Posts Tagged ‘Meadowood’

It’s Pinot Time Again

June 9, 2012

If you scratched Lisa Rigisich, she’d probably bleed Pinot Noir.

With her husband, Steven, Rigisich is the co-founder of Pinot Days, the annual celebration of the pinot noir grape that culminates with a grand tasting from 2-5 p.m. next Saturday (June 16, ) at Fort Mason.

Rigisich is not a professional event producer. She’s a college professor. Her husband is a software professional.

The pair developed a personal interest in wine and began hosting tastings for friends at their home on the East Coast.

Then, they moved to California and took the pinot plunge in a big way. They loved the grape and wanted to get more people involved.

Pinot-Centric Purpose

The couple found that there were already big Zinfandel-specific events (ZAP) and tastings for Rhone-style wines (Rhone Rangers), but nothing in the area specifically aimed at pinot noir patrons.

Thanks to their efforts, winemakers from more than 170 wineries from California and Oregon will be pouring 500 different wines for Pinot Days attendees.

Tickets are $50. VIP tickets, which include an extra hour of tasting, are $100.

Pinot Expansion

Pinot Days kicked off eight years ago in San Francisco. Since then, additional tastings have been added in Chicago and Southern California.

There are several lead-in events in the coming week, including a dinner on Thursday (June 14) featuring 14 winemakers pouring their best bottles.

The wines will be paired with food at the new Dixie restaurant in the Presidio where chef Joseph Humphrey — an alumnus of the Restaurant at Meadowood and Murray Circle at Cavallo Point — will be behind the stove.

For a full list of Pinot Days events, click here.

Viva La Difference

West Coast pinots come in a variety of styles, depending on the geography and climate of the vineyard and the inclination of the winemaker.

“Domestic Pinot Noir seems to improve with every vintage,” Rigisich said. “It’s so good now.”

Lisa Rigisich, Pinot Days Co-Founder

“You don’t go from one table to another (at the tasting) and find clunkers,” she said. “In California and Oregon, we are getting our arms around this and doing it right.”

Rigisich disagrees with some enthusiasts who cling to the Burgundy model and consider some bolder examples of Pinot Nor to be out of character.

“There is a diversity of style that Pinot Noir can assume and that is one of its greatest assets,” she said.

“More and more, we are getting away from the thought that there is only one legitimate way to make Pinot Noir and that it has to be Burgundian.”

Rigisich points to Adam Lee (Siduri Wines) and Brian Loring (Loring Wine Company) as two well-regarded winemakers who have garnered critical praise with their New World bottlings.

“The notion that it has to be Burgundian, that it has to below a certain level of alcohol, that’s baloney,” she said.

“I will reach for one wine with certain foods and reach for another, more delicate, leaner wine with other foods. It’s a great wine that can be made in different ways, depending on where it is made and grown.”

Road Trip!

June 3, 2011

We live in an area where so many great things are within easy reach, including world-class wine-tasting destinations both famous and not-so-famous.

Summer is ripe with possibilities.

Familiar & Famous

If you’ve got a pocketful of disposable income, and nothing special on tap this weekend, you might try to snag a paddle at the Auction Napa live auction at Meadowood on Saturday (June 4).

Bidders in Action at Auction Napa 2010

The ne plus ultra charity fund-raiser is always a sellout.

The draw for globe-trotting tasters is  the valley’s most hard-to-get wines alongside world-class food. Auction lots range from cases of rare and expensive wine to personalized wine travel, dining and adventure packages.

Auction proceeds are funneled back to local charities, which have received more than $97 million in contributions over the years. Check the Napa Valley Vintners website for more information or call 707.963.3388. Good luck!

Two Events, One Parking Lot

Next weekend, there’s a pair of wine-tasting events in Santa Rosa featuring a range of tastes, styles and winemakers.

Vinify, a custom-crush facility, will host 18 small producers pouring more than 40 wines next Saturday (June 11) . The event runs from 1-4 p.m . Tickets are $25.

Don’t expect a lush landscape with picturesque vineyards and a veranda. Vinify is located in the Pinecreek Business Park, an industrial/warehouse setting a few miles off Highway 101. This is a fun event, which I attended last year and really enjoyed. Here’s a link.

Just across the parking lot from Vinify, Inspiration Vineyards is  hosting its own open house. Jon Phillips, winemaker, and his wife Barbara will be pouring from a lineup of at least eight Sonoma County wines, , including zinfandel, cabernet, pinot noir, and chardonnay.

Bottle Your Own

Get your hands (and tongue) wet on Saturday, June 11, at La Nebbia Winery near Half Moon Bay where they will be having a “bottle your own wine” event. For $4.95/bottle, you can fill up your own bottle with vintage 2010 sangiovese wine from Paso Robles. Add $1.50 to the tab if you need to buy a 750-ml bottle from the winery.

Pinot Days

The 7th annual Pinot Days celebration culminates with a mass tasting of 100s of wines at Fort Mason on Sunday, June 18.

There’s a heavy emphasis on California pinot at this event, but there will also be offerings from Oregon and France in the mix with more than 200 wineries participating.

Tickets for the main event are $50.

Several additional tastings, including a spotlight on California pinot noir specialist Williams-Selyem and a Best of Oregon retrospective, are also being held prior to the main event. Check out last year’s coverage for more background.

Mendocino in Motion

You won’t have to make the drive up to Mendocino to sample some of the North Coast’s best wines later this month. They’re coming to you!

