I am breaking my own rule, set forth in my last post, about showing some love to the drink-ready bottles in my cellar. Having just returned from a really fantastic tasting trip in Santa Ynez, an hour north of Santa Barbara and the location of the zany but poignant film Sideways, I was impatient to open one of my new acquisitions and thereby to extend the delicious freedom one feels when one is solo in paradise 3,000 miles away from responsibility.*
*Everything about this trip pleased me: I stayed in the too-cute-for-words Danish enclave of Solvang (check out the Solvang Gardens if you ever need a place to stay; those folks are sweeter than the abelskiver served in every breakfast joint in town); the weather was ordered direct from central casting (50°F in the morning, 75 in the afternoon); the scenery was ostentatious in its beauty; and I met a slew of really nifty folks (one of the best perks of solo travelling).
I had been to the area three times before, first with the Unit and twice by myself, so I had a decent idea of where I wanted to go taste, but I also hoped to branch out a bit on this trip and try some new places. I took recommendations from the nifty folks (see above) I met along the way and landed in a bunch of really special spots. I’m sure future posts will see me rhapsodizing about the wines from Sarloos & Son, Palmina, Rusack, E11even, and Flying Goat, but today’s post is dedicated to this gem from Epiphany.
Epiphany is owned by Eli Parker, son of the movie cowboy (and wine impresario) Fess Parker. The Unit and I came to their tasting room in Los Olivos by accident on our first trip here in 2006, and, quite frankly, we shut the place down. They practically forcibly escorted us out the door at closing time. It was very much a “you-don’t-have-to-go-home-but-you-can’t-stay-here” thing. The wine that clinched the deal was their 2002 Petite Sirah, a muscular behemoth that became the glug of choice at our annual cassoulet parties. Since then, we’ve loved their Rhône varietals and their lip-smacking red blends, particularly the Gypsy, which pairs extremely well with a Baconator from Wendy’s.
Epiphany has a new tasting room in Los Olivos: a very slick affair with low slung, chrome accented banquettes and a decidedly chill atmosphere, but happily the wines still bear the refined punch of winemaker Blair Fox. I bought a slew of reds, including the 2013 vintage of the always outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah blend to add to my now vertical collection of that wine (two vintages—shortest possible vertical!), but the treat of the tasting was a snappy Grenache Blanc.
My tasting notes read:
- nose: melon, yellow pear, lemon candy, smoke
- palate: crisp acidity, med body, melon, smoked meat, mineral–flint?
- I want to eat: smoky bacon, capers, kimchi, roasted tomatoes
- Drink now
I went with my initial reactions when deciding what to cook. In what seems to be a Sunday evening tradition, we started off with some shards of crispy chicken skin, sprinkled with chicken salt (stay tuned for more about the magic of chicken salt).
Then, crispy chicken thighs, braised with smoky bacon, kimchi, and blistered tomatoes, over ginger fried rice. I snuck an anchovy into the rice to give the salty kick I associated with capers in my tasting notes.
The verdict: A+! At the risk of dislocating my own shoulder patting myself on the back, this combination sang. The funky edge of the kimchi played very nicely with the round melon notes in the wine; the wine’s balanced acidity elevated the complex smokiness of the (admitted fantastic on its own) Benton’s bacon; and the ginger in the fried rice brought out even more of the pear notes in the wine’s aroma.
I am sad I only bought one bottle of this, but thrilled that I allowed myself to join Epiphany’s wine club so I can easily get more in the future.
Next week, I’ll head back to the cellar. The Unit is tiring of my fixation with white wines, so I think it’s time for a red.
While driving down the idyllic Ballard Canyon Road, I was again overcome with how unappreciative I am of all the beauty in my life. It’s shameful. I am, every day, surrounded by kind, thoughtful, super smart, and wickedly funny people who tolerate me and all my laziness, pettiness, and weirdness. They bring profound beauty to my life every damn day. To quote the Wombats (whom I saw, incidentally, with about ten other people at the creepy Club Hell in 2009, maybe?): learn from my mistakes, people. Recognize the beauty. Celebrate the irony. Dance to Joy Division.