New Mission Wine Bar; 20 Spot

I settled into one of the sleek mid-century stools lining the bar of the newest Mission wine bar, 20 Spot and knew instantly this would be the spot. Those who know my prowess for finding the best wine in the city may have heard me utter that the Mission was devoid of a fit wine bar since Heart left the hood. Well folks, as of late March I’d been missing out.

As I admired the vintage inspired architecture, a picture perfectly painted in an article by Daily Candy last month, under the glow of the lamps which illuminated the seductive reclaimed eucalyptus bar, I perused the by the glass list.  I noticed owner Bodhi Freedom was pouring, who I upon introduction, I realized was the owner of Bacchus in Russian Hill. I was excited to try something weird. The words blurted out of my mouth…”I’d like to try a wine – with funky earthiness.”

After he delivered the words back to me to ensure he’d heard me correctly, yes HE understood exactly what I was looking for, but wanted to make sure that I did, as I suppose this is not a descriptor you hear from a customer all too often, Bodhi immediately pours me a glass and explained that it is his favorite on the list.

The wine was an Etna Rosso from the island of Sicily. The grape — Nerello Mascalese and confirmed to be a blend of Sangiovese and another unidentified grape. It was just my speed, and after a swig, I realized why. It was very similar to the Canary Island wine I tasted the week before at Terroir, farmed from soil dark brown in color, volcanic in origin, well-drained – almost sandy in some parts (from Vinity Wine Company). I would be sure to include this in my next tasting, as this unique selection was missing from my first Italian tasting, which was more of a big-picture overview given the complexity of the country’s wine growing regions.

The wine is very pretty, with cherry, herbs and flowers. It was delicate while maintaining the funky earthiness I was looking to enjoy. 20 Spot helped me uncover yet another gem, and I’m excited to return for my next glass.

The Wine:

2010 Graci Etna Rosso

Nerello Mascalese | Sicily, Italy

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10 Steps to Sipping Wine like a Wanker

With all the talk about wine wankers in the news after Nick Bhasin’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald last week, I’m going against the grain a bit and thought I’d give a proper introduction on how TO look like snob whilst sipping wine. Because lets face it – we all want to look like we know what we’re doing. While many savvy sippers try to avoid looking like a wine snob, I personally own it, embrace it and apologize later…actually I don’t. Wine is meant to be enjoyed – not hidden – and here are a few slightly tricky steps to sipping wine like a true professional. There are no rules in drinking wine, but if you want to play the part, you’ve got to know the basics! So the next time you’re at Hotel Biron, do the following, and be prepared to dodge flying objects.

1. Swirl the wine around in your glass and don’t spill it all over the place like a twat.

2. Jam your entire nose in the glass. Sniff. Ladies, please mind the rookie mistake of repeating after your lipstick has rubbed off on the rim, leaving a red mustache on your face.

3. Press your index finger over each nostril. Sniff.

4. Thrust your stemware into thin air, dramatically in search of the perfect lighting with which to inspect the wine. This will ensure that everyone sees that you clearly know what you’re doing.

4.a If you are in the mission replace “stemware” with “mason jar”…scratch that…drink PBR instead.

5. Inspect the 3 Cs. We’re talking color, consistency, clarity here.

6. Raise your glass to your lips, tip the glass and let the wine slide into your mouth. But do not, I repeat, DO NOT swallow. I know this might be hard from some of you.

7. Give the inside of your mouth a little wash with the wine and make sure it touches each part of your tongue to experience it’s full flavor profile.

8. Oxygenate the wine in your mouth. Try not to choke on it. Taste again.

9. Turn to your friend and nod in approval with an awkward grin…because, you know, there’s still wine in your mouth.

10. Now that you’ve properly teased your tastebuds, you may swallow.

You’re welcome.

The Younger Member Forum Tastes the Wines of Germany

On Tuesday I hosted the San Jose Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers  (ASCE) Younger Member Forum.  Civil Engineer and Officer Matt Bower put it simply – “we work on the city’s infrastructure” – from buildings to roads to reservoirs.

That being said, there were some great questions including “what is the soil like in the Nahe region?” – thoughtful questions that we like to hear!  Given the rocky terrain of the region, the soil definitely played a  part in the mineral and slate he tasted in the wine.

