Archive for the ‘Brilliant articles’ Category

Korbel’s special Inaugural-labeled edition of their Russian River Valley California Champagne, gracing Inaugural Luncheon tables for the 8th time, is raising the ire of the Champagne lobby who insist “Champagne only comes from Champagne, France” in this article from Wine Spectator. Do you agree? Or do you think the French should kick back with a glass of whichever sparkling beverage they like, preferably with a chill pill chaser?

Here’s a link to the 2013 Inaugural Luncheon Menu if you care to whip up some steamed lobster with New England Clam Chowder Sauce, pop open a bottle of Korbel and celebrate Beyoncé style!

Congratulations Mr. President and Korbel for representing Sonoma with style!

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It almost sounds like a set up for a bad joke, “What happens when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a segregationist governor walk into a bar?” But it’s actually a great story, and I’ve included a link for your to enjoy it yourself this holiday, recounted in Doc Lawrence’s “pull up a log and set a spell” natural storyteller’s voice.

From: “A WINE TASTING FOR THE AGES: DR. KING AND FINE WINE: A HISTORIC MEETING”  by Veteran Atlanta journalist and broadcaster DOC LAWRENCE and his wonderful Sips Across America column and blog.


“On a rainy night in Atlanta, four men met somewhat accidentally in a wine store with a rear lounge. One was the great Civil Rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Another was the segregationist governor of Georgia. They were joined by the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper editor Ralph McGill and the store owner, Jim Sanders, the foremost wine importer in the South at that time. Sanders, a gifted writer, recorded the events of that evening, typing everything on his ancient Underwood typewriter.”

As he approached death in 1999, Sanders told me the story and entrusted me with his manuscript. I promised to share it with the world and to this day believe it to be one of the most fascinating tales involving wine and its potential for peacemaking.

I read Sanders’ transcript of that historic evening on my Atlanta radio show and proudly share it as Jim Sanders intended. I hope you join in sharing this with others.

There are many things to love about this odd evening of wine and conversation, and how, in a small, intimate moment over fine wine (a rosé, a sauternes sampling and a 1957 La Tache –Now selling for $3000-4000 a bottle, if you’re having a REALLY festive MLK day) these four men from very different perspectives and walks of life were able to civilly converse, and put aside their differences if only for a moment. One of Dr. King’s gifts to this country is, he helped get us to a place where the conversation lasted a lot longer and the civility took root in our hearts not just on the surface. In the spirit of a life well-lived and a philosophy of which we are the lucky recipients, here’s some ideas for wine and food pairings you can try for Martin Luther King Day.

If you’re feeling expansive (and fully recovered from Christmas and New Year’s excess) by all means, follow Dr. King to the mountaintop of deliciousness and indulge in a Southern feast fit for a King (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

This is a great post from RJ Reeves Jr. in Scrumptious Chef “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Favorite Foods: Celebrating The Great Man On His Birthday.”

However, The Sonomaist is endeavoring mightily to keep up her New Year’s Resolution of simpler and lighter, so y’all will have to let me know how those southern fried delicacies worked out! As an alternative to RJ’s righteous blowout, here’s an easy, light Southern Butter Bean Soup Recipe from Elizabeth Kelly that is both a tribute to Dr. King, and, bonus, a great pair with an “unassuming and flavorful little rosé”  of the type that was on the menu at Jim Sander’s wine shop that fateful evening. Since the name of that particular wine has been lost to history (and let’s face it, do you really want a 50 year old rosé? Didn’t think so.) Here are three choices from blowout to bargain —

2010 MacPhail Pinot Noir Rosé ($20) Crisp with a funky, barnyard-y strawberry nose. Nice barnyard finish that pairs well with the earthiness of the butter beans. (87 pts.) * Link is to the 2011 vintage.

N.V. Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé ($33) OR the 2007 Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé  ($42) Both are toasty bright strawberry inflected sparklers, but the 2007 vintage has a bit more gravitas than the more straightforward but perfectly enjoyable non-vintage offering which tends more towards the berry and less towards the rose petal and smoke of the 2007. Let’s put it this way, the N.V. is brunch and the 2007 is dinner. (N.V. 86 pts./2007Vintage 89 pts.)

2009 Inman Family Brut Rosé Nature Sparkling “Endless Crush” ($68) If you really want to blow it out big (It is the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, after all) you can’t go wrong with this incredible 100%  Russian River Valley Pinot Noir stunner. Bone dry but with beautiful mineral, yeast and raspberry notes, followed by a bracing key lime acidity on the back. This is a gorgeous wine to cellar for a few years, or, break out this MLK day, even better! (94 pts.)