More than 60 Mendocino wineries will pour current releases in San Francisco at Fort Mason on Monday, June 30 from 5-8 p.m. Regional foods and craft beers will also be available at the Taste of Mendocino event. Tickets are $35 in advance.

Taking Petite Sirah Seriously

February 24, 2010

There’s a lot to like about petite sirah, a bold and sometimes brawny grape with roots in the south of France where it goes by the name durif, so maybe it’s time you tried a bottle the next time a red wine decision is needed.

I attended the annual petite sirah love fest sponsored by the advocacy group P.S. I Love You a few days ago at Rock Wall Wines in Alameda. There were 44 wineries pouring samples of their petite sirahs alongside plates of food prepped by 31 regional restaurants and caterers.

There was superb regional diversity, with greats wines coming from Napa along with Lodi and Mendocino and Lake counties.

Biale is Best

I was blown away by the across-the-board quality of the petite sirah poured by Robert Biale Winery. This small premium winery sits on the edge of Napa subdivision where it makes some of the finest petite sirahs in California, along with some world-class zinfandel, too.

Biale's Dave Pramuk and Al Perry at P.S. I Love You

Biale Vineyards' Dave Pramuk (left) and Al Perry

Two of the Biale wines really stood out. The 2007 Like Father, Like Son (a syrah/petite sirah blend from Napa with a splash of zin, $46) and The Royal Punisher ($36), a brooding all petite-sirah giant of a wine from Napa that epitomizes what this rough and tumble grape can become in the hands of talented Biale winemaker Al Perry.

Most of these wines are in short supply, so fans might want to check into the Biale wine club to insure access to limited bottlings. Call the winery at 707-257-755 for info.

Get in Line

Cecchetti Wine Company in Lake County has a bargain-priced winner with its Line 39 2007 petite sirah from the North Coast appellation. I would have never guessed this is a $10 wine. I’d have paid twice that and felt like I got a bargain in this deep red wine that tastes of chocolate and red cherries. A sample of the unreleased 2008 was even better!

A few notches higher on the flavor meter is the 2007 Pickett Road petite sirah ($35) from Rosenblum Cellars.  The taste of this jammy, concentrated red fruit bomb from Napa was addictive as was the nose of plums and chocolate that tumbled out of the glass.

Tune in to Jazz

Jazz Cellars poured its exquisite 2006 petite sirah from Eaglepoint Ranch ($38) in Mendocino and the double-gold winner from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition did not disappoint.

This is a big wine that would match up well with a slab of prime beef still sizzling from the grill. Despite 14.7 percent alcohol, the wine is balanced, with sufficient acid to keep the sweet fruit in check. Just a touch of vanilla from the oak barrel aging complements the red and black fruit flavors and the tight tannins of this wine.

Jazz wines are made at Crushpad, the San Francisco wine collective.

Honorable Mention

Two wines from Lodi showed what the fertile Delta region can produce when it comes to petite sirah.

Mettler Family Vineyards petite sirah ($22) is made from organic vineyards and the wine is a deep purple pleasure giver. The Michael David Petite Petit (a blend of 85 percent petite sirah and 15 percent petit verdot, a French varietal) is a $22 bottle of violet-scented blackberry fruit with a fine dusty edge.

In Pursuit of Perfect Pinot

The 8th annual Pinot Noir Summit is slated for Saturday (Feb. 27) at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael from noon to 8:30 p.m. More than 40 different wineries — mostly from California and Oregon — will be pouring. There will be blind tastings and workshops plus an awards ceremony where the top-rated wine will be revealed. Tickets run $75-$125.

Pig Out With Wine

Pigs are the main attraction, but there will also definitely be a wine component at  Cochon 555 in Napa this Saturday. Five chefs, five pigs and five winemakers will be featured at this event — the first of 10 cooking competitions in different cities across the country this year.

The challenge — create as many interesting dishes as possible from an entire 125-pound hog. Chefs from some of the region’s finest restaurants — Meadowood, French Laundry, Silverado Resort, Namu of San Francisco and Zazu Restaurant — will be pairing dishes with wines from Gamble Family Vineyards, Zacherle Wines, Hill Family Estate, Wind Gap Wines and Hirsch Vineyards.

Tickets run $100-$160. If you can’t make it to Silverado Resort for this event, the Cochon 555 tour will be in San Francisco June 6 with a different set of chefs, wineries and heritage hogs.

Auction Action Ahead

May 20, 2009

Napa Charity Affair

The Napa Valley Vintners Auction cranks up next month with dozens of auction-related festivities leading up to the main event on June 6. There will be 42 lots of  ultra-exclusive wine, wine-and-food-related trips and winery-hosted events  up for bid.  I’ve got my eye on Lot 42, which includes  not just 40 bottles of top-shelf wine, but also an all-expenses-paid trip to New York on a private jet, a suite at the Plaza Hotel plus luxury box tickets to the US Open tennis tournament.  Before the bidding begins, guests from around the world will be treated to a never-ending parade of gourmet food, wines and entertainment under a tent at the exclusive Meadowood resort.  A limited supply of all-inclusive tickets ($1000-$2500) are available along with single-event tickets ($250).ANV09-logo_lg

Notable among other related events is the annual Barrel Tasting and Futures Auction on June 5 at Robert Mondavi Winery. Attendees can taste barrel samples from more than 100 Napa wineries and then bid on special lots of selected wines for future delivery. Profits from auction events go to local charities, which have received $85 million since the inaugural 1981 auction.  If you want to bid, but can’t attend in person, there is an online auction option. Online bidding begins May 22 and ends June 5.