Tag Archives: California Wine

Camp Fire Wines

This is a long overdue post from the end of last summer.
We went on a two-nighter camping trip out to the redwood forest in Big Basin.

Considering we were in Santa Cruz County there were only two wineries worthy of the journey!

Bonny Doon and Ridge.

Bonny Doon’s Albariño is one of California’s best, lovely lime and tangerine with lots of acidity crispness.
At $18 too, quite a bargain. The current vintage is from a different vineyard, however without even tasting it I am sure it will be good. Perfect apéritf.

Bonny Doon Albariño

2013 Bonny Doon Albariño

Geyserville was the first Ridge wine I had, it was one from the mid-nighties, from then on I’ve been a fan, collecting different vintages, varietals and trying them randomly….2009 was indeed a superb wine. Soft cherry fruit, pepper, bramble, hint of clove spice, mint – we had these with wild boar and sage sausage and merguez, with harrissa mayonnaise. Being from California I’ll always have soft spot for zinfandel, this guy is a benchmark for the rest.


2009 Ridge Geyserville

2009 Ridge Geyserville


Me and Bonny Doon have got some history. From my first encounter when I set out on the near impossible task of sourcing a bottle of Cardinal Zin in the English country side for a zinfandel presentation at college (I even had the t-shirt!). To some ten years later when I finally got to meet Randal Grahm himself; where I had hard time keeping up with him as he went from tank to barrel trying his newest vintage that had just finished fermentation. To the encounter with Le Cigar Volant below…What in God’s holy name are you blathering about?

Well, I’ll tell you what I’m blathering about man…after having tried all these wines, served these wines and admired these wines….this 2009 Le Cigare Volant Réserve (en bonbonne, no doubt), is by far the finest Bonny Doon I’ve ever had. This wine is silky soft on the palate and gushing with pure blackberry fruit, there’s some mint, black licorice, wild mountain herbs and it just lasts and lasts on the finish. This is not a big wine and the alcohol is on the surprisingly low side at 13.4%. Regardless, this wine is fantastic, and for some god forsaken reason there’s still some left on their website.

I vividly remember sipping this wine well into the night just amazed at its

Well done.

2009 Le Cigare Volant

2009 Le Cigare Volant – best served with steak on the bloody side











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Crisp white is the only way.

In regards to white wine, I like them cold, I like them to be white, but most importantly I like my whites to be CRISP!

There was a time that I could enjoy a non-acid-searing white wine, but those days have long gone…

This disdain, avoidance, dislike, of whites, mostly of the Southern French variety, didn’t come to me in the middle of the night as a message from God but rather was a sort of pebble in the shoe for a while.  What I blame most is my lengthy time spent in the Languedoc, surrounded by fat whites, no acidity and an overall blah taste in my mouth.

searing acidity

This is why I stir clear of most Rhone white varieties, why I will always drink dry Riesling, certain Grüners, some Chardonnays, and most if not all Colombards from SW France.

I like crisp!

Recently, when I was generously handed a bottle of Vionier from Sashi Moorman, I was of course skeptical, would this bottle from Lompoc be the saving grace?

I first met Sashi about eight years ago. I was a pretentious, know-it-all, sommelier, visiting from the UK;  Sashi was a young ambitious winemaker, gaining respect in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Much has changed since then…now, Sashi’s main job (he’s got like twelve) is head guy at Evening Land Vineyards.  He also owns his own label Piedrasassi and the second label from that New Vineland.
Myself, I am no longer a sommelier.

2008 New Vineland Viognier matched great with Trader Joe's goodies.

2008 New Vineland Viognier matched great with Trader Joe's goodies.

I mentally committed to try the wine, so I thought why not put it through a small test of matching to culinary delights! I went to the local Commerçant Joe and purchased a variety of cheeses and cured things.  I only mention this because there is  a cheese there that you must try…it’s called Delice de Bourgogne Double Cream (I think it was $6-8)…well I could have had that cheese and this wine all night long!! Suffice to say the wine was very impressive and stood up to the pairings.  The cheese has been locked away to save my waist line.

Don’t forget white and cheese is sometimes better than red.

As for the wine, here’s the note:

2008 New Vineland Viognier, Santa Barbara County, $22.00

On the nose was lots of citrus, especially tangerine and peach.
The palate I particularly enjoyed, there was quite a lot of quenching fruit, but also fresh almonds and best of all distinct minerality –  like a freshly cut slab of wet granite…loved it!

As Viogniers go, I actually did enjoy this guy.

Piedrasassi’s tasting room is located within the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc. Sashi’s wife Melissa can usually be found there.

They are open from Noon-5pm Friday to Sunday
And you can call them for an appointment on other days

1501 E. Chestnut Ave.
Lompoc, CA



Oh and a little tidbit for you… New Vineland was going to be the name of Lompoc but for some reason Lompoc (which is Chumash for stagnant waters or lagoon) was already chosen.

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