A Musical Evening Of Wine, A Wine-Full Evening Of Music!

I had the great pleasure of spending Thursday evening at decarolis design & marketing in San Jose as “wine host” for a Wine & Jazz themed event, courtesy of an invitation from Vince DeCarolis, principal and founder of the company. RIDGE doesn’t actually do a lot of off-site events of this sort, but when Vince wrote to query as to whether we might be interested, I have to admit I was intrigued. Partly, they’re a local business, and it’s always a good feeling to reach out and share some good times with members of one’s immediate community. Plus, Vince is a big supporter and fan of RIDGE wines, and a long-time member of our ATP Wine Program. And lastly, well, he said there’d be a jazz band. So yeah, I was interested. Vince came up and met with me at the Monte Bello Tasting Room, and after he described the details, I was sold; it sounded lovely.

And lovely it was! The event was held in the little cobblestone tree-lined courtyard behind the decarolis offices, table’d and umbrella’d, with room enough for a fish pond, bar, and food table, plus the band. Very fine digs indeed. And a very fine and kind crowd as well, running the gamut from serious, serious wine enthusiasts and RIDGE fans to the previously uninitiated; I fielded lots of good questions, had a number of very engaging conversations, and altogether enjoyed the rapport.

The event was catered by a restaurant I was personally not familiar with, but judging by what was on offer this particular evening, I’d certainly say they merit a visit if you’ve not been already. The restaurant is Eulipia Restaurant, and they’re just down the street. One of the staff members who was on hand at the event described the cuisine to me as “New American comfort food!”

We had three wines on offer for the evening, the 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay, the 2007 Geyserville, and the 2006 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate (CabernetSauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot), all of which I thought were showing quite well. The chardonnay is really flexing its minerality right now, and judging by the comments from tasters at the event, this is something that all levels of experience (as regards palate) seem to note with a good deal of pleasure. The ’07 Geyserville was by far and away the most familiar of the three offerings to the gang at hand, and although still utterly in its infancy at this point, it was very well received, and a couple of very serious RIDGE-o-philes waxed notably rhapsodic about this vintage. Personally, I’m a big fan of the ’07; my preferences as regards the Geyerville are for the years when the zin percentage comes down slightly, and the complementary rhones, particularly the carignane, come up, and the ’07 is a great example of this; I think this model really allows for a lot of the second and third tier layers of spice and herbality to express themselves, and I think those components are at the heart of what make the Geyserville such a singular offering. The ’06 Cab Santa Cruz was easily the dark horse success of the evening, being seemingly less familiar, but eliciting the most appreciative of responses. Altogether, I think it was quite a nice trio.

The band, it turns out, is not actually a “straight ahead” jazz band per se, rather, they effect a suprisingly seamless series of moves between solidly approachable “soft bop” and a somewhat tropical and reggae-infused world vibe; appropriately enough, the band is named the “Altered Roots Quartet.” Their chops are rock solid, they’re in full command of touch and dynamic, and, courtesy of guitarist and luthier Andrew Sacco, they’ve got some beautiful instruments as well. Both Andrew and bassist Chris Wilder play custom-made guitars, and their sounds were remarkable; warm, round, crisp without being biting, fleshy without losing clarity. One visit to their website this morning pretty much confirmed what I already had felt the night before; anyone who name-checks both John Coltrane and Burning Spear in their list of influences is way alright by me …

Anyhow, that’s my scoop on the evening, thanks to all for inviting me, and here are a trio of photos to give a little more visual sense of how it all played out (please click to see full-size)…

Categories: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Chardonnay, Events & Photographs, Food & Wine Pairing, Petit Verdot, Rhone varietals, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine and Jazz, Wine Tales, Zinfandel

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