Champagne Master Class – December 2

December 7th, 2014

Ahh, Champagne. Around the holidays Americans always drink more bubbly – it’s a festive time of year, and people view Champagne (or any sparkling wine) as a celebratory drink. Personally, my favorite kind of wine is the kind that bubbles, and I find any excuse I can to drink it.  Mauro Cirilli, instructor for our Holiday Champagne Master Class at San Francisco Wine Center, said he needs to have a glass of Champagne every day, and he suggests we do too. Well, you don’t need to tell me twice.

Why is Champagne so special? It’s the magical second fermentation in the bottle that produces the bubbles, but it’s also the harsh growing conditions in the region of Champagne, France, that contributes to the high acidity of these wines. Champagne only averages about 1650 hours of sunlight per year, versus over 2000 for Bordeaux. This results in very acidic and unripe grapes. Through the Champagne method of winemaking, that acidity combined with extended aging on the yeast cells and just the right amount of added sugar result in complex, bright, toasty, creamy flavors that delicately dance on the tongue.

Tonight’s line up featured non-vintage (blends from different years to produce a consistent style) and vintage (from a single year) wines from grower houses and well-known luxury brands. Champagne can range in price from $40 to $400, and we tried a full range. Unfortunately, 2 bottles of Dom Perignon were faulty so I can’t say my first Dom experience was life changing. But among the rest there was beauty all around and I had a hard time choosing a favorite.

Champagne List:

  1. Doyard Cuvée Vendémiaire Brut NV ($40)
  2. Vilmart Cuvée Grand Cellier NV ($75)
  3. Larmandier-Bernier Vieilles Vignes de Cramant Grand Cru Extra Brut 2007 ($75)
  4. Gaston Chiquet Brut Cart d’Or 2002 ($70)
  5. Salon Brut Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil 1999 ($275)
  6. Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchhill 1999 ($195)
  7. Dom Perignon 1999 ($165)
  8. Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV ($70)

For comparison, we also tried sparkling wines from Spain and California. These were very elegant and enjoyable, and for $20-30 you could easily justify opening one of these any night of the week and any month of the year.

Not Champagne:

  1. Raventos i Blanc de Nit Rosé 2011 ($22)
  2. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2006 ($30)

Happy Holidays from San Francisco Wine Center! If you need some bubbly for your holidays please let us know.

- Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark

Burgundy: Gevrey-Chambertin and Nuits-Saint-Georges – November 19

November 24th, 2014

Gevrey-Chambertin and Nuits-Saint-Georges are two of the most famous and well-regarded communes in Burgundy for Pinot Noir. As part of the Cote de Nuits wine region in the Northern part of the Cote d’Or, limestone and clay soils create the perfect environment for complex Pinot Noir. Of course, Burgundy is known for its varied and coveted terroir within each sub-region’s individual vineyards, so full-bodied Gevrey-Chambertin wines are often designated Grand Cru, while many wines from Nuits-Saint-Georges receive Premier Cru distinction. During this class, James Beard award-winning author and resident Pinot Noir expert, Jordan Mackay, took us through a flight of beautiful red Burgundy from these two regions.

The first four wines came from Nuits-Saint-Georges; three of these were Premier Cru. I particularly enjoyed the 1995 Robert Chevillon, with its floral but rustic perfumed nose that smelled like autumn in a glass. Super smooth on the palate, the velvety body was balanced by a nice acid profile.  The 2001 Dominique Laurent smelled like pickles at first, which I didn’t mind, but as it opened up I enjoyed the violets and roses on the nose and the lingering finish.

The next four wines from Gevrey-Chambertin were a bit more complex and earthy. My favorite, the 1998 Domaine des Chezeaux Grand Cru, had a funky, earthy nose with spice, fruit and flower on the elegant palate; this wine had great texture.

Many of the wines kept changing in the glasses as we tasted them, reminding us that wine is a living thing that constantly evolves in its various environments.

