I don’t care for the term “cult wine.”
For me, “cult” evokes images of Guyana and Kool-Aid or the space travelers snuggled in sleeping bags in San Diego.
Though I doth protest too much, I purchased a “cult wine” auction package that included a tour of the famed Eisele Vineyard and exclusive Araujo Estate winery with owner Bart Araujo.
We walked along his 38 acres of vineyards, planed over 120 years ago, and discussed his biodynamic farming practices. If you’re curious, yes and yes. Yes to the lunar calendar and yes to burying cow horns.
We took a look see at the fermentation room and learned about small batch fermentation. Forty batches for one varietal to be precise. Exacting standards.
We ventured into the caves and tasted estate grown and vinified Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Then it was off to lunch at Solage in Calistoga, a resort whose restaurant Solbar recently earned a coveted Michelin star.
Bill Shea was our co-host and provided a few stellar starters from his extensive cellar.
I can’t think of a better way to whet your whistle on a warm wine country afternoon than French bubbles with buddies.
That refreshment was followed by a a 1998 Masseto Merlot, a wine Robert Parker anointed with a score of 99 and the Wine Spectator named Wine of the Year.
And just when you thought it couldn’t go down any better in Marcy Town, I ordered a double cheese burger with fried pickles for my lunch.
A burger you query? With such exquisite wines? Exactly. Back in the day I may have been intimidated with such a simple selection, but not anymore. Bart nodded his enthusiastic approval and that sealed the deal. We were pairing our food with the Main Event after all, a 1999 magnum of his Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
Araujo wines are admired, coveted and worshiped – all synonyms for cult.
I just wish there was a better term.
To be continued…