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Friday Night in Healdsburg

Melanie Wong | Jun 22, 200311:53 PM

My Friday evening began with a reception on the patio of the Sonoma County Wine Library for the high bidders at last year’s auction. I had the chance to pitch them to bid high and bid often on the lot I’d donated of Siduri Pinot Noir offered with tapas at Girl and the Gaucho with the winemaker.

We had a tour of the collection and rare books, including a 16th century Venetian “reprint” of Cato’s musings on wine. Wayne’s pork ribs were great, and my favorite wine of the evening was the 2002 Saison des Vins “Le Printemps” Mendocino County Rosé, 14% alcohol ($6.50 at Bottle Barn, Santa Rosa). Coppery pink in hue with an uplifted fruity nose, bone dry, rosepetals, watermelon, and cerise flavors in a light-bodied frame with a crisp clean finish. When I tried to find out who was behind this wine, the WHOIS database revealed that the owner of the URL is a partner in Copain Wines. I imagine that this is made from the saignee of Wells Guthrie’s red wines (Pinot Noir and/or Syrah) from Mendocino County.

Then Andy Jacob and I wandered over to Oakville Grocery in search of dessert and to catch the last of the Friday night wine tasting. ([BROKEN LINK REMOVED]) The collection from Locals Tasting Room in Geyserville ( had been featured. Gerry Forth, owner of Forth Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley (, was still pouring two wines. The 2002 Mendocino County Sauvignon Blanc, $12, has the flowery-fruity-estery nose of young SB with melon and grapefruit overtones, an almost oily mouthfeel, and a bright citrusy finish. The 2000 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $28, was somewhat light for a Cab, reflecting the vintage, but easy to drink with lots of blackberry and cassis flavors and a soft, round finish.

Andy tried to talk the cheese counter ladies into fixing us a plate of assorted cheeses, but no go. We settled for wild blueberry crumb cake and a pumpkin cream cheese muffin from the pastry corner. The moist crumb cake was light as a feather with intensely flavorful tiny blueberries – I’d get this again. The pumpkin cheesecake was starting to dry out, maybe it would be better earlier in the day.

On Fridays, the Oakville rotisserie features ducks as well as the everyday chickens. But having eaten already, the $17.50 per duck wasn’t as appetizing as it might be at other times. Fwiw, other days feature tri-tip, prime rib, pork loin, and turkey on the spit.

As I headed back to my car, I was thinking about stopping in at Ravenous to have a salad or something else light at the counter. Walking past Zin Restaurant (, my friends Marla and Pete spotted me from their window table. I popped in to say “hello” and they asked me to join them.

Pete was enjoying the ravioli of the day and recommended it. I ordered the starter size of three ricotta ravioli with sweet corn in a basil-browned butter sauce, $8.25. Really delicious morsel with crisp sweet corn kernels strewn over, tender pasta, and crispy and soft strands of basil chiffonade. I swabbed my plate with the bread to catch all the flavored butter. I also had a taste of Marla’s thick slab of grilled halibut with a bed of creamy beans underneath which was excellent.

At their server’s suggestion, they’d ordered the 2001 Passity (not sure about the name, very dark inside) Green Valley Pinot Noir. We weren’t that thrilled with it. Black cherry fruits, but one-dimensional and not complex. We compared it with the Olivet Lane Pinot Noir offered by the glass which was much more interesting.

While we passed on desserts, Pete recommended that I try the Banana Foster sundae sometime. Not to be outdone, when we got on the topic of donuts and Flakey Cream down the street, Marla said that her favorite and usual order is the maple bar. However, when available, the maple foot is even better. Bigger, and good eating between the toes. (g)

Another pleasant night in the ‘Burg. It’s summer time and the living is easy in the wine country.

[Disclaimer: Wells Guthrie, winemaker/partner for Copain Wines, is a personal friend.]


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