Being recently retired, I went wine tasting on Thursday with my great friend Mike Murray. I mean now a Thursday is as good as a Saturday. Usually, I taste in Dry Creek but for a change-up (baseball metaphor there), we went to Sonoma and tasted on the Square for starters.
Starting at Passaggio. Wow! Small, stylish room, Mike and I the only tasters (remember it was Thursday), Kate in charge of pouring. She poured the whole line pretty much. A 2014 unoaked Chardonnay was pure Burgundy. Just wonderful. Discounted to 17 bucks. Drank it when I got home to much praise from my wife and son Grant. Also bought a Grenache — like a French beaujolais — and a Black Knight Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir. Not sure if I can lay it down for a few years. Again, pure Burgundy. Could compete with French Burgundy reds. Love it.
Kate asked where we were tasting next. I said we didn’t know. She pointed across the courtyard and said, “MacLaren, you’ll love it.”
I’ve always been in love with love.
We went into MacLaren and met owner/winemaker Steve Law. From Scotland. Said “wee” for small, said “bairn” for child. Full of linguistic thrills. Specializes in Syrah. Phenomenal. And I mean phenomenal. He poured four Syrahs which could compete with fine Northern Rhones. I bought two from 2013, the Moaveni Vineyard and the Atoosa’s Vineyard. I would have bought more but I’m a poor (former) sports columnist.
Steve asked how I heard about his place. I said I just had tasted at another fabulous place, Passaggio, and Kate recommended MacLaren. Steve smiled. He pointed across the room where a man and a woman were talking. The woman, he said, was Cindy Cosco, owner/winemaker at Passaggio. So, I got to meet Cindy, now one of my wine heroes.
Small wine world. I love Sonoma County wineries. You get to meet owners, winemakers, children, parents, grand parents, sometimes even the dog.
For our final stop, Mike and I drove up a hill and through the woods to Petroni. If you dine at the North Beach Restaurant in the City you know Petroni. Lorenzo, one of the owners — now gone — started a Sonoma winery where they make a Sangiovese that is world class. He used to call it Brunello di Sonoma, but ran into legal issues with Italian vintners over the name. Now it’s called Poggio Alla Pietra. Same great wine.
Anyway, when we drove up to Petroni a big gate stopped us, a gate like from a castle. Closed tight. We thought we were sunk it being after hours and us not having an appointment. I noticed a little buzzer along a wall. Buzzed. What the heck. Woman came on, nice voice. I asked if we could taste — feeling like Dorothy trying to see the Wizard. Woman said sure. Gate swung open.
We were shown to a cave, went on a long way. Jennifer our personal guide. Call her our wine angel. We toured the cave, noticed several alcoves with large wooden tables. She sat us down in our own alcove. Fetched wine. I use the word fetched because she was running all over the place. She let us taste Poggio. Be still my heart. A chardonnay, a Rossa di Sonoma — Poggio’s little cousin. All nectar of the gods.
Bought a bunch. Bought a magnum of 2007 Syrah because the Press Democrat Sports Dept. is hosting a dinner for me next week as a final see-you-later, and I’m donating the magnum to the cause.
So, three great great wineries. One great great day. Can’t say retirement sucks.