Jordan had some suggestions for wine touring in Burgundy, which is a great way to learn about the terroir. From CDG in Paris it’s about a 3-hour train ride into Beaune, the town he recommended staying in; from there you can drive around the region or bike around the vineyards. That is a trip I would love to make.

Wine List:

  1. Emmanuel Rouget Nuits-St-Georges 2009 – $110
  2. Robert Chevillon Nuits-St-Georges Les Pruliers 1er Cru 1995 – $225
  3. Perrot-Minot Nuits-St-Georges “La Richemone” ULTRA VV 1er Cru 2007 – $220
  4. Dominique Laurent Nuits-St-Georges Les Vaucrains 1er  Cru 2001 – $65
  5. Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes 2006 – $100
  6. Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Combottes 1er Cru 2011 – $175
  7. Frederic Esmonin Mazy Chambertin Grand Cru 1996 – $200
  8. Domaine des Chezeaux Griottes-Chambertin Grand Cru 1998 – $200

As we approach the holidays, all this Pinot Noir that we’ve been enjoying in the last couple wine classes has primed our palates for turkey and all the fixings. If you need some wines for your holidays, let us know. Happy Thanksgiving from San Francisco Wine Center!

-Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark

Pinot Noir Around the World with Gillian Ballance – November 11

November 17th, 2014

The world of Pinot Noir stretches way beyond Burgundy – though each new world version is compared to the French mother lode. Known the world over as a finicky grape, Pinot Noir is difficult to maintain since it ripens so early and is prone to rot due to its thin skin. Genetically unstable, many different clones exist and can have marked differences. In this wine class, Gillian Ballance, Master Sommelier and former wine director of Plumpjack Hotel & Restaurant Group, describes Pinot Noir as “charming – exhibiting grace as well as power.” She took us through a varied flight of Pinot Noir from places like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, in addition to Burgundy, Oregon and California.

We started the evening off right with a well-aged Pinot from Central Coast: Calera Mt Harlan Jensen Vineyard 1999, grown on one of the few limestone vineyards in California, which was planted in 1974. It was very much alive, with balsamic, stewed fruit and good tannin.

Further north in Willamette Valley, Oregon, J.K. Carriere held tonight’s crowd favorite with the 2005 Shea Vineyard – a little funky on the nose but very Burgundian, with nice spice and good acidity.

Over on the other side of the world, South African Pinot showed its funky side with some rubber, pine and earthiness that was quite interesting and unique.

Finally, we went down under to Australia’s Yarra Yarra valley, in the Victoria district, a cooler area on the southern coast of the country. This wine was beautiful with pomegranate, cranberry and great acidity. It brought me back to a trip I took to this area in 2009, when I sampled my first Aussie Pinot and took a $25 bottle back home with me, halfway around the world to New York, where I lived at the time. This 2004 is a steal at $20! Then, from neighboring New Zealand, a Marlborough version also showed really well, with pretty fruit, leather, good acidity and a long finish. While I’m partial to Burgundy, I found these two wines to be the most exciting of the night (and the most affordable).

But speaking of which, the Burgundy of the evening, a 2008 Premier Cru from Cote de Nuits, showed refined fruit, floral and herbal qualities with elegant structure and a long finish. I can’t help it – this was my favorite.

Most of these wines are available for purchase at the San Francisco Wine Center – contact us if you are interested!

Wine List:

1. Calera Mt Harlan Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir 1999 – Central Coast ($140)

2. Labyrinth Yarra Valley Viggers Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004 – Australia ($20)

3. JK Carriere Shea Vineyard 2005 – Willamette Valley, Oregon ($60)

4. Patrice Rion Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1er Cru 2008– Cote de Nuits, Burg, FR ($99)

5. Cobb Joy Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009 – Sonoma ($65)

6. Seresin Marlborough Pinot Noir “Leah” 2009 – New Zealand ($40)

7. Copain Anderson Valley Monument Tree Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2012 – Mendocino ($70)

8. En Route Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Les Pommiers 2010 – Sonoma ($65)

9. Paul Hobbs Hyde Vineyards 2012 – Napa, Carneros ($69)

10. Hamilton Russell Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Pinot Noir 2012 – South Africa ($39)

Bonus Wines!

