sipping this ’13 not knowing what I’ll encounter and trusting I’ll quite enjoy it only to find the impression it left with me as the sipper, reader, was resounding.  Depth from intro to summation of sip– diverse and direct, a flavorful harness to senses and imagination, taunting you to entertain: “What do I pair with this?” To which I respond, “Whatever you want.” Or, “Why do you have to ‘pair’ it with anything?” Why not just enjoy the novel in the bottle?

And on a bit of a side-note, you can tell these wines were made with intimacy and honesty and a proper monitoring and collaborative curve with the fruit once it arrived at the crush pad.. meant to capture a moment, be singular and never-mimicked… and one way to discern and deduct such, the color– I mentioned its ‘vampiric’ placement and presence and that’s energetically visible in the glass; and the flavors are of the elevated ardor you can only calculate are tempestuously woven into the narrative and apexing aim of the wine.  The effort and acuteness, shown.  Immediate…  And like a Dickinson poem, much is said in a small space, just a meek sip, even one of those miser-ing one-ounce tasting room “pours”.  And how can it not be, this Napa Valley Petite with its persuasive coherence and feel and its volume and content…  Such loud and dramatic edges; romantic and rhythmic, wonderfully illustrative and musical, truthful…..  That’s success, with the winemaking exertion; that’s a story, a narrative, something I or anyone would, should, sip.  Mr. Guthrie will tell you, “My wines…you can’t ever reproduce them, I would never want to because they are my expression of that growing season and that moment in history.  An Archive, if you will…”

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Mock Somm: St. Francis Winery, Dry Creek Valley, Petite Sirah, 2012

I’ve always loved Petite Sirah but this bottle contains more persuasive and IMG_5337proselytizing qualities than most PS interpretations I’ve tasted.. the inaugural contact is not just charming, it’s vocal and musical, with soft but thick and rich floral and chimes of cherubic chocolate framings. Or, lavender? Or violet. This wine is not just reflective of St. Francis’ prominent éclat throughout Sonoma Valley, and the wine world definitively, but as well the ’12 vintage, and the curious capacity that Petite Sirah carries. I, as do others, even the might master somms with all their accolades and menus they’ve designed and talks they’ve given, have always found the type itself a bit evasive, hard to define. But whatever it is, this bottle does more than the mere expected template judicature. Here I’m sipping innovation, a new interpretation.

IMG_5336And the traditional somm will strike! Move to protest and the self elevation inflammation.. “This isn’t Petite Sirah.. something so smooth.. where are the tannins? Why doesn’t it have more smokey notes? Why doesn’t it have…” Huh? Why does it “have” to have anything? Why not a new interpretation of the varietal and provide consumers with a new song? Again, I’ve always loved Petite Sirah, but this bottle by one of my favorite Sonoma County houses has me singing, has me thinking of what other reds they’ll provide me, the apotheosis of a ‘big red’, from the house of big reds. The texture I could carry on about for the entire entry. So what should I score it?… I have to score it something, grade it– “Aren’t you and English Professor? What grade would you give it?” It’s wine.. I don’t grade wine. I just enjoy. And the one’s I don’t, I don’t write about. This bottle, as stated, sings, captures, colludes. And I follow. In sip… Ok.. so….. 98 Points. Or do I write it “MM 98”?

(4/7/15)

Sure

Tonight’s types– Chardonnay, Cabernet.  Not in a novel mood. Tonight’s one of those evenings where I just want to write freely, truly enjoy my truest of styles.  The chocolate accent’s more present tonight than 24 hours past.  Keep forgetting tomorrow’s my “day off.” Wish it truly were.  Teaching in eve.  Have papers to grade.  Behind, just like times old.  Keep stressing about writing this Kelly book.  Why?  How will that get it finished any quicker?  She wouldn’t want that, I know.  Compelled to take another sip, but resisting, holding in my types.  Looking at one of the pictures I took today, of the leaves, clusters.  Love this time, during vintage.  But they have to be picked.  Why is that tearing at sensors under shell?  Hard to tell.  Need music, but don’t want to wake little Kerouac.  Just the reason I need my own office, why I strive to one day one be obligated, EXPECTED, to write 8 hours a day.. not subscribe to clock spots, another’s druthers.  Now I’ll sip, celebratory, knowing certain curtains don’t dictate what’s the version certain.

