Plus Upcoming Wine Events
Barry Jackson, winemaker at Equinox, not only makes a fine sparkling wine, made in the methode champenoise style, but he also directs his talents to another of his labels—Bartolo—in the form of a fine red wine called Cioppino Rosso, a blend of 61 percent Syrah, 20 percent Chardonnay and 19 percent Mourvedre. “I call it Cioppino,” says Jackson, laughing, “because I throw all these leftovers in a pot.” He’s referring, of course, to the famous fish stew—first made by Italian immigrants. Jackson is not without a sense of humor—although the bottom line is he takes his winemaking very seriously. But the label spills the beans on what Cioppino’s all about. It says, “An eclectic blend of ever-changing varietals, Cioppino Rosso, as its culinary namesake, is composed of odd bits and wines nobody else wanted.” I can’t think of another winemaker who would—tongue in cheek— describe their wine as being made from “odd bits.” The label continues with “The wine pairs well with a broad range of foods and is, of course, fabulous with Cioppino.”
A group of us were in Jackson’s Westside winery and tasting room where he makes his fine Equinox sparkling wine, and all of us had a good laugh at his description of the Cioppino. He makes it sound as if very little care has gone into the blending of the wine when, in fact, he goes to great lengths to make the very best.
My British group of around a dozen women is having its monthly get-together and our hostess has made some traditional Brit nosh— shepherd’s pie as a main course and plum crumble for dessert. I open up the Cioppino for everybody to try—and it’s a hit. We all like the robust chocolaty-coffee bean flavors of this moderately priced wine ($15), and it even goes well with a meal that you’d find in England as typical pub grub.
Jackson also makes other wines under his Bartolo label, and the last time I was in his tasting room he had a 2007 Minerva—a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre; a 2005 Syrah—aged for a year in American and Hungarian oak; and a 2006 Il Quattro—a blend of Merlot, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
But Jackson has the last word—and it’s on the label of his Cioppino. “Enjoy the wine. See the enigma revealed.” You’ll just have to try it for yourself.
Equinox, 427 Swift St., Unit C, Santa Cruz. 423-3000. equinoxwine.com.
The Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association is putting on its annual Ultimate Winemakers Dinner at Shadowbrook Restaurant on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Around 25 winemakers offer exclusive tastes of their wines in the Rock Room Lounge and then join guests for dinner in the restaurant’s dining rooms. This event usually sells out, so I suggest you call early to make a reservation. Cost: $105 all inclusive. Contact SCMWA at 685-8463. scmwa.com.