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Exploring wine in and around San Francisco.


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Wine Events: Week of Feb. 13

SF Beer Week, Tre Bicchieri, and La Paulée are attracting a ton of industry pros to San Francisco. Last night’s 4-course, 8-beer pairing at Bar Tartine drew a packed house along with some celebrity sightings — Michael Pollan and Dave Chappelle, y’all! There are a slew of Italian wine producers in town for Wednesday’s Tre Bicchieri tasting, and I’m sure you can catch some of them at A16 and Biondivino afterwards.  And Burgundy producers will be trickling in over the next few days along with a bunch of sommeliers from NYC and elsewhere. Keep your eyes peeled – I’m guessing you can spot lots of these folks throwing down at RN74, Michael Mina, and Nopa.

Happy hunting!

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ONGOING: FEB. 13-24 Burgundy Week

BURGUNDY WEEK
In preparation for La Paulée, an impressive group of restaurant will be having some special Burgundy selections on their menu.  Participating restaurants include:  A16, Absinthe, Acquarello, Baker & Banker, benu, Boulevard, Bourbon Steak, Cafe de la Presse, Epic Roasthouse, La Folie, Frances, Gary Danko, Jardiniere, Michael Mina, Piperade, Quince, RN74, Saison, The Slanted Door, Sons & Daughters, Redd, Zuni.

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ONGOING:  SF Beer Week (Multiple Locations)

Because one can not live on wine alone, I invite you to check out the plethora of events that the organizers of SF Beer Week have pulled together. So much to choose from!

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Wed., Feb. 15: Tre Bicchieri Tasting @ Fort Mason (Marina)

Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA

3:00pm – 6:00pm

The writers from Gambero Rosso, an Italian food and wine magazine, taste around 20,000 wines.  The top wines are awarded “tre Bicchieri” status, and the wineries that earn that gold ring are invited to join a tour to help spread the gospel of Italian wines.  The Tre Bicchieri tasting touches down in San Francisco on Wednesday.  Here’s a full list of Tre Bicchieri participating wineries.

NOTE – if you can’t make it to the tasting at Fort Mason, stop by A16, where many of the wines will be poured  on Wednesday night.

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Arnot-Roberts 2011 Trousseau tank w/ J. Puffeney

Thurs., Feb. 16:  Jura Wine Tasting @ Arlequin (Hayes Valley)

Arlequin Wine Merchants
384 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 8:00pm – $15

A few years ago, the “geeky but versatile wines” of the Jura — a small region about an hour east of Burgundy — started capturing more space on wine lists in New York and other major cities. Today, you can find a handful of winemakers in the U.S. who have been so taken by these wines that they have hunted down vineyards that grow typical Jura varieties. Come taste what all the fuss is about at Thursday’s tasting at Arlequin, which will include wines from Bornard, Puffeney, Gahier, and others.

UPDATE — Here’s what will be poured:

2008 Puffeney Chardonnay
2006 Gahier ‘Les Cretes’ Chardonnay
2007 Monnier ‘Dilemme’ Chardonnay/Savignin
2006 Bornard ‘Ouille’ Savignin
2008 Puffeney ‘M’ Poulsard
2008 Bornard ‘La Chamade’ Ploussard
2010 Domaine de Tournelle Ploussard
2010 Berthet-Bordet ‘Rubis’ Ploussard/Trousseau
2003 Domaine de Tournelle Vin Jaune

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Mon., Feb. 20:  Finding Values in White 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 white wines.

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Mon., Feb. 20: Wine Photography – Storytelling in a Bottle (Napa)

Quixote Winery
Napa, CA

$200 per person

As you have probably learned through reading this blog, I have a soft spot for wine (shocker!) and photography. Both have been hobbies of mine for a couple of years, and this seminar brings both of my interests together. Geared towards the PR professional and wine writers, this full-day seminar promises to teach participants “how to better photograph a wine ‘story’ for use in traditional print, web site and social media marketing channels.”

The seminar is led by David Duncan Livingston.



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Wine Events: Week of Feb. 6

The Celebrity Sommelier kick is in full gear.  While top somms have enjoyed notoriety amongst wine and restaurant professionals for many years, they now seem to be gaining more recognition from a wider audience.  That may explain all the recent buzz about the upcoming documentary Somm — a film about sommeliers training for the Master Sommelier Exam.

SOMM Documentary Trailer 1 from Forgotten Man Films on Vimeo.

[Side note:  While flattered by this mention in the SF Chronicle’s Inside Scoop, I’m pretty sure I’m not in the movie.]

