Out of character… A whisky guy goes wine tasting

Raz posting here (a rarity, I know):

So, I did something odd on Friday; Wine tasting.

After going to a morning funeral (for a dear sweet lady who welcomed us without hesitation into her family) and associated wake in Lompoc, CA. Ginger was feeling wiped out so I took her back to the motel. The Family headed back to the house and Casey went along with her Grand Parents while I took Gin back. I didn’t need to get straight over to the house and I’d seen on James May’s wine show recently something about a wine ghetto in town. I happened to have seen a sign directing us to where it was on the way into town earlier that morning and I needed to get Adrian a present too. Further I’d been toying with the concept that the 3dc tasting note format should work equally well with other spirits et. al. and I had my notebook with me as I’d not taken it out of the suit case since WOW last year. Thus all things seemingly lined up to accommodate the whim, I decided to give a go at a wine tasting, alone.

I drove back to the other side of town and turned into the industrial complex behind the Home Depot where Hwy 1 dumps into the South Eastern side of town. There in these bland blue-grey corrugated warehouses are around 12 boutique wine makers / blenders / bottlers that are treating the wine industry much the same way John Glaser seems to be going at the Whisky biz. I did not remember the specific one James May visited (though I would have liked to from the interview on the show, as they seem like 3dc peeps) so I drove about and sort of randomly picked a street Packard to follow into a tasting room.

First I went into Fiddlehead Cellars. A very congenial Kiwi stood behind the bar. By bar I mean a simple couple planks of wood on some barrels with the typical wine racks behind him for selling what was on sample in a room about 10′ X 15′. Friendly, but definitely not fancy. He handed me a tasting sheet and let me know that there was a $10 tasting fee and asked me a few questions as he poured me some wine into a glass. The conversation went something like this:

FH-Q: What kind of wine to you like?
Raz-A: I don’t really like wine; I’m a whiskey drinker, but (setting my tasting note book on the bar) I’m hear to learn.

FH: Well we do Sauvignon and Pinots exclusively so we’ll teach you about those.
Raz-A: OK then.

The first glass was the Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from a mix of barrels and stainless steel aging. It was a very sweet wine but not cloying. Not particularly dry, just the kind of deserty drink I usually go for. The second was the Honeysuckle 2005 put in all new oak aging. This was dry and clean, very light and subtle, especially in regards to tannin (which I hate). I liked this one as another deserty, though much dryer drink than the first. The Gooseberry, all Stainless Steel aged Kiwi wine was then poured. this was not particularly to my taste and though sweet and a bit sour was a bit too much like a candy from the 70s (that I can’t recall the name of). Next on pour was the Pink Fiddle Pinot Rose’ thing. Not really to my taste, very dry and oddly tasted “pink” whatever that means. Lastly was the 728, a Pinot. This was about the best of the lot for me personally. Very complex long flavor profile and despite the deep red color the tannins were very subtle. The most subtle tannins of any of the reds I had that day from any of the shops. This was by far the best overall quality, by my standards anyway, of the three shops I popped into.

Next post will be the next shop in line; Evening Land.


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