Adventures in wine country

The morning started off early–no appreciable acclamatization to the time change had taken place.

After a nice breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel, “Anzu”:, I went across the street to National Car Rental, got a car, and headed north.

I must say, the drive is fast when you’re going opposite prevailing traffic–I was in Sonoma in roughly an hour, and took the time to stop in “a little net cafe there”: to download some email and post yesterday’s entry.

I then headed to “Ravenswood”:, where I tasted quite a bit of wine, and then, to let my blood-alcohol level get back into a normal range, chatted with the people behind the counter for the better part of an hour and then arranged to have a mixed case of wine shipped back to North Carolina.

The most unexpected wine would have to be a Moscato that you could probably sub in for any non-dry Reisling–it’s sweet, but not cloyingly so. They also had a nice early-harvest Gewurztraminner that _is_ quite dry.

An unfortunate casualty of recent expansions in the wine business is that they are no longer able to get enough grapes to bottle their Amador County Zinfandel, which I rather like. Oh, well.

Interestingly, they were aquired in the none-too-distant past by Constellation, which is the same company that just paid more than a billion-with-a-b dollars for the Mondavi brands.

Already well behind schedule–and I’d only hit one winery!–I decided to skip Arrowood (who had not had anything compelling last time Anne and I were there) and head directly to “Wellington Vineyards”: The person behind the counter there was not as garrulous as the crew at Ravenswood, but we did have a nice chat, and I picked up two bottles of their Criolla Port–a tawny, a previous bottling of which was the first thing that attracted us to them–and their Mohrhardt Ridge and Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignons each. The Mohrhardt Ridge, especially, is a wonderful wine.

Having gotten out of there more quickly than I expected to, I then headed further north than we usually make it, to “Alexander Valley Vineyards”: I had a nice chat with the guy behind the bar, and tried several things. Their New Gewurz is nice, but not as good as the Ravenswood–I’ve also seen the label before, so I figured we could pick it up locally if we wanted some. Their 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon is an award winner, and I picked up a couple of bottles of that. Their Sangiovese is a nice, light, very drinkable red, of which I got a bottle. What really impressed me, though, was their 2002 Pinot Noir, which I thought very interesting and very smooth.

I was apparently interesting and talkative enough that I also got to have a taste of their 1998 Cyrus–a mostly-Cabernet that is very, very nice. If we hadn’t been going to a vegeterian restaurant, and I hadn’t been sure how it would have stood up to a Cabernet, I might have bought a bottle to drink that night. As it was, though, I just savored my sample.

From there, I headed south through Santa Rosa and Napa. I stopped at Dean and Deluca for a very late lunch and to get some chocolates for Anne in an attempt to atone for the fact that I’d already bought two cases of wine and I had one more stop.

I also called Chet, to inquire as to whether he would be terribly disappointed if I wasn’t able to get him the bottle of the “Domaine Carneros”: La Rev that I intended to get for him and Erin into his hands before the actual wedding. He allowed as how that was OK, and if I picked him up a couple of bottles of their reserve Pinot Noir, they might arrange to come and pick them up before October.

Carneros is always beautiful, and in addition to tasting their Pinot, I got to sample their 1998 La Rev, which is, to my taste, everything a Champaigne should be.

And then I headed back to the city, to drop the car off before the 6pm deadline. I did so, but I failed the IQ test that is opening the door over the gas cap–it turned out to be simple, but non-obvious–so we got reamed a bit on the refill.

After catching up with Anne’s undergraduate roomate, who’s here for her job at Yale Law, we went with UNC’s Associate Dean to “Millennium”:, the only vegetarian restaurant I believe I’ve ever been to. Forget your preconcieved notions, it’s really good. Sometimes it’s hard to anticipate what the dish is going to be like, but they were all quite good.

And then we went back to the hotel and collaped.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.