SF Wine Blog

Exploring wine in and around San Francisco.


Arlequin Beaujolais Bash – This Thursday


A wine retail friend of mine recently told me about a customer who was a bit wary about accepting her recommendation that he should add a bottle of Jean Foillard’s Morgon Cote du Py to his shopping cart. The conversation went something like this:

“Do you think I’ll like it?”

“Do you kick puppies?”


“OK. You’ll like it.”

Because seriously people: how can you not love Cru Beaujolais / Bro-jo / Bo-jo / Gam-gam or whatever pet nickname you’ve adopted for one of the happiest wines on the planet. It is pure pleasure.

And there really is no better way to enjoy Beaujolais then being surrounded by friends, which is why for the past few years, I’ve done my darndest to get down to Arlequin Wine Merchants for their annual Beaujolais Bash. It takes place on Thursday, from 6-8pm ($35). Don’t miss it!

Here’s what is on tap for the tasting:

Guy Breton Regnie

Marcel Lapierre Morgon

Jean Foillard Morgon, Fleurie & Nouveau

Cheateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly

Chanrion Cote de Brouilly

Diochon Moulin-a-Vent

Julien Sunier Fleurie, Morgon & Regnie

PUR Regnie, Village & Nouveau

Dupueble Nouveau

Bruno de Bize 3 separate Beaujolais cuvees

Terres Dorees/Jean-Paul Brun Cote de Brouilly, Fleurie &Morgon

George Descombes Brouilly & Morgon

Champier Brouilly & Villages

Clos de la Roilette Fleurie


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Psst. Hey kid — want some Cru Beaujolais?

“These days, there is probably no wine that I am more excited about (well, along with the reds of the northern Rhône) than Beaujolais. I drink it at home, I drink it at restaurants, I push it at RN74. I cannot get enough of it.” – Jordan Mackay / Rajat Parr, Secrets of the Sommelier

Most wine fans fondly remember that one wine that made them think, “Whoa, there's a lot going on here!” And from that moment, they're hooked. They start buying wines from different regions, varieties, and producers. They start asking questions about vineyards, soil, and winemaking practices. Before they know it, they've jumped down the rabbit hole. For me, that wine — my gateway drug — was Cru Beaujolais. At their best, these wines display an enjoyable combination of fruit, minerality, and acidity that can be appreciated by everyone from the novice wine drinker to the seasoned expert.

Knowing my affinity for Beaujolais, my friends over at wine app startup Delectable have invited me to talk about my recent trip to the region and host a tasting next Wednesday, September 19 from 7pm – 9pm. I was able to pick up wines from great producers (Lapierre, Foillard, Sunier, Clos de la Roilette and Descombe), including wines from the 2007-2010 vintages. And here's the kicker: you can win an invite to join in on the fun.

Here's how you can win:

  1. Download the free Delectable app for iPhone.
  2. Use Delectable to take a picture of your favorite Cru Beaujolais.
  3. In the comment section, use the hash tag #sfwineblog.
  4. Use Delectable to share your wine on Twitter.
  5. The first three folks to do so will win an invite to the tasting on Wednesday, September 19!

And here's what I'll be pouring on Wednesday (we picked them up at Arlequin Wine Merchant):

  • Julien Sunier Regnie 2010
  • Clos de la Roilette Fleurie 2010
  • Jean Foillard Fleurie 2007
  • Descombes Morgon Vielles Vignes 2009
  • Jean Foillard Morgon 2008
  • Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2010

Hope to see you next week!

Jean Foillard in Cote du Py (Morgon)


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Not a Thanksgiving Wine Guide

Just about every wine publication, blog, and retailer has spent the past week bombarding you with their “ultimate Thanksgiving wine guide,” trying to convince you that they know precisely the wines that will (a) pair best with every single dish at your Thanksgiving meal; (b) be lurved by all your guests; and  (c) be readily available at your local retailer.  Bah humbug.  I’m a big believer that on Thanksgiving — just like any other day — you should drink what you like.  Whatever it is, I’m sure it will taste great when you find yourself surrounded by family and friends.

Because some have asked, I’ll share with you what I plan to pour this Thursday.  There is a certain theme to selecting these wines:  they all bring back memories of my time travelling through France, and remind me how lucky and thankful I am for the people who made my trip so memorable.  Not sure how this might pair with the food on the table (we’re going with a potluck dinner), but I know I’ll have a good story to tell my guests as I open each bottle.

