Edible Monterey Bay

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Make Mother’s Day Sparkle

Last Mother’s Day was a bit of a challenge, to put the glossiest lipstick possible on the pig that was 2020. 

This year, let’s go all out and make the most of the Mother’s Day holiday with some local sips, some made by one of our favorite local Moms, Nicole Walsh. She’s rolling out her pale violet pink 2020 Rosé of Grenache in bottle, which hails from the Loma del Rio vineyard, at the foot of the Santa Lucia Highlands, just south of King City. It is the same wine she has in cans under the Maker label. In fact, a membership in the Maker Canned Wine Club would be a great gift for Moms everywhere. These stylish 250ml matte-finished cans are just the thing to throw in a purse or backpack when headed to the beach, a ballgame or a hike.  If your Mom loves peonies and roses, this rose is redolent of a flower garden and pink grapefruit, carrying both to the acid-blessed palate, glistening with sweet tarts, strawberry taffy, pink lemonade and guava. Soft and pliant, yet perfectly persistent. You can hear it saying, “I’m still speaking…” 

Walsh has a three-pack of bottles for Mother’s Day, priced at $75, that includes the new 2020 Rosé of Grenache, her 2015 Cab Pfeffer and a 2018 sparkling Riesling from the Wirz Vineyard in San Benito, one of the oldest plantings of Riesling in the state. 

Another fine option for a gift that gives all year would be the Bubbles Club from winemaker Denis Hoey of Odonata. He never thought he’d become one of the only producers of multiple sparkling wines in the area, but it figures that a kid who worked for Jeff Emery of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, which was practically next door to Equinox, would learn a thing or two from Barry Jackson, the self-described Bishop of Bubbles. Barry also refers to himself as the Fizz Wizard. 

Wizardry plays a small role in making sparkling, compared to the role played by patience and attention to detail. Hoey first made sparkling from Sangiovese, which was fun, but his current lineup, including a sparkling Riesling, is phenomenal. Of particular interest are the Odonata 2017 Blanc de Blanc sparkling ($38), which is made from Escolle Vineyard Chardonnay. For those who want drama, the 2018 Sparkling Grenache Rouge ($38) is utterly epic, made from Hahn’s Hook vineyard. A stunning light ruby shade, it positively leaps out of your glass like the proverbial jumping frog from Mark Twain’s first commercial story success. Aromatically, it’s filled with ripe blueberry, raspberry, biscuits and fresh baked rhubarb crumb pie. Texturally, it’s a fruit basket of everything from cranberry and pomegranate to guava and blood orange. Brisk acidity keeps it super-fresh, and the exquisite bubbles never quit. Denis also has a 2014 Reserve Blanc de Blanc ($68) for those who appreciate the incomparable beauty of bottle age and yeast. 

Then there’s winemaker David Baird’s pair of sparklers, including a Brut ($40) and the Folktale sparkling Rosé ($42), which is a personal favorite, for its wild strawberry and kiwi aromas and flavors of watermelon and hibiscus, melded nicely with tangerine. You can enjoy it by the glass or bottle at VinoCruz.

Mom might get a rise out of the brand new 2020 Rosé of Pinot Noir from Aptos Vineyard ($28), made by John Benedetti. Called “All Rise,” it’s available to club members only at present, as it’s such a limited production. This came from the DaLarDi Vineyard, at 1500 feet elevation, off San Jose-Soquel Road. The fairly intense rose-amber color tells you it’s not a wimpy wine, and one whiff confirms that suspicion. Dried apricots, struck flint, warm strawberry pop-tarts, orange pound cake and watermelon candy are among the aromas that swirl about in the glass. The flavors lean to cran-orange, spiked watermelon and Serrano apricot chutney, delivering a savory, spicy, textural wine that would pair well with turkey burgers topped with roasted Anaheim chiles and chipotle onions. 

Other wines that might float Mom’s boat are the 2018 Sante Arcangeli Split Rail Chardonnay, a pure expression of the fruit, uncluttered by oak. Its floral nose leans to forsythia and wildflower honey, delivering pear, apricot and lemon curd on the palate. At Sante Arcangeli’s new wine tasting setup at Harley Farms in Pescadero, it was paired nicely with apricot and pistachio goat cheese. Benedetti is really fond of the DaLarDi Vineyard, and the 2019 Pinot Noir from that vineyard delivers cranberry, bright cherry, orange peel and candy cane, with a determined drip of tannin. It was paired with goat cheese covered with dried cranberries and walnuts. 

Plan to take Mom out for a wine tasting and cheese pairing experience at Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero some time. It’s a day out that the whole family will not forget.

Bottle Jack is back open by appointment, and they have a 3-bottle pack of BBQ reds, including a 2016 Zin and Merlot, plus a 2017 Malbec, all perfect to accompany whatever you’re throwing onto the grill. Member price is $75; non-member is $85/ Hint: Mom does not want to cook, so plan to do some grilling instead. 

If Mom has an irreverent—ok, warped—sense of humor, you need to check out Malicious Women Company. Not politically correct in any way, it offers a plethora of mischievously creative candles in scents like Hot Mess, Cabernet All Day, Pink Chandelier, Rebel Rose and Take a Hike. “But First…Wine,” and “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History,” are among the tamer of the offerings. You might choose “Thanks For Raising Me, Mom: I’m Awesome!” or “Glam-Ma” for a grandmother you know. Not for the faint of heart, the site checks off all the boxes when it comes to cheekily humorous with a touch of barbed wire. Most cannot be mentioned here. Malicious

About the author

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Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.