No nap, today, fought against pull and push to do so. Thanksgiving over, wife out shopping at one of those shopping special eve whatever’s. Me, home. Wine. Just finished glass of Claret. The night passed with such cruel progression. Indifference. Babies asleep upstairs. What movie do I watch, my dilemma. My life’s trouble. Think of how fortunate I am with my family and to have such family, to be sitting where I am, here on this we seek to shed, new one one the way… Day of giving thanks, I need to show more giving of thanks, being thankful.

Tonight, I do intend exploring more wine. No aim to wake at 4am or 4:10 like this day. No. I may actually just sleep in. I will. What do I mean, “may”? May have to punch out. Take the night as it approaches me, describe and translate it, or in such order reversed… then wake tomorrow with more thought. More story. More ME. Tired now, forgetting I’ve been up since 4-something. Think 4:10. Has it been that long? Yes. It has. Me, that writer. Now. Time to Self and I sip wine and be here, writing. A writer.

Does the writer want apple pie or Chardonnay? Both sound like they sound, their own precise appeal and connection. I’m not torn between both but urge to be curved by both, somehow. 9:08. Feel like bed but I won’t. I can’t. But more, I refuse. Why can’t I be a human, just have dessert or drink wine. Is it that complicated? Are my thoughts the hinderance, the block and or impediment? I think it may be just that. Not in any kind of a writing swoop, and I can’t figure anything of it out. How does pine figure. What type a figure be me, I, this writer.

I feel like I’m not doing a thing, while doing too much. A mess. Should have taken a nap.

When with my own tasting room,

there’ll be not many offerings. Three wines to taste, I’m thinking.  Invitation only, as the label is not meant to make money, but share with friends and essentially pay for itself.

On lunch now at winery, and seeing my little Room, the friends and family I have over.  I’ll invite Mom, Dad, Katie, first.  Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet.  Don’t care if they buy or not, of course.  Just want them to taste, offer their thoughts even though I’m sure Katie will be consulting winemaker, so she’ll know.  Or, not.  Either way I’ll host them for a tasting, soon.  Before year’s end… somehow.  Or, next year at some point. But I need my own room.  Wine and its industry is about dreams and chasing down your visions, desired and dreamt images.  So that’s what I’m doing.

MOCK SOMM:  Calluna, Mon Préféré Mise En Scène

IMG_7060You’ll find yourself wishing you were back.  Winemaker and Owner, David A. Jeffrey, took me around the property early Tuesday morning a couple weeks ago.  Driving up to his property, atop some bluffs in the Chalk Hill AVA, more poignantly on Brooks Road, I was smitten by my surroundings, finally somewhere where I’d never before cruised through.  Was pretty sure I wasn’t going to taste anything that morning, just wanted to meet Mr. Jeffrey and haunt around his estate.  Which we did.  He told me about his love of Bordeaux, the winemaking style there and the freeness of expression in Bordeaux, how not so much a  manipulation is needed nut moreover an understanding of what you grow.  Thew entire time David spoke to me and told me about his wife and children, and his time in France studying winemaking styles and the general expression that region, I could only think of how this is what wine is.  The attainment of dreams and visions, from his Colonel’s Vineyard Cabernet, to each of the blends I bought, and his Merlot which I only tasted last night but this nuit very much planning on exploring and recording my interaction.

David will tell you that he set out to make wine that could be in a sequence of wines regarded as the ‘best in the world’.  After not only hearing his stories but tasting though his set, he’s there.  He’s met his aim, his desired character.  But he still charges with that earlier intensity.  And listening to him talk and explain his life’s work he has no sign or insertion of stopping.  His intent was to craft wine that could stand with all the mammoths, all the bastions, all those wines that people ‘oooh’ and aaaah’ over.  He has, most musically the Cuvée, only bringing with it a tag of $33, then the “Calluna Estate”, $75 (which could easily be estimated at a stratospherically higher priced point), which I felt I had to ring in and I’m elated I did as that showed to be the most-Me of the three, fitting my personality and love of how wine and literature, writing, intermingle and lovingly eclipse each other when an intersection materializes.


