Friday, March 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Wineaux: Drinking on the road not taken

SusanLeonardiWineauxW

By
From page A7 | April 03, 2014 |

When we decided to come back to California after nearly 20 years on the East Coast, my partner and I made a list of possible cities — based on things like walkability and access to art/music/books. Sebastopol was high on our list and we nearly moved there, but Davis won out. And we’ve never regretted the decision. But when we needed to get out of town recently, we thought we’d check to see how Sebastopol has fared without us.

I was especially interested in The Barlow, which Food and Wine Magazine recently recommended: “More than 30 local vendors, including nine wineries, operate out of this 13-acre complex in a former apple-packing plant.” Sounded wonderful. It incited, I admit, a bit of Sebastopol envy.

So off we went, via the long (two-hour), winding but lovely Lake Berryessa route. The Barlow may in five or so years be a splendid destination, but now only a natural foods market, a gallery, a couple of small shops, a very expensive restaurant and two winery tasting rooms have opened their doors.

The two tasting rooms are, though, excellent. We went first to Marimar Estate and tried all three of their pinot noirs. All were delicious, but my favorite was the 2010 La Masia from the Don Miguel vineyard in the Russian Valley. Along with recognizable cherry-raspberry pinot aroma and flavor, the wine had hints of spice and some notes of darker fruit. Smooth, balanced, elegant.

Marimar Torres of the Torres winemaking family in Spain came to live in California almost 40 years ago. After finding the land she wanted, she began planting in 1986 — 30 acres each chardonnay and pinot noir. She planted very densely, European-style, and yields are very low. In 2003, she decided to go organic and is now working on biodynamic certification. She uses only estate-grown grapes in her wine. Predictably, the bottle price is $44. It’s a splurge but a delicious one.

The other current Barlow winery is La Follette. La Follette, too, specializes in chardonnay and pinot noir. Unlike Marimar Torres, however, Greg La Follette makes use of others’ vineyards — carefully chosen, of course — in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, and he maintains long-term relationships with these vineyards. He believes that the key to good winemaking is “listening closely to what the vineyard wants to express and trusting that you can help to gently guide that process.” You won’t be surprised to find out that La Follette has a degree from UCD.

My favorite here — and possibly my all-around favorite of the wine I tasted on the trip — was the La Follette Sangiacomo Pinot Noir from a Sonoma coast family vineyard managed by Mike and Steve Sangiacomo. This wine has a lovely nose of savory herbs followed by the red cherry-red currant taste of a very pure pinot. Elegantly acidic and smoothly tannic, this wine would be a perfect pairing for a huge variety of food. At only 12.9 percent, it’s actually the lowest-alcohol California pinot I’ve tasted — and definitely one of the most delicious ($40).

I say “possibly” because I didn’t try any of these wines with food. But I can’t imagine that either of these stunning pinots wouldn’t greatly enhance almost any special meal.

In anticipation of my own Sebastopol meal, I came equipped with a short list of restaurants I’d read about online. And then I asked — in almost every attractive shop on Main Street and beyond — local folks for recommendations. The restaurant that generated the most enthusiasm wasn’t one on my list, but no matter. The locals convinced me. We headed to Peter Lowell’s.

A small and simple place, 10 minutes’ walk from the center of town, it has a simple menu with simple, straightforward food. Our fresh, local and delicious antipasto plate was worth the trip. We sat on the very pleasant patio in a treed alcove — the surroundings as unpretentious as the food. The wine list, too, was limited but carefully chosen and mostly local.

We ended up ordering a vermentino from Matthiasson Winery in Napa. The grapes, though, are from Yolo County — the Windmill Vineyard in the Dunnigan Hills AVA, to be exact. And there’s another unsurprising connection, too — Steve Matthiasson studied winemaking at UCD.

In January, the San Francisco Chronicle named Matthiasson “Winemaker of the Year” and called this vermentino “California’s answer to Grüner Veltliner, but better.” Last year the Tendu, as this wine is labeled, blended the vermentino with a couple other white Italian varietals, but the 2013 that we drank is 100 percent vermentino. It worked beautifully with our food and seemed the perfect wine to drink on a sunny patio. Lively citrus, herbs and pears dominate this light, refreshing, zingy wine that is, nonetheless, fairly intense.

We fully intended to finish the bottle, so we were careful to inquire about alcohol content — a reasonable 12.8 percent. What we didn’t know until the bottle arrived is that it’s an entire liter, so we left enough to offer (offer happily accepted) a glass to the two women at the next table. They liked it, too. Its other quirk is a crown cap like a bottle of beer. I’m guessing that Matthiesson figured very few drinkers would want to re-cork. Too easy to drink, too delicious.

This was one of the least expensive wines on the Peter Lowell’s list ($32), and it retails at $20. I haven’t seen it locally, but you can get it in the Bay Area (at K&L, for example, or San Francisco Wine Merchant). If you’d like to try one of the “winemaker of the year’s” masterpieces, John at Valley Wine Company has Matthiesson’s chardonnay, which he highly recommends, for $25.

After a cup of delicious oolong at Holy Cow Café (the source of one of our enthusiastic Peter Lowell recommendations — thanks, folks) we headed home, secure in the knowledge that Sebastopol has flourished without us, happy to have had such a relaxing getaway and equally happy that we live here in Davis.

This is a home where we could just walk over to the university the next day and see a free and terrific performance of “The Merchant of Venice,” only a few days after we’d seen there an excellent performance of “The Grapes of Wrath” and attended a superb (sorry about all my superlatives — but they were earned) symposium on the Steinbeck novel that inspired it. We made a good choice.

— Reach Susan Leonardi at [email protected] Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

Susan Leonardi

.

News

Anti-gay initiative puts AG in a bind

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
County supervisors consider options for historic courthouse

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Two found dead of apparent shooting in West Davis home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
New Paso Fino design trims lots

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Co-pilot may have hidden illness, German prosecutors say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Senate’s Harry Reid announces he won’t seek re-election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Woodland police warn of kidnapping phone scam

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Lawyer disputes police’s hoax claim in California kidnapping

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Davis Flower Arrangers meet Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Sign up for Camp Shakespeare

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Empower Yolo offers peer counselor training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
State loosens sex offender residency restrictions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Neighbors invited to adopt Willow Creek Park

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Sing along on April Fool’s Day

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Three nabbed in counterfeiting probe

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A6

.

Forum

Can he get life back on track?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Blame Reid for impasse

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Practice cancer prevention each day

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Turnabout is fair play

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Be aware and be afraid

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

.

Sports

UCD men edge Hawaii on the court

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
UCD’s Hawkins, Harris to shoot at Final Four

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Home sweet home: Aggie women win a tennis match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Devil boys grind out a net win at Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

DHS baseballers fall to Vintage in eight innings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DYSA roundup: Recent youth softball games feature big hitting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sacramento get its second straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sharks get a key win over Detroit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

UCD Student Fashion Association presents charity fashion show

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
‘Get Hard’ comes across as rather limp

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Smokey Brights to perform at Sophia’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
‘Deserted Destinations’ is April exhibit at Gallery 625

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Monticello announces April live-music shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Leonardo Tuchman’s work shows at UC Davis Craft Center Gallery

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

Sacramento Youth Symphony holding open auditions

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
Preview Art Studio Tour participants’ work at The Artery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

.

Business

Camry Hybrid takes a step forward

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

 
.

Obituaries

Celebrate Rusty Jordan’s Life

By Creator | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, March 27, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B4