Archive for May, 2011

Grilling Wines – May 24

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend usually means BBQ’s-aplenty. California Cab and Chard are easy go-to wines for grilling, but we wanted to explore some other great options for your next BBQ. We compiled some popular grilled items including asparagus, salmon, chicken, and pork ribs. We tasted 8 wines first and then tasted them again with the foods. The results were surprising!

Grilled asparagus complimented the whites, including the Riesling, which we didn’t expect. Gruner Veltliner is usually a good match for grilled veggies, but this time it wasn’t our #1. The Greek white was surprisingly good with a lot of the dishes. Lemon chicken loved the Gruner and Chateauneuf. Salmon was great with the two Italian wines, Lagrein & Dolcetto. The sweet bbq sauce from the ribs actually made them pair well with the Riesling, as well as the more obvious reds, namely the Syrah. In terms of versatility, Assyrtico and Lagrein won for going with everything!

List of wines:

1. JJ Prum Riesling Kabinett Graacher Himmelreich 2007 – Mosel, Germany

2. Domaine Wachau Gruner Veltliner Terrassen Federspiel 2010 – Austria

3. Thalassitis Assyrtico 2009– Santorini, Greece

4. Chateau Guiot Rose 2010 – Rhone Valley, France

5. Joseph Hofstatter Lagrein 2009 – Alto Adige, Italy

6. Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba 2009 – Piedmont, Italy

7. Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2008 – Southern Rhone, France

8. Vidal-Fleury Saint Joseph 2007 – Northern Rhone, France

Thanks to Jason for a great pairing class and to all who attended!

Check out our Facebook page for pictures from recent classes:

Have a great holiday weekend!

Melanie Friedman

Wine Sharing

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

On Friday night Wine Gavel hosted a pre-auction tasting here at SFWC. It was great to  see what wines are available for the bidding at Wine Gavel’s online auction site.

Wine Gavel invited guests to bring their own bottles to share, and there were some interesting wines thrown into the mix, including a Gewurztraminer from New Mexico and my personal favorite from the tasting, 2006 Alesia Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands Fairview Ranch Vineyard, a bottling from Rhys Vineyards. It was a meaty, smokey Syrah with funk, dark fruit and spice, exactly the kind of Syrah I have been looking for lately. The bottle was donated by one of our own storage members – I wish I knew who it was so I could thank him or her!

My favorite from Wine Gavel’s lineup was the 2000 Priorat. Here’s a full list of the wines they brought:

  • 2006 Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs – USA, California
  • 1997 Verget Meursault 1er Cru Charmes Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
  • 2001 Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine – France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine
  • 2007 Roger Lassarat Mâcon-Vergisson La Roche – France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Mâcon-Vergisson
  • 2008 Höpler Grüner Veltliner – Austria, Burgenland
  • 2006 Valdez Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Sonoma County
  • 2007 Mas des Bressades Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Costières-de-Nîmes
  • 2008 Saxon-Brown Syrah Rosé Flora Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County, Chalk Hill
  • 1990 Poderi A. Bertelli Barbera d’Asti Montetusa – Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d’Asti
  • 2004 Castello di Neive Barbaresco Santo Stefano – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
  • 2005 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Italy, Tuscany, Montepulciano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
  • 2003 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro (Manzano) Syrah Cortona Il Bosco – Italy, Tuscany, Cortona
  • 2000 Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Vieilles Vignes – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
  • 2000 Celler de l’Encastell Priorat Roquers de Porrera – Spain, Catalunya, Priorat
  • 1993 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 407 – Australia, South Australia
  • 2000 Henry’s Drive Shiraz Reserve – Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Padthaway
  • 2005 Sojourn Pinot Noir Sangiacomo Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
  • 2002 Mietz Cellars Sangiovese – USA, California, Sonoma County
  • 2003 Littorai Pinot Noir Les Larmes – USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
  • 2007 Ancien Pinot Noir – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros
  • 2004 Peay Vineyards Syrah La Bruma – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
  • 1998 Paradigm Merlot – USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
  • 1997 York Creek Vineyards Meritage – USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
  • 1997 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon Tanbark Hill – USA, California, Napa Valley
  • 2004 Martinelli Zinfandel Giuseppe & Luisa – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

Thanks to Wine Gavel for sharing their wine with our community and to everyone who attended! Let us know what you thought.