The crowd was quite engaged in both the tasting and conversations amongst their peers. Overall a successful event with great folks, great food and great wine.

Here’s the list:

NV Solter Spätburgunder Rosé Deutscher Sekt Brut
Rheingau and Baden, Germany | Pinot Noir

2009 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling QbA Trocken
Nahe, Germany | Riesling

2009 Reinert Wawern Ritterpfad, Riesling Spätlese
Mosel (Saar), Germany | Riesling

2009 König Assmannshausen Höllenberg, Spätburgunder Kabinett Trocken
Rheingau, Germany | Pinot Noir

Wine Tasting for Engineers with Brits Wine

An Unexpected Journey to the Canary Islands by way of E.Vil.

This week I spent some time exploring the wines of Manhattan, and before I knew it I’d been swept into a sea storm – an ocean of wine with crimson waves crashing overhead.  Just when I surmised the current was too great to stay afloat, the clouds part, the ocean calmed, and ahead a promising outlook as I approached land with an unexpected journey to the Canary Islands by way of E.ViL.

As I scanned the wine list at Terroir in Manhattan’s East Village, starting at the top and gazing quickly down the list of appellations I’ve come to adore, my attention was drawn to a wine of which I recognized from Valle de la Orotava.  I’d had a bit of experience with the wines of Spain through my travels and hosted tasting – Txakoli from Basque Country, Priorat and Ribero del Duero, but this one was special.  A unique red farmed on the volcanic soils of the largest of the Canary Islands situated just about 60 miles off the southwest coast of Morocco, on Tenerife, with its black sand and long strand – truly begotten by paradise.

Experts and critics like The New York Times writer Eric Asimov, have praised the wine from this region over the years, and I am familiar with one of its producers Tajinaste through research on the islands, however, this was the first taste encounter I’d had with a Canary Islands wine, and that made me extremely happy.  I excitedly solicited our pourer for information about the wine and before he could he could check (as it had apparently been added to the list the day before) a splash was in my glass, swirling around and then filling my mouth and I was slowly savoring the wine, exploring each layer of complexity and depth like you might do with a piece from Dali. I was in love.  I almost didn’t care to do more than drink it in that moment, but my curiosity brought me back to reality and I instantly knew that the subject of my next piece would be this wine.

The Wine:

2011 Suertes del Marqués | 7 Fuentes |  Valle de la Orotava

Tenerife | Canary Islands

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This Canary Island wine is a blend primarily of Listan Negro and 10% Tintilla, and was fermented and aged in the combination of concrete tanks and French oak barrels.  Importer Jose Pastor Selections’ staff aptly describes it: “Pale red. Fruity, peppery fruit and quite light with some of the island’s volcanic soils showing through. Very appealing, round and early-maturing. Transparent fruit and a satisfying finish. A grainy quality – or am I thinking of the famous black sands of Tenerife? Long.” – JR http://www.josepastorselections.com/

Tenerife is largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands; it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² and 898,680 inhabitants (43% of the total population of the Canary Islands).  Read more about the grape here as Eric Asimov, NY Times writer takes you through this archipelago of Spain.

Where to Buy:

The 2010 vintage is available for $21.99 at K&L Wines. “This is definitely an early contender for Canary red of the year, and a producer to keep an eye on.” – Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish wine buyer.

What to sip this week: My E.ViL Find

This week I spent some time exploring the wines of Manhattan and the storm rolled in and stirred the ocean of wine which consumes you and tugs you under the weight of a current too overwhelming to stay afloat.  The clouds did part, the ocean calmed, and ahead a clear view as we approached land; an unexpected journey to the Canary Islands by way of E.ViL.

As I scanned the wine list at Terroir in the East Village, starting at the top and guiding my eyes quickly across the appellations I’ve come to adore, my gaze is drawn to a wine of which I had no recognition.  I’ve had a bit of experience with the wines of Spain from my travels and through my tastings – Txakolina from the Basque region, priorat and all the way down to Ribero del Duero, but this, this one was special.  A unique red farmed on the volcanic soils of the largest of the Canary Islands situated just about 60 miles off the southwest coast of Morocco, Tenerife, with it’s black sand and long strand, this is a wine truly begotten by paradise.

