It's a blog for winelovers. It's a blog for slackers. It's the lazy drinker's reference for cheap, high value wines. You know, the bargain wines you just don't know if you should take a chance on; maybe in the supermarket or drug store. If you want advice on grand cru, well, everyone knows where to get that: get yourself one of those slick, expensive mags. This is a blog, man; prices and spellings are the best we can do, but, don't hold us to 'em. Photos are under copyright.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The intrepid Wineslacker recently returned from the great White North; yes, Monterey, California. Whilest there, he felt it his duty to dine well and test the best efforts of the expanding California wine industry. No, let's not call it an industry. While there is no doubt that there is a Wine Industry in California, home of Gallo and Bronco Wines, that is not to what the Wineslacker is referring. The Wine Buddies, the Wine Club (close!), the Wine League... yeah. The Wine League.

The 'slacker and intrepid dinner companion traveled up the still truly beautiful El Camino Real to Greenfield, which just 3 years ago was a sad and dusty town for the poorest farm workers and is now bustling; bursting with new housing construction and a busy business section, a farm worker town, but one with evident vitality and energy. Why? Well, an educated guess would be rolling acres of wine grapes for fine wine butting up to the town, and that requires hand work and necessitates skilled workers, for the growing and harvesting of la grande grapes.

Traveling that little road over the hills that become the Carmel Highlands into the golden late afternoon sunshine, the 'slacker is transported back to the days of old, when California was more of this; a quiet, lonely, mysterious land full of fruit and honey and aching beauty. Rocky, rolling hills, brilliant green pasture land, dotted with gnarled oaks, casting long shadows in the golden afternoon sun. On a long, lonely, narrow road; sometimes so narrow one takes a chance on one barreling pickup truck that might be rolling along on toward you on the other side of that blind, one lane curve. Fortunately the 'slacker holds back from his instinct to throw the old Mercedes into the winding curves with 1950's abandon and just avoids cascading into eternity with his beautiful companion (he knows better than to taste wine before driving this tiny ribbon of road).

This is the California the Wineslacker likes to remember, not the long line of cars and SUV's streaming out of the Monterey area at rush hour (yes, there is a rush hour in Monterey). This is the California that yes, was not as diverse, not as democratic, not as fair and certainly less prosperous for the majority. Yet, it was beautiful and quiet and in many places, still lonely. There is a certain nostalgia for this, even while recognizing the inequities. We don't wish for the bad old days to return, but, sipping a delicious glass of local red, gazing over the rail on the veranda at Nepenthe, far above the crashing surf, watching the quiet circling of turkey vultures and red tail hawks over rich green pastures and redwood filled canyons, well; one has to admit to the doubt that all this will last much longer and be grateful for the chances we have had to experience the beauty of some of the last of the lonely country left in California. We have hope for the future, but we know how strong is the greed and arrogance that cannot see the value in leaving the land empty and graceful for all.

Wines the 'slacker has met recently and recommends for quality and value:
The common man's Pinot, Mark West
Mandolino, 2005 Santa Barbara County Pinot Grigio, at Trader Joes
Justin, 2005 the Orphan, blended red
Cameron Hughes, 2005 Lot 27, another incredible buy from CH, a lucious Syrah, check your local Costco,
French Hill, 2003 Sierra Foothills Barbera
Served at Nepenthe, far above the rocky surf at Big Sur, from a French family's outpost in Paso Robles, Tablas Creek's Cote de Tablas

And the amazing, now legendary, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Bon Soir


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