A photograph I posted to the winery’s site received quite the response, today.  Photography, something I surely need pursue.  Like Kaz.  Speaking of my brother, sacrificed my lunch to pay his base a visit.  May not be making that SB with him.  May be a Cab, or Petite Sirah.  Not sure I want to produce a PS.  I’m not passionate about the varietal.  At all.  Has to be Cab.  And I’ll do the Chardonnay with Professor Kate, I hope.  Have to make wine where I can.  Maybe I can get a handful of leftover clusters from the winery, write a barrel or 2.  Has to be Syrah, that’s what I’d want from that estate.  Have touched my books in some time, only been tasting, toughening my palate, if you will.  Still don’t feel like it’s my Friday.  This Friday, in home by Self.  Not meeting coworkers anywhere.  Staying in castle, opening an SB, Chard, Syrah, Cab.. a mock-whoso tasting Room flight.  Can’t wait.  And food?  May simply have apps.. some cheese, crackers, veggies.. but I have to get writing done.  SIGNIFICANT progress.  I want some substantial cemented in 1 sitting.  Like all the artists I admire.. Poe, Pac, Plath.  Feeling reflective by this empty glass, wondering if I should add 1 more varietal to my lineup.  But is there another I enjoy to such a point?  What about a blend.. of Cab, Syrah?  I’ll do whatever I want, I’m thinking.  I know, I should be working on a book project, my novel.  But I needed a freewrite.  My former students would understand, especially those from that Fall ’09 1A section [peace, love].

Then, the night ends.  If I wake early tomorrow, like 5AM-something, I could have that session I did months ago.  The Barleycorn effort.  All for the novel.  That Self-published paragon manuscript.  Glad I’m done with glass, and that I filled that filtered water carafe in fridge.  Done typing, again.  Not natural.  Long 4 pen, ink.  What Plath grabbed.. what Pac stocked.

(9/16/12, Sunday)

6/16 – poured

Grandma’s birthday.  Wondering how much I’ll have written at 90, if I’m here that long.  Detoxifying with some home-heated coffee, to prepare for run.  Have to wait for sun’s lowering.  Far too hot right now for a run, and I’m not even thinking of trying.  Spoke with Katie about our wine.  She did top with the Petite Sirah, and might employ some method to adjust the acid level.  Can’t remember what it’ called, but I’ll text her to find out.  We also talked about the ’07 Syrah bottle at the table, how its profile was holding up.  Katie offered, “Not as nice as the ’06,” which surprised me.  I took home a bottle to analyze tonight, as next year I’m hoping to make my Syrah production debut.  Also bought an issue of WineMaker Magazine, to re-ignite my winemaking studies tonight.  Each day, at least one note in that little black book [my winemaking diary].

Power off.  Heat must be taking a higher toll than I before measured.  There’s one note I can scribble into the little notepad.  Hoping vintners didn’t trim too much at this early stage.  Katie’s preparing for a France trip next Friday, with some other winemakers.  Happy for her, but a fiddle envious as well.  In the mood for some spoken word, in this ovened darkness.  Will write when I sip the ’07 Sonoma County Rhône…  Peace.  OH, before I go, I’m collecting 14 tracks for the spoken word album, and I’ve amassed 7 thus far.  I’ll be back on stage, one way, by end of next month, when I’ve stocked enough lines to offer any potential Artistic collision.

 

10:45pm.  Ran 2.5, walked the very same back to castle.  The Syrah, with a determined depth.  Smoother than I’d think an ’07 Syrah would show, but maybe I need to study my varietal more closely.  Tonight, finishing the songs I’ve set before Self.  And after this glass, need a couple H2O shots, some music.  Off with this infernal screen, its imbecilic shows.  Tomorrow morning, early up.  No prose; no blogs, nothing for any book project, or idea.  Only verses.  My Literary music “genre,” much I deplore the word.

