Wanted to get out and just taste, on the Napa side of wine’s vastness. So I did. Wasn’t that random, actually. My oeno-ally, and Swanson Vineyards National Sales Director, Shelly Eichner booked me a 4pm tasting. Anyway, into the dwarfed box that often from A2B takes me. Never get tired of cruising over Calistoga Road. Ever. Window down, California temperature vim. Couldn’t wait to taste. I drove a bit fast, as I’d been eager to taste Swanson’s wines after asking around, conducting my own reconnaissance.
I arrived, meeting my friend Shelly in a little tasting Room in front of a shaded courtyard. The “Sip Shoppe,” I think it’s dubbed. Laid-back, postcard-quality setting. She led me inside, into a tasting Room that had a retro-y, soda shoppe feel. She started with a splash of ’09 Pinot Grigio. We then re-situated in the Room next door, for the “Bon Vivant” tasting. Wine, bites. Just what I wished. Merlot, 2 Cabs, divergently delectable, unlike the majority of Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, I’ve previously swam around in. Hostess: Mindy, genuinely wooing in her soft-spoken complexity. Returning to the pours, for a tick; At one point in my wine missions, I thought that many of these jurassic Napa Cabernets I was sipping were beginning to chant the same continuous chorus. And then I tasted these, four by sitting’s end. Each autonomous, steady in delivery and note progression.
The miscellaneous Cabs Mindi poured shattered any possibility of stale pattern. Each wine, a punctuated presence at our table. They interacted with us as we did with their individually glassed moments. I was already greatly riveted by the 2010 Chardonnay, with no malolactic ballad about it. Crisp, light, musically situated, from nose to finish. Beauteous.
Mindi, continuing her cutely acute, astute, delivery of information, in splendid situation, succession. It was rich, but masterfully understated, letting us as guests translate the character in our glass’ bowls. I definitely admired her for this, as sometimes when I go tasting, I feel like a lot is spoiled by a pourer telling me what I “should” encounter, or experience. This wasn’t Ms. Mindi’s modus, in any facet.
Couldn’t stop looking around the Room. This is an example of what wine does, new wine mission friends at the table, John and Sally agreed. And what a gift it was to meet them. The dessert wines, not pompous in their sweeter sector, nectar. Relief, please me believe, as I’ve tasted many dessert wines that are simply too loud, disarranged in their structure, palate presence.
As with Literature, I wish for a lasting impression, a reason to come back. I had such within twenty minutes of landing on Swanson’s terroir. And with each collected clock tick, this writer further fell. The star, for me, aside from Shelly, and most impressively profound, Mindi ... that 2007 Merlot, effortless. 1 bottled gifted from Shelly, with my ever-elasticized gratitude, gratefulness for the day. Still thinking about the Grigio, Chardonnay, the interwoven Cab flight. This impression is more than simply one “lasting.” It’s mythic. Forever paginated in my person. Trust I’ll soon again be sitting at Swanson ... Sip, sip ...
When I go back, I’m going to do a different tasting, maybe. Or the same one. Either way, I’m assured astounded departure. Few wineries leave me with thoughts as this one did, though. The arrangement of stage, presentation of bottles, glassware, accompanying bites. Thrilled I hopped over the hill. I always say that wine is Literary, and that characters are forwarded by the wine in front of them. Provoked by wine, developed because of. Today, provided more proof.