This week I queried some wine experts on their favorite wine, and what they were doing when they first had it. Their answers made me more than a wee bit thirsty.
Years ago, on what used to be a favorite spring outing – to the Amador Vintners Festival – we were referred to the Fiddletown Market in pursuit of a wine from Young’s Winery, located in Plymouth. That night we took the wine to dinner, somewhere in Jackson, and drank it. The wine was unsettling: beautiful, fruit boldness, elegant although not smooth, with a stand out finish. A real crowd pleaser!
Steve Young, as long as I knew, never participated with his fellow vintners in the Festival. He did his own thing, and a few years later I flew up to do a story about this young winemaker, his family, and their wines. All of this was built around the two days per year he sold off most of his wines, with hundreds of people coming to taste, to pick up their orders, and to enjoy the catered food prepared by local catering chefs — not cooks. It remained my favorite Zinfandel for years. Joel M. Fisher, wine educator, columnist, and Founder of the annual LA Wine Fest.
Growing up in Paris with my dad in the 70’s and 80’s, at one of his 2 star Michelin restaurants, I would have a late dinner with him and his buddies. (Like Pierre Cardin or the Shah of Iran; to name only a few of his entourage.) The wines where always older vintages of stunning red and white Burgundy’s or first and second growth Bordeaux…the good old days! Guy Lelarge, owner, Valencia Wine Company. (Note: Since the Michelin Guide started out as a guide to road-touring, the stars are not only associated with quality, but with driving value. 2 stars indicates the restaurant deserves a detour. Everything will be top-notch, if not perfect, and you should not expect a bargain.)
My fave is a Chilean red blend, Montes Alpha “M”. I was in Salt Creek Grille with my wife, Chell, when a wine representative brought by a sample. We absolutely fell in love with it and it has been on the wine list ever since. Greg Amsler, owner, Salt Creek Grille.
My favorite wine remains the Aneas Reserve Sangiovese. I tasted it first at Agua Dulce Vineyards with spoonfuls of blue cheese and crumpled pecans. Divine! Cathy MacAdams, co-founder, Agua Dulce Vineyards.
I would say Rombauer Chardonnay. I first tried this at their beautiful winery in Napa. I can just imagine sipping this looking out over the lush green valley. I have had it numerous times since then, of course on different years, and always a wonderful time to be remembered. Susie Clark, co-owner, Two Hearts Vineyard
I have so many favorites…it is hard to choose one, but, the Dover Canyon Syrah ranks very high from a stolen weekend at a B&B in Paso Robles that my husband Jeff and I took several years ago. Tamra Levine, Heritage Lane Productions (Event Styling & Boutique Catering) and Director of Catering for Salt Creek Grille Catering
1999 “Domaine Du Pegau” Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reserve. I drank it a few years back on a great Sunday afternoon with my wife Jeannie’s brother Bill. A wine Bill had never experienced and one neither of us will forget. I buy it annually when available, based truthfully, on that first bottle and Pegau’s great track record of producing my favorite Rhone blend. Just “slam dunk” good. Chris Carpenter, local winemaker and host, with wife Jeannie, to Assistance League’s Sunset in the Vineyard.
One of my favorite Cabernets was 2002 Jocelyn Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. The price was under $30 and delicious upon opening. All Corked Up probably sold 80 cases. When it was gone I kept bugging the distributor for more even though he was out of stock. Two years later he actually found 5 cases of the 375ML bottles which promptly sold out as well. Customers kept asking for the 2002 for years. We now have the 2005 which is very well made, but softer than the 02. Victor Herstein, wine buyer, All Corked Up