At the conference there were at least two occasions when the company-funded wine flowed freely. However, as you might expect at an event with over 700 customers and 150 employees, the wine was on the lower end of the scale and as the evening wore on, the "white zin" was being depleted faster than either the merlot or chardonnay the caterers were pouring.
The glass of 2002 CK Mondavi Merlot (millcreek canyon) was about what I would expect of a "convention" wine. I would hesitate to call this a Merlot as it lacked the fullness of flavor or scent of most anything else from that varietal. It has more in common with a Beaujolais than most other Merlots. Still, as a choice for a large convention where more folks are interested in loosening up with a drink than with what they're drinking, I suppose it makes an OK choice.
Incidentally, I realize that I keep mentioning that it was forgettable and yet I am writing more than a bit about it right here. I took my tasting notes on the back of a business card while I staffed my "Ask The Experts" booth (I am one of the computer geek experts for my content management software company).
So after that and another event where I didn't bother to take notes on what they were pouring as I had no desire to remember it, I was determined to at least attempt to have something nice. My chance came the afternoon after my conference ended. I had some free time (though still no vehicle) to roam San Diego. A colleague and I ended up on historic Coronado Island. After taking in some of the sights, (the Del Coronado Hotel was fantastic) we ended up at a place called Island Pasta (image here). This little bistro was a good place for us to wait and meet up with another friend. They had a decently large selection of wines by the glass and I asked the bartender if they poured anything local. He said no and indicated that it was too expensive to get local wines in quantity, so they stuck to the more plentiful Northern California wines. Well, that about did away with my hopes to get something from close to San Diego. But, I figured, it's still California. So I asked for a suggestion. After a brief exchange, the bartender suggested a bottle and (this is what sets apart the place for me) offered to let me taste.
Now, most any place will let you taste the wine if you ask, but Island Pasta offered. That makes it unique. I gladly agreed and was poured a sound 1 inch taste of Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (alexander valley) in a proper red wine glass. So far so good. What followed was a pleasant and memorable wine experience. To be sure (and with a hat tip to the preceding column) the glass was expensive, but the occasion was enhanced because of it and, after all, the glass wasn't that expensive.
I asked for and received a glass of the wine after I had determined that my taste warranted a full glass. I also asked for and received a pen and some paper on which to write my review of the glass of Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 I was enjoying. Here's what I wrote:
Nose: spicy berries. strong Cassis and fruit.
Palate: earthy with dark berries and tannins that bite just a bit and a bit early like a younger wine.
Finish: pleasing warmth and a nice sweet surprise of plums that re-emerge to make me forget the earlier bite.
Overall: Nice! good suggestion
The Island Pasta restaurant on Coronado Island was a fine place to spend about an hour in between sight seeing events enjoying a fine selection from a knowledgeable bartender. For all the discussion about the overpricing of wines in modern restaurants going on below, I think that this was an example of when the price is not considered so much as the experience; which was memorable.