Yesterday over lunch at Cafe Rouge with Steve Edmunds (Edmunds St. John) yesterday, (we shared butter beans fritto. I had watermelon and jicama salad with a weird ass dressing, and he loved his tuna, thanks for asking.) Because I twisted his arm, I got to taste the new vintage of his vermentino blend, Heart of Gold. 2008 is lower in alcohol, fresh and, is now amongst my favorite white of California. David Bowler, bring it in to New York City, please! Also tasted his new release (now in bottle shock--so look for tasting notes in a few months) from a Mendocino biodynamic vineyard. And Back story: I met Don Heistuman in the Loire oh, I don't know, nine years ago? There we were, toes deep in snow and grooving to cabernet franc and meanwhile he was cooking up an idea. Shocking. The fantasy was delicious, approachable wine from the United States, made from a distinctly Loire Valley Blend, cabernet franc and gamay! A classic combo. But could it be done here? In America? In California no less? Don, who until recently was associated with Portland, Oregon's Domaine Selections had a vintner in mind. Someone who was associated with Rhone blends but also who has the dubious distinction of being spanked by Robert M. Parker Jr, the points meister, as well as the man who hands down, makes the most delicious gamay wines in the New World. (I'm putting them all in here) Steve Edmunds. My first reaction was, ' I never smelled anything like this from California.' It was bright ad floral and fragrant, like green walnuts in a violet patch. Steve said this was a difficult child. After fermentation he plunked it in old barrels. He went away for a month, came back and the wine tasted dark, brown. Out the wine went, pumped by angels with velvet wings into stainless, and it was baptized anew, reemerging as the messiah. It is not because my namesake is on the label above that I am crazy about my first taste, it's because the wine was just delightful. Fun! Cheery! Yes, more old world than new but then still bearing the freckled faced smile of a Californian who wants to have fun. "You know what this wine needs?' asked Steve. 'Elevage in why is this man smiling? I answered correctly. Come September, the $20 wine will be available in Oregon and California, You can contact Don of Ah Wines! directly if you've got questions.