The Unexpected Happens When We Enter the Matrix

Today was perfectly planned – we had our reservations for tasting at Pezzi-King at 12:30, and then at Williamson Wines restaurant tasting room for a late lunch at 4:00. We did not expect the Matrix.

Kurt looking for our next wine at Pezzi-King

First, Pezzi-King. My friend Rick had been kind enough to introduce us to their wines, and even shared some with us. We were blown away at first sip – even Terri, not especially a fan of most red wines. For sure there will be Zinfandel purists out there who recoil at the intensity of the fruit, at the lusciousness of the mouthfeel, at the eyes-rolling-up-into-the-head depth of flavor, but not us. Rick allowed us to join him in some purchases of Pezzi-King Zins, and we actually allowed ourselves to share them with a very few people. So when we made travel plans to come to Sonoma, we knew we HAD to try and visit the winery.

The first Zin we tried was a 2019 Dry Creek Valley Reserve Zinfandel, Big fruit, full-bodied with restrained tannin’s. Next up: a 2019 from Kitchen Hill Estate vineyard in Dry Creek – the first from this vineyard in years. Boysenberry, cherry big with a long finish. A tiny bit young, but full of spice and vim and vigor.  Yes, please! That was followed by the 2019 Bacigalupi from Russian River. The fruit is more restrained, with round tannin’s, sensuous and full-bodied, a delight to drink. The last one we tasted – and bought (well, I thought I did) –  was a 2019 Serracino Reserve.  This wine knocked me back on my heels! Superbly integrated, and wonderful spices. However, today I discovered he actually gave me a 2019 Florence Vineyard Reserve, Rockpile block from Sonoma. A significantly more expensive wine, I can’t wait to try it when I get home!

I was still missing some good Pinot Noir; I noticed that one of the wineries in their family was noted for their Pinot’s; we were able to grab a last-minute reservation, and headed over to Matrix Winery. Nice tasting room, great grounds with a small lake! We started off with a Chardonnay, which was just SO very Chardonnay. Then on to a 2019 Russian River Zinfandel – what? I thought this was supposed to be a Pinot Noir Winery! Oh well.  It was quite restrained compared to Pezzi-King Zins, but this was something really special. I was mesmerized by the harmony of fruit, tannin’s and acid. Absolutely exquisite and elegant. Next up, a 2019 Forchini from Russian River. My notes say it was a unique expression of Zin, with modest fruit and lots of spice … and I bought two bottles? 

Oh but there was so much more – a 2019 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah that wasn’t much on the first, or even second sip. But on the third taste, it came alive with herbs and muscular but sleek tannin’s. Finally, the Pinot’s. My favorite affordable one was a 2019 Bacigalupi from Russian River Valley, just a wonderful expression of this magnificent grape. Maybe because of my interest, he also poured a 2017 Victoria Johanna, also from Russian River for a list price of $150 a bottle. It was sumptuous and lithe and enticing, and oh so fun to try. All in all, we were so impressed by the quality and range of the wines, we signed up for their wine club. A definitely unexpected result of entering the Matrix.

Finally, we headed back to Healdsburg for our 4:00 seating at Williamson’s Wineries second location with a restaurant. Angie (remember Angie from the day before?) had mentioned that since we enjoyed the wines and cheese pairings we’d most certainly love the small plates served at their other tasting room just down the street, so we made reservations. We started off with an Asian inspired salad with Salmon topped with fried won ton’s, then (just for us non-mammal eaters) a Shiitake Slider. I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms, but it was terrific. Next up, a (vegetarian) Bolognese, which was absolutely mouth-watering. Our desert was also just for us, small squares of dark chocolate and candied almonds. Each dish was served with a glass of wine that had been matched to the flavor profile. 

There were only two other couples dining with us; oddly enough, they were also staying at the WorldMark in Windsor. One couple was from Utah, and were a lot of fun. We exchanged contact info, and hope to meet up with them in Utah maybe next year. The other couple had ridden their motorcycle all the way from Kansas City! Last year they put 33,000 miles on the bike, and less than 5,000 on their SUV. 

That was our last day in Sonoma, and it was a little bittersweet. We’d had cool and showery weather our whole visit, and it was supposed to turn nice the next day. And we had barely scratched the surface of places to go, things to see and people to meet. “Always leave them wanting more” is an old show-business axiom, and I guess it applies here as well. We can’t wait to return!

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