Saturday, February 19, 2011

Russian River Exploration: Inman Family Wines

So I finally started my Russian River mission.  Took the Fulton exit off 101.  Once in RR’s heart, I decided to just drive around.  I saw Inman’s sign, and a huge barn-like edifice, gorgeous, vineyard, so I pulled in.  With the rain starting to gently descend, I rushed into the tasting Room, inside the barn.  But not before taking a picture of the rustic, artful structure.  As soon as the door behind me sealed, I was warmly greeted by the multi-talented, ever-knowledgable, many-role-mastering Mary.  Within 30 seconds, I had a glass with a pour of the bright, clean, electrifying 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris.  Dauntingly hospitable.  So far, I’m smitten.  After the Chardonnay, which, if I remember correctly, goes through full ML, I was intrigued to the point of finding a spot to sit; I might be here a while.  Complex and delicious, and I don’t really flirt with Chard too often.
After the whites, Mary poured three distinctly, prolifically flavored Pinot Noirs.  All from ’07, I started with the Russian River/Sonoma County.  Not too light, firmly earthy, spicy fruit with a whirlwind of a finish.  Then, the Thorn Ridge and Estate, OGV, Russian River, the latter being my favorite.  Bought an Estate.  Had to.  Pinots like this need be in the author’s cellar.  Mary then told me about the winery’s history, the grounds, a little bit more about Russian River.  And that’s what hospitality should be: conversational, comfortable, HUMAN.  I also learned that Mary is one of the winemakers at Inman, which made the experience all the more enriching and engaging.

As I walked out, I noticed the rain was still indecisive.  Took a couple more pics while I still had time.  Before I could get to my car, I was unexpectedly stopped by a very polite woman, very courteous as she told me she didn’t want to interrupt my photo session.  Who else, but the owner/winemaker Kathleen Inman herself!  She invited me to return to the tasting Room to taste the ’06 Estate after she saw the bottle of ’07 in my hand.  The ’06 was entirely phenomenal, simply.  Next visit, I’m buying a bottle, assuredly. What a way to conclude my maiden voyage into the valley that, to me, is mostly a mystery.  Can’t wait to visit again.  All around homely, sightly, serene.  Great first mission.  Saving my ’07 for an occasion, even though I’m tempted to pop it tonight.  Thanks, Mary and Kathleen, for everything!  Sip, sip ... 

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