  1. Alois Lageder Tenutae Lageder “Krafuss” Pinot Noir 2007 – Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy ($45)
  2. Foxtrot Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir 2009 – British Columbia, CAN ($56)
  3. Domaine Michel Gros Chambolle-Musigny 2012 – Cote du Nuits, Burgundy, FR($72)

- Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark

Indigenous Italy with Mauro Cirilli – November 4

November 9th, 2014

Italy is one of the most varied wine countries in the world, particularly because they have so many indigenous varietals – over 6000! There are no generalizations to be made, especially in a country whose climates and soil are so varied from one section to another. Italian wine labeling doesn’t necessarily makes thing any clearer, since sometimes the name of the grape is used and sometimes it isn’t. Personally, I’m always trying to learn more about Italian wines, since there are so many different wines to try and some can be very good values. Mauro Cirilli, native of Venice, former Wine Director of Perbacco and Barbacco, current Wine Director at Press Club and Director of the North American Chapter of the Italian Sommelier Association, helped us break it down in Wine School. We started with Prosecco, the refreshing bubbly wine of the Veneto region in northern Italy. Formerly named for both the grape and the region, things got confusing when Prosecco achieved DOCG status, the highest quality designation for Italian wine, so they since went back to using the name Glera for the grape. Prosecco is not “Italian Champagne” – it’s a completely different style of bubbly wine that is meant to be light, fruity and refreshing.

In the Mt Etna wine region of Sicily, vineyards grown on volcanic soil surround the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. Mt Etna white wines are made from the grapes Carricante and Catarratto; the version we tried was dry, austere and a little bit funky.

Vermentino, a white wine usually varietally labeled, is an expressive grape that grows in Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia; we tried a Sardinian version grown on minerally soil, with a rich creamy palate of chamomile. Cannonau is a red Sardinian varietal that we sampled, which is their local name for Grenache or Garnacha. I love Sardinian Cannonau for its earthy and funky qualities; this one didn’t disappoint me with its barnyard, herbs, mushrooms and long finish.

Back in the Veneto, Valpolicella is a red wine typically made from 3 grapes – Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara – each contributing important characteristics to the wine including color, tannin, spice and body. The one we tried was earthy and spicy with dried fruit character.  Refosco, a wine made from grapes with red stems, also comes from the north, in Fruili-Venezia. This wine had bright fruit and flowers with a good texture.

Finally, on the sweeter side of things, we sampled Lambrusco, the slightly “frizzante” red wine from Emilia-Romagna, and Moscato, the floral dessert wine from Piedmont.

A wide variety of wines, quite representative of Italy – thanks for a great education, Mauro!

Wine List:

  1. 2011 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Cuvée del Fondatore, Rive di Col San Martino, Merotto
  2. 2013 Etna Bianco, Murgo
  3. 2012 Capichera Vermentino di Gallura
  4. 2012 Paladin Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
  5. 2010 Cannonau di Sardegna, Neopente di Oliena, Gostolai
  6. 2010 Valpolicella Ripasso Capitel dellla Crosara Montresor
  7. 2004 DeConcilis Naima Aglianico 2004
  8. 2005 Masi Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron Amarone Classico
  9. 2010 Medici Ermete Le Tenute Bocciolo Lambrusco Dolce Grasparossa
  10. 2010 Moncalvina Moscato

- Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark

New World vs Old World with Mary Burnham – October 14

October 17th, 2014

As the line between new world and old world wines continues to blur, we found ourselves stumped this evening as we blind-tasted through 6 comparisons of typical varietals made by old world and new world producers. With each pair, the class was literally split every time on which was which. As Mary explained, when we talk about old world, we mean Europe, while new world encompasses everywhere else. Old world wines are generally more earthy and savory, with marked acidity and minerality and less alcohol. New world wines are typically more fruit-forward, less acidic, and higher in alcohol. Did these generalizations hold up in this group?

