“Good friends, go in and taste some wine with me. And we, like friends, will straightway go together.” – Julius Caesar (Act II, scene 2)
(1) We’re heading to Sonoma next weekend, and will get to visit during Winter Wineland. It’s always a favorite stop during these special events—with tastings from Oregon to Sta. Rita Hills.
(2) We’re cheering on the Dallas Cowboys, who haven’t won a division playoff game since 1995. It’s about time. Adam and Dianna Lee, displaced Texans, have remained passionate about the Cowboys, naming their stainless steel tanks for famous members of the Cowboys Hall of Fame.
(3) The wine is just consistently, incredibly good. And besides that—and this is important for this blog—they manage to keep it affordable for average wine lovers. A modest budget doesn’t mean you can’t drink great wine.
Since we’re primarily about drinking wine from fruit grown in the Sta. Rita Hills region, this focus is on their 2012 Clos Pepe pinot noir. (Be sure to try their Cargasacchi and Sta. Rita Hills AVA pinots, too.)
Here’s how International Wine Cellar described the wine: “Vibrant ruby. A powerfully scented bouquet evokes raspberry and boysenberry preserves, cola, licorice and potpourri. Lush and creamy in texture, offering sweet red and dark berry preserve and cherry-cola flavors, with notes of rose pastille and tangy minerals adding vibrancy. Silky tannins frame the powerful fruit and carry through a long, precise, floral-driven finish.”
I’m sure that’s right. Here’s how I describe it: more, please. Yes, we keep ordering more. It’s big, fruity, and ready to go. There are so many lovely “versions” of the pinot from Clos Pepe vineyard: Ken Brown, Loring (reviewed later), Walt, Longoria, and Clos Pepe’s own wine—among several others (that I still need to drink through!) This one certainly holds its own with that beautiful fruit.
Fun bonus: google “Siduri” and “banned in Alabama.”
An introduction to Sta. Rita Hills wine, narrated by Richard Sanford, who in the early ’70s planted the first pinot grapes at Sanford & Benedict.
How about a 2011 Wenzlau pinot? We have a very limited supply in our cellar, so we have to ration these carefully. But hey, we’re launching 2015 in style.
First, a word about the “pursuit of balance.” This wonderful wine obviously belongs in that style. Grapes picked early, low alcohol, built for the long haul, made to drink with food. We love these wines.
But we also love the Loring-style wines where the fruit hits you up front and where the alcohol is more noticeable. (My wife leans toward the former; I prefer the latter; but we both like both styles.) In my humble opinion, both styles can be balanced.
Start here: I love this vineyard. I love biking down Santa Rosa Road, turning the bend, and then seeing the amazing vineyards (Sea Smoke, Mt. Carmel, Rita’s Crown, Wenzlau, etc.) on the mountainside and mountaintop. Wenzlau has 12.5 breezy, chilly acres of pinot and chardonnay on a 100-acre parcel.
Add to that—amazing fruit—a notable winemaker, Justin Willett (of Tyler wines). And you have this: a low alcohol (13.0%) treat full of . . . ok, here’s the part I’m not good at . . . earth, floral, dark fruit. Maybe floral. Have to find someone who knows what they’re talking about. You could talk me into “tobacco.”
What I know is that it’s wonderful. Although, for me (but not for my wife), it’s still a bit young. In other words, our next bottle won’t be opened for quite a while. Ok, we don’t have a huge cellar, so I’m not talking 2025. But at least another year.
This pinot is great; but wait until I tell you about their chardonnay.
So today it’s a 2012 Liquid Farm “Four.” We’ll get to their other amazing SRH wines—Golden Slope and White Hill— later, perhaps even stepping outside the sub-AVA to taste their “La Hermana,” and “Bien Bien.”
But for this special day, it’s their “Four.” (It’s a bit pricier than most wines we’ll be reviewing here, but, again: it’s time to launch 2015 properly.)
And the beauty of the wine begins with the joy that Nikki and Jeff Nelson spread everywhere. They mix amazing wine with deep, authentic community. And that’s what we call a celebration. Add to that the winemaking skills of James Sparks, and it’s hard to go wrong.
“Four” is the lucky number for Liquid Farm. That’s certainly true with this bottle made from their four best barrels of chardonnay. With a dominance of grapes from Clos Pepe, the wine exemplifies everything that drew us to Sta. Rita Hills chard in the first place: crisp fruit (pear, especially), acidity, minerality, and depth.
But as I said in the opening post, I’m not an expert wine taster. I just know that when we drink this wine, we keep shaking our heads and smiling.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne
Michael Scott had the perfect words for New Year’s Day: “Everyone deserves a second second chance.”
No matter what failures, losses, griefs, or mistakes you may have made, there is always a chance to reboot and start all over. A second chance. Or for most of us, a second second chance.
May this year be filled with joy, with meaningful friendships, with new learning, with old wisdom, and with wonderful wine from the Sta. Rita Hills!