Winemaker Cathy Corison Earns Raves From NYT

Corison 2011 NV CS - LabelWine collectors on my special calling list know of my ongoing love affair with the wines of Cathy Corison.  A lucky few were able to acquire a limited amount from my measly, preciously small allocation.

I’d discovered the sublime joy of Corison Cabernet almost two decades ago when I was lucky enough to attend a vertical tasting featuring five different Corison vintages.  I remember each wine being delightful in its own right, with a recognizable style that bound the very different wines together – like siblings that have a strong family resemblance but entirely unique personalities.

Well, as part of her anniversary celebration, Corison flew to New York for a vertical tasting of ALL TWENTY FIVE of her vintages – 1987-2011 (her current release).  Wine writer Eric Asimov tells you all about it here in the full article.

Cheers!

If my Lottery Picks were as prescient as my wine picks!

If my Lottery Picks were as prescient as my wine picks I’d be writing this from one of my homes overlooking a pristine beach.

What started my wistful thinking was the news in my inbox with the results of an interesting data analysis.  A Pinot producer that was one of my early “bets” turned out to be the top-rated Pinot Producer on CellarTracker, the world’s most extensive database of wine tasting notes and ratings from wine collectors around the globe.

Go ahead, guess who it was in the top spot… Kosta Browne?  Sea Smoke?  Kistler??  Peter Michael???  Au Bon Climat???  All good guesses.  But all would be wrong.

The top spot went to “Sojourn Cellars”.  

When I first discovered their wine, six years ago, I knew they had something special going on.  Owner Craig Haserot stood in my kitchen and poured six of their wines for me, and I selected their 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot for my “Pinot Selections” Wine Club.  Despite their relaxation-inspired logo, they had just burst onto the wine scene with great gusto, and if you’ve ever met Craig you know that’s the only way he approaches everything in life. If you squint a little bit and employ just a modicum of imagination, his size and demeanor might remind you of another Sonoma pioneer whose surname started with “H” – one A. Harazthy.

A. Harazthy, early CA Wine PioneerCraig Haserot, contemporary CA wine pioneer!

According to the data analysis of Cellar Tracker, Sojourn Cellars out-ranked all of the prestigious producers listed above.  And their favorable reviews are not limited to the online pinotphile, they’ve caught the attention of professional critics as well, rarely scoring less than 90 points from the likes of Wine Spectator, Pinot Report, Wine Advocate, et al.  

I’m proud to have supported them in their early days, and to have introduced them to you, my friends.  Congratulations to Craig Haserot and Erich Bradley.

(Note: I currently have a very small quantity of one Sojourn Cellars Pinot in stock.  I recommend it highly. The 2012 Russian River pinot from Wohler Vineyard ($48)

Why is this man smiling?  Good times are about to happen...
Why is this man smiling? Good times are close at hand…

Cheers!

Dave

866-746-7293

“Honey, what was that wine we liked??”

That question is an increasingly common one among wine fans over 40.  I like to tell them they’re experiencing memory difficulties because they have a lifetime of memories stored inside their heads, like a hard drive that’s getting full, and it takes longer to scan through everything and access a specific piece of information when it’s needed.  (There’s actually some brain research that supports my theory, which is surprising as I thought I’d made it up)

But here’s a useful article that provides helpful clues on how to cement something into your memory regardless of its vintage.  If you’re taking the SWE/WSET/MS/Etc. certification exam, this is required reading.  If you’re just interested in a better memory then yeah, you too!

2/27/15 Food & Wine Article by Charles Antin “How To Improve Your Wine Memory

A Tasting Experience at the Intersection of Wine & Art

Creativity Explored - where art changes livesWhat are you doing here?!  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate you reading my blog, it’s just that I’m going to ask you to do something more.  

Because reading about wine is all well and good, it is a fascinating topic and all, but it’s sort of like reading about sex – eventually, it’s best to set aside the academic study and experience the subject live and in person.  Which is what we’re doing every time we separate the cork from its bottle, and especially so at an organized tasting where wine becomes the center of focus, where it’s elevated beyond a pleasant background accompaniment to good company, good food or the (sadly) the T.V.

And on Thursday,  January 29th, we’re turning the usual tasting format on its head with wine inspired by art. It’s a whole different approach to tasting!