In the first pair, wine #1 was fruity and dry, with grassy notes, citrus peel, and marked acidity. Many guessed it was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – but it was a white Bordeaux. Wine #2 was creamier, with sweet vanilla oak, lemon merengue, and peach; more complex, silky but still crisp. Were we in Pouilly-Fumé, France? Actually, Washington State. I didn’t even know anyone was making Sauvignon Blanc in Washington – this was actually majority Semillon (61%) with 20% Sauvignon Blanc – but I expect I will be re-visiting this producer, Buty.

In the next pair, many immediately thought #3 was a German Riesling due to its pungent petrol character. I got beyond that and began to think we were in Australia, since theirs take on that character as well but tend to be very lime-y and dry, which was how I would characterize this wine.  Wine #4 was more floral and peachy, like many Rieslings I’ve had from Finger Lakes producer Hermann J. Wiemer that highly mimic a German Mosel style when young.  The big reveal – #3 was from Oregon and #4 was Austrian!

The next two sets were a bit more obvious to me – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. New World chardonnay tends to have more pronounced oak, and I almost always prefer a more refined French style. With Pinot Noir, new world versions tend to be very fruity, whereas French versions are more funky and earthy, which I also prefer. Both sets were more typical expressions of new world and old world, though not obvious to everyone.

The second set of reds was a fun one – meaty, savory and spicy with firm tannin against brambly, sweet spice and soft tannin. We had ourselves a Crozes-Hermitage Syrah against a Barossa Valley Shiraz. We learned that the Barossa Valley does not cool off at night, so the grape skins don’t thicken, contributing to softer tannins in the wine. This was a great pair that solidified my favorite for the night in the Crozes-Hermitage, since I love this style and producer and the price cannot be beat, especially for a wine that will continue to improve with cellar time.

The last set was another tough one, mostly because both these wines were very tight and could use some more aging and air. The first had a eucalyptus nose with black fruit and violets on the nose. The second was a bit more closed on the nose but we could discern some vanilla. With a few bites of cheese, things started to become clearer – these were Cabernet-dominated wines, Bordeaux from Graves against Napa Valley’s Opus One.

A wonderful selection of wines with some curveballs…

  1. Chateau Lamothe de Haux White Bordeaux 2011 ($15)
  2. Buty Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc-Muscadelle 2010 – Columbia Valley, WA ($25)
  3. Chehalem Willamette Valley Dry Riesling Reserve 2007 – Oregon ($20)
  4. Hogl Wachau Riesling Smaragd Bruck 2007 – Wachau, Austria ($30)
  5. Domaines Leflaive Macon Verze 2012 – Burgundy, France ($39)
  6. Wente Riva Ranch Estate Chardonnay 2012 – Arroyo Seco, Monterey, CA ($18)
  7. Flowers Van der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir 2000 – Sonoma Mountain ($60)
  8. Domaine Trappet Chambertin Grand Cru 2000 – Cote de Nuits, Burgundy, France ($200)
  9. Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage 2012 – Northern Rhone Valley, France ($30)
  10. Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2011 – Barossa Valley, Southern Australia ($28)
  11. Chateau Smith-Haut Lafite 2006 – Graves, Left Bank, Bordeaux, France ($90)
  12. Opus One 2006 – Napa Valley, CA ($290)

-Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark

Madeira Master Class – October 10

October 13th, 2014

We were thrilled to host this Madeira Master Class at SFWC, led by professionals from The Madeira Wine Institute – the governing body of winemaking on the island of Madeira, Portugal. Madeira is a fortified wine known for its longevity – but did you know the best Madeira can last 300 years? Rui Falcao, our instructor, told us about the oldest Madeira he’s tried, which was from 1715. It was not only good, but very good – nowhere near tired or gone. How does this tiny, mountainous island whose subtropical climate is always 70 degrees produce one of the world’s most indestructible wines? Acidity! Like Champagne, Madeira’s wine grapes produce extremely acidic wines that are undrinkable in their normal, vinified state. But this acidity provides the backbone of a wine balanced by natural sugar levels and the addition of neutral spirit to raise the alcohol from about 9% to 18%. With the right amount of aging, a beautiful, complex wine emerges.

