Saturday, February 16, 2008

Last Night's Tipple

Toad Hollow Vineyards began as a partnership between Todd Williams (comedian Robin Williams' half brother) and Rodney Strong, the head of Rodney Strong Vineyards. Both Williams and Strong are now deceased (the former in 2007, the latter in 2006), but the motto of the vineyards remains unchanged: "Fine wine at a reasonable price." I have had a number of Toad Hollow wines, and I have always been impressed both by the quality of the wines and the lowness of the price. Cacophany, the Toad Hollow Zinfandel is very good, as is the Amplexus Blanquette de Limoux sparking wine. I also like the whimsical label illustrations, the obvious irreverence of the company, and the approach that they take to wine. That is, they believe, or appear to believe, that wine is not supposed to be a great mystery, only consumed by the learned and only with a serious and contemplative mien. And so, when faced with thirty or forty feet of shelf of California pinot noirs about which I knew nothing, I was drawn to the 2005 Toad Hollow Goldie's Vines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

The Toad Hollow website says that the 2005 vintage is "our best to date." I didn't have the previous vintages, but I have to say that that doesn't encourage me very much. When I first opened this wine, I suspected that it was corked. There was this mushroomy mustiness on the nose that I didn't like at all. Wines infected with TCA are supposed to smell like musty cardboard, and I suspected that that was what was going on here. On the other hand, though, pinot noir can take on some earthy characteristics, so I thought that it would be prudent to try this instead of just pouring it out. Well, there wasn't a whole lot in the wine. Not much fruit, not much pleasure, not much of anything except a mushroomy mustiness on the nose and a good deal of acidity. I don't really know if this bottle was corked, but I do know that I didn't particularly like it.

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