It’s not uncommon for an artist to be inspired by wine, of course.  That’s been common for centuries.  But wine inspired by art?  Come experience it with us – you’ll taste wine, and view the art that inspired it, with fresh and enlivened senses. We’ve paired artisanal wines with six different works of art by some of the developmentally handicapped artists working through the venerable Creativity Explored in San Francisco’s hip Mission District.  This worthy organization provides studio space and gallery/marketing support for dozens of such artists, some of which are able to support themselves from their proceeds.  Tickets are just $20 (available here).  Here’s a sneak peak at two of our pairings:

Biggy Cats... by Christina Marie Fong
Biggy Cats… by Christina Marie Fong inspired a pairing with Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Le Cigare Blanc. Come learn more about this fascinating match!
"Big Tree" by Jason Monzon
“Big Tree”, by Jason Monzon, inspired a pairing with the wines of Mendocino producer Seebass. Come learn how the art inspired our choice!

I hope you can join us. Because as much fun as it is to read about wine, it is far more enjoyable to taste it!  So stop reading and hie thee to the shopping cart – Tickets are a very reasonable $20 per person ($38 for two)Click to Buy Tickets

 

Happy MerchantCheers!

Dave the Wine Merchant

Advice for Enjoying Edmunds St. John’s 2012 “Rocks & Gravel”

Edmunds St. Johns 2012 R&G Label

I opened this wine for last week’s customer tasting, and want to pass along what we found.  Just a couple of quick ideas can help you greatly increase the enjoyment of this profound wine.

The wine is aromatic and lively, even a bit frizzante at first.  The best glass of this wine I had all evening was actually the next morning, after the wine had been exposed to 12 hours worth of air.

To enjoy this wine to the fullest, break out your decanter (or any clean, wide-bottomed glass container), pop the cork and give this wine a good sloshing as you pour – this baby needs air – and some active swirling once decanted. If you can plan in advance, you’d be wise to decant two or three hours before pouring the first glass.

The Wine – A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (“GSM” 55/27/18%)  from Sonoma’s famed Unti Vineyard.  Give your glass a good swirl-n-sniff and you’ll get generous aromas of candied red fruits, sweet spices and dark fruits – blackberry and bitter cherries and delicious hints of sweet black licorice and cola. If you can find the willpower, this wine will reward a few years of quiet repose.  It is a baby right now.

For more info or to purchase, click here.

Cheers!

If My Stock Picks Were As Good As My Wine Picks…

Au Bon Climat - top 101 WineriesI just received a PR release about “The 101 Best Wineries in America” from The Daily Meal.  Of the nation’s 8,000+ U.S. wine producers, the top 101 were selected by surveys from American wine and food professionals (methodology details can be found below).  So I was pleased to see the list contained NINETEEN of the wineries I’ve introduced to my club members!  

If I had as much skill in selecting stocks I could retire and tour the vineyards of the world year-round.  Hell, I could own a couple dozen.  “Call me Mr. Foley”.  Until then, I’ll spend my day copying the top 10 wineries (below), followed by the publisher’s notes and methodology.  

Note, of the 101 top wineries, 24 do not meet my wine club’s criteria for price or production criteria.

The Top 10 Wineries in America (highlights = wineries introduced to my wine club members)

1. Ridge Vineyards — Cupertino, CaliforniaTop 101 Wineries - Copain
2. Au Bon Climat Winery — Santa Maria, California
3. Calera Wine Company — Mt. Harlan, California
4. Littorai Wines — Sebastopol, California
5. Woodward Canyon Winery — Lowden, Washington
6. Dunn Vineyards — Angwin, California
7. Heitz Cellars — St. Helena, California
8. Matthiasson Winery — Napa Valley, California
9. Sandhi Wines — Santa Barbara, CA
10. Copain Wine Cellars — Healdsburg, CA 

In addition to these three top-ten wineries, my wine club members have enjoyed discovering wines selected from 16 of the remaining award winners (listed alphabetically):

Andrew Murray Vineyards — Los Olivos, CaliforniaTop 101 Wineries - Andrew Murray
Arnot-Roberts — Healdsburg, California
Beckmen Vineyards — Los Olivos, California
Bonny Doon Vineyard — Santa Cruz, California
Caparone Winery — Paso Robles, California
Corison Winery — St. Helena, California
Foxen — Santa Maria, California
Gruet Winery — Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hanzell Vineyards — Sonoma, California
Hirsch Vineyards — Cazadero, California
Mount Eden Vineyards — Saratoga, California
Peay Vineyards — Cloverdale, CaliforniaTop 101 Wineries - Tablas Creek
Qupé — Los Olivos, California
Saxum Vineyards — Paso Robles, California
Tablas CreekCreek Vineyard — Paso Robles, California
Wind Gap Wines — Sebastopol, California 

To see the full story and list of all 101 wineries from “The Daily Meal”, click here.