Madeira is always a single varietal wine. The 5 main permitted varietals vary in natural sweetness, so their wines will usually follow suit. Sercial is a always a dry wine; Verdelho – medium dry; Boal/Bual – medium sweet; Malvasia/Malmsey – sweet/rich; Tinta Negra is the only red varietal, vinified as a white, and it can be any level of sweetness. Though it accounts for 82% of Madeira production, it used to not be talked about, but as recently as the day of this class it had been recognized as a Noble grape varietal and will be included on the label going forward.

Madeira has a total of just 900 acres of vines. Vineyards are managed separately from the wineries, and there are only 8 Madeira wineries in existence. One of these opened 3 years ago and it was the first new winery in 60 years. Clearly, Madeira winemaking is a very old tradition. (Fun fact: the fathers of the U.S. Constitution toasted its signing with Madeira!) The Madeira Wine Institute does all of the analytics on each wine and tastes them before bottling to make sure the wine matches its proposed labeling criteria. After a blind tasting, an approval allows the winery to bottle and sell the wine. Madeira wines are either a blended style (meaning a blend of different years, not grapes); a Colheita single harvest – also known as a “baby vintage” that must be aged for a minimum of 5 years to be labeled as such; or a Frasqueira/Vintage – which must be aged for a minimum of 20 years to be labeled with that vintage.

The tasting included a wonderful sampling across these grape varietals and aging categories. We learned that Madeira should be served cold, and one shouldn’t try to follow it with any other wine – the finish is long and lingering.  Despite the “sweet” character of many Madeiras, the bracing acidity actually balances that sweetness, making it a friendly wine on its own or with food.

Typical Madeira aromas include toasted almond, caramel, molasses and raisin. My favorite was the Colheita 1996, with its honey and orange blossom character; the finish went on forever. The Malvasia 1989 was also a treat, with burnt orange peel and caramel.

Wine List:

  1. H&H Sercial 10 Años
  2. The Rare Wine Co. Savannah Verdelho
  3. Broadbent Malvasia 10 Años
  4. Blandy’s Colheita 1996
  5. D’Oliveiras 1989 Malvasia

Thank you to Rui and the Madeira Wine Institute for choosing SFWC to host this informative and delicious tasting!

-Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark

The Three Big B’s of Italy with Mauro Cirilli – September 30

October 8th, 2014

Last week in wine school we were educated about the subtle but significant differences between the 3 Big B’s of Italy: Barolo, Brunello & Barbaresco.  Mauro Cirilli, Italy’s top Sommelier, returned to SFWC for another round of his Italian wine series.  These 3 wines (named for their regions) are known for their longevity, structure, acidity and food friendliness.

Barolo and Barbaresco wines are both made 100% with the Nebbiolo grape. These northern Italian regions of Piedmont have a cooler climate, and the food of the region tends to be rich, so Nebbiolo pairs well with the cuisine. Minimum aging requirements for Barbaresco include 26 months in oak for regular wines and 50 months for Riserva wines. In Barolo, minimum aging for regular wines if 38 months and 62 months for Riserva. These two regions are a bit like Burgundy in that all wines are single vineyard designated. Despite their proximity, these two regions vary in climate and style due to Barbaresco’s closeness to the Tanaro River, which provides a maritime influence that helps Nebbiolo ripen a bit earlier than in Barolo. This results in earlier fermentation and less maceration, so the tannins in a young Barbaresco are not as tough as in Barolo, hence the reduced aging requirement.  Barbaresco is more approachable than Barolo earlier, but it won’t age as long. Barolo is one of the greatest wines of Italy, with its trademark calcareous soils and vineyard slopes contributing to the complex aromas of tar and roses and extremely long cellar life.