This meeting showed genuine adoration of the vineyard, well before buds break, before grapes, before the wine, before what’s on that table next to all the other kings and queens of wined adage.  Jeffrey demonstrates wine’s epicenter intent, its material and metaphysical nuclei with his story, the bottles he’s brought to fruition— Truth.  This winemaking style is more than a style, more than a “lifestyle”, or even ‘way’ of life.  It’s Life.  Love.  Family.  Newness… that exploration of wine’s atmosphere and galaxy, something a book and certainly not this piece can you teach.  He put himself through oenological studies and did so with eagerness and humility.  He doesn’t fit my winemaker paradigm, whatever that is but I’ve many times seen winemakers as people not often mentioning or crediting their studies, who they’ve learned from.  Mr. Jeffrey does, and just as eagerly as I imagine him traveling through a winemaking curriculum.  He told me that his approach to making wine is partially academic. Tasting through the bottles you understand the intensity of his study, studies, explorations and travel and demand of being close to the vineyards.

I find myself wanting to go back but I feel like I was just there.  Well, a couple weeks prior.  Sitting here in this office I smell that fog, that morning, wishing I was sitting in one of those chairs, with him, talking about wine and winemaking, his property, his time making wine and studying in France.  Why the literary approach to wine, for me— people like David, how his narration actuates what he’s always seen for himself.  He did it.  He IS ‘it’.  Winemaker and vineyard lover, sharing his ardor and elevated amour with those sipping everything from the Cuvée, to the Estate, Merlot, Cabernet.  Reviewing my notes for the Colonel’s that I the other night popped, after a long day at work selling and writing about wines from Chalk Hill and elsewhere in Sonoma County, “…a Coltrane-esque composition and rhythm to its immediacy and sensory geography— placid and prominent, pervasively pleasing, telekinetic like it read my mind and learned what I’ve wanted a Cab to say— intrepid and intricate…” The notes go on and on, tirelessly but I won’t bore you with them.  This is what my mind visually musters when I think ‘Sonoma County’.  Sonoma to me translates as “small, home, passion, TRUTH.”

I went there to experience, see, feel, Newness… like a Beatnik writer direly parched for a story, a real wine story… something not just relatable but encouraging.  Even for those never drinking wine you sense the devotion intricately interwoven in the visual circuitry of Calluna, which is the Botanical name for the plant Heather.  That same name, belonging to a young girl and close family friend who passed away, hence enlivening Jeffrey and his wife, Marla, to name the property and winery such.  Being the writer and professor I at times be, can only see the accentuation of Life, Death, an urgency for us to not only chase our dreams and ultimate, apexing aims, but grab them.  The beauty of that property inoculated me with new life.  The wines, the like.  I’m a more free and electric writer since driving up and down that long, celestial driveway, speaking with Mr. David, then ultimately coming home and tasting through my flight.

Jeffrey was, is, a character seeing what he sees and making it his own, his family’s.  You learn from this story to not only live but live truthfully— True to YOU, and to those close to you, the ones you love be they family or close, close friends.  Everything epitomizes there on that Brooks Road summit.  I can only think of going back, or ordering more wine from him.  You learn wine from a more diverse passion, framework.  Calluna’s song, a reassuring octave.  That wineries like it are still out there, that wines with such enrapturing characters and flavor arrangements can be located.  You just have to look.

wine sketchez

A Pinot that will haunt you. Refuse your disconnection. The texture and fruit arrangement are nothing short of bewildering alongside their brilliance and poignant approach, and landing. As it enlivens, the texture develops more believability and emboldens the cherry and chocolate, or cola spice, suggestions. A teller Pinot, from initial sip to final. Musical and jazzy, with temperament and a playful carelessness across its cleft. Just playing, jumping from note to note and voice to voice. You find yourself entertained and engaged and educated by this Pinot Noir’s general tempo and talk. It does more than just deliver that soft, “feminine” peersonification. This bottle IS contained and wandering art… Its own echo and ethereal edge.

wine sketchez: Three Fat Guys Wines

Three Guys, Two Wines, One Obsessed New Fan

Chardonnay.  Cabernet.  So how are you to be bedazzled or even a little taken by varietals that so many producers bottle?  Easy.  When they’re done to this stratospherically savory extent.  Before I get into the wines my and Three Fat Guys’ vin ami, Wes, sent me, you have to examine their story, which starts with genuine tempo and color.  The elevated interest and tireless curiosity for and in wine.  Tony Moll, one of the Guys and Owners of the this playful yet prominently tasty enclave of a label, tell me his fascination with wine started just before starting Three Fat Guys with partners Jason and Daryn.  He tells me that in the off-season he’d go to local wine bars in Sonoma and just immerse himself in everything about wine.  Oh and that’s another facet to this brand I find immeasurably interesting and encouraging as a wine consumer—  all three played professional football, and those journeys together on the Road for the game is what actuated their chasing a more oeno-centric story.  When home from the season, Tony would find his favorites, what he liked and didn’t like, and intensify his fondness and acuity in wine’s world.

