OK, scratch the third comparison. Sometimes Your West Coast Oenophile can get a tad overzealous when starting a new blog entry. But, with the possible exception of grappa, wine is, according to my unabashed claim, notably superior to the vast array of alcoholic potables because it is a communal beverage. Whisky, ale, gin—these drinks are designed for individual consumption. Wine is meant to be shared, with friends or with strangers, in happiness or in sorrow, with all partaking from the same bottle. It is this unique, convivial quality of wine wherein lies its distinctive beauty.
The month of June began as all months should, with a celebratory kickoff. I received an invite from a loose collective of women heralding from assorted Napa wine ventures to join them for lunch and wine tasting at San Francisco’s Ferry Building—in other words, a marvelous excuse to break up the tedium of a Monday, to crisscross the City on my 14-speed Trek, and to meet new friends (I still haven’t figured out how I was included in their mailing) who share similar passions.
Being a long-time fan of Taylor’s Automatic Refreshers in St. Helena, any chance to patronize their outpost here has “Gott” to be good. And it didn’t hurt to be accompanied by a sextet of female denizens of the viticultural arts. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago when it seemed the only woman in the wine industry was Jill Davis!
My hostesses each brought a sampling of their own wines, ranging from Orin Swift’s ever-popular 2007 The Prisoner to the somewhat dyslexically-labeled 2008 Abi Blanc (a 100% Viognier) and 2007 Adi Rosé (of Syrah) from Beth Adams’ new Abigail Adams. From stalwart Patz & Hall, Anne Moses brought two of her finer Pinot Noirs, the 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and the 2007 Jenkins Ranch.
Another familiar label, Viader, was ably represented daughter Janet, who organized this gathering. Her Howell Mountain offerings consisted of their eponymous 2005 Viader, a proprietary Bordeaux and their elegant Cabernet Franc, the 2005 Dare. From Buehler Vineyards, gregarious Italophile Misha Chelini graced the table with their 2008 Russian River Chardonnay and 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Quaintly named Jelly Jar Wines, a venture of Shannon Pistoni and her husband, proved to be no misnomer—their 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel was jammy indeed and quite pleasing to the palate. Finishing off the event, fellow pentasyllabic Italian surnamed Melissa Leonardini also chipped in with her Orin Swift 2006 Papillon, a traditional Bordeaux blend and the 2007 Volunteer, a side venture of her and her husband.
Amid such pleasant company and delightful wines, it would have been a shame to swill and spit, and so I allowed myself to forgo the illusion of further productivity for the afternoon and happily imbibe. Perhaps I may
|have even consumed one drop too many, for I somehow managed to forget to eat my obligatory Taylor’s Veggie Burger. Oh well, as the crew packed up their effects to head back to Napa, I gladly accepted the proffering of a nearly-full bottle of the Volunteer (I might have taken more, but where to carry on a road bike?). I managed to cradle the leftover portions we had ordered and passed them out to some transients sleeping on the grass beside the immortal Vaillancourt Fountain. Even for these desultory fellows, not a bad way to kick off the month.|