If you’re interested in meeting some of the most noted sommeliers in the industry, you’re in luck.  A slew of them will be in town for La Paulée (February 22 – 25), and the Thursday Panel discussion includes Daniel Johnnes, RN74’s Rajat Parr, and Rajeev Vaidya from New York’s Restaurant Daniel. (seminar is wait list only at this point)

Then, on February 27, Forestville’s Farmhouse Inn will kick-off a dinner series called Clash of the Sommeliers.”  Each night, three sommeliers will compete by pairing wines with a four-course menu. Eric Railsback from RN74, A16’s Shelly Lindgren, and Ian Cauble from the Ritz-Half Moon Bay are among the competitors. Regardless of who wins, you’ll have a chance to taste a slew of great wines from some of the well-regarded palates in the industry. ($165 per ticket, or $600 for the full 4-dinner series).

Now, here’s some suggestions for where to drink this week.

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Wed., Feb. 8:  Pinot Noir Class  @ SF Wine Center (SoMa)

SF Wine Center
757 Bryant Street
San Francisco, CA

6:30pm – 8:00pm – $60 (reserve ahead of time)

Join Master of Wine Christy Canterbury as she explains and explores the difference in Pinot Noir grown in Burgundy, the U.S., and New Zealand.  A great way to explore the idea of terroir.

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Thurs., Feb. 9:  Domaine de L’Horizon Winemaker Dinner @ Gitane (Financial District)

Gitane Restaurant
6 Claude Lane
San Francisco, CA

5:30pm – 11:00pm

I had dinner a few weeks ago at Gitane to check out the new wine list put together by Greg Borden.  I was happy to trust Greg with the night’s wine selection, and he proudly brought out a bottle of the Domaine de L’Horizon Le Patriot, a white wine blend (95% Muscat Petit Grain and 5% Macabeu) from the Roussillon that held up well with the restaurant’s Spanish-inspired cuisine.  I was happy to learn that the winemaker, Thomas Teibert, would be in town to pour his wines and talk to patrons.  Stop in for dinner, or grab a drink at the bar.  Thomas will be around popping corks for a good while Thursday night.  The wines include the Blanc (blend of 65% Macabeu, 30% Grenache Gris, 5% Grenache Blanc); the Rouge (Carignane/Grenache); and the Patriota.

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Thurs., Feb. 9:  Selection Massale Tasting @ The Punchdown (East Bay)

The Punchdown
2212 Broadway
Oakland, CA

5:00pm – 8:30pm

Local importer Selection Massale has created a buzz by bringing in expressive terroir-driven wine from small producers in France. They’ve struck gold with the wines of Frantz Saumon and Jerome Lenoir, and are now adding a new Loire producer to their portfolio, Jeremy Questana.  I haven’t tried the wines, but am intrigued. Plus, it’s a bit of a going-away party for Selction Massale’s Guilhaum Gerard, who will be departing for NYC soon.  $15 gets you a flight of the following wines:

-2006 Domaine les Roches by Jerome Lenoir “Chinon Blanc” (Chenin Blanc), Loire Valley 

-2010 Jérémy Quastana “L’insurgé” (Gamay), Touraine, Loire Valley 

-2008 Domaine Dupasquier “Marestel” (Roussette), Savoie 

If you can’t make it on Thursday, the Selection Massale team will be pouring wines from the portfolio at Arlequin on Saturday from 2-5pm ($15).

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Fri., Feb. 10:  Food From the Heart  (Ferry Building)

Ferry Building
The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA

5:30pm – 8:00pm

Every year, the Ferry Building puts together a tasty fundraiser for Slow Food SF, charging a small amount (usually $2-6) for food and $4 tastes of wine from members of the Napa Valley Vintners. This is a great opportunity to meet SF Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year, Cathy Corison.

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Starting Fri. Feb. 10:  SF Beer Week (Multiple Locations)

Because one can not live on wine alone, I invite you to check out the plethora of events that the organizers of SF Beer Week have pulled together.  I’m looking forward to the Gala Opening and the Dogfish Head event on the 15th.  So much to choose from!

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Sat., Feb. 11:  Champagne Store Pop-Up @ Bubble Lounge (Financial District)

Bubble Lounge
714 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA

2:00pm – 7:00pm – $10 (will be redeemed upon purchase)

Stop by a pop-up shop where you can taste a variety of wines, and pick up Champagne from the Terry Thiese portfolio, as well as wines imported by Return to Terroir.  Plus, there’s an educational component:  you can learn how to make chocolate truffles and how to saber a bottle of Champagne.


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La Paulée San Francisco 2012

Burgundy - Harvest 2011

Burgundy is simply electric during harvest.  From early in the morning to late at night, there are people tirelessly working to get the grapes into the winery, into tank, and finally into barrel.  And when everything is done, despite aching muscles and sleep deprivation, everyone celebrates.  In Meursault, vignerons mark the end of harvest by sharing dusty bottles from their cellars during an event known as La Paulée — “the world’s classiest BYOB party.”