A Diet Coke sounds incredible right now, too.  Would be better for the writing, the caffeine.  But if I need to wake early–  Bored of this session.  Syrah, maybe that should be my champion varietal, not Cabernet, or SB.  Just want to see my bottles on shelves, just as I the same wish for my books.  Money in the winemaking envelope, but not enough.  Nowhere near enough, actually.  Still want to do that Sauv Blanc with Kaz…  Starting to think that I should have it be 90 stainless, 10 oak, moderated lees contact.  Want my wines to haunt sippers, follow them like curses; I want them inescapable; I want people to feel eagerness to open them, yet trepidation in the not-so-subtle compulsion to hang on to them, save them for some occasion special.  And the labels, not sure what I want them to look like, but I’d like them simple, like Scarecrow.  We’ll see …

MorePourz

5/22/12.  Can’t compose anything composed.  Too much wine.  Mostly Cabernet.  Some topping wines.  Cab, Cab Franc, Petite Sirah…  Mom and Dad helped with the assessment of what Professor Katie and I should top our barrel with.  Now, at this irresponsibly late hour (11:41pm), sipping last night’s ’07.  I have to be a Cab producer, after tonight.  Want to taste some of that Petite Sirah sample that Mom and I liked so much.  Tomorrow, more tours than I had today, I for sure know.  Tired.  Wanting to 2sleep go.

But I can’t, the way I am.  A Writer.  12:14am, the next day.  Thinking of how my wine’ll be in the end.  Can’t write anymore.  And I shouldn’t.  Notes would be more advantageous.  In the moment.  More poetic.  Musical.  Punching, as I think I deserve to relax for night’s rest…

Shouldn’t even be trying to write, but I am.  Obsessive sludge.  Bed sounds lovely.  Not 2morrow’s tours.  Another sip of the night’s cap.  Lagunitas, IPA.  Tomorrow’s mocha, already calling.   People can’t understand my cupped compulsion, that’s ‘cause they’re not writers.

5/23/12.  Last night, tasting topping wines for MKCS11, with The Particular Palates.  Mom and Dad, case you forgot.  I almost did.  All still on mind, swirling in my imagination’s rivulets.  The Petite Sirah, obvious winner, it stood as the others couldn’t–  Confidence in its character; coherence, conviction…  The Cab Franc, new clone, came in 2nd.  Last pick, of the three, the Cabernet Sauvignon; I just didn’t get its voice, composition, what it was trying to say.  Brought little bottles home with me last night from Mom & Dad’s, and I hope to revisit all 3 tonight.  Extremely tired, as I sit, typing this entry.  Went to bed far too late, enjoyed wholly too much great wine.  Had some of Lancaster’s ’08 Nicoles, that I brought home from work’s day, opened a bottle of that 2007 Hoot Owl Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.  When home, had a glass of that 2007 Sophia’s Hillside Cuvée, also from Lancaster.  Spit most of the sips taken from the sample bottle-ettes, but either way was in wine’s scene 24 hours ago.

Mom, representing MKCS…

After work tonight, went to a little mixer at Robert Young.  Never had their wines before, but I liked everything I tasted, even the Chardonnays.  Say that as I don’t really care for the Burgundy belle.  Now that I’m home, finally, I only want to write.  Not interested in straightening up the house as I wanted, or even looking for new music–  Well, now that I type that word, “music,” I’m pushed to turn off the TV, turn on some tracks.  While driving home from the mixer, after filling the XA [ can’t believe I made it to the gas station by Healdsburg’s Square, tell you the truth], I just thought, enjoyed thought, the driving and thinking, music through speaker on both my sides.  And I thought of that idea, that continues to haunt and help me; that sometimes I have to not write, as that can serve a more Literary and Artful purpose than Writing itself.  I rolled down the window, about shoulder level.  My mind skipped to fantasies of my wine, especially after meeting someone from the Kosta Browne crew, and meeting someone at Robert Young who makes his own wine, and from what I hear is soon to be bonded.  I also thought about how planning what I’m going to say in a sitting, put on a the page, is the least Literary act I could ever perpetuate.  So no more…  Onto AUTONOMY.

