On the weekend between Jake's birthday and my birthday, we grabbed the boys, headed up to the East Bay, and crammed in a quick (just 24-hour) family celebration. I scheduled a few things, but two were musts: one was finally getting to the Donkey & Goat tasting room and another was brunch at Wat Mongkolratanaram, the Thai Buddhist temple in Berkeley. More on that adventure soon.
In any case, I emailed back and forth with Jared, thinking that I would finally get to meet the winemaker whose esoteric wines make it on my table at least a couple of times per year. Remember my Tasty Murder Dinner? Or when I paired their 2013 Meandering with my parsnip dessert for The Feast Nearby?? I'm a huge fan of their winemaking style...as you can tell.
In the Tasting Room...
Erin took good care of us in the tasting room. There's a $15 tasting fee that's waived if you buy $40 or more in wine. Jake and I shared a tasting before deciding what wines we were going to take out back to the bocce court. She also gave us juice for the kids. That was really, really unexpected and wonderful.
She started us off with the 2015 Chardonnay from the Perli Vineyard which is among the redwoods on the Mendocino coast. Though I'm not normally a Chard fan, I was intrigued by this one and bought a bottle for a belated birthday dinner. Tasting notes on this wine at the end!
Next we tried the 2016 Twinkle Mourvèdre. I loved that it was a chilled red and I adore the name. This is a light-bodied red that is fruity, but not cloying. And it finishes with a subtle tang of spice and citrus. Chalk that one up as another Donkey & Goat favorite.
The third wine we tried - 2013 Fenaughty Syrah - topped my list, but Jake thought it was a little too bold. Nonsense, I say!! These Syrah grapes are grown on granite in the Sierra foothills. It's a brilliant, vibrant ruby and perfectly balances smoky and spicy. Okay, it's a big red, but it's sexy!
We finished the tasting with the 2016 Lily's Pet Nat, a sparkling Chardonnay with grapes from the Anderson Valley. 'Pet Nat' is short for pétillant naturel and can be made from any grape variety. Donkey & Goat uses Chardonnay grapes for their wonderfully aromatic, explosive wine.
The 2015 Lily's Pet Nat was the bottle that Jared left for me, so you'll see tasting notes on that with a special pairing for my Mothers' Day dinner. Yes, I cook my own Mothers' Day dinner. Don't judge!
On the Bocce Court...
With glasses in hand, we joined the boys who were already battling it out on the bocce court in the back. Typically we team up one of us with one of them, but they decided it was parents versus kids for this round. And, I think, they regretted that decision immediately.
Team Mom-Dad won three out of five matches just in time for the five minute warning of their closing. So, we packed up our bottles, gloated a little (okay, we weren't being very sportsmanlike), and headed out the door to check into our hotel.
Two of my best friends said they were going to host a belated birthday dinner for us, so I offered to bring the wine. When I heard their menu, I told them I was bringing a bottle of the Donkey & Goat 2015 Chardonnay from the Perli Vineyard to start us off.
I uncorked it to pair with the first course of fresh prawn spring rolls and grilled chicken sausages. And we kept right on drinking it through the second course, along with a Pinot Noir from another favorite vintner, alongside the seaweed salad, roasted delicata squash, sauteed greens, and salmon cakes with Vietnamese-inspired sauces.
From the first whiff to it flowing down across your tongue, citrus is evident. I said the tartness reminded me of caviar limes, others thought it had a sweeter hint of Meyer lemon. Along with the citrus is a balanced minerality that makes this wine extremely gulpable. Is that a word? In any case, I'm regretting that I only bought one bottle. It's the perfect summer sipper and I plan to get my hands on a few more bottles soon.