It’s hot. The Fourth of July witnessed blistering temperatures around California, and this time the Bay Area was no exception. In my last column , I bemoaned the cool temperatures that typically beset the San Francisco metropolitan area in June and July and used the unseasonable chill as an excuse to explore one of the heavier wine regions of France, the syrah-saturated Northern Rhône. But our recent string of 75-plus-and-sunny days shows my pessimism to be ill-advised.
It is a warm night in the month of May. Everything that has come out of the kitchen to your table seems to be shouting at the top of its lungs that it is spring. The baby lettuces with strawberries and marcona almonds, the fava bean raviolis, the hamachi skewers with avocado and pomelo. The gruner veltliner you ordered has paired up famously with these items, and the bottle of frappato that succeeded it has also proven itself an amiable companion to both the pork tenderloin with asparagus and pea tendrils with gnocchi and romesco, and the pan- roasted halibut with arancini in a green garlic sauce.
I’m walking through a valley filled with wild herbs—rosemary, thyme, lavender and artemisia. Off in the distance, I can see a hill-side vineyard bursting with grapes and an ancient stone house. Next to the house, I notice people congregated near an old barn. I walk closer. When I arrive, a glass of wine is placed in my hand. I inhale and the aroma of the valley fills my senses. Then, I smile and take a sip. Deep, dark fruit quickly coats my palate. I look to the madame pouring the wine. “Welcome to the Languedoc,” she says. “We've been waiting for you.”