This Pinot…

Just pulled it off the shelf in Whole Foods, Yulupa, at random.  ‘Cause I was curious about img_2427the wine from the label and the way the color scheme was situated on the label, all of it.  Finally when I was able to taste it, 3 hours after opening it—which served as a boon for sakes of natural oxygenation, no decanting, just the room’s atmospheric delivery naturally assimilating down into neck—she decided to recite, and loudly, vividly and with an unusual creative intonation.  Wild berries and spices, certain dried floral petals colluded with vanilla and something like olives, or sweetened river rock, I don’t know.  You know me, I don’t talk about wines like that.  And this Pinot is most assuredly above such a wikipedia approach and deconstruction.  This bottle makes me think of poetry readings I used to frequent in Berkeley when in graduate school.  And how I need to now write more verse, read more like I did this morning with that student in my 1B class.  This Pinot fiddles in philosophy and curiosity, epistemology and a query of its own mythology— people always talk, “Pinot…Pinot…” but don’t know why.  The being of this bottle and its contents so symmetrical and sensuous zooms its offering past your senses and then back again for another hue.

Have a little bit left in glass, just before I call the day.  Pinot Noir and I have never had any kind of altercation or momentary skirmish.  What I found today on the shelf and randomly pulled served to only embolden my affinity for the Burgundian visual—  I remember looking at the bottle in hour 1, 2, 3, while it just sat there open on the counter and wondered what I would meet.  What I felt was fantasy and form, a certain vocalization of wine’s nucleus, why we writers do what we do and why wild wine writers like me pepper the Comp Book’s sheets in such erratic spats.  First sip of last glass and I dive further into my thoughts, ignoring technology and anything too modernized.  Pinot I’ve always thought is about rawness and an impulsive expressiveness.  Unfettered, unfiltered, more understood.  Most wine “writers” would rate the bottle they’re talking about, but I just want to let you know what I’m sipping and what it’s making me think about— where it takes the writer’s scope and senses.  Where I am, on some journey or knee-jerk jaunt.  Don’t care.  I’m free.  Nothing planned, I realize, a strange note of rosemary tied to something like soy or black licorice…. Again, I don’t talk about wine like that.  Bottle’s been open now about 5 hours, and I’m sure it’d like a break from oxygen.  Cork in, and me back on couch, last glass gone.  But I’m still surveying and noting without noting physical where my understanding is with Pinot Noir.  I don’t understand it.  That’s why I keep exploring, to not so much explore as wander.  Manuscript maze, phenolic haze, structural trance… lightly disturbed by accidental enlightenment.  Sip again.  I can’t.  But I’ll dream about doing just that, staring out into Bodega Bay, or at Russian River, or at some vineyard on River Road.  This poetry is in no way bottled, contained, restrained or trained.  Cosmic autonomy, what touched my lips.  She had, has, will forever have, me.



Chalk Hill Winery Reaction

img_1994Wineries 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-img_1998-1side, 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.

img_2003I 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.


note— Charmé

img_1823I’ve always seen wine as a literary being, not so much a chemical or agricultural product.  The relationships we realize and develop with whatever wines we prefer and chase down are OURS.  Don’t just blindly follow some sommelier or critic.  Don’t let them tell you to like or dislike the character in the bottle.  Approach the story with an open mind, I suggest.  Last night’s Chardonnay still on my thoughts with its slow rolls over my senses, punctuating its prime shapeliness and subtleties.  For a while, right after opening the bottle, I just sipped—  Didn’t look at my phone, didn’t take a single note in the Composition Book, just listened to what it had to say.  I listened to it like my mother was talking, or sister, close friend or one of my children in their own unique tongue.  The communication was elevated, and yes because I enjoyed the wine.  But, even if I don’t like what I sip, I still listen.  I learn from the flavor construction and the tactile composition of the wine’s momentum.  In wine being literary, it’s alive, cognitive, evolutionary, complicated and self-contradicting, musical and unpredictable.  If I’ve ever followed a wine, and let it deliver its thesis before I react, it was last night.  Tellement amoureux.



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.