So, Mike Dashe, known for his zinfandel (his riesling is pretty damned good) catches my expression, which I imagine was dazed and confused. He gets this older brother I'm-going- to-tease-the-shit-out-of-you smile, and says, "You must be a friend of Joe's," referring to the gentleman who sometimes posts here and elsewhere---SFJoe. I like SFJoe immensely but we are not really friends, though there is no reason we're not, except that we just haven't had the chance. What we have is more like acquaintance, extended friendly family-esque, might be more like it. It clicked. SFJ had written a bit on a certain non-sulfured wine that Mike had up his sleeve. "You want to taste Fat Boy?" he asks. Oh gee, do I! Word has it that a certain sommelier from San Francisco, a certain euro-wine-purist was behind this 'Fat Boy.' That person would be Mark Ellenbogen. Ellenbogen, who has something of a guru air about him, has been under plenty of pressure to stop his embargo on California wines and let them through he border of the Slanted Door, the acclaimed pan-Asian resto whose list he rules. He suggested that Dashe, a nice guy who doesn't inoculate and is eagerly reducing his usage of new oak (but still picks really ripe) make an experiment. Dashe found some great tasting, dry-farmed organic grapes that came in at a sane brix # he went to work, nervously. He crushed, the ferment went on for three weeks, pressed off into 900 liter foudres (albeit new, he soaked them for six weeks to leach out as much 'new' as he could. It's low alcohol for a zin these days, 13.8. The color is something Mr.P***** would call feeble, but at this point, before the tricky bottling, it is a delicate ruby wine with transparency. cheerful and lively with great forest berry, herbal complexity. So far there's been little sulfur (SEE DASHE'S COMMENT BELOW) and there won't be any from this point on. Not even at bottling. Which is why it's risky. It also makes me a bit nervous because I feel the most successful sans soufre wines I've had sit for a longer time. On the other hand, Ellenbogen is going to sell the wine like hot dogs at a ball game, so the wine won't have too much time to funk out. But right now? Fat Boy would definitely get a spanking from Mr. P***** for being one of those "French" wines out of California. As I was leaving the extremely affable and extremely brave Dashe he said, "I have to hide this wine from the critics. Most of them would feel offended by the wine, like how could I have the audacity to make something like this, something that most of them would hate?" Now, that was an interesting thought. I suppose if Didier at Clos Roche Blanche started to P******** his wine, I might indeed be offended, thinking him a sell out or perhaps going senile, but would it offend my ego, as fragile as it is? Hmm. Something to think about.