13 August, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday # 48 Back to my Roots: Amista Cabernet 2004 Dry Creek Valley

Back to my roots, back to the beginning, seemed like a perfect theme to hop into Wine Blogging Wednesday. Like my fellow Lush Thea, having grown up in Northern California and being of an age to remember when all the tasting was free, I was no stranger to the exceptional QPR of sunny weekend days in the wine country. I remember having the route down pat: Race to Beringer to get the free tour tickets, back to BV, Sutter Home (White Zin: Chicks dig it!) Charles Krug, Inglenook, Louis Martini, and then "drive" gingerly to Sattui to obtain enough snacks so that they didn't get upset when you cracked open a bottle of something else, and drink, nosh and nap until I knew the CHP would not dispute my sobriety. However, the "free" was more the attraction than the wine and I will admit we spent more time thinking about what shoes, what skirts, what hair than what to drink.

To go back to my roots in terms of wine appreciation, I have to skip several checkered episodes involving Almaden French Colombard, Beringer White Cabernet, and house red in a plastic tumbler. Growing up in San Francisco, a lot of my friends were Italian and their dads would always pour dark, tannic red jug wine. But somehow from the allure of underaged drinking, our tender palates were primed to crave big, tannic reds---out of control oak an bonus. It was like a mark of sophistication to crave wine that made you pucker. Affordable cabernet. Of course wine adventures were then, as now, everywhere. And I can identify the event when my tastes took another turn. I'll gloss over the backstory: Crazy friend, her much older-married boyfriend, his Bolinas hideaway, me, innocently along for the ride. Grampa, happy to have two hot 22 year olds to entertain nips down to the cellar for a bottle of the good stuff. In this case, it was a Napa cab that was about 10 years old at the time. Completely wasted on my misguided friend, who practically spit it out and asked instead for some Chateau La Salle. I on the other hand was enraptured. The wine had dark smoothness and delicious complex flavors. It would be years before I met that wine's equal and sadly, I did not have the self possession to write down the name of that elusive treasure. So for wine blogging Wednesday, I grabbed the only Cabernet I could find. Xandria will vouch that for some reason the tide has turned at Chez Liza and all the Napa cabs are gone! So, it was a 2004 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Amista. Slow to open, this wine drank like a Shiraz, so memory primed for big, chewy, grippy tannins, I was a little disappointed. But about an hour later, it had opened up to a more cabernet like blast of berry and chocolate. Almost a nod to my old friend Lolita, there was a definite raspeberry Tootsie Pop flavor along with some licorice, black currant and coffee.

This is a food independent wine. Recommended with lamb and grilled meat, it was fine with assorted cheeses especially the perennially delightful delice de bourgogne and my new favorite cave aged gruyere. Except that is was an artically brisk day summer day in San Francisco, the wine and snacks took me back to where it all began: California cabs----BrixChicks dig those!
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