SF Wine Blog

Exploring wine in and around San Francisco.

1 Comment

Wine Events: Week of Mar. 19

I’m sure I’ve said this time and again, but I feel lucky to live in a city that has such a tremendous group of wine professionals.  Every time I’m at a tasting, I find myself impressed by the sharp and engaging sommeliers, retail staff, winemakers, and importers — all of whom are more than willing to pour something special for you.

This bonhommie was evident at Monday’s In Pursuit of Balance event.  While I enjoyed tasting through the stellar line-up of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some exciting California wineries, I was simply floored by the camaraderie displayed by the winemakers and professionals in the room for the trade tasting.  In one corner, you have Josh Jensen (Calera) pouring a 1998 Reed Vineyard Pinot and chatting with David Hirsch.  In the other, you have Ross Cobb (Cobb and Hirsch Vineyards) and Pax Mahle (Wind Gap) exchanging notes.  And the mix of new up-and-comers and legends was astounding.  When you find yourself tasting Pinot and Chard from Tyler Winery (founded in 2005) , and then chase that down with wines from Littorai, you’re in a pretty happy spot.

A few things that stood out for me:  Arnot-Roberts (I may be biased b/c I worked harvest there, but the 2011 Trout Gulch Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains is crazy energetic, and the 2011 Peter Martin Ray Vineyard Pinot Noir was also showing well (pre-release)); Ceritas Wines (if there was one lineup that was across the board stellar, it was Ceritas.  Well done, John Raytek!); Chanin Wine Company; Kutch Wines; Mount Eden; SandhiTyler; Wind Gap.

While it was a great event, I am definitely ready to switch gears, and there’s plenty of opportunity this week.  In addition to the events below, don’t forget that it’s Rhone Rangers weekend in San Francisco!  Full details on the event here.  And congrats to our ticket contest winner, Colleen!!!


Wed., Mar. 21:  German Wines @ Arlequin (Hayes Valley)

Arlequin Wine Merchants
384 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 8:00pm – $20

Dinner on Monday night involved a lot of spicy food, and some killer German Riesling.  Because acid does a body good, and because I need an excuse to learn more about German wines, I’m thinking of heading over to Arlequin to check out Tom Elliot’s import portfolio.  Each of these producers will be there, and will be bringing two wines each (including a few reds):

Frank Heyden of Dr. Heyden
Ulrike Muller of G.A. Schneider
Achim Eberle of  Fitz Ritter
Paul Anheuser
Stefan Bollig of Bollig Lehnert
Tilbert Nagler of Dr. Nagler
JJ Karp of Karp Schreiber
Karin Fischer of Dr. Fischer
Barbara Rundquist of Dr. Thanisch

On a total aside, you really need to check out this video of the Mosel from the Guild of Sommeliers.  You’ll see why I fell in love with this region when I visited last summer.


Wed., Mar. 21:  Dom. Rouge Bleu @ The Punchown (Oakland)

The Punchdown
2212 Broadway
Oakland, CA

5:30pm – 8:30pm – $15

Blog-savvy winemaker Jean-Marc Espinasse will be pouring three wines from his vineyards from his organic vineyards in the Côtes du Rhône.  You’ve only got to look at the pics of the vineyard to get me on board to try out these wines.

 Three two-ounce pours of the following for $15:

-2010 Domaine Rouge-Bleu “Dentelle Rosé” (Grenache/Carignan)
-2010 Domaine Rouge-Bleu “Dentelle Rouge” (Carignan/Grenache)
-2009 Domaine Rouge-Bleu “Le Mistral” (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre/Roussanne)


Sat., Mar. 24:  Loire/Alsace Wine Tasting @ K&L Wines (SoMa)

K&L Wine Merchants
638 4th Street
San Francisco, CA

noon – 3:00pm – $15

K&L’s Eric Story has selected some Loire wines, and a splash of Alsatian wines, to kick-start your spring weekend.  I’m particularly psyched about the ’85 Huet Moelleux (see full lineup below).

Francois Chidaine Touraine Pétillant Rosè $18.99
2009 Bechtold “Obere Hund” Pinot Noir $25.99
1976 Couly Dutheil “Baronnie Madeleine” Chinon $54.99
2007 Jean-Maurice Raffault “Clos des Capucins” Chinon $26.99
2009 Pithon-Paille “Les Graviers” Bourgueil $26.99
2009 Martin Schaetzel Pinot Blanc Reserve $14.99
2009 Domaine Stoeffler Muhlforst Riesling $27.99
2010 Jean Pabiot Pouilly Fumé $19.99
2007 Alphonse Mellot “Les Pénitents” Chardonnay Côteaux Charitois $28.99
2008 Marc Tempé Zellenberg Gewurztraminer $32.99
1995 Domaine du Viking “Aurélie” Vouvray $49.99
1985 Huet “Le Clos du Bourg” Vouvray Moelleux $84.99


Sat., Mar. 24:  Corsican Wine Tasting at SF Wine Trading Co. (Bernal)

San Francisco Wine Trading Co.
250 Taraval
San Francisco, CA

2:00pm – 5:30pm – $10

I’ve only had a handful of Corsican wines, mainly from Domaine Abbatuccci, but it’s enough to make me want to explore the island a bit more.  Taste through some Corsican wines from the Kermit Lynch portfolio at SF Wine Trading Co. this Saturday.

