Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Wine Weekend - The Finale (part one)

Sigh...I nearly finished this yesterday and then had to close out of my computer without saving it...Doncha hate it when that happens?

ANYway, I have to say that one of the most amazing things about the entire wine weekend was that after Saturday night's bacchanalian binge, both Gayle and I got up Sunday morning. Sans hangovers. After another continental breakfast and several cups of coffee, I even felt downright perky. Good thing 'cause there were at least a half dozen bottles of Valley of the Moon sparkling wine chilling in the cooler, courtesy of several generous members of our group. I could definitely get used to that kind of decadence.

Originally our first stop of the day was scheduled to be Korbel Champagne Cellars, followed by lunch at Silverado and then dinner at Darioush. When the owner of Darioush made himself available Sunday morning to personally conduct our tour, however, Carol felt that it would be a more unique and worthwhile experience to cancel Korbel and head straight to there. I admit to being a bit bummed out at first; I'm a total champagne/sparkling wine junkie. I consoled myself with the fact that I'd been to Korbel before and hadn't been overly impressed. Besides, I wasn't exactly suffering from bubbly deprivation this weekend.

Darioush turned out to be well worth the change of plans. The grounds alone were magnificent (there WILL be pictures posted over the weekend!), with Persian architecture and art work. The building utilized sandstone imported from Persia; it had a deceptively rough looking surface, but was smooth and cool to the touch. The cellars lay directly under the tasting room/lobby/shopping area, with what appeared to be skylights set into the ceiling. Those skylights were actually clear tables with lights set in them. A stairway bridged the two floors, a curtain of water cascading down thin plastic lines in what was one of the most unique water features I've seen. There was an outdoor amphitheater made of the same Persian sandstone. All it needed was a few well-muscled gladiators to complete the feel of a another place and time (and just because every house should have a few well muscled gladiators for ambiance).

The gift store carried unique pieces of home decor and artwork, everything with a Middle Eastern theme or artist behind it. There was none of the usual grape themed jewelry, T-shirts and Merlot flavored chocolate sauce. Not that there's anything wrong with clusters of gold grapes hanging from one's ears or clothing bearing winery logos. It's just that after a while, all those winery gift stores blur together. Not so Darioush.

The tasting was held in a vat room that was currently doubling as a gallery for the works of artist Mehri Yazdani (on exhibit at Darioush till June 16th, 2005). Her brightly colored, abstract pieces, while not entirely my taste, were eye-catching and made a nice backdrop to the event. My favorite depicted a brunette woman on horseback. It was mixed media, mainly reds, browns and golds, with splashes of yellow, blue and white thrown in. I would have bought that one if it had been in my price range (in other words, free).

Two tastefully dressed servers poured wine for us as we listened to Darioush Khaledi, founder and owner of the winery, talk about Darioush's history and its wines. He was both charming and interesting, but I confess my attention was mainly on the glass I was holding and its contents. We started with the 2003 Signature Chardonnay, a lush, creamy wine with all sorts of subtle fruit flavors lurking past the rich mouthfeel. It was good enough to warrant a second pour. A BIG second pour.

Next up was Darioush's signature wine, their 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. A blend of
85% Cabernet Sauvignon10% Merlot2% Cabernet Franc1.5% Petit Verdot1.5% Malbec, it was a complex, very drinkable Cabernet that would definitely handle a few years of cellaring...If one could refrain from cracking the bottle right away. Definitely a huge hit with the group.

The high point for me was the special barrel tasting of two Syrah clones (one French, one Australian) that were used to create Darioush's Signature Syrah, and then a taste of the actual finished blend. Both clones were delicious; deep reddish purple in color (I love the variations of color in the different varietals). I thought they each stood on their own as far as being excellent wines. But the blend...ooh, mama! I would have happily taken a case home had I been able to afford it. As it was, I had so many tastes of it that I left Darioush slightly toasted and quite content.


  • At 11:56 AM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    try when you are in blogger hitting 'recover post' - probably too late now but...

    You can also save as draft...

  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    I usually save them as drafts, but there was someone from work standing over my shoulder and you know how that can go...


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