It all boils down to an easy to remember acronym:  VBB — Vouvray, Beaujolais, Bordelet.


VOUVRAY:  I’m going to start Thanksgiving with sparkling Vouvray: the  2005 Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant Brut (around $30 at Dig SF, and also available at Arlequin)  and Catherine et Pierre Breton‘s Vouvray Brut La Dilettante ($23 at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants).  These are bright, energetic wines with nice acidity and crowd-pleasing bubbles — a great way to kick off the festivities.  Plus, Chenin Blanc has a soft spot in my heart because it is my mother’s favorite varietal.  Here’s to you, mom!

BEAUJOLAIS:  Cru Beaujolais has been one of my go-to wines for the past year.  It tends to please both the occasional wine drinker and the geeky wino.  One of the Beaujolais wines I remember enjoying was made by a relatively small producer, Julien Sunier, who makes killer juice from Morgon, Fleurie, and Regnié (hat tip to Dagan of SF’s Terroir Wine Bar for introducing me to Sunier’s wines).  I’m going to opt for a bottle of his 2009 Morgon ($24 at Arlequin Wine Merchants, and also available at Vineyard Gate in Millbrae).  This wine has plenty of fruit, but enough earthiness and acidity to round it out and keep it from going flabby.  (Picture from Vineyard Gate).

BORDELET:  At only 4%ABV, the Bordelet Poiré Granit ($23 at Arlequin, also available at K&L) is a great way to top off the night without having to fear that anyone will be getting too rowdy.  The first time I had Bordelet’s ciders was in Champagne during a visit to Anselme Selosse’s Hotel Les Avisee, where the chef kindly treated us to a bottle — the perfect end to a memorable meal.  Hey, but don’t take my word for it.  Chambers Street Wines (the “greatest wine retailer in America“) also gives Bordelet a T-day shoutout:  “The perfect beverage for lingering over pumpkin pie at the end of your Thanksgiving meal. This dry, elegant cider comes from organically tended ancient pear trees, with roots deep in a granit soil giving minerality, acidity and length to this Champagne of ciders….”


Cheers, and best wishes for the Thanksgiving weekend!


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Wine Events: Week of May 9

San Francisco wine fans should be ecstatic with the recent reopening of Bar Tartine. GM Alex Fox has pulled together an exciting and eclectic wine list, and it is likely to continue to evolve as the menu becomes more focused on Eastern and Central European fare. During a recent visit, I was happy to order up some great wines for our dinner group: Domaine de Belliviere L’Effrai Coteaux du Loir (Chenin); Clos du Tue-Boeuf Cheverny Rouillon (Gamay/Pinot Noir from Thierry Puzelat), and a magnum of Occhipinti Frappato (a consistent favorite of mine).

On the domestic wine front, Saturday’s Peay Vineyards open house proved yet again that Vanessa Wong is crafting some of the Sonoma Coast’s best wines. Keep an eye out for the Fall release of the 2009 Peay Ama Estate Pinot Noir — a new cuvée that provides a brighter, more fruit forward complement to the Pomarium Estate Pinot. Peay’s white wines should not be overlooked: not only was the Chardonnay showing well, but the 2003 Roussane/Marsanne blend could go toe-to-toe with any of the domestic Rhône-varietal whites on the market.

Lots of things to look forward to in the days ahead, and a reminder that if you need to stock up on wines, the annual Bi-Rite Spring Wine Blitz is coming up next week — 20% off mixed cases of wine from May 19-22 (more info and notes on a preview tasting below).

UPDATE – For those of you thinking about a trip to wine country to take advantage of this great weather we’ve been having, you may want to hit Sonoma Valley Reserve.  This Saturday and Sunday, the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance has arranged a number of tours, many with unique themes (including a and a tour of “wine caves” at a number of different wineries, and a “bridal tour” for those of you seeking venues for your nuptials).  Tours are $85 per person, and tickets are available here.  


