Light and inviting but prominent, unexpected roar decided in its hue, and its ‘much ado’. Defiant in all the right ways with its approaching ebb, fast moves and slow, all poetry tasty and aglow. This is an offering for anyone needing meditation, a serene scene, a change from the all-too-patterned high-alc’ fire-pours. Too much hyphenation, I know, but that’s what most other Cabs solicit. This bottle’s eased and universal for the curious and the versed. With another glass at the writer’s left, I’m left with some profusely righteous understanding, new, of Cabernet.
Wineries that leave an impression deeply instruct you on your relationship with wine— Why you love it, why you chase certain varietals and regions, and if you’re in the industry why you elected this path rather than something safe, regular, expected. I pulled into the parking lot, after the extended visual driveway, and didn’t allow myself any expectations. I put myself in the tourist’s shoes, visiting wine country for the first time and just stopping wherever I stopped. Walking up the stairs I had to turn around, look at the hill and the mise en scèn that held my scope with the building behind me. Turning around again toward the door, I walked in and was ready for whatever would be offered. Again… first time. Tourist. New to this whole wine thing.
Taryn, the cheerily informative hostess poured two Sauvignon Blancs. First in a side-by-side, the ’15 Sauvignon Blanc Musque. Then, ‘15 Estate. Both showed their vocals and sang how they wanted to, disclosing both texture and dynamic urgency through olfactory and tactile frolics. Tropical, clean, not one-sided and simplistic, or rushed in treatment. Both had texture and weight, a certain rhythm, both collective and individualized, that I’m not used to with SB.— I know, I’m sounding too “industry”, too accustomed to wine and writing about it… this objective lean is more challenging than I measured. How ‘bout I try both.
Chardonnays, both, boasted and confirmed the California chord of oak integration and the creamy, or buttery, angularity. But, I tasted Chardonnay. Not a bastardization. I could taste the Burgundian-American syncopation. To someone somewhat used to Chardonnay, in the industry, this will teach you something nouveau in that it demonstrates that balance can be demonstrated, impressively actuated. To someone new to this world, and Chalk Hill Road, and Winery, it professes that you have options. But I will say, both were clean even with their oak and malolactic visibility, while avoiding the malo-mummy fat that’s cocooned the white varietal in stereotypes and avoidance.
I told Taryn that I only wanted to try two reds, her election which were to be poured. This was both the wine writer and tourist character speaking, as I had to get back to my lodging, and wanted to be moderated in my glass-tilts. She chose her favorite, the 2013 Clara’s Vineyard Red Blend and a 2014 Zinfandel that was beyond dazzling and prophetic. Tourist Mike doesn’t know much about Zin. Well, a boon I came to Chalk Hill, as this interpretation of the sometimes overdone grape type showed a palate precision that even the most lauded and anointed Napa Cab house would study, envy, try to mimic but lose breath. I saw both reds as offerings intended on teaching sippers, whomever they are— seasoned or first-steppers, about structure, depth, and artful helixing and synergy of both varietal innateness and winemaker signature.
Driving away, I was taught. And I couldn’t get out of my visitor mode, my first-time-to-wine-country strut. I thought like a tourist…. I was a tourist… I was shown what entrancing wine offerings are, that balance and firm sensory landing can prove concurrent. Anyone, no matter their relationship with wine, show walk up those steps, taste through the flight. And if Taryn’s extending her arm to situate a piquant puddle in the bowl, then you’ll be both taught but eased with dexterous hospitality. So… I’m different after my visit. I’m propelled, closer to wine itself, a more amoureux with wine, and show what it feels like, looks like, tastes like when all’s done right. More than right…. With unusual acuity and personification.
“It’s like… like old, 1980’s cotton sweater… And salty wood.”
We as lovers would first educate ourselves. If you want to take a class here and there, or get some certification, or whatever, that’s fine. But first, we should educate ourselves. Go get books, read them with measured embrace, take notes.. always be a student, and your own professor. Dive into it not even head-first, but all-you-first. Wine has always spoken to me with humility and curiosity, urging me to be more like It. If you love something, someone, and wine is more a ‘someone’ than a ‘something’, then you learn. But it’s not class. It’s life. IT’s words and feelings, reactions realities. Tonight’s wine again made me a lover.. interpreter or so I hope— lost in my dazzle, rouse, rabble— conflict but not so much afflicted. I’m writing when all I want to do is sleep, and I have tonight’s yours to thank or that. Heater coming on, rain maybe outside, but the bottle continues to me speak in verse I’ve never before heard. Teaching me in a full-time sense, nothing adjunct’d. Keep writing, I tell myself. I’ve been most purposefully taught something tonight— how wine can yell a different verse, show a different scene and cry with loving absorption.