10/9/06 – Carneros

By Jesse on October 8, 2006


Like an unadulterated and ominously unmanned locomotive full of TNT, we barrel northwards towards the storied wine Meccas of Napa and Sonoma. We’ll spend several meetings in each of these legendary locales, breaking them down both by varietal and by sub-region. But first, we’ll take a refreshing pit stop at one of California’s leading regions for top-notch Burgundian grapes, the small and unassuming Carneros.

Even those who weren’t present when we visited Burgundy (Fr. “Bourgogne”) last spring will know that it is widely considered one of France’s premier wine regions — some would claim the best in the world. You may also remember that Burgundy, like all of France, is very strict about what grape varietals are used to produce their wines. All white Burgundy is 100% Chardonnay, and all red Burgundy (exclusing Beaujolais) is 100% Pinot Noir. Due to the cool ocean air flowing off the San Pablo Bay, the climate of Carneros is conducive to growing the cool-weather grapes that flourish in Burgundy. Sonoma and particularly Napa are both warmer than Carneros, and unlike these better-known regions, the cooler climate of Carneros prevents the wine from ever becoming “fat, flaccid, or overwrought,” according to the Wine Bible. Hopefully we’ll discover some suibtle, nuanced examples of the best booze the region has to offer.

When buying your bottle, please feel free to select either red or white — I don’t know that Carneros will offer us enough variety to justify two meetings. (We can always add another one if we love it.) Expect to find mostly Cnardonnays and Pinot Noirs… apparently, Merlot is on the rise as well. Please note that the region of Carneros sits directly south of the regions of Napa and Sonoma and actually exists within the borders of those two geographical municipalities. In other words, there is no “Carneros , California” — it’s just a wine region. So the back of your bottle will generally list either Napa or Sonoma (e.g. produced and bottled by Domaine Carneros, Napa, CA). The front, however, will definitely say Carneros, and you’ll know you have the real deal. As always, you can opt to bring $10 instead of a bottle — although if you brought money last week, try to bring wine this week. Don’t get lazy on us.

We’ll be meeting at Jason’s house in Brentwood. Remember to chill your whites, dress to impress, and wear deodorant. We’ve had a body odor problem lately that threatens to interfere with people’s appreciations of the wines’ bouquets. But that was a one-time thing and I promise I won’t let it happen again… sorry.