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08.11.10

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Phaedra

Thumbprint Cellars

By James Knight


It all started out innocently enough, says Scott Lindstrom-Dake. What to name his first release, a cuvée of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot? Such Bordeaux-style blends are sometimes called Meritage in California, but that term is reserved for Meritage Association members. So he called it "Threesome." When he added another grape just for fun, he called it "Four Play." Having started something that he could not stop, the next sumptuous white wine blend had to be "Arousal." Heady stuff for a wine that bears the ascetic designation "vegan"!

Since Swirl last visited, Thumbprint has acquired a bigger footprint on the Healdsburg square, neighboring Copperfield's Books and Bovolo Restaurant. Termed a tasting lounge and art gallery, the deep space invites a variety of visiting styles, from tasting cursorily at the curvaceous bar to lingering amid the pillows of the hookah-den-styled tent in the back. The staff and atmosphere seem to inspire easy cross-conversation among visitors, and events include live music on some nights, with the lounge open until 9pm. Thanks to revised rules that went into effect this year, wine can now be purchased by the glass. On top of these enticements, Thumbprint recently added an excellent nosh-pairing upgrade: local, seasonal treats served on black slate platters.

A caponata of eggplant, tomato and basil locally made by the Hummus Guy is a fine match for the dry but sweet-scented 2009 Riesling, Candy Shop Vineyard ($24), an apricot amazer with honey, white raisin and a hint of Frangelico. The 2009 Dry Creek Valley Viognier ($29) is heavy on vanilla and the pungent fuzz of ripe stone fruit, and only gains appeal when chasing down a crisp slice of peach with fresh ricotta. We know about the 2008 Dry Rosé ($18), which our tasting panel recently agreed was the far-and-away favorite rosé but wouldn't have guessed it's 100 percent Merlot. It's deep-hued and fruity, yet the watermelon and strawberry gazpacho (or as the wags here like to call it, cold-a-suppé) nearly shows it up.

Composed of the temporarily unfashionable old Pommard clone, the 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Schneider Vineyard ($49) is bright and clean, with mixed-berry jelly, nutmeg spice and a finish that lays a line briefly down center palate—great for a food pairing. But what's this: sliced figs in a blanket of prosciutto? Although longtime vegetarians, owners Scott and Erica Lindstrom-Dake offer options at their tasting lounge. It's the wine that's "vegan"—for a little clarification on that, stop by Thumbprint and ask. Not to worry: there's certainly nothing hair-shirted about these wines.

Thumbprint Cellars, 102 Matheson St., Healdsburg. Open 11am to 6pm Sunday–Thursday, to 7pm Saturday. Winetasting only, $5–$10; with food, $10–$20. 707.433.2393.


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