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Archive for the ‘Russian River Valley’ 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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 De Loach Vineyards 1791 Olivet Road  Santa Rosa, CA 95401. Phone (707) 526-9111

2009 Hawk Hill Vineyard Chardonnay ($50) Well balanced, refreshing bracing acidity and apricot. Not a lot of oak or butter. Very crisp. Would be a perfect pairing with quiche. 91 Pts. (Tasted 11/12)

2010 De Loach O.F.S. Chardonnay ($32) The O.F.S. is a multi-vineyard blend. A buttery nose and tart green apple midpalate cuts through the malolactic creaminess. A well-made wine. 89 Pts. (Tasted 11/12)

2009 De Loach Green Valley Pinot Noir ($45) Blackberry, blueberry and marzipan tart. Not completely integrated yet, needs time. 89 Pts.

2010 De Loach Estate Collection Pinot Noir ($50) The first vintage of a relatively new vineyard planted in 2007. Rich baking spices and plush plum. Smooth and well-integrated now with plenty of time to evolve even more. 92 Pts. (Tasted 11/12)

2008 De Loach Van Der Kamp Pinot Noir ($45) Planted at a 1200 ft. elevation in the Sonoma Mountains. This has a resinous, rosemary nose. Eucalyptus and tart red berries abound. Natural yeast adds an ethereal smokiness. 93 Pts. (Tasted 11/12)

2008 De Loach Forgotten Vines Zinfandel ($36) These vines were planted in the early 1900’s prior to Prohibition (hence the name.) A strawberry soda nose carries through on a simple berry basket mid-palate. 85 Pts. (Tasted 11/12)

2008 De Loach Nova Vineyard Zinfandel ($32) Made from Lake Country Zinfandel from dry farmed grapes planted in the early 1960’s. Cigar box nose, plums and dried apricots. Well balanced with a healthy does of acidity. Would be lovely with a fruit and nut cheese platter. 87 Pts. (Tasted 11/12)

2006 De Loach Pinot Noir Van Der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain ($42) Spicy, eucalyptus peppermint, red cherry fading to black cherry.93 Pts. (Tasted 9/10)

2007 De Loach Pinot Noir Masút Vineyard Redwood Valley ($45) Big black cherries. Super barnyard nose carries through on the finish. A manly, incredible pinot! 97 pts.  (Tasted 9/10)

2007 De Loach Chardonnay Golden Coast ($45) Not much nose here. Perhaps it was served too cold? Super buttery, but with a nice acidic back. 88 pts. (Tasted 9/10)

2007 De Loach O.F.S. Chardonnay ($?) The butteriness of the Golden Coast Chardonnay but more filled out with oak on the back. 89 pts. (Tasted 9/10)

2007 De Loach Green Valley Pinot Noir ($45) Eucalyptus, spice, cola, black cherry, This has an amazing nose and a beautiful earthiness. Classic Russian River Valley flavor profile, the forest in a glass! 93 (Tasted 9/10)

2006 De Loach Pinot Noir Sonoma Stage ($60) Mushroomy, loamy nose. Super smooth. 94 pts. (Tasted 9/10)

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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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 Woodenhead Winery 5700 River Road, Santa Rosa, CA. Phone (707) 887-2703

2007 Woodenhead Pinot Noir Humboldt County ($42) I don’t think it’s a coincidence that what I consider Woodenhead’s most consistently evocative wine comes from the same region of California where, let us say, other, semi-legal intoxicants are cultivated. The Humboldt Pinot is rich and milk chocolate-y with exotic shiitake mushroom  on the mid palate and a lovely back. It’s also 14.4% alcohol. There are many Sonoma pinots who wouldn’t qualify as demure when it comes to alcohol content, but there is something about these Woodenheads, lovely as they are, that goes to my head and makes everything a little more “Maui Wowie” than most. I’ll blame it on the Humboldt, and save these stunners for the weekend. 90 pts. (Tasted 9/10)

2006 Woodenhead Zinfandel Martinelli Road Old Vines Russian River Valley ($45) I think it’s always appropriate to make clear where one is coming from, especially in wine reviews. Since everyone’s palate is difference, the best you can do is throw out your own impressions and truth, and hopefully, you, dear reader, will find something that sparks some connection or inspiration. This is a long winded way of saying, The Sonomaist is a bit of a zin snob. It’s just not my thing. I’ve tried. But I never really “connected” with the big jam and 16% alcohol of so many Sonoma zins. That being said, when a zin manages to impress, I give credit where credit is due. But I also allow for the fact that I’m not a zinophile, so it’s usually the “Un-zin” zins that make me perk up and take notice. This is one of them. I was pleasantly surprised at the dry, not at all over the top spiciness. If I tasted this blind I would think syrah. I was even more surprised that Woodenhead, a winery that is hardly shy about going full throttle on its pinots went so restrained on the zin. This is a wine that would go perfectly with bacon wrapped pork loin cooked on the grill. 89 pts. (Tasted (9/11)

2007 Woodenhead Syrah Russian River Valley ($36) Dry, tobacco, mushrooms and loamy soil. The fruit isn’t at all overpowering. Lovely. (Tasted 9/11)

2007 Woodenhead Pinot Noir Russian River Valley ($42) Rich and spicy with mocha mid palate. Another BIG Woodenhead pinot with a long finish. 95 pts. (Tasted 9/11)

2007  Woodenhead Pinot Noir Buena Tierra Vineyard (Original Planting) Russian River Valley ($60) Spicy, light nutmeg and red cherry on the mid palate. Cedar on the back. Light and almost Burgundian. Almost like a Volnay. An elegant departure from Woodenhead’s more full throttle style. 94 pts. (Tasted 9/11)

2006 Woodenhead Pinot Noir Morning Dew Ranch ($45) Very dry and loamy. Would be amazing with ankimo (Japanese monkfish liver. It’s very similar to fois gras. I call it “fois gras of the sea.” If you’ve never tried it, next time you’re at a reputable sushi bar and see it on the menu, give it a whirl, it’s best served as sashimi with ponzu rather than sushi, but I digress…) 93 pts. (Tasted 9/11)

2006 Woodenhead Pinot Noir Wiley Vineyard ($60) Deep, complex wine with an intoxicating perfumed nose. 94 pts. (Tasted 9/11)

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2005 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Klopp Vineyard Russian River Valley 14.4% alc. ($57) 96 points

I had to inaugurate the site with a true classic from the cellar. I was lucky enough to have Russian River Pinots act as my entrée to Sonoma wines. My first was a 1994 David Bruce Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I didn’t know at the time that Dr. Bruce operated out of Santa Cruz, nor would I have cared, all I knew was that red cherry, mushroomy burst of madness was something to behold…and then chase.

Merry Edwards came onto my radar soon thereafter. No flash, and talented as all hell, Ms. Edwards makes exquisite juice. From her humid, tropical, sensual Hawaii-in-a-botte, also known as her Sauvignon Blanc (ret. approx. $29) to all of her infamous, and site specific pinot noir offerings, she’s a longstanding Sonoma Goddess, so I’m not letting you in on any sort of state secret here (plenty of those later, but we’re just getting acquainted.) Ms. Edwards’ wines always score well into the 90’s in all the wine press, and with good reason. Even 7 years in bottle, the 2005 Klopp Pinot still exhibits ripe, red currants tempered with English Breakfast tea on the approach,  a weighty espresso bean gravitas on the midpalate chased by a zingy acidity and return of the red fruits on the back. This still has many wonderful years of life on it, but I had to pop and pour, ya know, for the blog.

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