Thursday, December 20, 2007

Forget the Winter Reds, try this delicious California White

The wine departments of our local grocery stores are getting more and more interesting. You can now find wines from many regions around the world and at the same time, there is often a shelf dedicated to wines made by local wineries. So the other day, I found a 2005 Cinnabar Mercury Rising Blanc at my local Mollie Stone's Market. I already had the Mercury Rising Red — a Bordeaux-style wine — several times, and I was curious to try the white version.

Located high on a ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Cinnabar Vineyards & Winery was founded by Tom Mudd, a Stanford grad and research engineer at SRI International (Stanford Research Institute). But after planting a one-acre mountain vineyard in 1974, he decided to change careers, took viticulture and enology courses at the University of California Davis, and finally founded his own winery in 1983.

He chose the name Cinnabar, a brick-red mineral (mercury sulfide) that fascinated the alchemists of the Middle Ages. They would crush and heat up a piece of cinnabar and observe the mercury separate from sulfur and evaporate. Using a similar process, they were hoping to find a way to extract gold and silver from any ordinary metal.

Mercury Rising Blanc is Cinnabar's proprietary white. It is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Sémillon, sourced in 2005 in Monterey County, Sonoma County and Clarksburg. We opened the wine at a recent holiday potluck lunch where people had brought different ethnic dishes. The wine ended up being very popular. In the glass, it displayed a pale yellow color and a fresh nose of citrus. There was some tangy acidity on the palate followed by lime flavors and minerality on the finish. The wine worked beautifully with the ethnic food, especially the Sashimi salad made with raw flounder and brought by our Japanese friend Misako.

Misako's sashimi salad

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