For a general overview on Corsican wines, please see this write up from Kermit Lynch Imports.  https://kermitlynch.com/media/RVF%20Corsica%20Article%20Translation.pdf


Sun., Mar. 25:  Champagne Jacquesson Tasting @ Terroir (SoMa)

Terroir SF
1116 Folsom
San Francisco, CA

7:00pm – 9:00pm

Co-owner and former chef de cave John-Herve Chicquet of Jacquesson will be on hand to pour his Cuvée 735.  Details a bit hazy, but hey — it’s Champagne.  What’s there not to love?  Here’s an entertaining video interview of John-Herve Chicquet.  

As for the picture here — I took it while passing through Dizy last July.  Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to stop by the winery.


Leave a comment

Wine Events: Week of Mar. 12

IPOB Public Tasting at RN74 (2011)

While everyone else is guzzling green beer on Saturday, I’ll be prepping my liver for the second installment of In Pursuit of Balance.  Last year’s inaugural event brought together a mind-blowing assortment of talented Pinot producers (Ted Lemon, Ross Cobb, Gavin Chanin, John Raytek, and Pax Mahle to name a few), and  this year brings more of the same PLUS some well-regarded Chardonnay producers.  That’s right, I said California Chardonnay. There will be plenty of wines that will defy the buttery, pour-me-over-the-popcorn style that has dominated supermarket shelves. And you folks in the “Anything But Chardonnay” crowd might just find something you’ll enjoy drinking.


Thurs., Mar. 15:  IPOB Preview @ Arlequin (Hayes Valley)

Arlequin Wine Merchants
384 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 8:00pm – $20

Can’t wait to taste some lean, nervy California Pinot and Chardonnay?  Get a jump on the festivities by attending this preview tasting at Arlequin.  Here are the wines they’ll be pouring:

2009 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2009 Hirsch Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
2009 Hirsch Vineyards ‘San Andreas’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2008 Cobb ‘Coastlands’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2008 Cobb ‘Rice-Spivak’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2010 Calera ‘Mt Harlan’ Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
2009 Calera ‘Ryan Vineyard Mt Harlan’ Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
2008 Ojai ‘Bien Nacido’ Santa Barbara Chardonnay
2008 Ojai ‘Bien Nacido’ Santa Barbara Pinot Noir


Sat., Mar. 17:  Bordeaux Tasting @ K&L Wines (SoMa)

K&L Wine Merchants
638 4th Street
San Francisco, CA

noon – 1:30pm – $50 (tickets here)

I admit it:  I know next to nothing about Bordeaux.  But the staff at K&L surely does.  Join them as they open up the following wines:

2009 Ch. Le Gay
2009 Ch. Pichon Lalande
2008 Hosanna
2008 Ch. Leoville Las Cases
2008 Ch. Pichon Baron
2008 Ch. Pape Clement
2006 Ch. Haut Brion
2008 Ch. Montrose
2007 Ch. D’Yquem Sauternes


Mon., Mar. 19:  In Pursuit of Balance (Financial District)

Julia Morgan Ballroom
465 California St.
San Francisco, CA

6-9pm – $75

See above.

NOTE:  The March 20 IPOB dinner at Heirloom Cafe featuring Ceritas and Chanin Wine Co. is now sold out.

Participating wineries:
Alta Maria / Anthill Farms Winery / Arnot-Roberts / Au Bon Climat Winery/ Calera Wine Company / Ceritas / Chanin Wine Company / Cobb Wines / Copain Wine Cellars / Evening Land Vineyards / Failla / Flowers Winery / Freeman / Freestone / Hirsch Vineyards / Kutch Wines / LIOCO / Littorai Wines / Miura / Mount Eden Vineyards / Native9 Wines / Peay Vineyards / Red Car / Sandhi Wines / Soliste Cellars / The Ojai Vineyard / Twomey Cellars / Tyler Winery / Wind Gap Wines


Mon., Mar. 19:  Finding Values in Wine  @ 18 Reasons (Mission)

18 Reasons
3674 18th Street
San Francisco, CA

7-9pm — $60 per person

18 Reasons is hosting a series of classes aimed at providing attendees with “tips and tools to find and identify high quality, reasonably priced wines in wine shops and at restaurants.”  This class will focus on wines for long-term aging.

