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I made pizza Saturday for the first time in a month, and I don’t mind saying that I was a little anxious. Had I lost the touch? Had the instincts abandoned me? Had I forgotten the mystical recipe for liverwort tea to spread among the vines at dawn at full moon time? Oh, wait, no, whew, that’s biodynamism, not pizza-making!

Anyway, Saturday’s pizza, as you can see in the close-up image, was about tomatoes, mozzarella and apple-wood smoked bacon, with accents of red onion, oil-cured black olives and roasted garlic. Scattered about were dried basil and oregano and some Parmegiano-Reggiano. The result? Well, let the critic speak: “It’s a triumph!” And she’s a critic who has partaken of 600 or so of my pizzas.

Since this marked a special event, in a way, I decided to open something more distinguished than some pleasant, little $12 quaffer, so I scanned the old wine rack and pulled out a bottle of the Wilson Winery Ellie’s Vineyard Petite Sirah 2005, Dry Creek Valley, wilsonlogo.jpg Sonoma County. The result? Well, let the critic speak: I almost liked it. The wine began in auspicious fashion, with penetrating scents of earth and minerals and intense and concentrated black currants and plums highlighted by black pepper, leather and violets. I was impressed, and I continued to be impressed, for a few minutes at least, as flavors of ripe blackberries, black currents and plums etched with dried spices and minerals filled the mouth. Something else, however, also filled the mouth, and that was the unmistakable flavor of French oak, toasty and woody. The materials that accompanied the wine reveal that it ages in French oak “approximately 30 months,” which translates, for the diurnally-challenged, into two-and-a-half years. That’s a lot of time in oak, brother, I mean, even Brunello di Montalcino doesn’t have to be aged in wood that long anymore, and I have to say that in this case “approximately 30 months” in French oak robbed this potentially great wine of personality and pizazz. After a few minutes, all I could smell and all I could taste was oak. So here’s the question: Why pick grapes from a single vineyard and designate that vineyard on the label if in the winemaking process the individual characteristics of that vineyard and those grapes are eradicated? That notion seems pretty freakin’ counter-intuitive to me. 544 cases. Very Good (if you like wood). About $35.

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