TN: Big & tall (California, pt. 12)

[reflection](The original version, with more photos, is here.)

29 April 2006 – Yosemite National Park, California

Mariposa Grove – The most accessible of Yosemite’s giant sequoia groves isn’t all that accessible at the moment, thanks to an inexplicably closed access road (the grove itself is still a slop of snow, water and mud, but the road is clear, and so is the parking lot). Nonetheless, the road is hikeable, and so after a morning spent admiring differently-lighted views of Yosemite Valley, and then a brief lunch near one of the park’s entrances, up (and up, and up) we trudge.

Edmunds St. John 2002 “blonk!” (Paso Robles) – Vivid wet stone fruit and white limestone dust, with faint dried meat notes, plus peach/pear skin adding a touch of pleasant bitterness to the finish. The finish is strikingly long.

In most other settings, the endless parade of majestic, ramrod-straight redwoods that litter this area would be a visual highlight. But not here, where the rich tans and incomprehensible girth of the giant sequoias dominates all else. We slog around the muddy grove, taking in most of the key sights, but in the process the sole of one of my hiking boots starts to separate, which makes walking difficult and lets water sneak into the interior of the shoe. It’s time to go.

Wawona Hotel – Tired and sole-sick (sorry), we plop down into comfortable veranda seats at this beautiful, historic hotel to have a few restorative drinks…for which we have to wait, as we’ve apparently arrived fifteen minutes before drink-serving time. What is this, France? Well, the setting makes up for it.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (California) – Hoppy and astringent. Never a favorite of mine, but the only other options are mass-market inanities.

Back at Yosemite West, we sear one of the most amazing slabs of venison I’ve ever eaten (seasoned only with black pepper and fleur de sel), add a few fresh morels, and make surprisingly quick work of what must be nearly three-quarters of Bambi. Poor deer (again: sorry).

Edmunds St. John 2001 Zinfandel Peay (Sonoma Coast) – Heavy, dark and concentrated, with briary blackberries (in whole and juice form), good acidity and a spicy, spirituous finish. It’s excellent with food, but a bit heavy by itself.

Dönnhoff 1999 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese 19 99 (Nahe) – From 375 ml, and now open for three days. It’s still flawless, now showing molten metals at the heart of the sun (if Pink Floyd will excuse the literary license). A truly stunning wine.

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