By John Cesano
Originally published in the Ukiah Daily Journal on July 25, 2013
Flotsam and Jetsam refers to a ship’s wreckage and parts thrown overboard, and as today’s column deals with some instances where I have run aground or left pieces out of past columns, the title seems apt.
First, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that Guinness McFadden planted the first grapes in Potter Valley at his McFadden Farm, about 43 years ago.
Iceberg ahead, and…crash! The day the piece ran, Guinness called me to tell me I was incorrect and that a couple of folks had planted grapevines in Potter Valley before he showed up on the scene.
I had read about McFadden Farm when I came on board as Guinness’ tasting room manager in Hopland and a wine writer with decades of experience wrote about Guinness planting the first grapes in Potter Valley, even adding that others thought he would fail because Potter Valley was too cold for grape vines.
At a wine event later that evening, Barra winemaker Owen Smith, after I shared my chagrin at having perpetuated an inaccuracy, told me that “when faced with fact and legend, print the legend,” paraphrasing the movie quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
Turns out I did, but I really try to get it right each week.
Last week, I wrote about Seebass Family Wines, “Seebass is open by appointment, please call (707) 467-9463 to arrange a visit,” but since my visit they have changed things a bit and, at least through July, the Seebass tasting room and organic produce stand is now open daily from 11 a.m. 5 p.m., no appointment needed.
I wrote about the first Chef’s Wine Dinner Club event at Crush Italian Steakhouse in Ukiah held back in May. More recently, the second Chef’s Brewmaster Dinner Club event, pairing food with brew was held last week and next on the list is a Chef’s Wine Dinner Club featuring Italian varietals produced by some local wineries. So many possibilities come to mind: Barra, Testa, Chiarito, Graziano, and more; I’ve got to get my ticket. To get on the Chef’s Wine Dinner Club list with Crush, call (707) 463-0700.
EDITED TO ADD: A change since I first wrote the preceding bit, the next Chef’s Winemaster Dinner Club event will be August 21 and feature the Wines of Barra of Mendocino. I’ll be buying my ticket as soon as they become available. – JC 7/25
I’m going to my second Testa Wine Club Dinner this year, missing last year’s only because of a calendar conflict. Like more than half of the attendees, I am going because I adore Maria; that Maria’s wines are so good makes the night all the better. Officially called the 3rd annual Barn Blending BBQ, it will take place on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 from 5 to 10 p.m.
From TestaWines.com: “This is a fun event! Your table works together, blending our three varietal components of our Black “Cinque” To find your tables favorite blend percentages. Then, for the first time, we will then offer for your table to enter your blend in a blind tasting by our wine judges to have a winner!”
Last year, while blending the Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carignane that goes into the Black blend, a few folks took some of the Zinfandel provided to drink while blending - blending is hard work - and used it as a fourth component in their blends. Maria was so impressed with the result of some of the blends using Zinfandel that she may add it as a blending component at this year’s event.
Two years ago, when I last blended, at Maria’s first barn party, I was at a table with Kelly Lentz and we found it impossible to make a bad blend with Maria’s wines.
Maria is also talking about letting folks choose whether they want to blend a Black (red) or White wine. Grapes available for white wine blending would include Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Muscat Canelli, and Viognier.
Maria got two great judges, John Buechsenstein and Rosemary Eddy, and one okay judge, me. We’ll taste the blends each table decides upon and choose our favorites. Maria will use the winning blends for guidance as to what people like when making her next Black and White wines.
Appetizers will be served - my fingers are crossed for some of Rusty’s barbecued oysters, then a barbecue dinner with Italian pasta, followed by dessert and dancing. Ukiah’s own Nashville recording artist McKenna Faith will be performing.
Tickets are $55 for Testa wine club members, $70 for the public, and you can call (707) 391-7273 to get yours.
Gold medals are rare, and are rarely repeated in back to back wine competitions. Double Golds, unanimous agreement for Gold by a competition’s judges is rarer still. Maria’s 2010 Testa Carignane has taken Consecutive Double Gold Medals! You might like this wine. Visit Testa at 6400 North State Street in Calpella.
Martha Barra dropped off a couple of bottles for me to taste, including the 2010 Girasole Vineyards Hybrid Red Wine, Mendocino, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot blend that just took a Gold Medal after the previous vintage took back to back Gold Medals. Two vintages of the same wine, rolling up three consecutive Gold Medals suggests this just might please your palate as well. Visit Barra/Girasole at 7051 North State Street in Redwood Valley.
John Cesano writes about wine and reposts his weekly wine column at JohnOnWine.com