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August 9-15, 2006

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Wine Tasting Room of the Week

Sonoma Enoteca

By Daedalus Howell


Enoteca. The name sounds like some lost civilization, a utopia swallowed whole by long-gone gods, echoing faintly in the corridors of our collective unconscious. Like the Atlanteans who survived the aquatic submersion of their island city by transforming into dolphins, Enotecans turned into tasting-room attendants and manage to stay afloat in the wine-drenched south-east corner of Sonoma's historic Plaza by pouring the stuff for passersby.

Both a tasting room and bottle shop on the southeast corner of the historic plaza, Sonoma Enoteca (the latter of which translates literally as "wine library") hawks the wares of 12 different wineries, which makes it a sort of one-stop shop for both tourists and connoisseurs alike. Locals long-inured to delights offered in our area might also find themselves impressed with Enoteca's wide and varied selection. Nineteen wines are currently listed on the tasting sheet, though the tasting room staff liberally shares unlisted wines as well.

Standouts include the 2001 Favero Sonoma Estate Sangiovese, a lush local spin on the piquant Italian varietal with full fruity notes moderated by white peppercorn. Sip this wine and somewhere in the Mediterranean a woman slips the straps of her sundress off her olive-hued shoulders. Likewise, the 2003 Trios Proprietary Red is a blueberry pierced by a thorn of clove. Rich and moody, it's the perfect wine with which to start an argument with one's lover if the endgame is to have make-up sex.

The 2002 Madrone Ridge Proprietary Red is a mélange of raisins and pomegranate seeds with a handful of dusty blackberries picked from the side of the road. That muted metallic note comes from droplets of blood raised from a hasty reach into the briar for a plump berry that will always be just beyond. The 2002 Abundance old vine Zinfandel from Lodi has subtle hues of dried apricots, cashew and roasted pumpkin seed--in short, trail mix, but, you know, "artisanal" trail mix. It's a fine sipper, quietly complex with a nutty finish.

The 2003 Seabiscuit Trifecta hails from Mendocino, where its equine namesake (likely the only horse to have its own postmortem bio-pic) is said to have been put to pasture and then, I presume, put in the pasture (talk about terroir!). The threefold blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (I get it: "Trifecta"--cute) has a wonderful earthy leather note, not unlike chomping down on a riding crop. Or so I hear.

Sonoma Enoteca, 35 E. Napa St., Sonoma. Open Wednesday-Monday, 10am to 6pm; Tuesday, 10am to 3pm. $5 for six tastes. 707.935.1200.


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