Feb. 6 2015 03:34 PM

Winemaker wants to expand California's palate


One of my worst habits is laziness. From laundry piles to idle Sunday mornings, it rules my life. It even affects my drinking. I know the varietals and regions I like, plus accessible, affordable brands. I get stuck in a rut and lose sight of the wider world of wine. So, I need to put in some legwork—er, mouth work? 

Being lazy, I use wine app Delectable as a research short cut, tracking what others are drinking and recommending. That's how I came across Idlewild Wines from Healdsburg, California. Its lineup had a few familiar varietals but also many that were new to me. 

A local distributor of the wine opened some for me to explore further. Idlewild's wines focus on many Italian varietals as the winemaker works to expand California's often-narrow preferences to include these foreign favorites. The resulting style presents intricate wines that are full of flavor. 

The first I tried, the 2013 Arneis, walks the line between the flavor profiles of two popular whites; the wine is rich without the heaviness of a long-oaked Chardonnay and has a refreshing side full of bright citrus and floral notes, reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc. 

Another welcome surprise was the 2013 Vin Gris, a style with which I was unfamiliar. Made from red Grenache grapes, it sees little maceration (time with skins, stems and seeds), leading to a lovely faint blush color. A pungent strawberry scent can also be detected softly in the taste. Though aged in oak, the wine remains light and crisp, making it fine refreshment at the end of a long day. 

Idlewild's wines have a nice food-friendliness, especially the reds. My favorite was the 2013 Carignan; I was familiar with the grape, but I never had a strong opinion of it. The seemingly endless flavors developed as I sipped, swirled, smelled and sipped again. Its earthiness is punctuated by sharp anise; the recommendations for food pairings—lamb, duck or blue cheese—had my mouth watering. 

After my flirtation with Idlewild, I asked where I could dive in deeper: The answers were Bottlecraft in North Park, The Rose Wine Pub in South Park and 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro in Ocean Beach—see you there!

Write to jenv@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_VT.


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