Thursday, July 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Wineaux: Yet another trip off the beaten path

SusanLeonardiWineauxW

By
From page A7 | July 10, 2014 |

On a recent trip to the stunning Monterey County coast, we met a friend for dinner at Passionfish, a charming restaurant that serves only Marine Stewardship Council certified fish and has the quirkiest and most reasonably priced wine list of any establishment I know. So many wines. And we had to choose one.

I’ve been intrigued for several years by the “naturalista” philosophy of Berkeley winemaker Chris Brockway (“the way we make wine, the most important thing we do is decide when to pick the grapes. No adjusting, no adding. If we don’t pick at the right time there’s not much we can do”). So the Broc Cellars offering on the list quickly seduced me, not least because of the playfully defiant name: White Zinfandel.

Other wineries who make a rosé from zin grapes distance themselves from the sticky sweet white zins of our (or I should say my) youth by calling their more sophisticated offerings “Rosé of Zinfandel” or “Rosé of Primitivo.” But Chris embraces the dread moniker for this bone-dry, peppery rosé.

It tastes of stone fruit and mild citrus; it’s low in alcohol, food-friendly and fun — and it went beautifully with the three different fish entrées at our table as well as with the delightful appetizer: smoked trout ceviche tostaditas. The bottle (and an elegantly simple bottle it is) retails for $22; Passionfish charges just $31.

Drinking Chris’s white zin sent me back to two other quirky wines crafted by local winemakers in the “minimal manipulation” or “naturalista” tradition. I recently wrote about Kenny Likitprakong’s Banyan Gewürtztraminer (which I’ve continued to buy and enjoy — Co-op $10) and have been eager to try a bottle of the 2012 Valdiguié that he makes under his Folk Machine label.

It’s a gem. Valdiguié, a varietal from southern France, used to be grown widely in our area, where it was called Napa Gamay. (UCD researchers eventually discovered that it wasn’t gamay at all.) When the trend toward big fruity high-alcohol wines was sweeping California, “visionary” growers ripped out their vineyards of Napa Gamay and planted them with more prestigious grapes. Like cab.

Enter Kenny (Chris Brockway also makes a stunning Validguié — harbinger of a reverse trend?), who carefully crafted this version from Mendocino (Redwood Valley) grapes. I’m hoping the new willingness to work with “minor” grapes really catches on — this wine, like Chris’, is fantastic. Exuberantly juicy, it’s grounded in earthiness and good acidity. One critic called it “liquid sunshine.” And when was the last time you drank a red wine at only 12.2 percent alcohol? ($20 at the Co-op.)

I can barely think of a dish that this wine wouldn’t complement with the possible exception of a pound slab of steak. The only problem is making a meal that you like as much as you like the wine.

Another very low-alcohol (even lower, in fact, at 12 percent) red, also from a naturalista (in this case Berkeley-based Steve Edmunds), also a juicy, quirky delight is the El Dorado blend of 93 percent cab fanc and 7 percent gamay called Bebame (“Drink me.” Obey.) Lively, herby, completely unoaked, it tastes of eucalyptus and cranberry and thyme and the good earth. We drank this 2011 with a couple of pizzas — one with artichoke hearts and mushrooms, the other beet, onion and goat cheese. Perfect. Again, it’s hard to imagine a dish this wouldn’t enhance. Well, maybe not Thai, but I wouldn’t mind trying. About the same price at the Co-op.

All three of these wines fall a bit into the “geek” category, so be prepared not to swoon on first sip. Just sit back and let them seduce you. If you try one of these and hate it, though, I’d suggest you skip the others.

Since I recommend these interesting and unusual wines with that warning, I offer you one — also interesting and unusual — that I can’t imagine not liking. Berryessa Gap’s 2013 Verdejo. BG’s new winemaker, Nicole Salengo, is doing a terrific job, especially with these out-of-the ordinary varietals. This wine is fruity and fresh with flavors of tropical fruit (lychee, maybe?), pear and tangerine. Delicious.

Verdejo, by the way, is a Spanish grape, not to be confused with the Portugese Verdelho, from which Nicole also makes a lovely white wine. And it just won a gold medal. Congratulations, Nicole. And while I’m congratulating local wineries, here’s to Route 3′s recently awarded California State Fair wine competition medals, including two Best of Class in region for their 2013 Sauv Blanc and 2011 Syrah-Viognier blend.

All these local winners are in the $12-14 range at the Co-op or Valley Wine Company. Grab the Verdejo if you see it — Berryessa Gap didn’t make much.

Finally, here’s an interesting and unusual wine in the bargain category. I’ve stocked my fridge with this Valley Wine Company offering, Blanc Pescador — fun, refreshing, low-alcohol and under $10. A blend of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo — the grapes generally used to make Cava — this delightful Spanish quaffer has a natural, light spritz and comes in a beautiful tall bottle that’s a pleasure to have on the table. I’ve served it with everything from bread and cheese to pasta-and-greens to bean salad to smoked trout and it works perfectly.

Cheers for quirky wine.

— Reach Susan Leonardi at vinosusana@gmail.com. Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

Susan Leonardi

.

News

Local therapists bring ‘Daring Greatly’ movement to Davis

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

 
Youths learn wilderness survival skills

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

 
Fertility clinics scan for the strongest embryo

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Bee beard photo wins award

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
As farmland subsides, aquifer worries mount

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Pogledich named Yolo County counsel

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Tuleyome launches Kickstarter campaign to publish a children’s nature book

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Davis teen on California team for national horticulture competition

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Truth and authenticity on radio program

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Senior sing-along held monthly

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

.

Forum

A rose by any other name

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Thanks for your kindnesses

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Questions, questions, questions

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

Ross Douthat: Democrat, Republican patterns are changing

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Civilians are innocent victims

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

River Cats snap three-game losing streak

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Davis’ golden girls

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1

Aggie Silva mixed school and strikes; wins Reno tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Lucky No. 7: Giants snap losing streak

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Davis Rugby teams wrap up summer season

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
DHS tryout schedule updated; physical packets due

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

49ers WR Brandon Lloyd enjoying return to NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Hammel struggles in A’s loss to Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Features

Happy 103rd birthday!

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A2

 
Fay Evans: 100 years young

By Spencer Ault | From Page: A3 | Gallery

.

Arts

Native American dancers to perform in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Winters stages ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Landscape exhibition returns to Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Hear live music at Monticello

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
New KDRT show features touring musicians

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Hot City heats up Winters gazebo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Enjoy some Mischief at First Saturday event

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

British organist to play in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, July 31, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6