That beach was one of the speechless moments. I don’t have them often, but they burn themselves into my memory banks to stay on forever.
We finally dragged ourselves away and headed to Seghesio Vineyards in Healdsburg. There’s definitely a warming process with some of these wine folks – they assume you know nothing, and treat you a bit disdainfully until you say something in the magic code language of Dionysus (something about oak barrels usually suffices.) Then they open to you and treat you well. That irritated my populist heart a bit, but whatever. There’s also a bit of competition between Sonoma and Napa, with the Sonoma folks looking down their noses at the Napa folks, which I had absolutely no time for. All that aside, we tasted several really good wines at Seghesio: the2006 Cortina Zinfandel, made in the Dry Creek Valley, 2007 Costeria Pinot Noir, which was a bit too new for me, the 2005 Auradou Zinfandel, also from Dry Creek Valley and the stuff the Old Vine Zin I recommended last week is made of. The 2005 Home Ranch Zinfandel had some Sirah in it, making it fruity, and the 2005 Home Ranch Petit Sirah was excellent, very peppery and laced with black fruit. But the standout was the 2005 Venom. Grown on Rattlesnake Hill, it’s their baby Brunello, and it was rich, spicy and very full-bodied, the kind of wine you want to let breathe for at least thirty minutes, then consume with a superior steak.
The purveyor at Seghesio suggested a fine Italian restaurant in Healdsburg, and since it was past 5:00, we decided to break for food. We ate at a great place right in the Healdsburg Square called Scopa. Scopa is run by a young couple who take their food seriously but keep the atmosphere light and friendly. It was also local vintner’s night, where they have local growers and bottlers wait tables and introduce their wines.
This night, the vineyard was Ceritas. Grown on a rocky slope at the Escarpa Vineyard in the Burgundy tradition, their 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was outstanding, probably one of the best Pinots I’ve ever tasted. They only get about 70 cases off the land, and they’ve sunk their life savings into this vineyard, but I bet it will pay off for them in spades. The wine will be available in August, 2009.
The lovely waitress at Scopa suggested we drive the 128 back to Napa. It’s a windy road, but the sun was just getting ready to set and the vineyards were sheathed in the gloaming’s glow – it’s always my favorite time of day, but this was especially gorgeous. The drive took nearly an hour, but it was so worth it.