|And you may find yourself working at The Wine House. And you may find yourself tasting wine at work. And you may find yourself planning on flying to Bordeaux. And you may find yourself having dinner at a chateau, with the owners. And you may ask yourself – Well, how did I get here?
If you’ve been reading my fortnightly ramblings for any period of time, you know this: I’m a bit of wine geek, I like Old World wines, I enjoy trying new things from unusual locales, but above all, I love all things Bordelais. When I took a walk around the Tertre Roteboeuf vineyard and the surrounding village with Francois Mitjavile last year, only to be welcomed to the chateau for dinner with his wife Miloute, I was ready to wax Wayne’s World and declare, “I’m not worthy!” But that moment doesn’t ever happen if I didn’t like California wine first. Yes, it’s been long overdue, but tonight, I’m going to talk about California wine.
|The carrot was dangled. I was 20. I worked for an investment bank. I was asked if I wanted to drive up to the Napa Valley to set up tables and park cars for a dinner involving the firm’s banking customers during the annual Wine Auction weekend. Two nights for free at Silverado? Done. What I didn’t realize was I was invited to dinner also. Dinner took place at the home of Bill and Lila Jaeger in St. Helena. It was there that I had my epiphany. I realized I had a wine palate. I recognized this, and armed with expense accounts, spent the next several years tasting my way around the many wonderful wines California produces. After I turned my hobby and passion into my vocation, I was met with the challenge of having to know a great deal more about wine than I thought. Homework. The good kind. Of course, the curriculum was in French, Italian, German and Spanish … for starters. With my glass usually full of something foreign, I had almost forgotten that the wines of California were the driving force in all of this. Almost forgotten. Yet, not forgotten. As of last Thursday, that is.
|I recently met one of my wine mentors for beer (beer? What can I say, I’m not working ALL the time!). The idea to grab something to eat came up, and we popped into Delarosa on Chestnut St. Their brussel sprouts are to die for. Sorry, off subject. Anyhoo, we ordered a pizza with herbs and fennel sausage, and when I looked at the wine list, the 2008 Lioco Indica sounded like the perfect wine. I had no idea how perfect! The wine was in total harmony with what we had on our plates. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I came in to work the next day and immediately began my pursuit.
It seems that Matt Licklider and Kevin O’Connor, a couple of wine industry peeps, got together on a project making “true wines of origin” sourcing fruit from some distinguished California vineyards. They look for old vines and some form of stress production from the vineyards they source from. Their 2008 Indica is a blend of mostly old vine Carignan with Mourvedre and a little Petite Sirah. The Carignan is sourced from the old vines of the Tollini vineyard in Mendocino county. You can read the specs here. I think it is the herbal presence of that Carignan which marries it perfectly with a fennel sausage pizza. I was so taken by this wine, that I ordered a second glass. Swayed by my enthusiasm, my buddy ordered a glass and was equally impressed. And that is saying something!
It’s always a good thing to be open minded, to explore and try new things. You never know where you’ll end up. What I’ve learned in this life is to always be aware of who you are and who you represent. Equally important is to always remember where you came from and where you started. For me, I began my exploration in the world of wine in California. Thanks to the folks at Lioco, I’ve been reminded as to why. Sante! – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about old vine Carignan, California wine, or Tuesday’s big match: firstname.lastname@example.org