Brunello – short for Brunello di Montalcino – is in the region of Tuscany, known for olive oil and lighter foods, and the 100% Sangiovese wines complement this cuisine perfectly. Montalcino has one of the warmest and driest climates in Tuscany, and this particular clone of Sangiovese is unique to the region – it ripens more fully and consistently here than anywhere else in Tuscany, contributing to the body, color, extract and tannins commonly associated with Brunello di Montalcino. Sangio in Italian means blood, but in contrast to the Sangiovese in Chianti, Brunello is described as “fleshier.” Minimum aging for these wines is 48 months or 60 for Riserva.

Traditional wineries use large oak vats while modern wineries may used smaller French barriques. All 3 of these wines are lightly pigmented and tend to have a garnet color, with high tannin, high acidity, and medium to full body.

We tasted Barbaresco first, enjoying the licorice, spice, dried fruit flavors. My favorite was the 1990 Ceretto, from Bricco Asili. It took a while to open up but once it did I loved the roses and that smooth finish.

Barbaresco:

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco, Riserva, Montestefano (in Barbaresco)

2007 Gaja (in Barbaresco)

1999 Scarpa, Tettineive (in Neive)

1990 Ceretto, Bricco Asili (in Barbaresco)

Next, the Barolos. Meaty, savory, rich with sweet spices, violets and roses, rhubarb, licorice and fennel. The 2001 even had an interesting combination of mint crème and butter toffee along with tar and dried flowers. It was tough to pick a favorite in this group but all of them could definitely age much longer.

Barolo:

2010 Andrea Oberto, Rocche (in La Morra)

2006 Boroli, Villero (in Castiglione Falletto)

2001 Giuseppe Mascarello, Monprivato (in Castiglione Falletto)

The Brunellos were more approachable, with juicy ripe fruit and savory herbs and earth.  My favorite was the 2004 Casanova di Neri, which also showed dark violet, prune and sweet licorice in beautiful balance.

Brunello di Montalcino:

2006 Gianni Brunelli

2006 Gaja, Pieve di Santa Restituta

2004 Casanova di Neri, Cerretalto

All of these wines had amazing acidity and structure and could age even longer. They would be fabulous with a meal but we did fine with a delicious assortment of Italian cheeses.

Next up with Mauro: Indigenous varieties of Italy on Nov 4. I can’t wait for this class – join us!

-Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark

Fall Wine School Kick-off: Tasting & Describing Wine with Mary Burnham – September 23

September 29th, 2014

We launched our Fall Wine School with the first class in our Intro Series: Tasting & Describing Wine. Mary Burnham is a freelance writer and author of Food and Wine Magazine’s Wine Guide.

Our Tasting & Describing Wine class focuses on blind tasting and interpreting our senses. We observe the smells, sensations, and flavors of the wine and draw conclusions as to grape varietal and place of origin. For beginners, it is a really helpful class in learning how to recognize certain characteristics and match them with a particular wine. Mary did a superb job of taking us through the components of the wine, from flavors to acidity to body to tannin, and helping the students determine the wine in each glass.

We enjoyed an interesting progression of white wines from zesty Champagne and Sauvignon Blanc to creamy Chardonnay and slightly-sweet Riesling. For reds we went from Pinot to Syrah with some typical favorites in between, ending with a 1992 Napa Cab. Thanks again to Mary for a great class and to the students who attended – we hope to see you again this fall! Let us know what you thought.