8:13pm.  Before getting back into the wine, I think I’ll treat Self to another Lagunitas.  Today’s tours, 2.  A couple from Chicago, incredibly familiar with Napa and Sonoma Wineries, wines in general.  The other, six people: 4 from Canada, two from Florida, all wine lovers.  We just talked about wine, wines they drink, wines I like, the wine world, and how beautiful, although annoyingly windy, it was in the wine world today.  Seeing the word “wine” so much in that last line makes me want to do some tasting, get into a sipNscribble.  But I’m holding, waiting for later.  Sipping slow, only scribbling speedily tonight.  Don’t want to feel tomorrow morning as I did today’s.  Sauvignon Blanc, 2010, in the fridge…  May saunter into that scope this evening.  The thought of anymore red, after last night, frightens this writer.  Today’s first group, the CHI couple, would stake burn me for such a statement, as they kept reminding me of their motto, “The redder the better.” Ignorant, I thought.  Not their motto, but how they bragged to me about how they scorned and scolded every winery they went to, when the behind-bar character asked if they wanted to try an SB, or Chard, or Viognier, Gewürztraminer…  That attitude doesn’t belong in the wine world, or at least I don’t see how it belongs here, with us loving what wine truly embodies.  Which is all positives.

Wine WriteMaking

Tomorrow, event at AV Winery.  “Taste of Alexander Valley,” you can bet I’ll have my camera equipment on person.  More interested in video, than stills, for some reason.  Did a beer tasting at work, one I’ve never before sipped, with three coworkers–Drew, Beth, David.  Now, sipping ’09 Merlot (8% Petite Sirah, 3% Cab blended in).  All day today, in winemaker mind.  I also reasoned, that if I never set foot in a classRoom again, in exchange for a life of Art, Creating, Winemaking, I’m more than at peace with such settlement.

Did one tour today.  Two people, father & daughter.  Just to hear how they spoke of wine, how the father enumerated memories of dinners with wine, how his daughter is just getting connected with wined moments, made me even more convinced that I need to make wine, just as I want people moved by pages I write.  Speak with terroir; Through it, within it…  I need to write that Something, whatever shape it’s to take.  And produce that bottle of wine, whether raw or “refined.”

Right when I got home, returned to a verse in the Comp Book that I began over a month ago.  Actually, just three days under a month ago, today.  The blog, starting to fade in visits and views.  How do I remedy this?  Tomorrow could be a prime opportunity for exposure, gaining new readership.  You know what, I’m not planning, not right now.  This moment’s for writing.  And sipping this ’09.  Funny, noticing notes I didn’t in my last visit.  Definitely more blueberry, more espresso, dark chocolate, and damp thick soil.  Tonight’s profile, more enigmatic than the last.  Not to say I necessarily like it better, just more colorfully cryptic.  More mystery, I guess I’d say.  Thinking I should blend some Merlot into my eventual Syrah, less than 10%.  But I’d have to consort with Kaz, or Katie, just to be sure my ambition’s not getting upper-hands on reasoning.

 

Had a dream last night that I wanted to write a novel, some book that would change everything, that would bring me Autonomy, but I couldn’t focus to the point of even beginning.  Couldn’t even write the first word, just kept meandering scene to scene, watching other live.  Remember waking, feeling it wasn’t much of a dream at all.  Why have I not finished a book, yet?  Why am I not writing for a living?  I mean, is it a confidence issue?  Is it an attention issue?  A blend of both?  Whatever it is, it’s stopping now, tonight, with this sip.  IT has to.  Not going to try writing like other authors, muddy mimicry, just going to commit to a page amount.  My writing’s randomly streamed, seamed; various pieces whimsically teamed.  I’ll do that till I reach my page amount.  Page amount?  That’s not me.  Certainly not Literary.  “What’s you book about?” I can just hear people asking.  How do I respond?  What kind of book is it?  A novel?  I guess…  Written the same way songwriters compose on buses.  How poets write lines while waiting in coffee shop or DMV lines.

Meeting in Kenwood tomorrow, 8:30am.  Don’t have to show for tomorrow’s event till 1p.  Thinking of how to manage my time.  Also deliberating on how to finish a couple spoken word pieces.  I think it’s admirably demented how much I think about writing, my projects.  Need to think and concentrate more on winemaking, offer written response to my research, what I learn, new ideas.  This Merlot, telling me to defy everything in way of expectation, regulation, standardization.  It also, only in the last sip,  whispers a coy caramel coo.  With my biz stash, injected into my credit card balance, I have to start over.  Especially if I’m to buy that Sauvignon Blanc fruit from Kaz.  And where I’ll get funding for this vintage’s wine with Katie, no idea.  Maybe I won’t need any.  St. Francis was humblingly supportive with our ’11 effort.  Maybe the same’ll be true this, so far dream-like, vintage.

(5/17/12, Thursday)