Fascinated by the community spirit and camaraderie he found in a visit to Meursault, New York based Sommelier Daniel Johnnes (wine director for Daniel Boulud‘s DINEX restaurants) has been hosting an officially sanctioned U.S. version of La Paulée since 2000.  La Paulée 2012 touches down in San Francisco in a few weeks and there are a ton of events for everyone from the seasoned collector to the Burgundy novice.

You’ve likely heard about the Gala Dinner — a legendary night of singing and drinking that has been referred to as “the biggest and most coveted” wine dinner in the United States.  While the $1,400 price tag sounds steep, this is a no-brainer for serious Burgundy collectors.  Plus, it sounds like a ridiculously fun party — one which the WSJ’s Jay McInerney called “a bacchanal the likes of which my liver hopes not to experience again for at least another week or two.”  [That’s a pretty serious statement given that McInerney drinks for a living!]

Thankfully, there are many ways to take part in La Paulée 2012 without breaking the bank.  This should come as no surprise, given that Johnnes has built a reputation for trying to make wine accessible to those of us who don’t happen to have a cellar full of old bottles of DRC.  In addition to writing a book to help wine consumers to get the most bang for their buck, Johnnes was the first guest on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV.

Johnnes has signed up a slew of the city’s top restaurants — A16, Frances, Gary Danko, Quince, The Slanted Door and many others — to host Burgundy-focused events starting on February 13.   While there are no additional details about “Burgundy Week” at this time, I’ll forward along any updates via Twitter and Facebook and on this handy-dandy La Paulée 2012 Google Calendar I pulled together.

In addition, there are two La Paulée seminars with price tags right around $100.  The first, “Navigating Burgundy with a Sommelier’s Guidance,” takes place on Thursday, February 23 and features Johnnes and two other top somms:  RN74’s Rajat Parr and Rajeev Vaidya from New York’s Restaurant Daniel.  Not bad tour guides to help navigate the confusing world of Burgundy producers, vintages, and appellations.  Eric Asimov, the New York Times’ wine writer, will moderate a second panel on February 25 to talk about “continuity and change” in Burgundy.  Seminar attendees will taste 6 different wines from three different domaines.  Because I need some visual aids to help me understand Burgundy, I’ve put together maps highlighting where each of these wines come from.

Seminar Wines

And finally, the Grand Tasting takes place on Saturday afternoon, February 25.  24 domaines.  A smörgåsbord of food from top-notch restaurants.  Yup – this will be decadent.  I recommend showing up early to avoid rush hour.  Here’s a full list of wines being poured at the Grand Tasting, which helps justify the price tag.

The full schedule for La Paulée is below, and here’s a link to the La Paulée 2012 Google Calendar I mentioned before (the descriptions of the event on the calendar were pulled from the La Paulée website).

FEB. 13-24, 2012

BURGUNDY WEEK – Specific events TBD
Restaurants include:  A16, Absinthe, Acquarello, Baker & Banker, benu, Boulevard, Bourbon Steak, Cafe de la Presse, Epic Roasthouse, La Folie, Frances, Gary Danko, Jardiniere, Michael Mina, Piperade, Quince, RN74, Saison, The Slanted Door, Sons & Daughters, Redd, Zuni

WED., FEB. 22, 2012

6:30pm – 10pm — Legends Dinner
The Napa Valley Reserve, 1000 Silverado Trail North, St. Helena, CA
Wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Domaine Roulot
7-course meal prepared by Meadowoods’ Christopher Kostow
$4000

THURS., FEB. 23, 2012

12pm – 2pm — Collectors Lunch
Jardiniere, 300 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA
Wines from Domaine Louis Michel et Fils and Domaine Michel Lafarge (full list here)
Lunch prepared by Jardiniere’s Traci Des Jardins
$495

3:30pm – 5pm — Seminar: Navigating Burgundy w/ a Sommelier’s Guidance
RN74, 301 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
Panelists:  Daniel Johnnes, Rajat Parr (RN74 / Michael Mina), Rajeev Vaidya (Jean-Georges)
Wines from Pierre-Yves-Colin-Morey, Maison Joseph Drouhin, Domaine Ponsot  (full list here)
$95

FRI., FEB. 24, 2012

3:30pm – 6pm — Verticals Tasting
Westin St. Francis, 32nd Floor, 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA
24 different domains serving up 3-vintage verticals (wines listed here)
$395

