WOW's trip to Northern California--Part One - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 10-24-2007 07:33 PM

Time in California--great! Dealing with airlines to get there and back--horrible!
I had connection both ways at Dallas-Fort Worth on American Airlines. We left Dallas about two hours late which messed up my dinner reservation in San Francisco the first night. Called the restaurant (Absinthe Bistro) when I got to my hotel and they were still serving dinner so I grabbed a cab. Good dinner. I started with a
PEGU CLUB COCKTAIL (recipe dates from 18th century Rangoon, Burma where English colonials gathered for libations.) Cointreau, lime juice, gin, angostura bitters, lime wedge. For dinner a wild mushroom risotta with shaved cheese (Mozzarella?)--chanterelles and other 'shrooms from Napa, some sage seasoning--delicious. Paired well with a

from Monterey County. (I didn't realize their winery is right in Marina, CA near Monterey and they have a tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea. I could have visited either one had I known.)
From website website:
"Cima Collina is one of Monterey's newest artisan wineries, handcrafting wines from small vineyards in the Monterey region."
2005 Chula Vina Pinot Noir is $28 a bottle from winery. A blend from Chula Vina (Gabilan Mountains) and the Lucia Highlands Vineyard (Santa Lucia Highlands) is $26.
My notes are "leggy, semi-transparent, wood influenced? cherries and violets on nose; nice with the wild mushroom risotto; cherries on palate, high-toned element, plenty of acidity along with robust fruit; perhaps stops just short of elegance; a bit too powerful for that."
I followed the risotto with Epoisses cheese with warm bread triangles and apple slices. (Another fruit combinataion offered was Pecorino cheese with figs.)
While Epoisses is said to match with Loire Pinot Noir, I didn't feel it matched well with the Central Coast P.N.

Creamy cheese, nice "stink," edible crust--delicious.

The next day I returned to the airport to pick up my rental car and then drove to Sonoma County. Started my tasting at the northern end at Ferrari-Carano (beautiful villa set among gardens.) See photos at I chose the reserve tasting (four tastes for $15; choose four from eleven offered) in the cellar, seated and much more comfortable than the less expensive tasting at the counter upstairs. Knowledgeable female server. Crowds of people upstairs.

I did substitute a Pinot Noir for one of the reserve wines since I wanted to try their P.N. I liked all four wines I tried.

50% malolactic fermentation, 15 months in newer French oak
Medium gold color with transparency; delicate flavor of tropical fruits, fig and slight vanilla; I found it very likable and would rate 88-90 points.
The DOMINIQUE CHARDONNAY $38 which I didn't try is said to be a bit oakier.

Medium-bodied. Only 125 cases. 2-bottle limit per person. Deeper, more serious than the P.N. sold upstairs without the Ferrari-Carano label. Garnet in center of glass with fainter color at rim. Beautiful bouquet of roses, red berries, cherries. More longevity and power than the nose hints. Raspberry flavors. Server recommended serving with turkey dinner. Also visualize with duck breast in fruit glaze. Does not turn tart on the palate and has a lingering finish. I would rate 90-92 points and 87 for QPR. Reminded me somewhat of Merry Edwards' Pinots. Winemaker is Sarah Quider.

15.6% alcohol
First zin labeled as "reserve" by Ferrari-Carano. Crimson color with some transparency. Raspberry/blackberry on nose and palate. Carries high alcohol quite well. Would be nice with barbequed pork or beef or maybe beef brisket. 3+ lapper finish in WW code.

2004 FERRARI-CARANO TRESOR (2003 sold for $60)
Grapes from 13 Sonoma County appellations. 14.8% alcohol. 20 months French oak. Bordeaux-style blend with 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Malbec, 11% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot
Black currant nose and on palate. Red licorice also on palate. Only drying if held in the mouth for awhile before swallowing. Long finish.

Also stopped that afternoon at Geyser Peak and Simi wineries. That was all time allowed as I wanted to check into inn near Guerneville before driving over an hour to town of Sonoma for dinner at Girl and the Fig with a WLDG forum regular. I don't have notes on my visit to Geyser Peak and Simi but I think I did purchase one wine at Geyser Peak, possibly a shiraz or zinfandel port. At Girl and the Fig Brian brought a bottle of Elizabeth Spencer Pinot Noir to share (very good) and I ordered a Rosenblum Marsanne off the restaurant list.
Dinner was outstanding and I was able to have some of the fresh figs. (When I told one of the innkeepers where I stayed, Sonoma Orchid Inn, that I was driving to Sonoma for dinner he said "You're not going to Girl and the Fig are you?" and when I answered yes, he said that then the long drive was worthwhile. Otherwise he would have suggested dining closer to Guerneville.)

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 10-25-2007).]