The perpetual lockdown has let me find some wines in the cellar that have memories and perhaps that is why they were put aside in the first place. Over years they were eclipsed by other wines that may have other stories to tell and so it goes. I know that I pen articles about the joys of wine and actually this is a cute story with a memory as well. This lockdown that has been on and off, more on than off, for nine months and thankfully we only drink during dinner, otherwise we would be alcoholics. The wine that we had with a dinner recently was actually a gift, from years ago.
Our first trip out to Carmel-by-the-Sea was a wonderful trip and a wonderful week. First of all, the name of the city is just so charming and it is historic and famed for being an artist colony, a getaway for the non- Hollywood, Hollywood actors and now a mecca for food and wine lovers, and people that like to shop as well. While we had a hotel booked for a week, we actually made a one night reservation elsewhere, as we were going to meet a young lady that my Bride grew up with, who now lives in Santa Barbara with her son. We were going to meet them and take them to the Hearst Castle, because even though they live in California, they had never been there, and my Bride and I like to be tourists on occasion. The four of us had a great time on the grounds of the Castle which is now a California museum and we chose a hotel that was going away from Carmel, but more in the direction of our guests. We ended up at Cambria Pines Lodge in of all places, Cambria, California; which is another artist colony and the town is known as the halfway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. After we settled in at the Lodge, it proved to be the best location for our dinner that evening, as well as breakfast the next morning as we all said our good-byes and went in our directions. We drove down to Cambria from the Castle on Highway 1, which is beautiful for riding shotgun, but rather white-knuckle at times for the driver, so we took the interstate back to Carmel.
We had a couple of bottles of wine with our dinner, but the next morning our guest gave us a bottle of wine that we did not have the night before as a thank you gift. Cambria Pines Lodge Chardonnay San Luis Obispo County NV was the house wine of the lodge. The wine was vinted and bottled by Castoro Wines of San Miguel, California. Niels and Bimmer Udsen established Castoros Cellars in 1983 with the intention of making world-class wine from the Paso Robles fruit. They began by making and selling wine, and eventually purchasing their own equipment, winery, tasting room and then they finally purchased and planted their own vineyards. In 1990 they had their facilities off and running, they had begun just making a few barrels for friends and family, and ended up developing a large custom-crush operation, all under the Castoro Cellars banner. They now have fourteen-hundred acres of Estate vineyards which are certified organic by two licensing organizations. We were at the Lodge in 2006, and I cannot ascertain when they started or when they stopped producing this house wine, but I would venture to say that this was probably one of the last runs of Cambria Pines Lodge Chardonnay as it is not mentioned on either website. Castoro Wines currently makes a Chardonnay that is aged in French Oak with a “splash” of Falanghina. The Lodge house wine may have been their experiment in creating their Chardonnay wine. Considering that the wine in our cellar was probably fourteen to fifteen years old and Non-vintage I had a back-up bottle in the refrigerator, but I am glad to say that it wasn’t required. There was a slight toning of oxidation in the color, but no signs of the wine being old or over the hill. The fruit was still evident and it was far superior to some of the bulk Chardonnay wines that we have encountered over the years in some of the restaurants we have found ourselves at over the years. I was more than happy, and in checking my notes, I have found that we actually had another Chardonnay produced by Castoro, but under a different label again, but not in Michigan, but I will keep looking.