I’ve previously blogged about the intimate and friendly Route 128 tasting room and the wines from the Opatz Family Winery. Their tasting room is in the Alexander Valley, the vineyards just north of there in the Yorkville Highlands AVA, and the winery is near Hopeland in Mendocino County.
We wandered into the tasting room recently and noticed cases of wine in a corner and labeled “Fire Sale – $50 / case”. Our kind of price. Lorna poured their 2008 Pelu Rouge red which is a hearty blend of Viognier, Zinfandel and Syrah. Except this time there was an additional dimension – smoke.
On June 24th 2008 a lighting storm ignited over 1,700 wildfires in California. This overwhelmed even international wildfire fighting capacity and the fires burned for up to two months. The smoke blanked vineyards in over a dozen California wine regions. Many vintners tried to salvage the vintage in various ways but many ended up dumping the wine. Pete Opatz didn’t.
We enjoyed the smoke with an excellent wine and bought two cases. We like it even better now and have paired the wine with a variety of meals but mostly red meats and sausages. It is a bit of an acquired taste but if you like smoked cheese, salmon, ham, etc. then try a 2008 wildfire smoked wine wherever you can find them. While Route 128 will probably be sold out by the time you read this Heller in Carmel Valley, Monterey wine region, may have some left.
We also brought home a bottle of Route 128 2009 High Five Bordeaux blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot. It is a big and interesting wine with not much of a tannin bite. No nearby wildfires in 2009