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Aug 16

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A California Red

Way back in the August of 2001, I had occasion to be in Northern California with my family. My son was 16 at the time and he had worked his way up to be eligible to compete at the 2001 U.S. National Karate Federation, National Tournament. The event was held in Sacramento and we made a family vacation out of the trip.

We rented a motor-coach and drove from Seattle down Interstate 5 to Sacramento. The cost of gasoline for that size of vehicle on such a long distance trip is obscene, but having the ability to cook your own meals and sleep on board helped to balance things out. I will also say that Dad, that’s me, didn’t have much vacation time, because he was the driver of the big rig. It is not a small task to drive a large motor-home over long distances. The job requires focus and an alertness to watch out for the many things that can happen out on the open highway. In short it is work to drive a big rig.

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A double magnum = 3 liters

After attending the competition we headed west to the California wine country.

While in the wine country, we had a lovely time tasting some delicious claret and camping in the Napa Valley with the kids. We parked at a nice motor-coach facility with a swimming pool and showers.

I bought some wine for short-term storage in my home cellar and all of it is long gone now, but for one special bottle. I had almost forgotten about this one…well, not really forgot. It was more like, I just kept putting off opening this bottle because it is a double magnum (3 liters). In the past 15 years I have not really had any opportunity to entertain a group of friends who would appreciate a wine of this nature.

The wine is from the Beringer Founder’s Estate, a 2000 vintage California–Cabernet Sauvignon.

Frankly, I am a little bit concerned that the wine may be past its prime. California is not known for producing wines of great longevity. However, the double magnum allows the wine to age slightly slower than a standard 750ml bottle. I did take time to call the vintner and ask what they thought I could expect and they seem to think the wine should be just right for consumption this year.

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Notes on the wine;
The wine had been kept properly in my home storage and the evidence was in the cork. To my surprise, I found the cork to be excellent condition for 15 years age — moist without any sign of must or seepage.

The wine was clear and vibrant in color with a clean nose. Decanting showed little sediment. I think it is remarkable that the wine aged as well as it did. Showing good clarity with a smooth palate. However, the wine is very one dimensional -single grape (cab.sav.) thus lacking depth of character and complexity of a great wine.

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After the wine country tours and camping we continued north to cross the Coastal Range Mountains, up through Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity Counties. These three counties were once home to great timber logging operations, but sadly, they had been harvested to a point of severely negative environmental impact and measures were taken to protect this natural wonder from further degradation. In the ensuing years of lost economy from the decline of the logging industry, Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity, known as the “Emerald Triangle“, had become a mecca for cannabis farmers. So much so that this region was recognized as the largest cannabis producing region in the world! ….and that was during a period when cannabis was still illegal in this country.

Onward to the Redwood National Park, the Six Rivers National Forest and the Smith River National Recreation Area. I had lived in the San Francisco Bay Area briefly in the late 1970’s, but failed to visit the Redwoods. At that time I had been living in the Pacific Northwest for more than a dozen years and I was eager to make the trip to see the towering redwoods and sequoia. The wine and camping were fun, but for me, the best part of the trip was when we had opportunity to walk in the great redwood forests. If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend a trip to see these ancient giants. These trees are among the oldest living things on earth!

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