James May's Road Trip

James May's Road Trip · Food Tour · created almost 7 years ago

Top Gear host James May and wine expert Oz Clarke are on a mission to find the best wines in both the "Old" and "New" Worlds in this globe-trotting wine tour series of epic proportions.

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For Season 1, the guys jump into a Jaguar XJS and hit the road travelling through the vineyards of France in Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon, Rhone Valley and Champagne to name a few. Oz, a dedicated Francophile, will do his best to turn James into a wine connoisseur.

Season 2 finds Oz and James on American soil in a massive motor home stopping at some of the best vineyards up and down California. They make their way to wineries in Paso Robles, Monterey County, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma and Napa Valley.

This guide touts their favorite wines found along the journey.

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    Oakley fourwhites at Cline Cellars in Sonoma, CA

    A railway runs through it. This winery, that is. The 19th Century vineyards lend history to blends like this one with the Palomino grape from Spain, which is used to make Sherry. James May deems this wine “honest.”

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    Ravenswood Zinfandel at Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma, CA

    James May calls this Zin the “wine of the people.” You can also sign up in advance for a wine blending class if you care to try your skill.

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    Rosenblum Zinfandel at Rosenblum Cellars

    Oz Clarke calls Winemaker Kent Rosenblum the “Savior of Zin,” for his sourcing of historic vines from the days of Prohibition, when wine was the only legal alcohol. Like them, Kent began as a home winemaker. Can you really taste old vines in the glass?

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    Ridge Wine at Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino, CA

    Winemaker Paul Draper told James May and Oz Clarke that he believes that it’s a societal problem when everyone wants wines the critics all love. Form your own opinion, then, of one of his respected blends in the Santa Cruz mountains tasting room.

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    Bonny Doon Winery Moscato Giallo at Cellar Door Cafe in Santa Cruz, CA

    Winemaker Randall Grahm told James May and Oz Clarke “real wines are like gifted children.” Known for blending grapes you’ve never heard of, Grahm fills this bottle with purely Muscat grape; see if it’s your kind of special.

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    Calera Single Estate Vintage Chardonnay at Calera Wine in Hollister, CA

    As James May says, "It's slightly oaky, but has acidity as well and fresh fruit flavors." Oz Clarke hastens to add, "and a perfume."

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    Testarossa Pisoni Vineyard Chardonnay at Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos, CA

    With grapes from winemaker Gary Pisoni, who reportedly smuggled vine cuttings from a famous French vineyard "out in his trousers," come bright Monterey white grapes. As Oz Clarke says; "Without acidity, Chardonnay is dead...a pointless drink." Agree with Oz?

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    Anarchy (Four Vines Winery) at Cypher Winery

    James May conquered his fear of 'terroir' with Anarchy, a Four Wines blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, and Zin (replacing the usual Grenache) from Christian Tietje that James thinks "is revolutionary. This is a wine that will change the world...it has a sense of place and it has a sense of purpose." Strong words from James, but then, he rode into this vineyard on a Harley.

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    2007 Cotes-du-Robles at Eberle Winery in Paso Robles, CA

    Godfather of Paso Robles wine Gary Eberle told Oz Clarke and James May that he planted the first post-Prohibition Syrah vines in America (when the duo parked their camper in his driveway and borrowed his pool). In the tasting room, try this cleverly-named wine of his Syrah blended with Mourvedre and Grenache.

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    Riesling at Hitching Post II in Buellton, CA

    Yes, you know all about the "Sideways" cast filming here (and Virginia Madsen's character Maya working as a waitress in the movie), but can you tell a Sauvignon Blanc from a local Riesling? James May couldn't.

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    Fess Parker Viognier at Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa in Los Olivos, CA

    Don a coonskin hat at this winery started by the beloved actor who played television's Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Then, see if you can pronounce 'Viognier' as an Englishman as you taste it – James May teased Oz Clarke that he couldn't.

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    Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir at Au Bon Climat Winery in Santa Maria, California

    Oz Clarke says Winemaker Jim Clendenen "started the Pinot Noir craze." James May called it "a coy wine...it's polite as well." Find out if you agree when the winery opens for one of its semi-annual events.

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    Cote du Roussillon at Ô Chateau in Paris, France

    "Au natural. Fruity. This is what I like, it’s rustic, decent and it’s for proper men. It’s fantastic." – James May

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    Cote du Roussillon at Vineyard: Matassa Wines in 66600 Calce, Cote du Roussillon

    "You can taste the struggle of the antipodean in this wine." – James May

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    Pichon Baron 1988 at Vineyard: Pichon Longueville Baron in , Bordeaux

    “Bonfire, definite bonfire in there, and a definite sort of barbecued sausage. A sort of pork fat and even a little bit of Virginian tobacco. Lovely, a very fine wine.” – James May

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    Chateau Suduiraut Bordeaux 2001 at Vineyard: Pichon Longueville Baron in , Bordeaux

    A rich, white Bordeaux. Look for peaches, apricots, pineapple and honey. – Oz Clarke

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    Reserve de la Comtesse at Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Château Longueville, France

    One of the most fragrant wines in France.