It is well-documented that Dr. King’s absolute favorite food was pecan pie, a difficult food to pair with wine to be certain, but I think it’s interesting that Mr. Saunder’s recounts in his memoir that Dr. King came to the wine shop searching for Sherry and ended up sampling three Sauternes, both a bit off the beaten track, but great matches for, you guessed it, pecan pie! Here’s a great post from Wine Peeps with some fantastic pairings (Sherry and Sauternes, natch) for that most quintessentially Georgian desert.

I find that legendary historical characters are far more interesting when we can look at them as ordinary people who did extraordinary things (doesn’t that make them even more extraordinary? If they don’t have capes and still perform amazing feats of strength?) That’s what I love about Saunders’ tale, it was a small intimate moment in a larger-than-life man’s existence. I like to picture Dr. King checking his watch and hurrying home after this strange evening at Sanders’ wine shop and recounting to Coretta the crazy night he had, perhaps over a nice glass of Sherry and a generous slice of  homemade pecan pie. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day everyone!

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New social wine app


There’s a new social wine app called “Delectable” where you can save and share your wine screenshots and notes and keep in touch with your social network of wine lovers as well as famous and infamous vino luminaries. Are they taking a run at Cellar Tracker? Is it Facebook for winos? Will “Delect” be the new “Tweet?” What say you?

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A great post on luxe green hotels in Healdsburg from Renee Blodgett’s well curated and expansive travel blog We Blog The World.

Eco-Friendly Hotels in Sonoma

Even if you are staying elsewhere, make a point to check out Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg (home of the annual Pigs and Pinot event an epicurian tour de force that supports Share our Strength and local charities) it’s well worth a romantic splurge!

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With a nice Sauternes perhaps?

This is a fantastic blog A Would-Be Sommelier in Afghanistan written by John, Rotruck. In his words:

“Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) are a ubiquitous part of military life, particularly during training. Containing on average a mere 1,250 calories each, these packages of delight are used by the US armed forces at home and abroad, and have been distributed to civilians as part of disaster relief efforts. Likewise, the civilian populace sometimes purchases them for use in outdoor recreation or emergencies for the same reason they are so popular with the military—the MREs have a shelf life measured in years without the need for refrigeration. Just add potable water and voilà—a meal fit for deposed royalty!

Even though the consumption of alcohol during training for and deployment to Afghanistan is prohibited, I could only imagine the vinous bounty that might be available to others in faraway places as they consume their hearty MREs. In order to help them make the most of their dining experience, my blog will offer helpful suggestions for wine pairing with these packaged morsels. Each meal has both a complementary pairing designed to harmonize the overlapping flavor profiles of the food and wine, as well as a contrasting pairing where dissimilar characteristics of each are brought together to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Since there are many out there who predominantly prefer either white or red wines with their meals, I have attempted to suggest one of each in most cases. Each pairing will propose a general type of wine from a particular region, and then offer a specific producer and wine for the detail-oriented amongst us. I have avoided including specific vintage years in order to give the recommendations in this blog the same shelf-life as the MREs themselves—years upon years.”

I couldn’t resist posting his suggestion for  an unusual, but spot on, combination, pairing spaghetti and meat sauce with a beloved Sonoma white.  Even if you’re not unlucky enough to be dining on an MRE, I love this idea for any spaghetti and meat sauce meal. I love John’s blog even more! He’s promising MRE’s paired with savory cocktails for the new year, so stay tuned!

And please, remember our armed forces this season. Even if you don’t have a loved one  in the service, you can still send along holiday cheer. Anysoldier.com is a great site where you can adopt a soldier, airman, marine, sailor, coast guard member, or even an entire unit and send much appreciated care packages from home. Unfortunately, no Ramey Chardonnay.

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With so many amazing places to eat in Santa Rosa alone, not to mention neighboring towns, is there any reason you’d find yourself in Guy Fieri’s latest crime against food, Tex Wasabi’s? Zombie apocalypse doesn’t count.

The grim details were featured in Gawker.

Guy Fieri’s Most Disgusting Food Is Not Even At His Times Square Restaurant.

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Check out this great WSJ piece by Jay McInerney about Burt Williams, longtime Russian River Valley resident and co-founder of Williams-Selyem. Love this quote:

“I loved Burgundy but I couldn’t afford to buy it,” he told me, “so I decided to make it.”

And he made it, in spades!

Wait until you read about some of the Sonoma pinot rock stars he inspired!

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