The weather was a cozy 106 degrees in Sacramento County. There was nothing desired more than to have a glass of big red wine to compliment the sweltering heat. Admit it, red wine is good all year long, and we will not let a little heat wave spoil our wine preference! If necessary, do as Robert Mondavi did on a regular basis, add a few ice cubes to your favorite red. It's all good, and the ice does not change the character too much, I digress.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Driving to a particular winery for some research, (code for imbibe without abandon), a sign popped up indicating that Italian varietals were nearby. This caused my car, Kenji, to make a sudden U-turn without any help. (he does this all the time, really) As Kenji, like a hound dog in pursuit of a runaway convict, followed the scent of Sangiovese, Barbera and a unique table wine, we found ourselves roaring up the gravel driveway of Palissandro Winery.
Note: when driving on gravel roads near vineyards, please drive slowly too avoid kicking up too much dust. This can adversely affect the grapevines growing nearby.
The winery sits atop a small hill overlooking a small vineyard. At first glance, the place looks like a fruit stand. It is small, quaint...yada, yada, yada, let's get to the wine!
Entering the tasting room, the acknowledgement clock ticked for about five seconds before a loud and rambunctious, "Hey, how are you" filled the air. Being caught off guard because the greeter stood no more than five feet tall and had a voice that bordered on a soft tenor, the welcome was genuine.
Ten second greeting acknowledgement test, pass, and they were about to snag another wine club member. (I'm so easy...oops, pronouns!)
My Vinista's (made up word, remember, the author, know personally?) were on top of their game. Because the day was a bit warm, the wine was stored in a small refrigerator behind the tasting counter. With tag team precision, the wines were poured in perfect synchrony.
"Ka-boom!" Wow, nothing like being choked by a tart Sangiovese. Personally, this is a wonderful feeling. Your throat locks up, salivary glands go into over drool, eyes squint and every nuance of moisture in your mouth is pulled down your throat with the wine causing your lips to pucker up tight like a snare drum. Can we all say, "yummy?" Love me some Sangiovese!
Revisiting the Sangiovese, to better determine a preference, (yeah right!), the difference between a pure Sangiovese and a blended one was enough to consider joining the wine club. We'll talk about that later.
Next, bring on the table wine! Vino da Tavola, which literally means, wine of the table, would be the decisive factor. However, before delving into this naughty little non-vintage blend, it must be mentioned that the two vinista's were at all times engaging and knowledgable. The owner, Jeannine Blaylock, also stood guard in the tasting room like a mother hen watching over her flock of chicks. There was a sense that at any time, she would produce a plate of food for pairing with the wines, and of course, she did...sort of. While going outside to take a few photos, Jeannine somehow managed to escape the tasting room only to reappear with a pan full of melted cheese covered baguettes.(forgot what they were called, but they did go well with the Vino da Tavola!)
After indulging the tapenade's to the extreme, the Cabernet Sauvignon awaited. (Not Italian, but France and Italy are neighbors...sort of) Expecting a lighter than usual fruit bomb, the wine had a nice structure and again, was easy to drink. Cabs are known to be big, hearty wines. Not this one. It could be likened to a good beginners red wine. Not too tannic, not too heavy, not too fruity...for mountain wine that is.
Because the winery is fairly new, it will be interesting to see how the wines develop over time. Which brings us to the wine club.
Why join this wine club? Unlike wine clubs where the owner, winemaker, or whomever selects the wine for club members, this wine club allows its' members to select whatever they want. If there are only two wines that are enjoyed, pick those two for every shipment lest ye re-gift something that is not liked. Makes sense. Pass the Vino da Tavola and the Sangiovese!
Palissandro is a fairly new winery with an extreme amount of warm hospitality. How warm is the hospitality? Well, let's just say that the winemaker, Robert Van der Vijver, literally and figuratively lives next door. Robert has his own winery, and offers his winemaking expertise to the Blaylocks. Between the two wineries, there is enough energy to power a small nation. (think Belgium)
I give this winery two slaps upside the head, and that is a good thing, and a high five for their wine club strategy. Make a customer happy, and they will keep you busy. The next time you plan to visit a particular winery, be adventurous and make a few U-turns when something catches your eye.
Until next time, Salute'!