Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for May, 2006

Calling all Pinot junkies

So I just got word that there are still some tickets available for the Contra Costa Times Wine Club’s Pinot Noir & Friends event tomorrow night from 7 to 9 p.m. at Faz in Danville. For $25, you get fabulous appetizers and 12 wines from six wineries, many poured by owners. In addition to pinots, they’ll also be pouring Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. For reservations, call Rachel Armstrong at 925-952-2639

Here are the wineries:

Rex Hill Vineyards (Newberg, OR)
Sadler-Wells Vineyards (Sonoma, CA)
Joseph Drouhin (Beaune, France)
Domaine Drouhin (Newberg, OR)
Testarossa Vineyards (Los Gatos, CA)

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2006
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Del Taco wine pairing

My friend Michaela — well, her boyfriend Todd, actually — created a fabulous wine and food pairing for her birthday last Thursday, and I want to share it to get your pairing juices flowing, and to prove that man was not meant to drink wine with foie gras and steak alone. I should preface this by saying that Michaela, and the rest of us, are obsessed with Del Taco. Here goes:

– 1991 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Cuvee Brut served with
pre-dinner snacks including different cheeses, flatbread with
artichoke hearts and truffle oil dip.

– 2004 Flowers Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast paired with popcorn
seasoned with smoked paprika and other spices. Great one, Todd!

– 2003 Brightwater Vineyards Nelson Riesling, New Zealand
paired with wasabi peas. This was my favorite.

– 2002 Heart of Darkness, Madiran Appellation Controlee, France paired with Del Taco beef burritos, bean and cheese burritos and nacho cheese. Word.

– 2003 Cline Big Break Zinfandel, Contra Costa County (paired
with similar Del Taco offerings. It should be said that this is one of my favorite zins. It tastes like mint!

– Warre’s Otima 10-year-old Tawny Port served with a raspberry fruit tart, but much better paired with the chocolate Michaela’s friends Aaron and Vidya brought up from Santa Cruz. Happy Birthday Michaeala!

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2006
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A wise winemaker once said

I spoke with Warren Winiarski the other day, the world-renown and incredibly wise winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. I asked him what he’d like to say to young or emerging wine enthusiasts, to us Corkheads, and he said he think we are incredibly luck. Lucky to have such a wide variety of wines to choose from these days. It’s a much broader horizon against which wines are made than when Winiarski was apprenticing under André Tchelistcheff of Beaulieu Vineyards back in the 1960s.   

He also created a beautiful metaphor about old and young wines as children, so I thought I’d share that quote with you:

"One’s children as they grow up reveal things at different times. Each age sort of has it’s own benefits as well as challenges.
The things that young children are loved for are different than older children. Same is true of wine. As it gets older it gets different, not always better. But the maturity and unity and harmony of the various elements is what makes it stand out. Wines are always
losing and gaining."

Winiarski’s last name, by the way, means ‘winemaker’s son’ in Polish.


Posted on Monday, May 15th, 2006
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The Judgement of Everywhere

This whole Judgement of Paris rematch on May 24 has got me thinking — why just France and Napa? Why not the Judgement of Australia, and the Judgement of Germany? If the historic 1976 blind tasting did anything, it opened up competition and notoriety of world class winemaking to regions outside of France, so why, each decade, do we keep rehashing the competition?

For those of you who haven’t heard, 30 years ago this month a monumental thing happened in the industry. In a blind tasting, nine French judges voted a Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars cabernet and a Chateau Montelena Chardonnay (both Napa wines) superior to a blessed Bordeaux and a French white Burgundy. Back then, saying a California wine was better than a French one was simply heresy. Things have clearly changed.

Folks at Copia, along with people across the Atlantic, are staging simultaneous reenactments. The event is so huge that some wineries have declined invitations to pour, fearing bad press, or worst, the fate of the French in 1976. I’ll be covering the American side of things and it’ll be interesting to see how our wines have aged (they’ll be tasting the 1973 wines) and also how the younger ones stand up to their French counterparts. I just hope no one faints. Stay tuned.

Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2006
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Beauregard’s winemakers dinner

Affordable wines might be easy to find, but winemakers’ dinners? Not so much. So when I spotted one for May 31 at Beauregard’s California Bistro in Albany (with Robert Hall Winery, one of my favorite Paso wineries, pouring), I felt obliged to share it with ya’ll.

Six courses at $65 is a steal, not to mention that proceeds benefit Fresh Start Walnut Creek, a respite and service center for those among the homeless and working poor. If that’s not enough, take a peak at the menu. Try not to drool on your keyboard:

   1.Light, seasonal, organic baby lettuces and sweet grapefruit sections in a
    Grapefruit-herb Vinaigrette

Accompanied by Robert Hall 2005 Hall Ranch Sauvignon Blanc

2.Pissaladiere (Provençal Pizzetta with caramelized onion confit, Niçoise Olives,
    Anchovy, Parmagiano Reggiano and herbes de Provençe)

Accompanied by Robert Hall 2003 Paso Robles Meritage

3.Large Day Boat Scallop with Scallion-Basil olive oil and Passion Fruit

Accompanied by Robert Hall 2005 Paso Robles Chardonnay

4.Handmade Wide Pasta noodles with housemade, cumin-scented Duck
    Sausage, blanched spinach, wood oven-roasted shallots, sundried tomatoes and
    thyme in a duck stock reduction

Accompanied by Robert Hall 2003 Central Coast Rhone de Robles

5.Grilled Venison Fillet with currants, juniper, and Cabernet Sauce; served with
    wild rice and fiddlehead ferns*

Accompanied by Robert Hall 2003 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

6.Port-poached Pear with toasted walnuts and Cave-aged Gorgonzola

Accompanied by Robert Hall 2003 Central Coast Vintage Port

Ok, I’m sure space is limited so make your reservations today by calling Beauregard’s at 510-526-7200. Tell ’em Corkheads sent you!

Posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006
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Faz wine club event

Don’t know about you all, but Pinot’s about the only red I can drink in this gorgeous, amazing heat. Good thing the Times Wine Club has a Pinot Noir wine tasting event coming up on Wednesday, May 17 at Faz in Danville.

For $25, you get fabulous appetizers and a chance to taste some top Pinots, from Oregon’s Rex Hill Vineyards and Joseph Douhin (France) to Testarossa Vineyards in Los Gatos and Sadler-Wells of Sonoma. The event is the usual, from 7 to 9 p.m. and Faz is located at 600 Hartz Ave. For tickets, call Rachel Armstrong at 925-952-2639. See you there!

Posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006
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