Wine List

1. Champagne Collet Brut Grand Art NV – Champagne, France

2. Maimai Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

3. Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Valmur Grand Cru 2010 – (Chardonnay) Chablis, FR

4. Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay 2008 – Napa Valley, CA

5. Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2011 – Mosel Valley, GER

6. JK Carriere Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2002 – Willamette Valley, OR

7. Felsina Chianti Classico Berardenga 2008 – (Sangiovese) Tuscany, Italy

8. Scherrer Vineyards Alexander Valley Zinfandel 2005 – Sonoma County, CA

9. Domaine George Vernay Cote Rotie La Blonde du Seigneur 2010 – Northern Rhone, FR

10. BV George de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 – Napa Valley, CA

- Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark

School is in Session!

September 18th, 2014

Please join us for our upcoming classes here at The Wine School @ San Francisco Wine Center. The first four classes are posted, including our two Intro Series classes with Mary Burnham and two Italian focus classes with Mauro Cirilli.

Click on on the Classes portion of the website or go here to see the schedule and sign up: http://www.sfwinecenter.com/classes.php

We’ll be posting additional classes soon for dates in October, November and December covering Burgundy, Champagne and more so check back frequently to the ‘Classes’ calendar on our site.

See you in school!

  • Share/Bookmark

Wines of the Anderson Valley and Mendocino County

June 30th, 2014

After a successful “Pinot Days Night” tasting at the San Francisco Wine Center on June 17 and the actual Pinot Days event at the Metreon on June 21, we continued the Pinot Noir theme at SFWC with wines from Mendocino County, including the Anderson Valley. Representatives from Waits-Mast and Alder Springs poured their wines for a group of wine collectors, and we threw in some Copain Wines from Anderson Valley as a bonus.

Alder Springs is located in northern Mendocino County, 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean, on an old ranch property. The hilly landscape reaches 4,000 feet and boasts bright sun, cool nights and low-vigor soils. 140 acres of grapes are planted at elevations ranging from 1,700 to 2,700 feet. Alder Springs makes Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Rhone varietals with a focus on clonal selection, state of the art rootstock and superior trellising. The property is beautiful, and Marsella poured their full range of wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Counois called ‘Kinesis’ – this was my favorite for its meaty, spicy character that kept changing in the glass.

Waits-Mast Family Cellars is a husband and wife team from San Francisco who make their wine in the city, sourcing their fruit from vineyards in Mendocino County, Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley and Sta. Rita Hills. Focusing only on Pinot Noir, these wines are beautifully spicy and complex, with balance and grace. My favorite was their 2012 Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, which smelled like a cinnamon bun and continued on the palate with exotic spice and fruit.

Copain Wines, located in Healdsburg, Russian River Valley, sources fruit from there as well as Anderson Valley and Mendocino County for their Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. We poured their “Tous Ensemble” Anderson Valley Chardonnay alongside 3 Pinot Noirs from Anderson Valley. “Les Voisons,” or “the neighbors,” is a Pinot Noir blended from a cluster of neighboring Pinot Noir vineyards in the Deep End of Anderson Valley. This was the crowd favorite, with its smooth spice and fruit.

Funny enough, Waits-Mast and Copain both had a Wentzel Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, so the comparison was interesting: Waits-Mast was more fruit forward leading to spice, while Copain had a clove spice nose that was integrated with the fruit throughout.

Thanks to Marsella, Jennifer and Brian for sharing your wines on this pleasant evening!

Wine List:

Alder Springs

  1. 2009 Chardonnay
  2. 2010 Chardonnay
  3. 2012 Pinot Noir
  4. 2012 Kinesis
  5. 2009 Syrah
  6. 2012 Syrah

Copain

  1. 2012 Chardonnay “Tous Ensemble” Anderson Valley
  2. 2010 Pinot Noir Kiser “En-Haut” Anderson Valley
  3. 2011 Pinot Noir “Les Voisins” Anderson Valley
  4. 2011 Pinot Noir Wentzel Anderson Valley

Waits-Mast

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley
  2. 2011 Pinot Noir, Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley
  3. 2010 Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard, Anderson Valley

-Melanie Solomon

  • Share/Bookmark