Sunday, May 25, 2008

Martin Ranch tasting at Vino Locale

Vino Locale is a small wine bar and wine shop in Palo Alto. It's at 431 Kipling, just opposite Zibibbo restaurant. As the name suggests, they emphasise local ingredients and focus on local wineries. They also organise regular tastings; last week Therese Martin of Martin Ranch was pouring. It was a blazing hot Thursday afternoon and we were outside in the shade. I met up with some of the usual suspects and we tasted five of the Martin Ranch wines. Since I've misplaced my notes, this is from memory. As usual Therese was charming and we had some interesting discussions on the recent crazy weather conditions while sipping the wines.

The first was a pleasant Rose of Cabernet Franc. This was the first time the Martins had made a rose; apparently the fruit wasn't looking ripe enough for a full red so they decided to give it a go. It works; the wine is bone dry and very refreshing for a hot summer afternoon. It's also reasonably priced at under $13.

The second wine was a very nice Merlot. Very easy drinking, good fruit. I liked it.

Next was a Syrah. I've commented before that I do like Martin Ranch Syrah but I think it needs a couple of years in the cellar and since I have no room for the larger bottle I'll just have to try to pick up older vintages at retail.

The fourth wine was a Cabernet Sauvignon. A good example of the softer, smoother wines that valley fruit tends to produce. Like the Merlot this was easy drinking now but would certainly benefit from 3-5 years in the cellar.

The last wine was a Petite Sirah. I'm still on the fence regarding Petite Sirah as a varietal; when young I find it hard and tannic, not particularly distinctive beyond that, and thus difficult to pair with food. I've yet to taste any good examples of older vintages by any producers. I think its best use is a blending grape, particularly with Zinfandel. Anyway, this was a typical example; some good black fruits and pepper but a lot of tannin.