He knew he wanted to create a “premium wine,” he tells me.  Well, if I’m to react to such a remark, he failed gloriously.  The Fat Guys’ wines are anything but premium, in my language—  Words I’d employ then immediate deploy to this page are ‘cosmic’, ‘inspiring’, ‘vocal’, ‘inter-dimensional’… inexplicably delicious.  The Chard and Cab Wes sent me were anything but template, anything but expected.  Yes, the common consumer would note their “premium-ness”, but I find myself in uncommon sphere and state tasting these wines.  What I tasted was something of a quality that we consumers wish for.  You can find a simple “premium” bottle on the shelf at Safeway.  This is different, another planet and page, story, narrative.  What was in the bottle was true fermented magic, a lively literary quality that educates a sipper’s senses, like I jotted in the Composition book, “Moriarty-esque reflective madness”…  But, again, more on that in a bit.

This is a small producer that’s not on the “I’m a small wine label” self-anointing chariot.  What you have in your glass with TFG is three gentlemen who love wine.  That’s it.  The fervor of their fondness translates to what you sip, exponentially.  You can only be smitten and seraphically instructed with their bottles.  Tony tells me that he loves the reaction when people taste his wines, when people merely look at him and utter in tremor, “WOW.” Remember, these are offensive lineman, put on the field to protect the quarterback, to block, to be firm and stern.  And how serendipitous in how they don’t care about notoriety, awards, scores, or any other kind of pseudo-prestige.  They just want to be known for wine, wine that is “damn good wine” as he tells me.  Well, with this motion, he and his Guys succeed ad nauseam.

I started with the Chardonnay as you might expect, the other night, hoping that I would taste something new from Chardonnay’s all-too-frequently harangued identity.  First nudge of fragrance after opening bottle, smelling cork and then into bottle’s neck, was pair and vanilla, apple and a cinnamon-sewn pie crust.  On palate, I was greeted with tame acidity coupled with the apple and pie crust, vanilla and almond, a little toast… lavender?  There was a that jazzy weather I dream I’ll one day taste in Chardonnay.  Finally encountered, finally taught something new.  And as the wine invited and later fully embracing the temperature of the room, the texture became more sensual, the apple and pair soupçons more immediate, more visible and believable.  The Chardonnay took on a haunting and persuasive, bewitching quality I’ve never experienced in a Cali’ white Burgundy.  This was a new experience, and I was renewed as a wine lover.

I’m a “Cabernet guy” you could say, so I’m exceptionally welcoming and nearly a bastard critic with Cabs I’m sent.  Like the Chardonnay, TFG’s Cab had a dark personality and widely-erotic electricity to every parcel of its palate.  This is the wine that had the personality of Dean Moriarty, his wild charisma and irresistible allure.  The fruit that spoke to me was in the purview of blackberry and dark chocolate-adorned cherry, then cocoa powder and espresso, a wink of mint and black licorice, smoke.  Doing both its vineyard site, vintage, and varietal a marathon of justice.  There was a rare coherence in this bottle, a bewildering synergy of all parts and personalities, measures and clefs.  If one of these wines sends these gentlemen to some unseen notoriety, whether they want it or not, their Napa Cabernet offering will cement such.

Three lessons learned for the writer, here.  1, Chardonnay is the most extraordinarily effusive and gorgeous white varietal, if done the way these lineman have ordered.  2, if all Cabernets were done this well, I would not drink anything else.  All other varietals would be hit with a preference asteroid which would tie them in certain extinction.  And, 3, the focus of any small label—rather than telling everyone they’re a small label, or artisanal label, or some cult wine producer—should be to just make some damn good wine.  Well decreed, Mr. Tony.  These wines are unlike any expected palate presence of Chardonnay and Cabernet.  Par conséquent, their unique beat, their instructional quality, their haunting stubbornness in anyone who sips.


