Ever since I visited Walla Walla and spent a few days pondering porous volcanic rock with geologist Kevin Pogue I've been intrigued with its strange, coral-like texture and possibilities for grape growing complexity. I mean, yes on limestone, slate, schist and granite, but might not basalt also fit into to the parameters of great terroir? So there I was, about to leave San Francisco. And it wasn't merely the bread or the ginger shortbread cookies from The Cheese Board (which I forgot to get) or the amazing meal at Chez Panisse cafe (1998 LDH rosado!), or hanging out with sweet Luc @ Terroir or meeting Collin-Peter Casey and nodding my head over his inventive wine list at Baker & Banker, or having lousy Thai food, or seeing dawn reach across the bay with Venus disappearing... but, I was leaving in all of this sweet bitterness. At that moment the pop flew on a fancy bottle of Bermejos, a non-dosage, 100% Malvasia from basalt riddled Lanzarote, one of the strange, windy Canaries, closer to Africa than to Spain. They deal with the vine and the wind by either sinking nest like vines in craters ( mimicking the volcanic hills) or building half-moon shaped stone walls to protect the bunches from the gusts. In this case? What we have is a bone-dry malvasia from 80 -year- old vines. Ringing in @ about $40 (bug Jose Pastor for the dealer near you) this puppy, ridiculously hard to find, tops about every sparkler I've had from Spain and I'd take it over Franciacorta in a flash. Think of a very refined cremant de jura but with the elegant bead of a tete de cuvee. Instead of lime and lemon, think mandarinity on the finish, on top of very clean, earthy brazil nut richness, and a cucumber melon fresh. Have another sip please. On to the plane. And what soon follows is not only my form of procrastination, but a digest of what I felt, who I saw, and how it all fits into the puzzle of the Golden State.