Yesterday I visited my favourite winemaker’s cellar. It’s the Rexford Winery, in Santa Cruz’s west-side wine enclave. The vintner is the ex-Director of UC Observatories, Emeritus UC Santa Cruz Professor, and Astronomer Joe Miller. He stepped down as director about six years ago and officially retired a few years later. For about the past two years he’s been transforming superb locally grown grapes into even better wines, commercially, in the same way that he did for many years out of his own home caves.
The terroir in this part of the world is second to none, and Joe’s wines–perennially on the Subversive Archaeologist‘s Wish List–are treasures the like of which I’m very privileged to have encountered. Rexford’s white releases have never disappointed–especially the un-oaked chardonnay–and the reds are to be lusted after.
It was a sunny but bitterly cold day for these parts, and the tasting room was open on a Monday only because it was New Year’s Eve. The weather and the time of year conspired, no doubt, to ensure that we were the only two in the place for some time, and we mulled over the world’s woes while Joe poured me a flight of his current offerings. He was gracious and curious about my life after being put out to pasture, and I reassured him that I would be better than fine. When it came time to leave, my host asked me which of the varietals I’d tasted was my favourite. They were all excellent: a pinot gris, a Zinfandel rosé that tasted nothing like the so-called white Zins that were so popular twenty years ago, a very complex and surprisingly big Merlot, and an ’09 Pinot Noir from Corralitos, just south of Surf City. I answered that it was the pinot on the day, and that I’d been saving up my allowance to buy one of his wines for my New Year’s Eve celebration. To my great delight, as he slid the bottle into a paper bag and as I was reaching for my wallet he said something like “Don’t you dare try to pay for this. Have a happy retirement and a very good new year.” Thank you, Joe!
2009 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, Regan Vineyards
This was a very fine year for Pinot Noir in the Regan Vineyards. The grapes ripened slowly and steadily and achieved full maturity in excellent condition. The resulting wine is very dark for a Pinot. It has a full and and intense Pinot Noir varietal aroma with notable complexity. The taste is rich, multi-layered, and very full-bodied with a fine “silky” texture in the mouth, something that is characteristic of top French Burgundies. There is no question that this is a big wine, but it is superbly balanced. $40/bottle. Club price: $32. [Photo credit: The Subversive Archaeologist‘s iPhone 5, with deep gratitude to the steady-cam technology that counteracted my essential tremor.]
If I were you, and I had more money than I could find good wine to drink, I’d have a good look at their Terrace Club. The benefits are top-drawer, and they’ll ship anywhere it’s legal to do so! Better yet, I personally guarantee that you’ll never be disappointed. Please don’t mention my name, lest this be seen as a quid pro quo arrangement between Joe and me, which couldn’t be further from the truth.