November 18, 2006

an idyllic vineyard supper at Medlock Ames

figs wrapped with proscuitto, sage

gravlax crepe roll with whipped cream cheese and dill mustard

baby potatoes stuffed with caviar, sour cream and chives

* * *

baby greens with avocado, valencia oranges, chinese peanuts and shallot vinaigrette

fresh pasta with tomato, herbs and truffle oil

niman ranch braised beef cheeks with watercress, tomato confit and horseradish

local cheeses - adante acapella with pesto and fig jam, bellweather jersey with sour cherry jam, st. george with honey, black pepper and brioche, mt. tam triple cream

bell mountain apple strudel with whipped cream

* * *

2004 chardonnay
2005 chardonnay
2003 merlot
2003 cabernet sauvignon
2006 fermentation "dessert" wine

Man, things have been so busy... I'm really falling behind in my posts. This one is long overdue.

Every once in a while, you get the opportunity to do something that's just plain FUN. No catches, no reservations... just an all-around great time. A couple of weeks back, my pal Vijay and I had a chance to visit Medlock Ames, an up and coming new winery in North Healdsburg for a club members' dinner event, and had a killer time.

We were warmly greeted with a glass of the 2004 Bell Mountain Chardonnay, which evoked simple and refreshingly distinct flavors of tart apples and floral undertones balanced against a moderate backdrop of rounded buttery oak... a nice crowd pleaser.
We took a quick tour of the winery's operations, with winemaker Ames Morrison demonstrating the new hydraulic press used for the punch-down of the cabernet grapes. One of the nicest things about Medlock Ames is the pure enthusiasm for the process and the product shared by the folks running the winery. You could sense that Ames genuinely wanted us to get a deeper glimpse into what it took to make the wines -- not often that people are willing to take the time and teach you about their craft.
We sampled some of the cabernet juice right out of the tanks (totally outrageous... the sugar levels and flavor intensity is off the charts before fermentation), then headed out on a tractor-pulled hay ride out for dinner in the vineyard. We roamed around the vineyard, each of us picking our own grapes and crushing them in a small plastic bag. Ames used the juice to show us how his refractometer measures brix... another really cool insight!
It was a spectacular setting -- a festive group of about 20 people enjoying the last fleeting moments of great autumn weather, getting to know one another and relaxing with the fantastic hospitality of the Medlock Ames team. I honestly can't recall a winery with such a clearly displayed genuine commitment to its product and customers.
Another reason to like Medlock Ames is their relatively aggressive pursuit of sustainable agriculture and biodynamic farming. With a flock of sheep and a llama on staff, they've already struck a very nice balance of establishing their vineyard while preserving a significant amount of open space on the property. Really an admirable undertaking, considering the overall costs of running this sort of operation (and the seemingly relentless pressure to overdevelop every parcel of land in Northern California).
Medlock Ames ( is out in Healdsburg. Give them a call and stop by... it's a bit out of the way, but totally worth it. You'll taste some very nice wines and meet some fantastic people.
  • 2005 chardonnay: More tart, crisp and acidic than the 2004. Interesting, light minerality. Fantastic with food. I hope this is the direction they're taking with future vintages.

  • 2003 merlot: Deep and lush plum and cherry flavors, but with an underlying earthy complexity to it, which may come from the addition of a small amount of a secondary grape like cab franc? I can't recall. At any rate, definitely not one-dimensional, this merlot has plenty of nuances to ponder. Really nice.

  • 2003 cabernet sauvignon: Seemed to be a toned-down version of their first cabernet vintage... a bit more finesse, but still quite powerful. I'm looking forward to the evolution of future vintages of their cabernet.

Technorati Tags:

No comments:

Post a Comment