Let’s not get carried away.
Obviously, the wine I’m telling you about today is not from grapes grown in Berkeley, California. While I have not scoured the streets, alleyways, and head shops of the home not only of the great University of California Golden Bears football team, but also of aging hippies, I do know I have never found a vineyard in Berkeley.
And I know for sure, that wine grapes are not what’s growing in People’s Park.
That having been said, there are wineries in Berkeley. Oakland and San Francisco, as well. Small-batch, family-owned boutique wineries in Northern California have begun setting up shop in the Bay Area’s urban centers, and not just the fertile valleys of Napa and Sonoma counties.
Because they do not grow their own grapes (at least not on the estate!) but instead buy them from grapegrowers all over the state, what chance these winemakers have to set themselves apart is often in the blending.
Which is why I was so excited to taste this, a Chateauneuf-du-Pape-style red blend from one of Berkeley’s best-named wineries, A Donkey & Goat Winery.
Seriously. Nailed the name.
So, what do we have here in Donkey & Goat’s 2009 Four Thirteen blend? 46% syrah, 33% grenache, 18% mourvedre, and 3% counoise, all from El Dorado County in the Sierra Foothills. Details and digits aside, we also have a very tasty wine.
The first thing you want to do after you pour yourself a glass of the Four Thirteen is take look. The wine is stunning. Blood red at the core—really vibrant—with ruby edges that are only slightly lighter.
On the nose, the heat shows off just a bit—never a good thing, but here, not enough to kill off the nose’s strong points. Blackberry, black pepper, leather, and notes of dark caramel. Rich, strong, weighty, meaty, and hefty. This wine is like Gerard Depardieu: it’s got a nose with gravitas.
The wine is medium bodied, and the finish is passable but could be longer. The nose is so awesomely bombastic that the palate could be a bit of letdown, were it not so damn tasty. Black fruits, earth and leather, and a hint of cassis round out this wine’s palate. I do wish it packed the punch hinted at by the nose, but I’m not going to complain.
Wine this good just doesn’t come around all that often. And in my experience, it never comes from Berkeley.
Bravo, Donkey & Goat. Bravo.
Price Point: $30