Archive for June, 2014

Wines of the Anderson Valley and Mendocino County

Monday, 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

Pinot Days

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

This year SF Wine Center partnered with Pinot Days and hosted a booth at the event on Saturday, June 21. It was a great opportunity to mingle with fellow wine lovers and collectors, sharing the merits of wine storage. American Pinot Noir dominated the event with a couple Kiwi representations, but SFWC was the only table pouring Burgundy:

If you were lucky enough to taste this elegant, silky wine with subtle fruit and good acidity, then we hope to see you again soon at SFWC!

-Melanie Solomon

GLG Wine Labs at SF Wine Center

Friday, June 20th, 2014

What happens when a bunch of scientists get together for some wine education? Last week San Francisco Wine Center found out as we hosted “GLG Wine Labs,” a private wine tasting event for Gerson Lehrman Group, which is a membership network for one-on-one professional learning comprised of thought leaders and practitioners. In attendance were 15 senior life science executives plus SFWC instructor Jordan Mackay. The tasting featured four old and new world wine comparisons, with the goal being to educate the group on the differences between the wines and the factors that cause those differences, including climate, elevation, soil, grape varietal, barrel selection and aging.

The first comparison involved Rose – one from Loire, France and the other from Sonoma, California. The French rose was a lighter, more salmon color, with good minerality and acidity and lower alcohol. The American rose was more fruit forward and oaky, with higher alcohol and a more pronounced pink color. Jordan explained the three main methods used for making rose wine – one being to pick the grapes early when their acidity is high to create a light, crisp pink wine, another being to bleed off some juice from fermenting red wine to further concentrate that wine and create a rose wine as a byproduct, and the third being to mix red and white wine (this is not done often). In the old world producers tend to make rose by the first method, whereas in the new world rose wine is often made by the second.

The second comparison – Riesling – introduced another aspect of wine: bottle variation. On the Oregon Riesling, the first bottle was corked, so we got a lot of sneaker funk and wet cardboard. On the fresh bottle we got more typical new world Riesling aromas of rubber and lime. The German Riesling was markedly different, with a deep golden color and an oxidized/developed nose of caramel, raisin, honey and apricot. The second bottle was fresher, with peach, celery, toasted corn and honey developing on the palate.

The third comparison was a beautiful exercise in well-made Pinot Noir – one from Burgundy and one from the Anderson Valley in Northern California. The Burgundy had a perfumed nose with delicate red fruit, warm spice and nice acidity. The Anderson Pinot had an herbaceous nose with ripe fruit and oak spice.

Finally, the fourth set – Syrah – showed a nice contrast between Rhone and California, with the former being a very typical representation of the grape with black pepper and gamey meat qualities, while the California was more fruit forward.

Overall, the event played well to this scientific crowd who was able to let their inner wine geek shine. Cheers, GLG!

Wine List*:

  1. Domaine Laporte le Bouquet Loire Valley Rose de Pinot Noir 2012 (France)
  2. Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Rose 2012 (California)
  3. Max Ferdinand Richter Graacher Domprost Mosel Valley Riesling Kabinett 2004 (Germany)
  4. J Christopher Willamette Valley Riesling 2004 (Oregon)
  5. Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny-les-Beaune Les Narbantons 1er Cru 2011 (Burgundy, France)
  6. Copain “Les Voisins” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2011 (California)
  7. Saint Cosme Saint Joseph 2010 (Northern Rhone Valley, France)
  8. Alban Vineyards “Patrina” Central Coast Estate Syrah 2010 (California)

*These wines are available for purchase through SFWC – contact us if interested!

– Melanie Solomon

Sharing Pinot with the Corkdork

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

This week, storage member John (aka The Corkdork) shared a bottle of Pinot Noir with us in The City Room at SFWC. It was produced by winemaker Sashi Moorman and Rajat Parr, a sommelier who oversees the wine program of the Michael Mina restaurant group and is involved in various wine making projects. Raj is also a wine educator and writer of the book Secrets of the Sommeliers, co-authored with Jordan Mackay, a frequent SFWC educator.  As the label shows, the  fruit for this wine came from the warm Sta. Rita Hills Appellation of Santa Barbara county, which is not only the location of the movie Sideways but a region some believe to be the best place in the New World to grow Pinot Noir, due to its cool Pacific marine layer. While enjoying this easy-sipping Pinot on a pleasant afternoon, we noticed blackberry jam and delicate spice on the palate. Thanks, John and Rajat!

– Melanie Solomon

Wine and Watches

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Last month the San Francisco Wine Center sponsored a tasting at Ben Shemano Jewelry, a beautiful second-floor showroom in Union Square that specializes in antique and custom jewelry. For collectors of the finer things in life, the focus of the evening was on fine wristwatches from designers including Rolex, Patek Phillipe and Audemars Piguet. For the group of about 30 people we poured an array of wines from around the world and shared stories about winemaking and travel. We even learned that the late owner of Pride Mountain Vineyards in Napa Valley was a former dentist. Wonder what toothpaste he’d recommend for wine stains? He actually wasn’t a practicing dentist but a consultant who advised other dentists on how to optimize their office layouts.

From the white wine drinkers we found many Sancerre lovers and even converted some to Riesling fans. It was a warm evening in San Francisco and many opted for the cold ones. We encountered those who thought Riesling was always sweet, so we educated them on the various styles of Riesling and the labeling term used to denote ‘dry’ in German, which is ‘trocken.’

Red wine fans enjoyed classic west coast examples of Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel, plus a Chilean blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. A couple of magnums dared to impress bold palates and showed how the right amount of air can make a wine open up.

Inevitably, with an even number of wines it’s easy to find yourself comparing. 2 whites, 2 reds, 2 magnums. The Sancerre had a flowery nose and a rich palate. The Riesling had the distinct petrol nose that developed into stone fruit, followed by beautiful citrus and orange blossom on the palate. The Oregon Pinot Noir was earthy and leathery, while the Napa Petite Sirah had a flowery but smoky nose with spice, lead pencil and roses on the palate. The two magnums couldn’t be more different; the Brown Zinfandel was immediately rich, fruity and lush, while the Chilean blend was super tight, smoky and herbal at first, eventually opening up to reveal warm spice, red fruit, and an herbal forest. I found this one to be the most interesting, particularly as it evolved over the course of the evening.

Wine List

1. Gitton Sancerre 2012 – France
2. Peter Jakob Kuhn Riesling Trocken 2010 – Germany
3. Provocateur Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2003 – Oregon
4. Pride Petite Sirah Napa Valley 2003 – California
5. Brown Estate Zinfandel Napa Valley 2006 – California (Magnum)
6. Primus The Blend Colchagua Valley 2008 – Chile (Magnum)

Bites from The City Kitchen complimented the wines and provided a wonderful appetizer to later dinner plans. For some, the jewelry was dessert.

– Melanie Solomon