For more information on my wine clubs click here and discover your next favorite!

PUBLISHER’S NOTES:
While California remains indisputably the wine capital of the country, the number and variety of truly beautiful wines being made in America has grown exponentially in recent years: wine is now produced in all 50 states. This list is largely a reflection of that, and celebrates those wineries that are simply doing it best (many of which are quite unexpected!).

Methodology

The wineries on our list were nominated by experts in the field: the wonderful sommeliers, wine writers, chefs, and restaurateurs who were kind enough to gift us with their opinions about wineries around the country. After their initial nominations, these experts returned to vote on the wines based on the three values we deemed most important: wine quality, consistency, and value. Poring over the voters’ results allowed us to shape the final list of wineries you see here.

We’ve thoroughly plumbed the rich and diverse depths of the American wine landscape, and we are proud of the following list — and of course, grateful to the experts who aided us in determining which American wineries stood out to them.” – Jess Novak, drink editor, The Daily Meal

11th Release of ‘Coro Mendocino’ – Collaborative Winemaking

We all know the significance of certain dates.  July 4th.  December 25th.  June 28th.

Wait.  June 28th?  

Oh yeah. Big day, historically speaking.  The day TV Evangelist Robert Schuller attacked a flight attendant (1997).  And when Houston Astro’s Craig Biggio got his 3000th hit (2007).  It was also the day the first woman was admitted to the Air Force Academy (1976).  Like I said – a big day.

And it’s about to get bigger.  On June 28th of his year, at Mendocino’s charming Little River Inn, the 11th vintage of “Coro Mendocino” enjoys its coming out party.  Sort of makes all that other stuff pale by comparison.  

Little River Inn
Little River Inn, Mendocino Coast. Location for the 2011 “Coro Mendocino” release party.

Never heard of Little River Inn?  It’s a place worthy of a weekend. Super Wife and I have celebrated a number of anniversaries here, and we can’t recommend it highly enough – Chef Marc Dym earned five stars before settling at this resort hotel on the Mendocino coast, and his food alone is worthy of a full blog post.  But I digress – let’s get back to the wine.

Consider yourself fortunate if you’re familiar with the wine, as not many are.  It’s a cool concept – Old-World meets New-World wine making and marketing.  This year, the Coro label has been granted to eight wines produced by eight different Vintners.  It is also the Spanish/Italian word for Chorus, a community of synchronized voices that is similar to the concept behind Coro Mendocino –  winemakers coming together to set standards for a class of wines to represent their wine region.

 

Coro 2010 vintage release
Last year’s Coro wines stand at attention during their release party.

Though typical in Europe, in the U.S. such regional restrictions are unique to Coro Mendocino.  Winemakers producing a wine under the “Coro” label must comply with the following requirements, which you’ll likely find evocative of similar requirements in Old World regions such as Rioja, Bordeaux, Champagne or Burgundy:

Coro Mendocino Requirements:

  1. All grapes must be from Mendocino County
  2. Zinfandel, the county’s heritage variety, must make up at least 40% and no more than 70% of the blend.
  3. Nine other types of grapes may be used (a range of Rhone and Italian Varieties)
  4. All wines must age for a minimum of one year in barrel and one year in bottle
  5. All Coro wines must be in the approved bottle, with only the Winegrower’s information to define its birthplace
  6. No wine can be released to the public before all the winemakers in the consortium have deemed each entry as worthy during a blind-tasting.
  7. More fine print essentially insists that the group’s production protocols and bylaws be followed

So June 28th marks the first public tasting of these eight different “Coro” wines.  The entry price tag is steep, but before you move on to the next thing in your inbox, note that the $500 fee includes dinner for two AND a bottle of each of the eight Coro wines.

2011 Coro Mendocino Release Party

WHERE:               Little River Inn — Little River, CA

WHEN:                 Saturday, June 28th, 2014 — 6 p.m.

