Little more than 7 hours in California and they have sunk their talons in me. Even though it now more resembles a Vegan-Disney gone to Singapore, the raw, naked beauty of the territoriality mystifies me.
Two wines tonight at a local hot spot, Rosso, in Santa Rosa. The first a Greco from San Francesco in Calabria, the Fata Morgana; old vines, bush trained, dry farmed and hand tended. The barkeep popped a fresh one and the flavors were crisp and chalky. A huge difference from the diffident Muscadet I'd had earlier with a dozen oysters @ Hog Island in the City. The only shape shifter was the French wine, heading south to the land of syrup. Post haste. The Greco was a perfect wine for the salad, a modified Caesar with the hot Calabrese chili sauce. It worked – and this is the gift Italy and the wines give to us: low expectations - high returns. No one would ever expect from a Greco what they would from a Muscadet. But the Greco was lithe, while the Muscadet was being wheeled into the ICU.
Not content with that, I ambled towards the Margherita. It’s Sunday, after all, pizza night in Italy. But no beer, while watching the Chelsea game on the big screen. No, not a Rosso Piceno, which I was salivating over. Here I was in Sonoma, how about a local wine, to be true to trying things in their place. Nearby a woman was asking about a Grenache and the server pedaled a Montepulciano from the Marche on her. In keeping with the contrary nature of a Californian in exile, I asked her about the Quivira. “It’s fab – try it.” Same thing she said about the modified Caesar, The hair on my back was standing up but I wasn’t paying attention. The earlier chair massage in the hotel had diverted my suspicion mechanism,. “Ok, let 'er rip, pour me a glass of the Dry Creek, dry farmed, organic, Grenache.”
Dr. P. would have been in stink-heaven. The wine had a balmy garrigue and culatello pungency- not that I was bothered by that – I was hoping for a Lambrusco moment, in lieu of beer. The Grenache was almost too much of a statement – but this is California – the spawning ground of possibilities, even as it turns into a Ridley Scott third world vision.
Somewhere in the world it's always hula night.