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DeLoach Vineyards: Boisset Rising

Last week, I had the opportunity to have lunch with the irrepressible Jean-Charles Boisset, the French owner of many wine companies worldwide. In California, he owns Deloach Vineyards, the venerable Russian River produce; we met at the winery. J-C is doing many interesting things, including changing the entire style of Deloach's Pinots and Chardonnays to a style much more subtle and French than most of what you'll find in California. It's a bold move, but the wines--given their price and their market penetration in supermarkets--have the potential to really help turn the tide for more tasteful and elegant California wines (especially in the Chardonnay department). Bravo.

Rare Burgundies Dinner at the St. Francis

WELCOME TO SF, LA PAULEE!



I have to write a brief report on the craziness that was La Paulée, the big Burgundy party in which everyone brings a great bottle (or ten) to share. There was so much great wine at this year's dinner, held on March 1, that had it not been so delicious, it would have been sickening. It was all collected in a back room at the Westin St. Francis, where the army of sommeliers (somewhere around 60 of them, from all over the country) would fetch it and pour it for the guests who brought it.

Damn...

...that's a lot of glasses.



This was a dinner I attended during the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers up in Napa. It was a good three days, and I gleaned some valuable information about publishing. More than that, however, I made some excellent new friends. Not a bad use of time, particularly for people who are just starting their career.

Stony Hill

Last week, I made my first trip to Stony Hill, a winery in St. Helena that I've admired for a long time.



I got to meet Peter McRea, the owner, who has continued making excellent Chardonnay from the Napa Valley in the exact same style his parents did--which is to say, balanced, completely devoid of new oak and extremely age-worthy.


A-Rhone at the Top

March 15 and 16 marks the return of the Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting, to be held at the Log Cabin in the Presidio. If you like inky Syrahs, bright Grenaches, juicy rosés, lush Marsannes, vibrant Roussanes or anything remotely related to Rhone varieties grown in the United States, this is the tasting for you. You can meet winemakers, taste new and old vintages and generally get your Rhone on. Pretty much everyone who's anyone in the world of Rhone varieties, including my favorites like Peay, Qupe, Tablas Creek and McCrea, will be there. Don't miss it.

Good drinking at the new Yoshi's

Had a chance to visit the new Yoshi's on Fillmore with our food editor, Sara Deseran, the other night. The array of interesting dishes presented to us kept us busy, but not as busy as all the delicious things to drink. We were helped along the way by the impressively knowledgeable and enthusiastic saké expert Ben Baker. He kept our glasses full of everything from a flowery, nuanced daiginjo to a solid, fruity gingo to an earthy shochu. Baker taught us the progression of these that a Japanese person would follow at a similar meal, which, contrary to the order we drink wine in the West, flows from the most fine and flavorful to the most solid and plain.

A Little Sunday Rosé

It's a good thing to have a little Champagne every weekend. Keeps the joints loose and the mind balanced. It's also a very good thing to have very good Champagne, which I was fortunate enough to do this past weekend.

Now, I love a good rosé Champagne--who doesn't?--but I can't say that I will immediately roll over at the sight of one. Too many are sweet or excessively fruity, emphasizing "pinkness" in all its connotations, while deemphasizing the finesse, crispness and clarity that make great Champagne great.


Last Call: La Paulée de San Francisco

On March 1, there is an event in San Francisco that every true lover of wine needs to attend. Specifically, it's a Burgundy event, but you can't really call yourself a true lover of wine if you don't love Burgundy, because Burgundy is, quite simply, the best.
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