WHAT:                 Multi-course, progressive dinner for two prepared by Chef Dym using local and seasonal ingredients

PRICE:                   $500 per couple – Ticket info here

WINE:                   Coro Mendocino 2011 vintage collection (and other wines) by

  1. Barra of Mendocino
  2. Brutocao Cellars
  3. Clos du Bois
  4. Golden Vineyards
  5. McFadden Vineyard
  6. Parducci Wine Cellars
  7. Fetzer Vineyards and
  8. Testa Vineyards

Enjoy!

Dave ‘the Wine Merchant’

New Foodie Movie: The Hundred-Foot Journey

Movie Poster - 100 Foot Journey

From the director of ‘Chocolat’, produced by Spielberg and Oprah, and acted by Helen Mirren (with a French accent, no less!), this new movie promises to provide rather predictable plot lines and to be a bit over-produced (it’s from Dreamworks).  But food becomes the lead character and ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey” deserves viewing by any food enthusiast.

The contemporary plot involves an upstart Indian Chef whose family moves in across the street from Mirren’s Michelin-starred restaurant.  The ensuing clash is predictable but fun to watch, as the young upstart brings a freshness to the French foodways and traditions, and as he adapts his own style to create a fusion of the two.

Did I mention Helen Mirren plays lead?  So it’s automatically on our watch list, French accent or not.  

And I’ll enjoy each of the beautifully-shot food scenes, given the high expectations set by foodie director  Lasse Hallström in his classic ‘Chocolat’. As if his credentials weren’t enough, know that NY Chef Floyd Cardoz (Tabla, North End Grill) consulted on the food (see recipe, below) and that Cardoz was a leader in the New Indian Cuisine scene – the marriage of traditional Indian spices with Western technique.

Try the recipe at home, and if you like it, try the movie too!  

Wine Tips – Indian food has complex spices and a touch of heat, all of which work well with a surprisingly sweet Mosel Riesling – I’d say Spatlese or Auslese. Even those not fond of sweet wines will find that it comes alive when paired with Indian dishes, as does the food itself.  Enjoy! (Click the image, below, to see a print-ready version)

100 Foot Journey - Beef Recipe

What Wine Pairs With Donuts?

The trend spotters have all reported in and it’s safe to say the cupcake fad is dead.  In its stead, I bring you (drum roll) the donut fad! (Or the doughnut fad, depending on your spell checker)

“Yeah, so?” you ask, “what’s that have to do with a wine blog?!”

Glad you asked.  Everyone knows donuts don’t pair with wine.  Many have tried, few have lived to tell the tale.  And, given my oft-repeated advice that a wine needs to be slightly sweeter than the dessert it’s paired with, few wines would stand up to the test.  Pairing donuts with a dry wine would be about the most unpleasant culinary experience I can imagine, though it seems a just sentence for those nutters who claim “I drink Cabernet with everything“.  For the rest of us, we’d be nuts to pair donuts with dry wine.

Um, until now.

Today, Urban Daddy reported a new company called ‘Bespoke Doughnuts’ has introduced savory doughnuts to San Francisco’s adventurous eaters.

Savory Donuts

For example, here is Bespoke Doughnuts lineup for this week.

Appetizer: A carrot-ginger doughnut.

Main course: A Hawaiian-barbecue doughnut with a grilled-pineapple filling, sweet teriyaki glaze, and taro or lotus root chips and kalua pig on top.

Dessert: A Snickers-inspired doughnut. 

Guess I’d better get over there and start researching some new wine pairings.  You know, just in case this fad catches fire.  Meanwhile, Urban Daddy reports Bespoke Doughnuts can be found in two locations in San Francisco – Saturdays, 9am until sold out, at Mélange Market, 3153 17th St, and Sundays, 1 to 6pm, at Beaux, 2344 Market Street.

Wine Club Shipment – New Selections!

Keenan Res Merlot 2010 LabelWell, it’s done!  This month’s wine shipment to members of our wine clubs.

This week, 11 different wine selections were shipped to our club members.  Or should I say, we shipped wine to those members living in states where the thermostat allows for the safe delivery of wine – the rest of your packages are enjoying a bit of quiet repose in the shop’s basement.  Baby Blue label

Once your shipment arrives, you’ll find the latest additions to my curated portfolio, any of which you can order here

In case your copy of my wine notes gets lost, you can read them here – 2014-02 Wine Club Notes, all wines.

Buil et Gine Montsant 17XIAnd finally, if you’re looking for guidance on pairing your wines with food, you’re bound to find some new favorites among our home-tested recipes, complete with recommended wine pairings.

Happy Merchant Cropped for webCheers!
Dave “the Wine Merchant”
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