Life is a journey. Get on the Red Car.

I often wonder how I got to this place in my life. How I ended up starting a blog and within weeks of starting it had followers of whom I have never met before. It seems as though I’ve made some good choices along the way to be lucky enough to get up every morning and write, not just for myself, but for my peers as well. I can only hope that this journey I’m on takes me in the right direction – although if it doesn’t, there will always be wine.

Growing up in a wine family, especially if you’re Italian, you might have heard the phrase, “save that one, it’s a Sunday bottle.” This section of the blog is devoted to those special bottles that you hang on to, to share with good friends, with good food on a Sunday night. They aren’t necessarily expensive; they can be anything from a $15 rose to a $100 Bordeaux; the idea is that there is a certain something about the wine that deserves to shared and enjoyed.

I thought as a first bottle, I’d start with one of my favorite wines (Syrah) from one of my favorite producers in the area, Red Car Wine Company.

Founded by Carroll Kemp and Mark Estrin in 2000, Red Car is a tribute to the electric trolley cars that ran throughout Los Angeles from the late 19th century through the early 1960’s. After moving from LA to Green Valley in 2004, winemaker Carroll Kemp was in search of Sonoma Coast vineyards to produce cool climate Pinots and Syrahs that were balanced and elegant.

The Trolley series Syrah has concentrated fruit with subtle nuances that in my opinion, are hard to achieve in a Syrah. The approach is more French than Californian, with less focus on the fruit up front, and more about complexity and structure. The 2008 Trolley Syrah ($45) is ripe with blackberries and blueberries, complemented with black pepper and meaty aromas and touches of smoky coffee, and brown, aromatic spices. The tannins are well integrated, allowing for some potential aging of up to 3-5 years; but why wait when it tastes so good right now?

On the back of each bottle is the quote, “Life is a journey. Get on the Red Car.” Which to me says, “Life is to short to not be drinking good wine.” This wine epitomizes why I love Syrah. Cool climate Syrah’s are my thing, and epitomize what the wine should taste like – instead of the over-extracted, high alcohol wines that come from hotter climates. I hope that the last glass of wine I sip is a Syrah of this quality.

Normally the Sunday Bottle section will have a short blurb about the food we enjoyed and the stories we shared around our not so formal dining room (aka the living room). But this first post is purely about this gorgeous wine that my friends and I enjoyed as an after dinner bottle after a long day at work. We oohed and aahed with every sip and barked out new aromas and tastes that we discovered as the wine continued to develop in the glass. We took the journey on the Red Car, and we enjoyed the ride, down to the last drop.

Red Car’s tasting room has been open less than a year and is located on the corner of HWY 116 and Graton road in Sebastopol, CA. The feel of the tasting room reflects the wine, young and hip, yet elegant. The wines have flown under the radar thus far, but have accrued a handful of 90+ ratings from reputable publications. Food and Wine Magazine named their now sold out 2008 Boxcar Syrah the best American Syrah under $20. The wines here are so good, it wont be long before this winery sets the industry on its ear.


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