Wine tasting: An afternoon at Silver Mountain Vineyards

A few months ago, the JCC had a wine tasting featuring local Santa Cruz Mountain wineries. It was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, but, as I recall, there were no wine sales that day, only chocolates and other goodies. We did, however, sign up for some email lists — and one of those wineries, Silver Mountain Vineyards, had a tasting today. The weather was lovely, so after services and lunch, we left Jeff at home with his homework and headed into the hills.

We decided to skip the Chardonnay and the Rose of Pinot Noir, so the first wine we had was the 2004 Miller Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir. I’m not sure it was the ideal wine to start with — it was chewy, with lots of mouth feel and a very long finish. It went well with the Beemster XO Gouda they were serving, but by itself, it was rather overpowering.

The next wine on offer was the 2004 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. That was a different story — lots of fruit (plum, in particular), good by itself or with the munchies on hand, and very good with 52% cocoa dark chocolate slivers.

After that, we sampled two of their Bordeaux-style blends: Oscar’s Wild Red, which didn’t impress either of us very strongly, and the 2002 Alloy, which was pleasantly spicy, with a medium finish.

More cheese, crackers, and cashews were called for, and then it was time to hit the Zins. They had two available, both from the same vineyard in Lodi, the 2001, which was light and fruity, and the 2000, which was tarter and had some definite clove flavors.

More munchies followed, and then, despite our general disinterest in Chardonnay, we were persuaded to try the 2004 Chardonnay (I could hear John Cleese’s voice from Wine for the Confused suggesting it was not a good idea to tar all wines made from a particular grape with the same brush). I’m glad we did, because it was a very pleasant wine — slightly minerally, very soft, and nicely fruity.

We left with a mixed case (Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, the Alloy, both Zins, and four bottles of the 04 Chardonnay), and memberships in both their wine clubs. Fortunately, IBM’s alcohol policy has changed over the years, and I can have them ship the wine to work instead of having to drive up into the mountains to get it (the last mile, on Miller Cut-Off, was unnerving for someone who lives in the flatlands) — but if the release happens during good weather, there are worse ways to save a few bucks on shipping.

We probably shouldn’t visit too many more wineries for a while. But it sure is a nice way to spend a weekend afternoon!