Experts and writers like NY Times writer Eric Asimov, have praised this wine over the years, and I am  familiar with producer Tajinaste, but it was the first encounter I’d had with a Canary Islands wine and that made me extremely happy.  I excitedly solicited our pourer for information about the wine and before he could he could check as it had apparently been added to the list the day before, a splash was in my glass and then filing my mouth and I was in love and I almost didn’t care to do more than drink it slowly so that I could savor the wine and explore each layer of complexity and depth like you might do with a piece from Dali.  But my curiosity snapped me out of it and less than five minutes later I was thinking about the subject of my next piece and how this was the wine.

This Canary Island wine is a blend primarily of Listan Negro and 10% Tintilla, and was fermented and aged in the combination of concrete tanks and french oak barrels.  Importer Jose Pastor Selections staff aptly describes it:

 

Pale red. Fruity, peppery fruit and quite light with some of the island’s volcanic soils showing through. Very appealing, round and early-maturing. Transparent fruit and a satisfying finish. A grainy quality – or am I thinking of the famous black sands of Tenerife? Long. – JR http://www.josepastorselections.com/

2011 Suertes del Marqués | 7 Fuentes |  Valle de la Orotava

Tenerife | Canary Islands

Tenerife is largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands; it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² and 898,680 inhabitants, 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands.  Read more about the grape here as Eric Asimov, NY Times writer takes you through the archipelago of Spain which is situated just about 60 miles off the southwest coast of Morocco. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/dining/reviews/wines-of-the-canary-islands-review.html?_r=0 .

Where to buy it:

The 2010 is available for $21.99 at K&L Wines http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1109479

This is definitely an early contender for Canary red of the year, and a producer to keep an eye on. – Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish wine buyer

March Wine Event | Rhone Varietals from Northern California: Big Wines, Small Producers

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Our next tasting on Wednesday will take us through California, where we will explore some big wines from small, boutique producers from various AVAs in northern California. What is an AVA?  An American Viticultural Area is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features.  We’ll be exploring the following wines from 4 AVAs in northern California.  Another fun fact – all of the wines are Rhone varietals!

The Wine

2011 L’Apiculteur | Le P’tit Paysan | Arroyo Seco

100% Viognier. Stone fruit, river stones, excellent focus.

Arroyo Seco, in Monterey County, California, southeast of Monterey Bay, is famous for white wines full of tropical fruit and refreshing acidity. This AVA hosts a small but prestigious list of wineries and supplies fruit to many of California’s most prominent producers who appreciate the distinctive character shaped by this AVA’s unique terroir.

2011 Rose | Bugay Vineyards | Sonoma County (Mayacama Mountains)

97% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre. Amélange of tropical fruit, fresh-cut strawberry, ruby-red grapefruit and citrus.

The Mayacamas Mountains of Sonoma County. The proprietors of Bugay Wines immediately fell in love with the stunning beauty of this rugged, inaccessible and forested parcel. To their fortune, the parcel revealed hillside meadows suitable for vineyards and the soils proved to be a winemaker’s dream.  We’ll be tasting a beautiful Rosé.

2008 Syrah | Duende | Russian River  

Lush, rich, balanced.

The Russian River Valley provides a cool climate for growing grapes and accounts for one-sixth of the total planted vineyard acreage in Sonoma County. The climate in the Russian River Valley is similar to that of the northern Rhone Valley of France, Syrah’s ancestral home, and the wines are stylistically similar to the wines from this region.

2008 Mathis Grenache | Mathis Vineyard | Sonoma Valley

81% Grenache clone 513 and 515 Tablas Creek, 10%  Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah and 1% Alicante Bouchet.  lush fruit combined with pepper notes, hint of juniper

The Sonoma Valley AVA centers on the Sonoma Valley (also known as The Valley of the Moon) in the southern portion of the county. The appellation is bordered by two mountain ranges: the Mayacamas Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west.

Come join us this Valentine’s Day, February 14th, at Blanc et Rouge!

