Last week I stopped by Blue Ribbon Wine Bar for a late-night winemaker tasting with Tracey Brandt of Donkey and Goat Winery in Berkeley, CA. I hadn't heard of Donkey and Goat before but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and taste of their wines. It was fun to chat with Tracey as well. They're celebrating their 10th year in the wine business. If you're curious where the name came from don't worry I was as well. Turns out donkeys are often used for tending the vineyards in France and goats are their companions which also serve the purpose of natural weed control. Their French roommates affectionately started referring to Tracey and her husband Jared as the "donkey and goat". He did the work in the vineyards and she was his companion. The name stuck and a brand was born.
All of the wines were delicious but my favorite was the 2011 El Dorado "Improbable" Chardonnay. Harvested in an area surrounding the Sierra Foothills, certainly an "improbable" place to find Chardonnay but it works. Crisp, bright, clean, with notes of citrus and a structured minerality supporting the finish. No new oak means the fruit and bright acidity shine through. The Rhone Blend "Five Thirteen" was also delicious and a different style of wine, similar in style to a Chateuneuf-du-Pape from the southern Rhone Valley.
While the price-points on these wines certainly reserve them for special occasions, I can't wait to visit their tasting room next time I'm home!