Walking along the Sacramento River delta when I was younger, I found myself in a town called Locke. Locke, founded by Chinese immigrants who’d largely come to build the Transcontinental Railroad, still exists today as a ramshackle mud-bound town, known for peanut-butter hamburgers at Al the Wop’s and the secret whispers of opium dens long, long disappeared.
One summer’s afternoon, when I was younger, I found myself there, sitting in the cooling shade, looking out over sugar beet fields to the east, smelling the sweet mud drying a ways from the bent-pipe irrigation mechanics. There’s a fleeting smell of rich soil drying in the Delta sun, and there’s some of that to this wine.
A loosely purple color that seems too bright, watery at the edges somehow, this wine doesn’t look right, but who stares at the color of wine unless they’re remembering that all good tasting notes have a description of that? Dusty cedar shavings, cassia left in the pantry far too long, and dried Cape Town sausage distract from the violet pastilles somewhere on the other side of the room, long forgotten in Maman’s boudoir.
Still rich in the mouth, there’s a quick burst of crimson sweet and then it’s gone, with a dusty warmth on the return. Paying proper attention, it’s actually a delicate progression typical of an older wine, from sweetmeats and damson through to hints of pipe tobacco, shoe leather, and the part of the library where they keep the incunabulae.
Bonny Doon Vineyard
Date tasted: November 2008