Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

2001 wine stories; tips for ordering wine

By Jessica Yadegaran
Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 at 10:08 am in Uncategorized.

2001 was a great year for Cabernet Sauvignon. Wild Horse, Silver Oak, Justin. Some of my favorite California producers made amazing Cabs that year. Those wines have been napping for six years, however, and in my book, that means it’s time to drink them.

I recently had two experiences with this vintage that I thought were worth sharing. The first was not with a Cab, but rather, a Pinot Noir. It was a bottle I had bought with Jenny on our last visit to Paso Robles, nearly two years ago. The 2001 Pinot was from Stephen’s Cellar, an organic winery in Templeton that focuses on Pinot Noir and is located just seven miles from the ocean. That maritime influence does wonders for the grape, by the way.

We’d been waiting to uncork the wine with just the right meal, and finally settled on a multi grain roasted vegetarian lasagna. To my dismay, the color and clarity of the wine was crap. It’s possible that the bottle was exposed to some heat or bright light in my former Walnut Creek abode, but that would’ve no doubt effected the flavor, which was superb: super earthy with a lot of dried fruit, like trail mix plus mushrooms. The finish went on and on, so we were able to ignore the foggy look, which reminded us of Morro Bay more than Templeton.

Given this experience, I was cautious when, at a belated birthday dinner with my roommate Gavin, I spotted a 2001 Markham Cabernet Sauvignon on the wine list at Somerset in Rockridge for under $10 a glass. Of course, I wanted to try it. But I was hesitant. I told the waitress my concerns and she insisted I try a splash before ordering it. I recall reading about this service in a wine book and accepted her offer instantly. The wine was a satisfying claret, lots of wild blueberry and dark chocolate. It was a slam dunk with my garlicky flank steak, and I’m so glad I got to try it before ordering it. Lesson learned, never be afraid to ask.

Also, as an aside, Somerset gives generous pours, so my roommate and I asked for a third glass to aerate everything, especially since we were drinking wines more than five years old. It makes a world of difference.

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