He told us (all assembled) that he does not sell his wines in California, “because California is an ignorant wine market.” Instead he prefers to sell his wines in New York, a “hipper” market. He says it’s because California is “always looking for the next impact wine.” He equated it to the difference between being ‘hip’ and being ‘cool’. New York being hip; California thinking it is cool. This kind of talk doesn’t make him popular in his home state; hence I can see why he doesn’t sell much of his wine there.
He casually called most California Chardonnays (the ones he referred to as “typical”) “oaky-toasty-butter bombs”, (and truthfully he isn’t wrong) – he said this as he was introducing us to his “Faux Chablis”, a mineral driven sipper with good fruit and hay-earthy notes, mainly on the nose, it also had a great long finish.
A believer in aging Rosé till they hit perfection, Clark found it hard to sell his few-year-old pink wines: “they need a few years to develop that great colour,” he said. The public believes that pink has to be fresh vinted (within a year or so of the date on the bottle) – he referred to vintage dates as “expiry dates to the wine buyer”. He got around his dilemma by non-vintage dating his Skinflint Dry Rosé, a blend of the Cabernets (Sauvignon and Franc). It had typical strawberry and raspberry notes, along with some of those minerals and hay notes found in the Chardonnay/Chablis.
While I enjoyed the above two wines, I really took a shine to the “Miser” Meritage and Winesmith Cabernet Sauvignon; both had very inviting noses. The Meritage was black fruit, herbal and pencil shaving-ish; while the Cabernet Sauvignon was a red and black fruit mix. In the mouth, the Meritage proved to be more complex, while the Cab Sauv was a simple sipper. But both were excellent and seemingly well priced (approximate retail value: Meritage $15 and Cab Sauv $23); let’s hope we see some of these wines on this side of the border.
Clark finished his talk with a music demonstration – discussing how music can make certain wines taste better. I didn’t agree with his choices. He contended that a specific piece of music makes a particular wine taste better. Now in truth I do believe environment affects your enjoyment of a wine, be it the movie you are watching, music you are listening to, company you keep, mood you are in, where you are … environment and situation can make the worst wine taste better and the best wine taste like vinegar. But whether the Doors “People are Strange” (as Clark suggests) makes a Cabernet Franc taste better than a Cabernet Sauvignon – I’ll leave that up to you. Might I suggest just inviting good friends over and popping the cork on whatever you so desire … I’m sure the mood will take care of your appreciation.