By far, the highlights of our second day in the Santa Cruz Mountains were our visits to Clos LaChance and David Bruce Vineyards. We got a late start that day, and Clos LaChance was a good 40 minutes away from our hotel in San Jose and the furthest away from our hotel of all the vineyards we visited.
I can thank Grapeseed Bistro in Bethesda for first introducing me to the Clos LaChance Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, a flowery and aromatic wine with hints of peach and vanilla, which Clos LaChance's tasting room had for sampling that day and tasted as good as I remembered it. The man running the tasting room was very friendly, as most wine pourers are when you start talking to them about the wine and show them that you aren’t just there for a quick drink. I probably learned more about wine in the first two days of this vacation, talking to the wine pourers, than I have in all the wine drinking I’ve done before. You can really gain an appreciation for how wines are made and the differences between wines when you taste them in rapid succession to one another.
After the tasting, we decided to pick up a couple bottles of the Chardonnay, a bottle of Rose, a dry Muscat Blanc dessert wine, which was sweet but not syrupy, and a dry and spicy Cabernet Sauvignon. We tried to pick up wines that we knew we couldn’t get back home, but it was hard to keep track of which wines were available back in DC.
The Clos LaChance vineyard was probably one of the more beautiful vineyards that we visited, nestled in a valley between two sets of rolling brown-grass-covered mountains. The tasting facility seemed like it had been constructed recently, and there was a huge outdoor area with multiple levels of picnic tables and umbrellas that's perfect for having a casual lunch. Off in the distance you can see a bright green golf course that sticks out a bit compared to the brownish color of the rest of the scenery. We sat outside on the terrace, took in the view, ate cheese and salami, and sipped our glasses of rose that we’d bought at the tasting room.
After we were done at Clos LaChance, we hopped in the car and drove a half hour to David Bruce winery in Saratoga. Saratoga had a couple other wineries with tasting rooms that we would visit the next day, but all we had time for after all the driving we did, was to visit David Bruce. Everyone knows that David Bruce has fantastic Pinot Noirs. In the D.C. area, we can get the Central Coast Pinot Noir just about anywhere, but you rarely see the other wines that were available at the vineyard like their Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Syrah. Perhaps the Petit Syrah is available in a couple stores, but it isn't very common.
The David Bruce vineyard was fairly high up in the mountains, like Ridge, but without the awesome views of Ridge. The vineyard itself had more of an industrial feel to it, with cement steps and metal railings rather than an older farmhouse type of feel like the other vineyards we visited, but it was still fun to be there.
As a special bonus, the tasting room at David Bruce had opened a ’96 Chardonnay, probably because they were trying to clear out their stock of the wine since it was past its peak. Just about every vineyard that we visited has some kind of “special surprise” bottle open that they were giving extra tastings of. (Although some vineyards were Nazis about the wine pours and others were very free flowing with them.) David Bruce was free flowing.
Where the ’04 Chardonnay was crisp with citrus flavors, the ’96 had a buttery texture and reminded me more of a French Chablis. It was discounted enough that we ended up buying a bottle. We were instructed not to let it age anymore and drink it right away, and we gladly obliged the next night when I took my own advice on a return trip to Manresa and drank it with dinner. $25 corkage and an $18 bottle of vs. $52 a person wine pairing ends up saving you a lot of money on your final check.
Later that night, we met up with an old friend at Amber India in Mountain View. Overall, Amber India had pretty good Indian food with spicy curries and freshly baked flat breads. However, stay away from the chicken korma because it was pretty bland. If you do order it, I’d ask for it spiced up a bit, because it was probably the blandest Indian dish I’ve ever eaten. The paneer makhani that Amy ordered was plenty spicy, but our friend commented that the chicken tikka masala that he ordered was not as creamy as he’s accustomed to.
And with that, we concluded our second day in San Jose.