1 Comment

Wine Events: Week of March 5

I got my mind on Pinot and Pinot on my mind.  A few days down in Shell Beach tasting wines at the annual World of Pinot Noir are clearly to blame.  There were some thought-provoking seminars on Terroir and Natural Winemaking, and an excellent Burgundy class led by Allen Meadows (who selected a great lineup of eight wines from Volnay, Pommard, Vosne-Romanee, and Gevrey-Chambertin).

But what has been on my mind is this description on the back of one of the wines served at WOPN.

“Our 2008 [wine]…calls out in big voluptuous tones of dark, black fruit with a rich and velvety texture that redefines Pinot Noir.”

Dark, black fruit with a rich, velvety texture? Doesn’t sound like Pinot.  In fact, I did a search for those terms on Google, and the top results included tasting notes for Napa Valley Cabernet.

Call me a traditionalist, but I don’t think anyone really needs to “redefine” Pinot.  I’m OK with the original definition.

OK, enough of my preaching.  Here’s how to quench your thirst this week.


Tues., Mar. 6:  Flour + Water Italian Wine Dinner (Mission)

Flour + Water
2401 Harrison
San Francisco, CA

Two seatings (5:45pm and 8:45pm) – $175 (inclusive of gratuity)

Farm Wine Imports’ Kevin Clancy will be guiding you through Italian Wine 101, covering history, classic varietals, food & wine pairings, and natural wine producers.   All this, and a 5-course tasting menu from the talented F+W kitchen.


Wed., Mar. 7:  David Hirsch Dinner  (Berkeley)

Meritage at Claremont
41 Tunnel Road
Berkeley, CA

6:30pm – $125 per person (tickets here)

Hirsch Vineyards Founder David Hirsch (a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist) planted Pinot and Chardonnay north of Jenner on the Sonoma Coast back in 1980, when few people thought this area was hospitable to vineyards.  He proved them wrong.  Join David for a dinner in Berkeley this week.  Here’s the full menu:

2009 Chardonnay

First Course
Wild Mushroom “Cigars”
Black Truffle Mousse
2010 Bohan Dillon Pinot Noir

Second Course
Sonoma Duckling Meatballs
Sweet Potato & Freeze Dried Berry Powder
2009 Bohan Dillon Pinot Noir

Third Course
Cedar Planked Eden Farms Pork
Red Wine Braised Cabbage, Herbed Spaetzle
Mustard “Foam”
2009 San Andreas Pinot Noir
2007 San Andreas Pinot Noir

Fourth Course
Tcho Chocolate Coke Farms Beet Cake
Candied Beets & Raspberries


Wed., Mar. 7:  Winemaker Dinner@ Delfina (Mission)

3621 18th Street
San Francisco, CA

Dinner hours – make a reservation here

Delfina: Wednesday March, 7th

Lorenza Sebasti Pallanti of Castello di Ama will be joining the Delfina team for a feast in the Mission.  Per the invite, “All of the estate’s wines will be available in various formats and Lorenza will be on hand to guide you through the vino and the food and to tell you about the magic that she and winemaker Marco Pallanti create. Menu items will include Papardelle in Pork Sugo, Bistecca Fiorentina (1 kilo porterhouse from the wood fired Webber), Ribollita and Rabbit – both ‘da Delfina’ – and many other favorites. Lorenza will also bring a precious bottle or two of their estate olive oil, which we will use to finish many of the night’s offerings.”


Wed., Mar. 7:  Dom. Catherine et Pierre Breton / Dom. de la Cadette Tasting @ 18 Reasons (Mission)

18 Reasons
3674 18th Street
San Francisco, CA

7-9pm — $15 non members / $10 members

When I started venturing into Loire wines, I stumbled upon a bottle of Bourgeuil from Domaine Catherine et Pierre Breton.  I fell in love immediately.  I tried my hardest to visit Dom. Breton during my time out there last September, but couldn’t quite squeeze it in.  Pierre Breton is touching down in SF this week, and I now have multiple opportunities to meet him in my hometown:  Wednesday at 18 Reasons, Thursday at Arlequin, and Friday at San Francisco Wine Trading Company.

And as an added bonus, Jean Montanet of Domaine de la Cadette will also be on hand.


Thurs., Mar. 8:  Breton / Domain de la Cadette @ Arlequin (Hayes Valley)

Arlequin Wine Merchants
384 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 8:00pm – $15

See above


Thurs., Mar. 8:  Selection Massale Savoie Wine Dinner @ Camino (East Bay)

3917 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA

6:30pm (reception) / 7:00pm (dinner) – $100 three-course dinner & wine pairing (extra $20 for vintage wine pairing)

I’ve sung the praises of the Selection Massale portfolio before, because I have a soft spot for wines with a lot of character.  Thursday, you get a chance to try wines from Selection Massale’s Savoie producer Domaine Dupasquier, and get to meet Cory & Guillaume.


