What terrible timing it was for the recent fires in California to start wreaking havoc around the same time as I started the California Wine Appellation Specialist course. It’s so unfortunate that a recent masterclass helped surge personal interest in a wine region that went relatively ignored during my WSET diploma studies, only for the terrible news to ensue. I hope that by learning more about the region I’m doing a part to support them – and thusly I may also retract my decision to not attend this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa? Sigh. We’ll see.
Testing my just-in-time schedule, I rushed out of the door from work to make it to class, being the last of the group that was on time, but that seems to be my Thing, anyways. We had to do that thing where we go around the room, say our names, and say what we do in the world of wine. Still as nervous as I was when we had to do that in 8th grade, but for different reasons, I suppose.
Now comes the realization that weekly school on Tuesdays is going to be the most tiring thing, but I’m enjoying the course so far. It’s becoming more and more of a reality as my flash cards pile up, but hey – apparently I love studying.
Roederer Estate 2009 “l’Ermitage” Brut (Anderson Valley, Mendocino, Mendocino County, North Coast, California) $48 USD.
A proper start to what I know is going to be endless studying. Starting to deepen in its straw colour, with developing notes of ripe green apple, pie crust, and lemon. Creamy mousse leads to yeast and ripe green fruit that still hold enough tension; it’s both refreshing and comforting at 12 g/L of residual sugar. Instant pleasure on this one.
Dashe 2016 Dry Riesling, McFadden Farm (Potter Valley, Mendocino, Mendocino County, North Coast, California) $22 USD.
What I get at first is this intense combination of pear drops, banana, and beer. Like this is legitimately wine for a wheat beer lover, and I’m glad someone else pointed it out before I said it. What’s baseball park on the nose turns into office soap on the palate, with bittersweet white flowers brought on by a pillowy texture which seems misplaced for the usual razor-sharp grape. For reference, Riesling at its best often feels like when you seamlessly answer all of your mom’s questions on those phone calls à la some kind of verbal Lara Croft, but this wine feels like you waited too long before she asked you about That Picture™ of you on Facebook.
Carpe Diem 2013 Chardonnay (Anderson Valley, Mendocino, Mendocino County, North Coast, California) $28 USD.
Timid as the grape often calls for, with charred yellow plum joining apples and a hint of butter. Creamy, round, a touch of apple skin bitterness on the finish, and a bit predictable. Solid.
Knez 2013 Pinot Noir, Cerise Vineyard (Anderson Valley, Mendocino, Mendocino County, North Coast, California) $40 USD.
That intoxicating waft of macerated strawberries is what first comes to mind, joined by a soft backbone of decaying leaves and earth. The body starts off silky and mouthwatering, but the finish ends with a slow gradient into something not unlike sucking on a twig.
Masut 2015 Pinot Noir (Eagle Peak, Mendocino County, North Coast, California) $45 USD.
About as intense and youthful as the previous, but Knez’s slow-motion chiffon is replaced by stiffer brocade, here. Cranberry stands out, along with black cherry jam, a hint of caramel, and some kind of sweet herb. Red licorice appears on the palate, as well as slightly chalkier texture than the Knez.
Jacuzzi 2014 Barbera (Mendocino County, North Coast, California) $22 USD.
A rather intense milk chocolate-covered cherry joins an odd note of brine or swimming pool (which, to my relief, the instructor interpreted as “bug spray” even without my prompt), while plum and dried herbs mingle in the background. A little more expressive on the palate. It’s not not hot, but it’s also well-balanced at 15% alcohol. Talks of some minor TCA on this one.
Parducci 2012 “True Grit” (Mendocino County, North Coast, California) $25 USD.
Not a talker – smells as if the juices from this blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah were taken out from a dusty and forgotten cellar. Someone’s note of baseball card gum holds some hilarious truth. A fair amount of chalky tannins and structure. A bit short, but so is baseball card gum.
Moniker 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino County, North Coast, California) $30 USD.
Intense and youthful. There’s no question where the cassis, dried blackcurrant leaf, and pencil lead are pointing to. This Cab Sauv shows appropriately charged tannins and acid without tiring the palate with saccharine weight. It’s a Californian Cab on a healthy diet, and I have nothing but time for it.