I'm giving a talk at UC Davis and the remarkable Darrell Corti is speaking as well. And as great as it is to hear his lucid views, the bigger feature for me was one of the lovely bottles that he brought along for the conference. It was a bottle that he bought back in 1959 and just happened to have around the cellar: Isaias Helman Angelica 1875 with the label identifying it as coming from the Cucamonga Vineyard in San Bernardino County, bottled in 1921. Angelica was once incredibly popular American fare: basically a Vin de Mutage created by combining Mission grape juice with brandy. And still carrying fresh fruit flavors. Did you read that, cuz I just wrote that. Still fresh fruit flavors. Freak show.
Caramel, nuts, raisins, cooked yellow apples, hints of toast, spice and balsamic vinegar, smells of walnuts and old furniture. The mouth had much the same as well as figs, cinnamon sticks, honey, tobacco, black pepper, caramel, molasses and most importantly, lots and lots of citrus. The finish was all of those things but a mix of orange and lemon candies too, and something like peppered, cooked pears.
If you find yourself in Sacramento, go to Corti Brothers Italian Grocery Store and see the handiwork of the Indiana Jones of the food and drink business, Darrell Corti. I regret to tell you that you are unlikely to find an 1875 Angelica but you can ask when you get there.