One of my favorite things to do is drink wine with friends- to me it’s a great adult play date. We never get too old to play, we just start changing the toys we play with. Instead of childhood tea pots and cups, now I play with Riedel glasses and wine bottles. To me wine is fun and even more fun with friends.
So today I had a play date at my friend Pat’s house. Now what makes going to Pat’s house so much fun, aside from the fact he’s a great guy, is that he also happens to be a home winemaker. In fact he is one of the BEST home winemakers I know. His label is Torc Fola, meaning boar’s blood in Gaelic and right now his new 08 Cab is OFF the hook! He served a lunch of leftovers from last night’s dinner that consisted of Baja filet steak from Spencer’s market, pinto beans made with hickory smoked, homemade, bacon and bread by San Luis Sour Dough smothered in garlic, all of which paired nicely with the cab. Pat’s 08 Cab gets it’s grapes from Paso Robles and tastes of stone fruits (cherries, plums, etc.) with black currents, some chocolate, black pepper spice and a tinge of strawberry on the upper most note. It was aged 2 years in 1/3 French oak, 1/3 Hungarian oak and 1/3 American oak. It’s smooth and balanced with a very mild acidity, and a long luscious finish. The legs are long and sensual, leaving the slightest ink in the glass, it’s a very fruit forward wine but in no way is it wimpy or flabby. In my humble opinion Pat’s wine can stand up to just about any commercial wine currently on the market.
For dessert we paired his 05 Templeton Dusi Zinfandel Port with left over fudge iced chocolate cake from Vons. This was an OUTRAGEOUSLY good pairing. The 05 Port is aged 5 years in the bottle and 2 years in the Solera port barrel. Solera is a method of making Ports that uses part of the original vintage, his going back to 1999. Pat takes half the port out and replaces the other old port with new port. The port levels he looks for are about 20% alcohol and 10% residual sugar then he leaves it for a year in the barrel until the new vintage is ready to bottle. This makes the Port full bodied but not syrupy with big, jammy, fruit including raisins and dried plums. It’s really fruit forward with spicy, sweet, black pepper notes.
Today we also went into Pat’s garage to do some barrel tasting. It’s always a good time when Pat pulls out the wine thief because that’s when all the cool stuff happens. He pulled the stopper from the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and stuck in the thief. What came out was a very young (not surprising it’s only a few months old) highly tannic wine with a lot of acidity. It has a long way to go but when it’s done in a couple years it should be a very tasty wine.
The 2011 Merlot on the other hand after 5 months in the barrel is already showing very well, even with a year left to go in the barrel. It has a traditional Merlot finish but the extraction gave the wine a beautiful meaty, dark, and rich, ruby color. In fact it’s so dark right now that it looks like a cab. To the palette it’s smoky with a mix of cherry and a hint of currants. Both the Cab and Merlot grapes are from San Benito county in Hollister.
Lastly we hit up the 2011 Petite Sirah barrel. HOLY COW is this going to be a GREAT wine with a ton of potential! Aging in American Oak, the nose is earthy and woodsy with a hint of fruit and it’s tasting of coconut, berries and pomegranate. It already has a nice mouth feel with softened acidity and leaves a dark ink color in the glass. Even though it’s very tasty now, it still has to age another 1-2 more years. I’m telling you now, I predict this will be one of my all time favorites when it comes time to bottle.
In asking him about wine making, he said…
“If you can buy good fruit, you can make great wine.”
Well Sir, I heartily agree!