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Bridging sorrow

Part 4 of a 2005 California travelogue

by Thor Iverson

14 November 2005 – Palo Alto, California

Bay Wolf – Theresa takes a day off from her busy conference schedule, and we take advantage by driving north to Oakland, for a lunch with Steve Edmunds. Steve brings a few wines, and we sit on Bay Wolf’s warm and relaxing patio, noshing on their always-delicious Cal/Med creations. My trout and beet salad, drizzled with bright citrus, is utterly fresh and refreshing, while I’m transported across the Atlantic by the duck liver flan…only to be dragged back by succulent duck enchiladas. Espresso is good, if ever so slightly burnt. A fun restaurant, every time.

[Steve Edmunds][Steve Edmunds]

Edmunds St. John 2004 Roussanne Tablas Creek (Paso Robles) – 14.5%, and an interesting contrast with Tablas Creek Winery’s heavier and more forceful bottling. This one is crisp and a bit acrid at first, with a hot nose presiding over a tight, wiry body. It takes a lot of swirling and general aeration to get even the slightest hints of green apple underneath the feisty alcohol and high-toned fruit. But after a few hours, it finally begins to blossom, showing pear and tart peach skin with a juicy, crisp finish. It’s just too young.

Steve on some now-unremembered but Californicated wine: “It sucks. It sucks out loud.”

Edmunds St. John 2004 “Bone Jolly” Gamay Noir Witters (El Dorado County) – 13.1%. As some might remember, I had a rather traumatizing run of corked ‘03s…with Steve, without Steve, it didn’t seem to matter…and was up to five in a row before finally giving up, so we open this with a good deal of trepidation. But, thank the capricious cork gods (I prefer “demons,” but that’s a subject for another essay), there’s no TCA here. Instead, there’s juicy, reddish-violet fruit (mostly plums and cherries) with light strawberry leaves backstroking on top. The structure includes that powdery graphite stuff for which I’m an absolute sucker, and on the finish some intriguing notes of honey…no, it’s more floral; perhaps honeysuckle…emerge. This is like wine juice, and pure fun. Buy it by the pallet.

Golden Gate Bridge – It’s still a beautiful afternoon, so we leave the top of the (rented) convertible down and cross the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, then turn northward and cross the Golden Gate for a refreshing post-dinner walk over its windy span. It’s a bit chilly – no surprise there – but sunset over the city and the bay is as beautiful as one might imagine. We’re in a contemplative mood; Theresa is waiting for a call from her family that says her grandmother has finally passed on after a long illness, and so we sit for a while in silence, watching the last rays of the setting sun sparkle on the towers and peaks of the city and the distant hillsides of Berkeley. We get the news just as we’re driving back into San Francisco. The ride back to Milpitas is a somber one.

[traffic on Golden Gate Bridge][sunset over the Pacific]
[reflection from Golden Gate Bridge][lights on Golden Gate Bridge]
[ Golden Gate Bridge beams][Berkeley at sunset]
[sailor statue][lantern]
[reflections on San Francisco][Theresa & Golden Gate Bridge]

Zao Noodle Bar – A quick, inexpensive dinner with Larry Stein at this dubious mini-chain. The food is…eh. Tofu fries, done up with a trio of spicy sauces, are more mushy than fried, and the flavors in the main-course curries are muted and indistinct. Plus, there are some issues with general cleanliness.

Wolf 1999 Forster Jesuitgarten Riesling Spätlese Trocken (Rheinpfalz) – I fail to note the AP number here. However, what I’m most concerned with is the residual sugar. Isn’t this supposed to be a trocken? Anyway, it’s slightly creamy, showing fairly simplistic apple flavors and a short finish. I suspect this wine is as developed as it’s ever going to be.

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Copyright ©2005 Thor Iverson.