Wine Number One! I’m ridiculously excited to share with you the first wine of the 1001 Wine Adventure. Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge 2006 Sonoma Coast. For me, enjoying wine is all about the stories around it and this wine has lots to tell. First: how it came to me. As I mentioned in the first blog, I am studying in an attempt to become a Master of Wine. Here, I need to make a point that I am a mere student of the program. The MW program code of ethics (which I signed) reminds us that in no way do we want to mislead people into thinking we have achieved any sort of accreditation, we are just on a path (of undetermined length) towards the prize. I might not bring it up again due to the need for that drawn out explanation, but it’s important here. One of my fellow students and I exchanged wines after our first year assessment in May with the promise not to open the wine until we found out we passed into year two. We both made it. He toasted with the cult classic Sandhill Gamay (perfect for a Beaujolais loving Londoner) and I the Flowers.
Next, meet my main tasting buddies, Ernest and Sharon. We met a few years ago now when we finished our sommelier program through the International Sommelier Guild. Sharon and I went on to complete the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Diploma, and now we both instruct for that organization. All three of us present and consult on the side. We’re crazy for wine. When I told the gang about this project they both decided they each needed their own copy of the book. (I’m talking about 1001 Wines you Must Taste before you Die – Beckett – see my first blog) I imagine a good chunk of the 1001 will be devoured by our thirsty wine trio.
When I was studying like a lunatic for the May exam, E&S set up many great blind practice rounds for me and contributed generously from their cellars. I wanted to find a way to say thank you to my special friends. So last Thursday, I decided to cook them dinner. Now you know how much I love them because I never cook (never), and you know how much they love me, because they ate it. So I put a Salmon on the BBQ (won it in the ladies long drive at the Beagle Pub golf tourney, thank you very much) and we drank the Flowers, a 1999 Grand Cru Burgundy – Corton Grancy, a 2006 Panther Creek Freedom Hill Pinot Noir from Willamette, and the Sandhill Small Lots Viognier 2009. The wines were stunning and everyone survived.
Now the wine. In 1989 a Pennsylvania couple came across a three-line ad offering a Sonoma Coast Vineyard for sale. This started a process in motion, which culminated in Walt and Joan Flowers purchasing Camp Meeting Ridge. The sunny but cool climate site, just 2 miles away from the Pacific Ocean, is at an elevation of 1400 feet. The rocky well drained soil forces the vines to sing for their supper. If you’re imagining that location to produce unnervingly bright wines, with tense, laser sharp red fruit notes, you’d be right. The wine is a balance of delicate rose petal aromatics along with just the essence of vanilla from French oak and a brilliant focused tension provided by the backbone of acid and tannin. A new world wine produced in a thoughtful old world style. One thing the group agreed on is that we were tasting this wine far too young. As it sat in the glasses during the dinner conversation, the Flowers began to open up. It seemed, in an effort to show us its true potential. If I am ever so fortunate to have this special wine again I would sock it away for at least six or seven years.