7pm – 11pm — Rare Wine Dinner
Westin St. Francis, 32nd Floor, 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA
Featured wines from Domain Ponsot, including multiple vintages of Clos de la Roche going back to 1971 (full list here)
Evening will kick off with Champagne Salon 1999 from magnum. (!!!)
Meal prepared by Chefs Michael Mina, Daniel Boulud, and Romain Chapel from Restaurant Alain Chapel
$2,950

SAT., FEB. 25, 2012

10am – 11:30am — Seminar: Eric Asimov on Continuity and Change in Burgundy
Westin St. Francis, The Colonial Room, 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA
Panelists:  David Duband, Jean-Marie Fourrier and Etienne de Montille.
Moderator:  New York Times’ Eric Asimov
Wines from Domaine Fourrier, David Duband, Deux Montille Soeur – Frère (full list here)
$125

12pm – 3pm — Grand Tasting
Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA
Wines from:

Domaine Ballot-Millot Hospices de Beaune
Domaine Bonneau du Martray Maison Louis Jadot
Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils Domaine des Comtes Lafon
Domaine François Carillon Benjamin Leroux
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Domaine Michel Lafarge
Maison Deux Montille Méo-Camuzet
Maison Joseph Drouhin Domaine Louis Michel et Fils
David Duband Domaine de Montille
Domaine Faiveley Domaine Bernard Moreau
Domaine William Fèvre Domaine Ponsot
Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Domaine de la Pousse d’Or
Domaine Fourrier Domaine Marc Roy
Maison Camille Giroud Domaine Roulot
Domaine Henri Gouges Commune de Meurseult

FULL LIST OF WINES

Restaurants serving include: A16, Acquerello, Boulevard, Frances, Jardiniere, Michael Mina, Piperade, Quince, Redd, RN74, Slanted Door
$300

6:30pm – 10:30pm — Gala Dinner
Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA
Dinner prepared by Chefs Chefs Daniel Boulud, Romain Chapel, Thomas Keller,Christopher Kostow and Michael Mina
Wines from all attending wineries
Remember to bring a bottle from your cellar to share
$1,400



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Wine Events: Week of Jan. 9

I guess everyone had their fair share of Champagne over the past few weeks, and are now looking s little farther south towards Burgundy — at least that’s what this week’s tasting calendar would indicate.  Consider it a warm up for those of you lucky enough to be attending La Paulee in February (oh, and if you can score me a seat for any of the tastings, dinners, or seminars, lemme know!).

I also wanted to let you know that the organizers of In Pursuit of Balance have announced dates for this year’s tastings:  March 19 in San Francisco and April 18 in New York City.  This was one of the best tasting events I went to all last year, and tickets sold out quickly (not surprising given the producers at the event, including Littorai, Peay, Failla, Hirsch, Cobb — among others).  I highly recommend that you sign up on the IPOB mailing list and buy tickets as soon as they are released.  Tickets are $75, and

My wrap-up of last year’s tasting can be found here.  

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Wed., Jan. 11: Burgundy Tasting @ FPWM (Embarcadero)

Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA

4:30 pm – 7:30 pm – $45 for one ounce pours, $90 for two ounce pours

Although the price for events at FPWM are a bit steep, there’s no denying that they host some unique tastings.  Plus, you get a 15% discount on any bottle of the wines being poured. This week, Martine Saunier (Founder of Martine’s Wines) shares some wines from her portfolio of wines from Burgundy (3 village wines, one grand cru, one 1er cru).  Here’s what’s being poured:

2008 Domaine Leroy Volnay
Retail $187.50, 5oz. glass $50.25

2009 Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin
Retail $112.50, 5oz. glass $31.50

2009 Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin
Lavaux St. Jacques 1er Cru
Retail $210, 5oz. glass $55.75

2008 Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux Grand Cru
Retail $292, 5oz. glass $76.25

2008 Domaine Leroy Chassagne-Montrachet Baudines 1er Cru
Retail $126, 5oz. glass $34.75

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Thurs., Jan. 12:  Chambolle-Musigny Tasting @ Arlequin (Hayes Valley)

Arlequin Wine Merchants
384 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA

6:00pm – 8:00pm – $20

Want to continue swimming in a sea of Burgundy?  Roll on over to Arlequin to taste a selection of wines from Chambolle-Musigny, including wines from the following producers:  Meo-Camuzet, Michel Gros, Jacques-Frederic Mugnier, Philippe Pacalet and Hubert Lignier.

For some added inspiration, here’s what Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay have to say about Chambolle-Musigny in Secrets of the Sommeliers:

“The wines of Chambolle-Musigny can … be haunting, stirring in their transparency and fluidity.  But that does not mean they are soft.  They can also have a firmness, even a combativeness, surprising for such a fine-boned wine.  Because of this multifaceted, modestly fickle nature and because of their elegance and sometimes pale, rosy color, many people think Chambolle is the ideal expression of Pinot Noir.”