92201 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448 (map link)
I first discovered the wine Poizin while visiting Luke and Mary while they still lived in Sonoma. We were dining at the aptly named Zin Restaurant at the time. I fell in love with it then, and somehow managed to score a few bottles on sale. Then friends gifted me with some, and I decided to make it my birthday wine. Each bottle I had would only be opened on my birthday.
This year, for my 40th birthday, I drank the last bottle of that Poizin. It was as amazing as I remembered. As soon as we decided to go to Sonoma, I determined I had one goal: I wanted to go to the winery that makes it, Armida Winery.
The staff at Armida, Kristina and … boy, I think it was CJ, but my notes are unclear [Edit: nope, that handsome man was Nick, and I should have my wine taken away for a week for that error!]…were incredibly friendly, helpful and warm. The tasting room was uncrowded, which I understand is a rarity. And, as many people have said, the winery has one of the most epic views in Sonoma County. But I wasn’t here for any of that. I was here for the wine.”]
Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, 2010: This wine was grapefruity and had a strong mineral element. Mike found it crisp and refreshing and noticed pineapple in the aroma and the flavor. We were clearly getting to the end of the day, because I forgot to take down the year; fortunately, Mike took care of that for me.
Antidote Pinot Gris, Russian River Valley, 2009: If you have Poizin, you have to sell the Antidote, right? This had a soft tangy smell. It tasted of candied lemons and tangerines with a hint of saffron at the finish. It was clearly the end of Mike’s day, too, because his tasting notes say “Grapey.”
Pinot Noir, Bacigalupi Vineyard, Russian River Valley, 2008: There was something in the nose that reminded me a little of skunk – but as I think I’ve said before, there’s a particular note in the skunk smell that I find not at all unpleasant, and that’s what I was getting here. Mike was getting candy, so either we got something entirely different out of the smell or he’s eating some strange candy. It tasted of velvety, rich grapes, with a nice raisin-y edge. Mike agreed, but tasted some more spice than I did.
2008 “Silkscreen” Poizin: Armida makes two Poizins. The first is the “silkscreen” version, which I gather is their more “mass-market” version (if you can call a place that makes only 10,000 cases a year mass-market). Much like I can’t describe my love for Mike, I also can’t describe my love for this wine. It is my personal Platonic ideal of a zinfandel. I know it may not be for everyone, but I just love it. Mike describes it as mellow, soft and rich.
Zinfandel, Maple Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, 2008: This had a velvety prune nose with a hint of candy. On the tongue, it tasted of raisins with the skins left on. All in all, very good. Mike said it had a deep, dark flavor with a nice, squared-off finish. (Mike often describes flavors in terms of shapes. I don’t, perhaps because I failed geometry and thus have PTSD when I hear the word “isosceles.”)
Zinfandel, Tina’s Block, Maple Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, 2008: Nick showed us the map of this vineyard, and it had a grid on it showing where vines of various types are grown. It had a velvety raisin scent, but I was not knocked out by this wine, as is evidenced by the fact that I don’t have a single note on the taste. Mike described it as having more tannins on the front and spicier. Then he wrote “Mapleier?” Clearly, we were hitting the end of a long day.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Stuhlmuller Vineyard, Alexander Valley, 2006: This smelled of plum, tobacco and leather and tasted of leather and plum with a nice chipotle finish. (Chipotle as in the actual pepper. It didn’t taste like a burrito, I assure you.) Mike also detected the chipotle, so clearly I was on to something.
Pinot Noir, Durrell Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, 2008: This was where the palate fatigue hit — or perhaps it was adjective fatigue. I knew I liked this one, but I couldn’t write anything specific about the flavor. Mike felt it was soft, fruity and accessible.
Well, I hadn’t been planning to walk out with their super-duper reserve Poizin, but then Nick brought out this bottle:
I was so, SO tempted to walk out with that gigantic hot-pink laser-engraved bottle of reserve Poizin, but alas, it was even harder to justify spending $500 on that bottle than it was to justify spending it on an iPad. If I’ve resisted buying an iPad so long, clearly I could resist this.
But, it turns out, they had smaller reserve bottles. And each one came with its own coffin! Even if you don’t like their wine for some bizarro reason, you have to hand it to them for going all the way with their marketing.
It was very hard for me to justify purchasing this wine, but somehow I did it. What I didn’t know was that the super-sneaky Luke and Mary had snuck off to buy me a bottle as well!!!
I feel very lucky to have gone on this trip with Luke, Mary and Mike. We had great wine — but more importantly, we had great company full of fun and great stories.