I forgot how much I love Cartograph wines. Back in 2011, before I began the 4-year litigation effort around that little spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I visited Dry Creek Valley to participate in their harvest. On an afternoon in the Fall of 2011, prior to an evening of following my friend Shana (then) Ray (now) Bull from bar to bar in Healdsburg, California who was hoping to catch a glimpse of the soon-to-be-married Seth Rogen, I stopped in a groovy gas station-turned tasting room called Garagiste, to use the free wifi, and to taste some wine.
From out of the backroom where wine was fermenting in the once-upon-a-time-office emerged Alan Baker to let me taste through his wines with my other friend Thea Dwelle who had demanded my presence, via phone, immediately. My visit was a mere few months after they opened the micro-winery and tasting lounge that they shared with Stark wines, which, sadly, is no more.
Alan, known as Cellar Rat back in the day, was newly bottling his wines under the Cartograph label when I visited, following his a stint at an urban winery under his own label Cellar Rat Cellars. We tasted through his current releases and I had a few bottles shipped home. This evening Joe, while fixing a chicken dish sent me to our “cellar” for a Gewürz. I thought our cupboards were bare — but came across the Cartograph 2010 Floodgate Vineyard hiding on a shelf! Rarely does anything last that long in our house, and we’ve suffered through multiple summers of air conditioning outages so I feared the worst. However, I was most pleasantly surprised!
Cartograph Gewürztraminer 2010: Russian River Valley, Floodgate Vineyard
The wine is golden straw with notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom, grapefruit and lychee on the nose with a touch of melon and Granny Smith apple on the palate. There is the slightest bit of oxidation, probably from aforementioned improper cellaring and three summers of A/C outages — but the wine is still incredible, a testament to Alan’s artisanal winemaking. ABV of this one is 14%. I don’t remember what I paid for it, but his newest release, the 2014, is $24 and available here
We paired the 2010 with a 5-spice chicken with shitake mushrooms and rice noodles, a truly fantabulous pairing!
Funny thing, I was talking to Thea tonight, and she just happened to be drinking the Cartograph 2013 Perli Pinot Noir from Mendocino Ridge. Great minds think alike!
Cartograph has opened up a new tasting room at 340 Center Street in Healdsburg. Please stop in the next time your in the Dry Creek Valley. For more information you can visit their website www.cartographwines.com