Sunday, October 21, 2007

Of Cigars and Women

We find ourselves out in San Jose, California on a long awaited vacation. Our first stop is with Taster B's parents. It was suggested that we take a trip over the Santa Cruz Mountains and visit Bonny Doon Vinyard. It was there my life was changed forever.

The tasting room at Bonny Doon Vinyard is a large scale, yet highly personal experience. There were approximately five to eight tasting stations staffed by college students. The place with busy with about thirty or so patrons. Our server was Cameron, a philosophy major from Santa Cruz. (Go Banana Slugs!) "I find that wine and philosophy go well together," exclaimed Cameron. That gentle statement was like saying "That atom bomb is real dynamite."

The tasting fees were $5.00. The flight of five wines started with an impetuous white, 2006 I, Aurora. A blend of Viognier, Loureiro and treixadura, wild ferment. Tastes of Citrus, mint and melon. Next came the 2005 Pinot Noir "Transfusion". Another great wine with cedar tannins, black berry, black cherry, smoky, suede to leather texture with a spicy finish. Just yum!

Then Cameron rocked my universe. Bonny Doon has imported Monferrato, Denominazione De Origine Controllata ROSSO. This wine is from the Monferrato hills in the Piemonte region. The tasting sheet describes, " We are exited to release another highly aromatic blend from our good friend Luca Ferraris in the Piemonte region of Italy. The blend, rather untraditional, is primarily Ruche' (70%), accentuated with 20% Barbera with a touch of Syrah."

Cameron poured our tastings, I pulled the glass up to look at the deep purple color. I did the quick double swirl, closed my eyes and stuck my nose into the bowl of the glass. Instantly I saw a beautiful young girl with chestnut brown hair walk into my bookstore. Here eyes were blue. She is the type of girl that you would like to take for a long summer's evening walk along Boulder Creek and spread a blanket in the evening's meadow to look up at the stars. The mountain air filled with the fragrance of vanilla from the ponderosa pines and scents wild flowers waft in the summer breeze blowing up the canyon. At that point, you would know that life would be changed forever.

I opened my eyes and came back into present time. I looked at Cameron, looked at Taster B and said "Oh my God!"

(c)2007 SmellsLikeGrape
Piemontese Blend
Monferrato Di Origine Controllata (1)
Producer: Luca Ferraris

Vintage: 2005
Alcohol: 14.0%
Price: $18.00

Ruch'e 70%
Barbera 20%
Syrah 10%

Color: Purple
Intensity: Dark
Aromas: Rose, violet, licorice
Flavors: Allspice, clove , black cherry, rose
Body: Medium to full
Finish: Long and spicy
Tannin: Starts out silky and works toward leather

I never knew wine could be like this. There are a few moments in life that change one's perceptions. This was one of them. In our Wine Spectator tasting course, they talked about floral aromas. I just thought I wasn't able to perceive them. This wine demonstrates that not only is it possible, but they can jump right out of the glass. This wine smells like roses. You must experience this for yourself. This is a wine that is truly capable to evoke strong emotions. A real joy to hold in you hand.

And cigars? The flight continued with the 2003 Le Cigare Volant. Bonny Doon has a long tradition of blending Le Cigare Vilont. A damn good wine with great backbone to age for years. Taster B's father fist tasted this wine back when Randall Grahm would pour in the tasting room himself. It is a blend of Mourv`edre, syrah, Grenache and cinsault.

Finally a desert wine Recioto of Barbera. A very delicious way to end the flight. We enjoyed the tasting room. The staff was pleasant and helpful. Bring a white napkin because we were having trouble judging colors against the dark wooden surfaces.

(1) Post script, 12 Jan 08
Since we have posted this, we have been wrapping our wits around Italian Labels. Monferrato D.O.C. is a relatively new C.O.C introduced in 1995 for red, white and rose’ Dolcetto, Casalese and Freisa from a wide area overlapping the Asti region. Rosso simply means red. Use the label "Italian Labels" to see me muddle through more Italienglish wine labels.