Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Taste of the Past - Antinori Villa Toscana Rosso

Finally deciding to address those old boxes of stuff in corner, I open a bottle of Italian wine to help motivate me. I settled on Antinori Villa Toscana Rosso 2005, a very approachable Tuscan blend. I can't help but think about my time in Tuscany whenever I enjoy a glass of Antinori. As fate would have it, in one of the boxes, I came across a long forgotten travel journal from my time in Florence. Pouring myself another glass, I allowed the journal to open randomly, reading the first passage to catch my eye...

A four piece band strikes up in the middle of the Piazza della Repubblica. The passing people couldn't help but stop and takes in the Italian folk tunes. Looking up from my writing I see a stunning vision standing with her back to me. Her red heels may have caught my eye or perhaps it was the large floppy hat she had worn to subdue the intense Tuscan sun. Now however, as the sun was setting the breeze picked up.  At times she has to reach up and hold her hat down. I enjoyed drinking in the long elegant lines of her body. Loosing my train of thought, I ignored my writing to take a long sip of wine, waiting (or perhaps hoping) for a sign. A slight tap of her foot was all I needed. Slugging down the rest of my glass, I leave my seat in the cafe.

Without words, I approached her. Grasping both of her hands, I greet her with only a smile. Sliding my left hand down to her waist, we began to dance. She laughs, I smile wider now and our dance continues. As the allegro tempo slowed more to a waltz, I pulled her close and she lay her head on my shoulder. A gust of wind finally succeeds in pulling the hat from her head. Looking up suddenly we catch our first intimate gaze. In that moment we might have forgotten the hat all together if it weren't for the yelling. I turned my head towards it to see a waiter at the cafe waving my journal as he shouts in my direction. She turns in the opposite direction, hoping to spy her missing hat. Our connection breaks, each tending to our own business.

After unsuccessfully trying to explain my actions to the waiter, I finally give up.  I shower him with more euros than he deserved so I can turn my attention back to my dance partner. I scan the crowd for those beautiful red heels.  They are pointing directly at a pair of
black leather dress loafers. The man who's feet are inside is taller than I. The suit he wears is a conservative cut, nicer than any suit I had ever owned. A finely pressed white shirt accented by a deep ocean blue tie rounds out his ensemble.  It conveys an aura of seriousness, (hardly the demeanor to complement such a whimsical beauty as the woman in red heels).  In his hand he holds her floppy sun hat.  She on the other-hand holds his gaze.  It appeared she was doing some explaining of her own. Grabbing her hand, he turns and begins walking her from the piazza. With my notebook once again firmly in hand I stood alone. She glanced once over her shoulder. I gave her one last smile but doubt she ever received it.

...another sip and the wine's silky tannins bring me back to the present. I may not have this girl, but I'll always have her memory imprinted on this seductive Italian red wine

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Cab by a Different Name - Picchetti

Inevitably, a friend returns from a visit to the Bay area and I know the conversation before it takes place. We cover the basic tourist attractions: Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Square, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, wine country, bla bla bla. In fact, the conversation is so predictable that I often begin to wonder why I haven't written a tour booklet for the region. Not because I know so much about all of these interesting places, but because I've been lucky enough to experience other things of interest.

Every city has them, untouched gems that tourist seem to miss. Perhaps that's why I haven't written my Badass Bay Area travel guide, I like that fact that my gems remain gems. Free from the bastardizing touch of the stereotypical ugly American tourist. (It's not all their fault of course, locals happily go out of their way to invent ways to separate these tourist from their cash.) Once people see theirs a buck to be made it gets ugly quick. Does anyone remember the gritty customer service friendly style of old Vegas, or the down-to-earth happy to see you farmers in Napa prior to this recent wine craze?

For my gaming pleasure Vegas is seldom in the cards anymore. But for down-to-earth wine tasting we still have options. Luckily, the country is still blessed with a few fun growing regions that consistently produce great wines. One such AVA is short drive southwest of San Francisco to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Incorporating parts of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo this region is full of unique and well established vineyards. Speckled with boutique wineries, one can easily spend a week exploring all the fine juice this region has to offer. Plus, you save yourself from the crowds, hassle and expense of the more famous tasting regions to the north. It can be hard to find many of these wines on at your local supermarket, but that can also be the fun of the trip, the discovery. One of my favorites, the Picchetti winery, dates back to the 1800's. A walk in the vineyard will reveal tree trunk sized vines (just beware the rattle snakes) but save yourself the walk and just enjoy the comforts of the tasting room.

The Leslie's Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a treat. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from our Estate Vineyards on Montebello Road. This wine is beautifully balanced. Rich and intense in color, the nose is tremendous. A classic Cabernet, luscious and bold with deep flavors of blackcurrant with a hint of chocolate. Decant now and drink or allow it to age beautifully over the next 20 years. It will not disappoint and neither will a visit to the Santa Cruz Mountains growing region.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Thanks For the Poppies

As the speed of activity from the summer begins to slow into the fall, I find myself looking around my world. What am I committed to, what to I care about, how am I connected? So much of what we do in this society is done for the "me" in all of us. Seldom do we address the "we" unless it is an indirect benefit of taking care of the "me" first. Slumping deep into my chair, I meditated on that thought as I took a gulp of wine.

Peter Michael "Les Pavots" 2006 is an amazing blend I was luck to receive as a gift. Almost black with a deep red edge. A profound bouquet of black cherry, licorice, black currant, blueberry pie and blackberry, combined with chocolate, vanilla, coffee, black tea.  The nose is almost overwhelmed.  Subtle spice notes of cloves cinnamon first great the tongue. Very full-bodied-concentrated yet graceful. The same rich, ripe fruit impressions from the nose dance on the palate with spice black truffle. The massive mouth feel is round with silky tannins with hints of mocha leading to a very long finish.

As a blend it is a beautiful balance of what each grape can bring to the glass. Some more than others bring on the deep color, others the wonderful nose, each adds to the harmonics of the palate. Alone no grape can make this wine. Each grape asserts characteristics from a micro climate it came from, bring the best of what it could produce with the conditions of the 2006 growing season.  Now together, this blend of grapes brings great pleasure to me as I struggle with my thoughts on disconnectedness.

Turning to my computer, I wondered what could be possible if we worked to create balance though connectedness. Imagine how delicious that world could be.