A Lost Week -- Or, Reality Bites

Remember when I said last week that all would be back to normal this week? Yeah. That was a little too ambitious. This week was the prototypical "Ha Ha, You've Been Away For Two Weeks And Now You're Back To Reality" week. You know what I'm talking about. The kind of inhumane, grueling week that, each day, makes you wonder what part of you ever thought it was a good idea to go out of town, for any reason.

Some things that happened while I was away, though, were pretty darn cool, and it's those things to which I returned in my mind whilst wishing for death to come rescue me from the HHYBAFTWANYBTR week. Which, now that it's Saturday and I've finished my Saturday morning work meeting (yep), is once and for all, over!

Here is Something to Remember

Eight days ago, I received word that a famous, hugely talented and very experienced graphic artist (if you've ever bought an album, you've seen his stuff, and that's all I can say) was willing to help with the j.brix label in exchange for, guess what? The fruits of our labors! Look for our logo coming soon.

Seven days ago, I was frolicking at the Santa Barbara Vintner's Festival in Lompoc, CA; busily working my shift at the Tantara Winery booth, yes, but did get a little time to walk around and taste before starting to pour. It was during this time that I finally met Mr. Jim Clendenen, the larger-than-life, legendary Mind Behind none other than Au Bon Climat, iconic Bien Nacido Vineyard landmark producer of epic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay -- and something like 2,000 other microlabels (OK, slight exaggeration ... maybe) under which he crafts a few cases here and there. 

During a chat with Jim about the j.brix project, he had a few arch words to say about our "starter vineyard." It was a true honor to be good-naturedly cuffed by an undisputed champion of winemaking. Almost felt like arriving.

What We Have is Strong and Tender

Six days ago, after the always-groovy Tantara Open House, Jody and I had the privilege of partaking in a semi-impromptu dinner in the Wine Cellar room at The Brothers at Mattei's Tavern. This dinner comprised 14 of perhaps the most unlikely folks ever to find themselves in the same room -- all thoroughly enjoying the food, wine and camaraderie. (Can't believe I used that word; I've had an informal ban on it ever since a certain 7th-grade Knights of Columbus regional spelling bee in which the grand poohbah torpedoed me with an improper pronunciation ... whoops, I'm not bitter!)

In any case, some (OK, many) seriously stellar wines were opened, shared and enjoyed, my absolute favorite of which was a magnum of 1990 Ridge Monte Bello Vineyard (thanks again, Barbara and Bill). Ever since that 1996 Ridge Carignan in February, we've been so eager to taste Ridge's flagship wine, but don't have the hundreds in spare cash it takes to pick up a bottle. This "American First Growth" still tasted young, fresh, vibrant and lovely -- 20 years hadn't faded it a bit. It was one of those wines you just breathe in for a good long time, before you even dare to taste it.

It's About Faith

Five days ago, we spent a brief, beautiful morning in the Bien Nacido and then drove the five hours home, where the week-that-shall-not-be-named commenced. Who wants to hear about that? I didn't think so. But you might like to see what the Syrah's looking like these days. Here it is:

Healthy Syrah shoots and leaves; and a nice rich cover crop, soon to be mowed once the frost threat is over.

This week, I have the utmost faith that the (double) double-blind dinners of old shall resume, and who knows what kind of secret food and wine pairings await? I can hardly wait to find out.

Cheers, all! Talk to me -- the comment box is a wee bit lonely.