There is a troika of contiguous counties that have laid claim to Northern California wine country ? Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino ? but Like Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, Kendric Vineyards wants you to know ?There is another.?
Of course, I didn?t know this at first. The availability of Marin County wines in Sonoma Valley, where I spent the other day searching, appears to be nil. After raiding the aisles of two specialty wine shops, two upscale grocers and finally Safeway, I still came up empty-glassed. I cannot account for Sonoma?s apparent cabal against the burgeoning wine industry of its southerly sister, though I will aver that this sibling rivalry transcends mere inconvenience ? it?s a Cinderella moment waiting to happen. It?s just a matter of time before some bonnie prince of the wine press passes over Napa and Sonoma, having traded the glass slipper for sips from a glass. In this case, I suggest the Kendric Vineyards 2006 pinot noir, expertly produced by winemaker Stewart Johnson from grapes grown on a 8.5 acre vineyard in Marin County near the Petaluma part of the Sonoma County border.
Aware of my plight, my father located a bottle courtesy of the lauded wine steward at Mollie Stone?s in the Bon Air Center in Greenbrae. Known to locals simply as ?Bennett,? the supermarket sommelier not only stocked a cache of Marin County wines, but highly recommended Johnson?s work (specifically the syrah, the grapes for which hail from the Shenandoah Valley appellation shared by Amador and El Dorado counties). In an effort to redeem the hours lost seeking a Marin County wine, I opted for pinot specifically for the fact that grapes were grown locally. It proved a fine choice: quiet, dark berry and cranberry hues open the curtains on a caravan of sandalwood, tea and tobacco notes before finishing in a chorus of fresh plum.
The $33 wine pairs excellently with a toscano salami sandwich, replete with sweet butter and cornichons on a petite baguette, which I recommend enjoying in Sonoma for the sake of irony.