For those of you who may be dreading the most romantic day of the year, you’re in luck. The tasting this week at Blanc et Rouge will be your sanctuary as you avoid prix fix meals and waiting for a table despite the reservation you booked months in advance. Come celebrate with us, and taste delectable wine from around the world. Perhaps you’ll meet your mate! Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

The lineup:

NV Vincent Raimbault | Vouvray Brut | Loire, France

A beautiful sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Loire region of France

Cantalupo il Mimo | Nebbiolo Rose | Piedmont, Italy

A romantic wine of the Nebbiolo varietal made from brief contact with the skin, this lovely dry rose is from the Piedmont region of Italy

2011 Riesling Kabinett, Feinherb | Reinert Wiltinger Schlossberg | Mosel-Saar, Germany

This off dry riesling has a touch of sweetness to warm anyone’s palate. From the Mosel region in Germany, this wine has high acidity and zesty minerality

2011 Locations by Dave Phinney “E” | Garnacha/Carignane | Spain 

Full of ripe, round fruit, displaying the classic hot, arid climate of Spain, like a blast of warm wind carrying savory fragrance and the smells of Spanish cuisine

Week in Wine: British Columbia Tasting

We were graciously hosted by  The British Columbia Wine Institute and Sommelier DJ Kearney, as we tasted wines from the BC VQA on Monday at the Intercontinental in San Francisco.  in addition to a very thoughtful opening and presentation by BCWI’s Executive Director, Miles Prodan, we were excited to see some familiar faces in the industry, such as seasoned wine columnist Dan Berger.

Where is British Columbia anyway?  British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada, nestled in between Alaska to the north and Washington, Idaho and Montana to the south. In 1871, it became the sixth province of Canada.  The BC Vintners Quality Alliance designation ensures that you’re purchasing 100% BC Wine.  These wines are then tasted by a panel for quality.  So clearly, there’s a level of prestige here, and I was excited to take my first swig.

There are 5 wine regions of the BC wine designation: Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and Gulf Islands (click here for map and descriptions).  The 10 wines we imbibed represented these regions.  Among the standouts were the stellar Steller’s Jay Brut, the Quail’s Gate Pinot Noir, and my FAVORITE…the 2008 Nk’Mip Cellars QwAM QwMT Syrah.  Pronounced “in-ka-meep”, Nk’Mip Cellars won the prestigious title of #1 winery in BC at the 2012 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards.

The List

2007 Steller’s Jay Brut

2009 Quail’s Gate Winery | Stewart Family Reserve | Chardonnay

2009 Quail’s Gate Winery | Stewart Family Reserve | Pinot Noir

2010 Black Hills Estate Winery | Nota Bene

2008 Osoyoos Larose | Le Grand Vin

2009 Nk’Mip Cellars | QwAM QwMT Meritage

2010 Black Hills Estate Winery | Syrah

2008 | Nk’Mip Cellars | QwAM QwMT Syrah

2007 Summerhill Pyramid Winery | Riesling Icewine

2007 Summerhill Pyramid Winery | Pinot Noir Icewine

Monthly Wine Tasting at Blanc et Rouge | Spain

Wow, what an event!  To celebrate the new year, on Friday we drank amazing wine from Spain, mingled with great company and made new friends.  I want to thank my guests for attending, share the wine list, and of course, post the event photos.  All of the wines are available through Blanc et Rouge, and we plan to continue with monthly tastings.   I’m looking forward to more wine lovers attending.  Thanks to Allie Pape’s article on 7×7 and the expertise of sommelier Andrew Fidelman which help made this a success.

Wines

2011 Ermita de Nieve | Verdejo | Rueda, Spain  -22-

2010 Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce “Buena Pinta” | Garanacha | Manchuela, Spain  -40-

2011 Locations E-1 Spanish Red Wine | Garanacha, Tempranillo & Cariena |

Priorat, Rioja & Ribera del Duero, Spain  -20-

2008 Mas Doix Salanques | Priorat, Spain  -48-

Available for retail purchase at Blanc et Rouge in the Financial District

Come join us for an evening of wine!

My next wine tasting and party, in celebration the new year, will be hosted at Blanc et Rouge, a beautiful wine bar located in the Financial District where sommelier Andrew Fidelman, who opened and co-wrote the wine list at Spruce, has masterfully created the wine list.

We will be exploring wines from Spain, and the evening will begin with a tasting of 4 selected wines, with which we’ll explore your flavor profile. Once you’ve identified your preference, come back for a glass of your favorite and mingle the night away.

Cocktail attire encourage.  The format will be casual.  Ticket includes wine and light hors d’oeuvres.

Friday, January 4th

7pm until 10pm

22 dollars | Click here for tickets