THE RAIN CONTINUES TO FALL, YET THERE IS SUNSHINE IN MY GLASS: WASHING MY SINS AWAY WITH FOUR REDS FROM CALIFORNIA, AND MULLING OVER MOTHER NATURE’S FICKLE YET POWERFUL FORCE

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I think I speak for just about everyone east of the Mississippi when I say I feel thoroughly saturated by the incessant rain.  I only wish I had the instruments to divert a lot of it to the folks in Arizona, who’ve been hit with a monstrous wildfire.  Yet I have been more than a little compelled to start gathering animals two-by-two and constructing an ark outside my townhouse.  At the very least, trade in my Jetta for a Jet Ski.

Funny thing about Mother Nature – we have weathermen and weatherwomen who go on TV and “predict” the weather patterns for local areas, and more-often-than-not, they are dead wrong, or so it would seem.  Mother Nature can change on a dime, but we always find a way to blame it on the weather “oracles.”  We are at her mercy, subject to the whims of a woman who at once, clearly can’t make up her mind, yet certainly has a distinct vision for tomorrow.

Being so close to the Ohio River, we citizens of the Tri-State are always afraid of flooding, and when it rains like this – I’ve got a recycle bin at home on my back porch that is about 2 feet deep and over the past week, has filled to the brim – you think it will all float away.

I remember visiting Sonoma-Cutrer a few years ago, and my wife and I saw that aftermath of flooding that happened in the Russian River Valley area, with pumpkin carcasses that had been carried into Sonoma-Cutrer’s vineyard from about a mile away.  I grew up outside of the town of New Burlington, Ohio, which had been flooded so many times, the U.S. Government took it over, and a dam was constructed, creating Caesar Creek Lake back in the late 1970’s.  There was a terrible flood here in Cincinnati in 1937, and it happened as recently as 2011.  Folks living on either side of the Ohio are always wondering, with a continued deluge such as it is outside my office window.

In the wine business, Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress.  With anything agricultural, it is such.  The fragility of what happens in the glass is breathtaking.  I believe that a lot of that fragility is what drew me to this business, that delicate poetry in the glass.

While staring out the office window, wondering when will the rain actually stop, I decided to run through a few samples that had been gathering dust in the TPS Studios:

Four Vines Petite Sirah Lodi 2010.  Grade=Good.  Lots of blueberry, clove and bitter chocolate.  Hits an herbal note in the middle, finishes with plum skin and blueberry compote.  Pretty dry.

Lock & Key Meritage North Coast 2010.  Grade=Good.  Again with the blueberry, a touch of blackberry, grape skin, cocoa and espresso bean.  Has some hints of black pepper and green peppercorn.  Nice value.

Plungerhead Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi 2011.  Grade=Very Good.  Notes of tobacco and red flowers amidst some peppery cherry and blackberry notes.  Lean, dry, medium-bodied style.  New from The Other Guys.

Plungerhead Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley 2011.  Grade=Very Good.  Black cherry, blackberry, pepper and mineral, this is a lean, dry Cab.  Only slightly herbaceous with hints of dark plum and cocoa powder at the finish.

I’ve been told time and again 2011 in California was not a great vintage – frost delayed budbreak, a rainy April and May, and much cooler than normal temperatures throughout the summer resulted in lighter, leaner reds, reminiscent of the infamous 1998 vintage, which wasn’t so much a bad vintage as it was uncharacteristic of California.  2011 reds remind you more of Bordeaux than California, with more acidity, less superripeness.  Victims of weather?  Or just a product of the old adage, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade?

Needless to say, rain still falls outside.  And the poetry inside my glass continues its caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis.  It’s days like these, I am glad I can at least drink some sunshine.

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