Custom Crush….

Where to make wine…

Where to make wine…

Thinking about the vision for my label, whoso.  Want wine to speak to me and the wine to speak to sippers as it soaks to multitudes, and repeatedly.  In a writing winemaker mood and modulated mold, mode…  Mike Madigan.

Want my wines to be characters, and each bottle moods of that character, depending on when you open it…  Just know I’m thinking about wine and not just making it but speaking through it…

Wine A Pen

On lunch, writing about a winemaker friend, some copy for his site.  Interesting guy, really, aiming to make wines that tell the story of him, his family, the site from which he sources.  The wines made by he and his wife are wines that are made by hand, that exhibit an intimacy with the vineyard and the varietals nurtured by the soils of that site.  Making wine is not just about making wine, but about telling a story, and intermingled narrative from he winemakers’ point—of-view, but as well what the land and the conditions of the terroir, for that vintage (or year) delivered.  The wines he makes are singular, not found anywhere but from his efforts.  Blair and Caroline want to share their love of family, wine, the land, and the dream of living in California with everyone opening one of their bottles at the dinner table.

They touch the wine in all of its development stages, from when it’s on the vine to when it’s trucked to the crush pad.  Each scene in each parcel of the wine’s story, they are there.  Winemaking is Art, and Science, a blend of the two, but it’s about your closeness to what you do as a winemaker and the connection you have to the soil…

At my brother Cass’ desk right now, with a bit more than 20 minutes I think to write  Yes… 20 minutes and 9 seconds… now 19 minutes and some seconds— fuck the clock, I’m not paying it even a cent of mind.  Want to think about my wine, that I make this vintage— yes I decided.  And I’m thinking Chardonnay, after writing some of Blair’s copy and thinking about the meditative and interplanetary Chard’ that he does from Sonoma Mountain, I want to play with the Burgundy, see what it says to me and what I can say through it.

I peer at the Chardonnay block here on Dutcher’s property, or a picture I took earlier, and think of what the visual itself says to me.  First word, “Confident”.  Next, “Defiant”.  We’re in a Zinfandel-dominated territory, and Chardonnay is the chieftain varietal on site.  So it sits there on the valley floor just staring back at everyone that looks its way.  “I’m Chardonnay,” it says, “May I help you?” the block adds with confident and a coy angle of antagonism.


Writing here in the office I see myself in MY office, the bottledaux/mikemadigancrEATive base.  Ideas and stories, teaching and blogging, telling stories… telling stories.. the characters and where they’re from, like Caroline and Blair, their family winery…  So much in my idea pool and puddle, more now an ocean that I have trouble typing, finding myself having to type and re-type and re-re-re-type.

Slept in this morning, all of us as I noted earlier, which was nice, but did put me in a bit of a time squeeze this A.M.  Thought about yesterday from when I got out of bed, that one lady saying to me, “Well, from our training we always want the wine to be sweeter than the food,” commenting how how she and her hubby didn’t like the wine-food pairings yesterday.  We’re all entitled to opinions, much of what makes this wine life enjoyable, but the way ideas are presented it with what I raise issue.  “Our training”?  What training is that?  And where?  And why do you have to tell me that?  Is this your version of flashing a badge, conveying authority?  Completely forgot where I was just now, as the summoning of this memory and that lady yesterday toward day’s end at the bar completely sent me.  Then today, the group I just helped, 4 LOVELY people from Iowa, told a story about tasting yesterday in Napa and just not being able to stand the crowds.. one lady throwing up or passing out or both in the bathroom, coming out with a toilet lid impression on her face.  I again forget where I am, in this office and at my brother’s desk…  Shit, only 7 minutes left.  Should edit, prep my little makeshift notebook of the stapled-together scratch pieces for my Chardonnay deconstruction…  Think it’s Chardonnay.  And I’m thinking stainless with an inoculate yeast of some kind.  May ask my sister, when she’s back from her travels, Italy—  Don’t think my jealous and intent in being On The Road has fled my character, MY story.  No.  It’s only intensified, and about twenty-fold since yesterday.