Mon., May 9: A Donkey and Goat Dinner @ DOSA-Fillmore (Pac Heights)

1700 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA

$70 – tickets here

Another chance to check out one of SF Chronicle’s 2011 Winemakers to Watch — Donkey and Goat will be co-hosting an event at DOSA, as part of the restaurant’s monthly art-and-wine dinner series. This month, Oakland-based artist Eddie Colla will be on hand to discuss one of his short films. Three courses, $70 (tax, gratuity and wine included). It’s a bah-gain. Seats are limited.


Tues., May 10: Jura Tasting at The Punchdown (Oakland)

The Punchdown
Franklin Square
2212 Broadway (Next door to Daniel Patterson’s Plum Restaurant)
Oakland, CA 94612

7:30pm – $20

D.C. Loone, co-owner of The Punchdown, has a hand selected list of Jura wines for you to enjoy and explore. More here and here. Only 2 seats left!


Wed., May 11: Kutch Wines @ Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants (Financial Dist.)

Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants
The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA

4:30pm – 7:30pm ($28 for flight)

Jamie Kutch left his Wall Street job, started a new winery, and is now getting rave reviews for making well crafted, low alcohol Pinot Noir. (Check out this recent NPR interview). I had a chance to try a number of Kutch wines at the In Pursuit of Balance event, and was really impressed not only by Jamie’s wine, but also his meticulous attention to detail (he kept an ice bucket nearby to make sure the Pinot was being served at an appropriate temperature). This will be a unique opportunity to try small production Pinot Noir and meet an up-and-coming winemaker.

Here’s a list of the wines being poured:

  • 2009 Kutch Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
  • 2009 Kutch Pinot Noir, Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley
  • 2009 Kutch Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
  • 2009 Kutch Pinot Noir, Falstaff Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
  • 2009 Kutch Pinot Noir, McDougall Ranch, Sonoma County


Wed., May 11: Bi-Rite Market Spring Wine Blitz Preview @18 Reasons (Mission)

18 Reasons
593 Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 8:00pm ($10)

Join the Bi-Rite wine team as they pour from their carefully selected cache, all in anticipation of the annual Spring Wine Blitz which takes place May 19-22 (20% off any mix-and-match case, w/ free delivery to many parts of the city).  Representatives from some well recognized importers/distributors — including Joli Vin, Farm Imports, and Domaine Select — will be on hand to talk about their wines.

Take advantage of this tasting and find some new favorites to throw in with your Wine Blitz purchase.

NOTE – I’ll be updating this post during the week once the line up for Wednesday night is finalized.

UPDATE – here’s the list of wines for the May 2011 Bi-Rite Wine Blitz Tasting.  I’m particularly looking forward to the 2009 COS Rami Bianco (sub-$20 white from a great producer).


Thurs., May 12: De Maison Selections Tasting @ Solano Cellars (East Bay)

Solano Cellars
1580 Solano Avenue
Albany, CA

6:30pm – 8:00pm ($30 – tix here)

Didn’t get tickets to Friday’s De Maison Selections Dinner at 18 Reasons before it sold out? Well, time to make a trip out to the East Bay, where you can try some wines from this noted importer’s Spanish portfolio.


Fri., May 13: Beaujolais Tasting at SF Wine Trading Co. (West Portal)

SF Wine Trading Co.
250 Taraval
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 8:00pm ($10)

Cru Beaujolais has become one of my “go to” wines for a good while now. Noted wine writers, such as Eric Asimov of the New York Times, also have great things to say about these wines, in particular the 2009 vintage. SFWTC has made my day by putting together a fantastic list of producers (Brun, Foillard, Thevenet, etc) to show that this region is much, much more than the swill pumped out and mass marketed as “Beaujolais noveau.”


Sat., May . 14: Passion for Pinot Class with Jordan Mackay at SF Wine Center (SoMa)

SF Wine Center
757 Bryant Street
San Francisco, CA

5:00pm – 6:30pm ($75 – Reservation Required)

Talk about learning from the best — join 2011 James Beard Foundation Award Winner Jordan Mackay as he leads a class on Pinot Noir, the subject of one of his earlier books, “Passion for Pinot.”

UPDATE – Just got word from the SF Wine Center that they have postponed this class, and that it is likely gong to be rescheduled for sometime in June.  But if you’re eager to take a course w/ Jordan, sounds like he will be the instructor for the 5/17 class on wines from Tuscany and Umbria.  SF Wine Center’s full schedule can be found here.