Friday, February 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Wineaux: The other coast makes wine, too?

SusanLeonardiWineauxW

By
From page A9 | October 31, 2013 |

A young man (we’ll call him Rick) appeared in my University of Maryland office to ask if I’d direct his senior thesis — a series of short stories he had been writing for several months.

Since he’d never been in one of my classes, I asked to see his portfolio and then set up a meeting a few days later so we could talk. The stories starred alcohol-fueled, angst-ridden male students, who had sex as often as possible and despised the women involved — and just about everyone else.

I tried to tell Rick as gently as possible that he needed to find someone else to work through these stories with him. “I’m not suggesting,” I explained, summoning my inner prevaricator, “that you’re not a good writer but I don’t find your themes or characters compelling enough to spend a lot of time with them. Just a matter of taste, of course.”

Instead of taking the hint, he returned a couple of days later, convinced that he could charm me into taking him on. He started with small talk. He’d gone fishing over the weekend. He’d heard really good things about my classes. His girlfriend was on an extended trip to California.

“Oh,” I said, “are you planning to join her at some point?”

“Are you kidding?” he said, “in my house we refer to California as the Land of Fruits and Nuts.”

For a moment his comment filled the space between us.

“Aha,” I said, “perhaps that explains why we’re not a good fit — I’m a native Californian” — most definitely a fruit, quite possibly a nut. He didn’t come back.

While this was an extreme example, I regularly — in my 20 East Coast years — encountered similar prejudices against the opposite coast. Even some of my colleagues harbored the view of Californians as narcissists, slackers, new ageies, hippies, foodies. You know.

Much as I loved my D.C. years, I’m relieved to be back in the land of fruit and nuts. I do, though, have to confess to some reverse biases. East Coasters, I find myself thinking (fueled by the daily N.Y. Times) are pretentious, over-focused on success, always busy (and proud of it). Too busy to talk, meet, enjoy, relax. Certainly too busy to stop and smell the roses. But then they, unlike us, don’t have roses blooming nine months of the year.

And, of course, they can’t make good wine — this judgment I based on one visit to a Virginia winery that served several varieties of bitter Concord grape juice.

So as not to admit evidence contrary to these biases, I’ve tried to ignore reviews of excellent wines coming from New York state, but these reviews have been so frequent and persuasive of late I’m ready to concede that the Finger Lakes District might indeed be producing some very fine rieslings. As a consequence, I didn’t resist when one of the Corti Brothers’ wine guys (why are they always “guys”?) led me straight to a Finger Lakes riesling when I asked about his top recommendation for a wine to serve with Thanksgiving dinner.

This Ravine Dry Riesling comes from a Finger Lakes estate owned by a winemaker raised and certified in France. Said by Eric Asimov to be “clear, fresh and focused with chalky mineral flavors,” it sounds to me quite perfect for a turkey-and-trimmings feast, and at $17.99 not outrageously expensive.

I was surprised, though, when the guy went on to tell me that one of his favorite pinot noirs came from the same winery and also would be an excellent choice for Turkey Day. I guess it makes sense that a region famous for rielsings would also produce good pinot noir — witness Oregon and Germany, whose dry rieslings and pinots would definitely be among my own top choices to accompany holiday fare.

I guess my anti-East Coast-wine biases are shared: New York state rieslings aren’t exactly easy to find in Davis. I couldn’t find a single New York wine on the shelves at Nugget. The Co-op carries a riesling — Red Tail Ridge Dry, which was also on Asimov’s list of really good choices. And Red Tail is an excellent winery, the first LEED gold-certified winery in New York, owned and operated by Mike Schnelle and Nancy Irelan, a husband-and-wife team. Nancy got many of her winemaking skills at UCD, so maybe we can think of her wines as “semi-local.” Unfortunately, the bottles of this riesling on the Co-op shelf are ’09s — I’d be wary of spending $18 on a riesling with this much age. Might be fine — some rieslings age well. Might not.

Vini has had some New York state rieslings in the past but currently doesn’t. If the dry-riesling-for-holiday-suppers idea appeals to you, though, go to Vini and pour yourself a 2-ounce taste of the 2010 Kunstler Stielweg Old Vines Riesling. Made of grapes from a single vineyard of 50 year-old vines in the Rheingau, this wine is just delicious — elegant, full-bodied, multi-layered. Tart fall apple dominates with hints of lime, gooseberry, and peaches — and lots of good minerality. A serious wine, worthy of a heritage turkey and all the trimmings. Since this wine retails for more than $30, the $24 Vini price is a good deal.

While Valley Wine Company doesn’t have any Finger Lakes rieslings either, they do carry Red Tail Ridge 2011 Chardonnay, which VWC’s John, a big fan of Nancy Irelan, said was just terrific, “the best unoaked chard I’ve tasted.” When he told me the price — $12 — I couldn’t resist. I tried it that very night with a beet and ricotta pasta, thinking that if it could pair nicely with that earthy vegetable, it would indeed work with anything on the Thanksgiving table.

John recommended not serving it too chilled, so I took special note of its flavors at different temperatures, and, yes, as it approached cool room temperature its bright melon, apple and citrus were nicely tempered with a smooth rich nuttiness. “This is really good!” punctuated our dinner conversation, and we finished the bottle entirely too easily — happily, the alcohol content is only 12 percent.

Prejudice overturned, I’m hoping that my new-found respect for New York grapes is matched by a softening of Rick’s animus toward the fruits of California.

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

Comments

comments

Susan Leonardi

.

News

 
New greenhouse will add to ‘Farm to Mouth’ program

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

 
Learn about pollinators, gardens and honey at Yolo Basin fundraiser

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Fire damages South Davis home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Gerber nominations close Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Explorit: Humming right along

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

Flower arrangers feature S.F. designer

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Celebrate Africa on Saturday at I-House

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Chamber explores how to pay for Davis’ needs

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Wolk and Dodd team up to provide Napa earthquake tax relief

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Robb Davis to speak about homelessness, energy

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Spring sing-along is March 4

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Two free yoga classes offered March 12

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Take a night walk at Cache Creek

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Class of 1970 plans 45-year reunion

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Bicycle safety course to be offered in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Documentary on immigration issues will be screened

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Learn about your brain on March 14

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
A fill-up mishap

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Adopt a household for Bridge to Housing participants

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Workshop will teach sustainable gardening methods

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
.

Forum

Tired of all of this

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Oral Health Project launches

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

Here an H, there an H

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

 
Cavalier attitude about bike safety

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

Start early to build healthy dental habits

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

 
No extra cost for containers

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Inquiring minds want to know about Aggies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Encouraging start for DHS boys tennis team

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Off day for Aggie men at UCSB

By Kim Orendor | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie women fall to 4th after lackluster showing

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Lady Devils are on to the SJS semis

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Blue Devil boys expect a spike in production

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Late goal lifts Red Wings over Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Watney struggling at windy Honda Classic

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

 
.

Features

.

Arts

International Film Series to present ‘Jaffa’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Monticello announces March schedule

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

The Artery presents ‘Stepping Into Nature’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
YoloArts’ Gallery 625 presents ‘The Poetry of Dots’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

‘Focus': A sharply conceived caper

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
The Woodland Opera House announces 2015-16 season

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Business

Nissan’s Z remains an affordable performer

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

 
Car Care: Simple DIY steps to protect your car through all seasons

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
.

Obituaries

Dieter W. Gruenwedel

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
George Miller Jr.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Death notice: Celia E. Recchio

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Vernon E. Burton

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, February 27, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B5