Melanie Friedman

Wines of Tuscany and Umbria – May 17

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Last night in wine school we took a tour of central Italy with Jordan Mackay, author and James Beard Award winner.

Crisp whites from Umbria and Tuscany prepped our palates for some rich, beautiful reds. Italy is not famous for its whites in general, but you can appreciate that they are perfectly refreshing on a hot day and fairly priced around $10-15. Red wines from Tuscany and Umbria have traditionally been focused on the Sangiovese grape, but more international varieties and blends can also be found. For pasta and traditional Italian fare, you can’t go wrong with a Chianti Classico. Sangiovese has bright fruit, nice spice, some earthiness, and a medium body with smooth tannin. The most notable factor is its acidity, which makes it a great accompaniment to red sauces. Sangiovese loves limestone soil, which is typical in Tuscany and contributes to the vibrant acidity of the wines. In Brunello di Montalcino, a specific clone of Sangiovese takes the form of a richer, deeper style with complex spice, more body, and more grippy tannin – perfect for a heavier Italian meal.

Some producers take a more international approach, making wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. These wines have a classic richness but an earthiness that is unmistakably Italian.

As always, Brian pulled out some really nice bottles from the cellar, including the amazing Cerbaiolo Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino from 1998 and the vibrant Argiano Solengo Super Tuscan from 1996.

Wine list:

1. Santa Cristina Campogrande Orvieto Classico 2009 (Procanico, Grechetto, Verdello, Drupeggio)

2. Villa Antinori Toscana White 2010 (Trebbiano, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio)

3. Lungarotti Torre Di Giano 2010 (Trebbiano, Grechetto)

4. Argiano Solengo Super Tuscan 1996 (Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot)

5. Cerbaiolo Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino 1998 (Sangiovese)

6. Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2008 (Sangiovese)

7. Lungarotti Vigna Monticchio Rubesco Riserva 2005 (Sangiovese, Canaiolo)

8. Le Macchiole Scrio 2007 (Syrah based)

I think everyone left the tasting with a craving for Italian food. Thanks to Jordan for a great class and to the students for attending! Let us know what you thought.

See you next time…

Melanie Friedman

Instructor Jordan Mackay wins James Beard Award!

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Congrats to our own Jordan Mackay, instructor at the Wine School @ SF Wine Center, for being honored with the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award in the beverage category for his book “Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals,” co-authored with Rajat Parr. The James Beard Foundation Awards are the most coveted honor in the food and beverage world.

Book website:

Buy an autographed copy:

More on the James Beard Foundation:

If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts!

Melanie Friedman

New World vs. Old World Wines – May 3

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

This week’s class pinned New World wines against their Old World origins. Instructor Jason Alexander helped students compare the similarities and differences between 2 wines and then polled for guesses on which was the Old World wine and which was the New World wine. The class was pretty evenly split in their guesses, making this a very intriguing blind tasting.

Lively Finger Lakes Riesling was a fine match for a classic German Kabinett:

Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2009 (Finger Lakes, NY) vs. Weingut Robert Weil Riesling Kabinett 2009 (Rheingau, Germany)

Elegant white Burgundy led the way for creamy California Chardonnay:

Olivier Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Les Folatières 1er Cru 2009 (Cote de Beaune, Burgundy) vs. Deovlet Soloman Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay 2009 (Santa Barbara, CA)

Delicate Pinots from Burgundy and Oregon stumped many:

Erath Estate Selection Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008 (Oregon) vs. Domaine Jacques Prieur Beaune Champs-Pimont 1er Cru 2008 (Cote de Beaune, Burgundy)

Popular Argentine Malbec found its roots in Cahors, France:

Château du Cèdre Cahors 2007 (Cahors, Southwest France) vs. Norton Malbec Reserva 2007 (Mendoza, Argentina)

Cabernet-dominated Margaux confused the California Cab drinker:

Blason D’Issan Margaux 2007 (Bordeaux, France) vs. Meteor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley, CA)

Based on the guesses and the preferences, we were able to see who tended more towards New World wines and who prefers the classics.

Thanks to Jason for an educational and entertaining blind tasting and to all the students who attended – a lot of new people this week!

See you next time…

-Melanie Friedman