Goodness, seven notebooks in two listing stacks are cluttering my desk, along with assorted sheets of tasting notes, restaurant menus, press releases and the like. To prepare for the weekend, I'd best try to catch up:
- The folks of Goelet Wine Estates, whose brands include Clos du Val in Napa Valley and Taltarni in Australia, are breaking my heart on one hand but giving me hope on the other. Another of the company's brands is Lally Gully, long the source of one of my favorite rieslings. The latest version, however, the Lalla Gully 2007 Tasmania Riesling, will be the last. The vineyard has been grafted to chardonnay. Why? Well, chardonnay is much more popular than riesling. I think the company's decision is premature. Riesling is growing in popularity, especially for the Lally Gully style, which is lean, dry and razory. It's the perfect shellfish riesling, with an alluring blend of petrol and peach rarely found in examples of the varietal made in California. I like its balance, austerity and essence of lime, and am sorry to see it go. Fellow travelers in the riesling aisle, however, still can grab a bottle of the 2007 at Corti Brothers in Sacramento, which has four remaining cases. The wine sells for a most attractive $13. Coincidentally, I pulled from the cellar not long ago an older wine from other Goelet property, the Clos du Val 2001 Napa Valley Stag's Leap District Reserve Cabernet Franc. "Tuck it away for a decade of two," advised the back label. I'm glad I had. For a single varietal with just a dash of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, the wine was startling in its complexity - fruity, herbal, floral, with smells and flavors running to juniper, bay leaves, cherries, cedar and mint. The color was brilliant, the oak integrated seamlessly, the texture silken, the finish long. I immediately went to the Clos du Val website to see about the availability of more recent vintages. Nothing was to be found. Clos du Val releases a cabernet franc only in years when the fruit is exceptional and when the winery has more than it can use for blending, and for the most part that hasn't happened during the past decade. However, a vintage cabernet franc is expected to be released by Clos du Val sometime this fall or winter; watch for it, then "tuck it away."
- While I'm behind the curve on this whole smart-phone app thing, my former boss at The Sacramento Bee, Bob Ehlert, isn't. He and his wife Tana have spent much of their spare time for the past several months gathering content for Wine Tasting Tab, an app now available for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Droid phones. Early reviews indicate the Wine Tasting Tab does exactly what it's meant to do, which is help wine enthusiasts plan and navigate their way through a wine region, stopping at this winery and that for a taste. It's packed with all sorts of helpful information, including tasting-room fees, days and hours, winery amenities, wine styles, contact information and the like for some 700 California wineries, most of them in the North State, such as the Sierra foothills, Sonoma County and Napa Valley. (By the end of the year, the Ehlerts expect to be up to 1,000 wineries.) With Wine Tasting Tab, including its GPS, tasters at the outset of a trek can plan their itinerary smartly, abiding by a pre-determined budget. The app costs $2.99 and is available through iTunes and AndroidZoom.
- Ordinarily, I don't get much excited by the autumnal release of Beaujolais Nouveau, the first Northern Hemisphere wine of the most recent vintage. They're pleasant and fun, enjoyable for a glass or two in a party setting, but that's about it. This year, however, I'm looking forward to their Nov. 18 release with more enthusiasm than usual, based largely on Kermit Lynch's early assessment of the vintage. In his November newsletter, Lynch, a longtime Berkely importer, notes: "Our producers are pleased to report that this year's Nouveau is a return to classic, bygone Beaujolais, thanks to conditions that used to be typical but have since become rare: a long, cool growing season followed by a late harvest. This, they say, is the Beaujolais Nouveau they grew up on, before bananas invaded the scene, before sugar and yeasts and pasteurization and concentration became the norm, back when Beaujolais Nouveau was sent to town on a horse-drawn carriage by the cask the day of its release." Sounds intriguing, and you don't have to go all the way to Berkeley to find out what Lynch is talking about. In Sacramento, his array of Beaujolais Nouveau will be found at 58 Degrees & Holding Co. and Taylors Market. If you're up in Truckee, The Pour House will be stocking the releases.