I’m going going, back back, to Cali Cali. The immortal words of the late rapper Notorious BIG…for some reason I don’t think he was talking about wine. ;)
His lyrics do remind me that I could never turn my back on those beautiful and luscious California Cabernet Sauvignons. Although my love for wine began with Bordeaux, there is a certain allure to Napa that I just cannot shake. California is the first wine region that I visited and I loved it so much I went back three more times. I am so familiar with the area, I no longer need the GPS when driving from San Francisco. What is there not to love about this area? The wine of course, but then there is the food. Oh my god, the food! The towering pines, sweeping hills and mountain ranges, the smells and the people. The people of California and especially Napa/Sonoma are incredibly laid back and relaxed. This may be the reason I fell in love with the west coast, they live like us. Warm, welcoming, humble and in no rush to get anywhere. And they love to drink, just more Cab than Cockspur!
To give a bit of history, grapes were first introduced between 1779-1823 by Franciscan monks, from Mexico to Sonoma. Although some of these grapes were mainly what we know today as “table grapes”, Vinifera grapes were introduced and planted in Sonoma in the 1850’s. Napa was first planted by George Yount in 1838 hence the town of Yountville in Napa County. Wineries started to blossom, partly thanks to the flood of European immigrants and their knowledge of grape growing. That is, until the Federal Government pulled the hand break with prohibition in the 1920’s. It would take almost 50 years to recover.
Now speed ahead to 2015. California is at the forefront of the wine revolution, incorporating techniques that have never been seen before and creating standards that are followed across the world.
Now let’s get one thing straight, Cabernet is king in California. From Paso Robles to Calistoga, valley floor to mountain top. Cabernet is grown all over. Generally speaking, the grapes are left on the vine longer, which results in higher sugar levels and subsequently alcohol. At the same time, flavour is enhanced with more extraction. These wines are ready to go from the time they are released but can also age well over 20 years. They are so easily enjoyable and transparent. There is no cloak of mystery in these wines, everything is there for you in your glass. Stick your schnoz in that glass and take a giant whiff of all that wonderful dark berry, tar, cassis and leather. Fire up the BBQ, grab a giant steak, open a bottle or two (or five) and have yourself a good time. When I am feeling down, that’s what I do.
We will be opening some of our favourite Cali Cabs at Discovery Wines Saturday. Patrick and I would be happy to talk about wine and steak all day with all of you fine people. If you’re planning a trip to wine country I would also be more than happy to share my experiences and offer recommendations too.