Thurs., Mar. 8:  Clos Saron @ The Punchown (Oakland)

The Punchdown
2212 Broadway
Oakland, CA

5:30pm – 8:30pm – $15

Gideon Bienstock, winemaker at Clos Saron, will be in town to pour wines at Oakland’s natural wine bar of choice — The Punchdown. Clos Saron makes about 100 cases of biodynamic wines from the Sierra Foothills each year, and Gideon’s dedication to minimal intervention in the cellar make for some very unique wines.


Sun., Mar. 11:  Fundraiser for Partners in Health @ DigWineSF (Portrero Hill)

1005 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA

5:30pm – $50 (additional donations to Partners in Health are welcome)

DigWine is a dangerous place for me.  I walk in trying to buy one bottle, but invariably leave with multiple wines in tow.  There is just way too much temptation in this jewel box of a store.

Join DigWine and Farm Wine Imports for a fundraiser for Partners in Health, and a tribute to the late Joe Dressner.  Here are the wines being poured:

~ Casa Coste Piane Prosecco Valdobiaddene
~ Pépière 2010 Muscadet ‘Clos des Briords’
~ Clos Roche Blanche 2010 Touraine Sauvignon
~ Terre Dorées 2010 Beaujolais ‘L’Ancien’
~ Sanguineto 2009 Rosso di Montepulciano
~ Occhipinti 2008 Nero d’Avola ‘Siccagno’
~ Texier 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape rouge

Leave a comment

Wine Events: Week of Feb. 27

I am still far too overwhelmed by the awesomeness that was La Paulée to write a full report.  But let me share this one general sentiment:  there is a tremendously warm and inviting group of wine professionals in both NY and SF, and one of the great things about this event was seeing them all at their best. I feel lucky to have been at the Grand Tasting, and hope in the future to attend some of the seminars. My highlight of the tasting:  the 2009 Roulot Meursault-Perrières.  An elegant and focused wine that I found my mind going back to during the course of the day.  A real stunner. The kind of wine that proves that if you’re in the ABC crowd (“anything but Chardonnay”), you’re missing out.

I’ll be diving into a bit more Pinot at the World of Pinot Noir event in Shell Beach this weekend, and then gearing up for In Pursuit of Balanceon March 19.  The IPOB-NYC tasting is sold out, but that there are a few tickets left for the San Francisco tasting.


Wed., Feb. 29:  Patrick Piuze Chablis Tasting @ FPWM (FiDi)

Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA

4:30 pm – 7:30 pm – $28

French-Canadian winemaker Patrick Piuze left Montreal for Burgundy a few years ago, and despite only having a few vintages under his belt, has made waves in the wine industry.  Meet the winemaker and try the following wines this Wednesday at FPWM:

2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis, Terroir de Chichee
2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis
2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis, Montee de Tonnerre, 1er Cru
2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis, Butteaux, 1er Cru
2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis, Blanchots, Grand Cru


Wed., Feb. 29:  Gerald Asher at Omnivore Books (Mission)

Omnivore Books
3885 Cesar Chavez
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 7:00pm – FREE

Gerald Asher will be reading from his collection of wine-related essays, A Carafe of Red.  Steve Heimoff had a chance to read an advance copy, and has this to say:  “A particular joy of reading such a comprehensive and personal book as A Carafe of Red is that we get to experience, vicariously but no less intimately, Mr. Asher’s experiences of wines we will never otherwise have the opportunity to taste.”


Thurs., Mar. 1:  Cote de Nuits @ Arlequin (Hayes Valley)

Arlequin Wine Merchants
384 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 8:00pm – $25

Didn’t get your fill fo Burgundy last week?  You can make up for it on Thursday.

UPDATE:  List of wines now available – 

2009 Mongeard-Mugneret Fixin
2008 Phillipe Pacalet Gevrey Chambertain ‘Perrieres’ 1er Cru
2007 J.F. Mugnier Nuits-St.-Georges ‘Clos Fourches’
2006 Jerome Chezaux Vosne-Romanee ‘Les Chaumes’
2005 Henri Gouges Nuits-St.-Georges
2005 Moillard Echezeaux
2004 Georges Roumier Morey-St.-Denis ‘Bussiere’



Thurs., Mar. 1:  Rudi Wiest Tasting @ K&L Wines (SoMa)

K&L Wine Merchants
638 4th Street
San Francisco, CA

5:00pm – 6:30pm – $5

Rudi Weist’s portfolio includes some German Riesling stars, including JJ Prum and Fritz Haag.  for $5, you can taste some of these treasures from the 2010 vintage.