Denis Hoey’s namesake wine, Cote du Denis, is simply marvelous. The 2019 Cote du Denis is 100% Carignan from the Circle B Vineyard in Paso Robles—an ideal location for growing warmer-climate grapes.
Harvested at 22.0 degrees brix (the sugar content of an aqueous solution), this delicious Carignan then underwent full carbonic maceration—a method which involves filling a sealed vessel with carbon dioxide and then adding whole bunches of grapes. Winemaker Hoey says the grapes are sealed in a stainless steel tank and pumped with Co2 daily to create the proper environment for stability during fermentation. “This carbonic wine was inspired by the Beaujolais region in France and has similar characteristics,” Hoey says.
After about two weeks, the grapes are transferred to neutral barrels for four months to finish ageing. The carbonic style of fermentation results in a fabulous-flavored Carignan ($28) that is brimming with classic notes of bubblegum and fresh red fruit.
Hoey goes to great lengths to make the best wines possible. When he closed his tasting room on Mission Street a couple of years ago, fans of his wines followed him to Salinas where he set up his thriving business. He lives on his bucolic property with his wife Claire and their two sons. As it says on his website, Odonata Winery is the realization of Hoey’s dream.
Odonata Wines, 645 River Road, Salinas. 831-566-5147, odonatawines.com.
Safari Tours of Lester Family Vineyards
Lester Estate Wines is again running its safari tours. Tour the 210-acre Deer Park Ranch in a restored 1981 Land Rover Defender and enjoy the “Big 6” Lester Estate Wines. Cheese, charcuterie and other bites will be served as well. For more info visit lesterestatewines.com.
Norma Jean’s Coffee
Owner Cathy DeLeon has been gangbusters busy during the Covid-19 lockdown. The reason? Not only does she serve great coffee, but she also makes the coffee shop’s pastries and baked goods herself, including delicious gluten-free muffins. Named after Marilyn Monroe (aka Norma Jean Baker), photos of the movie icon adorn the walls of the coffee shop’s cozy space.
Norma Jean’s Coffee, 8043 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 831-685-1236.