There are endless permutations of ye olde "friends don't let friends [insert your clever verbiage here]" trope, but what friends should certainly never do is let their pals drink shitty wine. To wit, whenever someone suggests a wine to me, I patiently explain that our friendship hangs in the balance should I find their palate wanting. So it was with some trepidation that I visited Healdsburg's Wilson Winery.
Wilson, of course, is the name of a volleyball manufacturer, whose popularity spiked when one of its balls cameoed as Tom Hanks' desert isle pal in Cast Away. That a replica of this placid prop was grinning from a corner of the tasting room momentarily caused me to want to flee and forever bid my friends adieu.
The notion was permanently washed away, however, upon tasting the 2001 Sydney's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($28), the snake-oil pitch for which could be "an elixir that buttresses the soul, raises the spirit and gives you moxie." I believed every sip. Its earthy aroma recalled the rich scent of baker's chocolate. Remember when you were a kid and discovered this lost treasure in the pantry only to bite into a brick of bitter? This wine completely makes up for it--put some in your inner child's ba-ba.
If paired with a grapefruit, the 2004 Blushing Flamingo Merlot rosé ($16) would make the perfect Breakfast of Champions lite. A fine rosé with exotic guava and melon notes to spare, it's a fine way to start the day, particularly when friends don't let friends dry out. This bird is merely a curtain opener, however, for the 2004 Tori's Vineyard Zinfandel ($26), which makes such an honest stab at divinity that the blood of Christ looks like Kool-Aid in comparison. This deep, creamy flush of blackberries, freshly roasted coffee and pepper is a French kiss direct from God. Only 336 cases were produced--shall we go in on some together? And do you have a truck? After all, friends don't let friends drink alone.
Wilson Winery, 1960 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg. Open daily, 11am to 5pm. Tastings are $5; $10 for reserves. 707.433.4355.