Michelin releases its Red Guide to the restaurants of San Francisco and environs next week. Having just published my take on the state of S.F. dining in the current issue of Wine Spectator (Oct 15, 2006), I have more than a casual interest in seeing what the Michelin inspectors come up with.
Every time I visit fun-loving Rollin Soles at Argyle winery in Oregon, he has some interesting tastings set up for me. This time, he has a vast assortment of freshly pressed juices, barrel samples from the 2005 vintage, and a previous vintages bottled under cork and screwcap for a blind comparison.
I tasted some older wines while in Oregon last week, visiting winemakers in Willamette Valley. What strikes me, looking over my notes, is how consistently good they all were. Of course, what vintner would show a bad wine to a visiting journalist? The greatest number of bottles showed up at dinner with David Millman, general manager of Domaine Drouhin, and Tony Rynders, winemaker at Domaine Serene.
For years, the Oregon winery Beaux Frères used the Belles Soeurs label for all its non-estate wines, but no more. Starting with the 2005 vintage, all of the non-estate wines will carry the Beaux Frères label with a subhead: "The Willamette Valley.
Domaine Serene shattered a big price barrier when it released an ultra-premium Oregon PInot Noir, Monogram 2002, at $200 a bottle earlier this year. Next up is a white wine from Pinot Noir, made to sell for $60.
If you're tired of hearing about cork problems, skip this post, but this story is too good not to relate, even though I have been on a bit of an anti-cork soapbox lately. At Zuni Cafe, one of San Francisco's most congenial restaurants, I am having lunch with Australian winemaker Natasha Mooney, a partner in Barossa Valley's Fox Gordon winery.
Clarendon Hills makes some of the most expensive wine in Australia. Owner Roman Bratasiuk only makes single-vineyard Syrah (he won't call it Shiraz), Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Astralis, his signature Syrah, goes for $325.
I've been around long enough to know a leading question when I see one, but this one took me aback it was so breathtaking. It was on an e-mail survey purporting to ask about consumer attitudes about cork vs.
So many restaurateurs and sommeliers gripe and grumble about customers who bring in wines that it was refreshing to hear Wolfgang Puck say, "I don't care, as long as they give me a taste." We were talking about his new Beverly Hills steakhouse, Cut, which has been open since June.
Normally, I don't like to dump on restaurants because of a single visit, but this story is too good. It involves a world-renowned opera singer, a new Los Angeles steakhouse, some unpleasant surprises on the wine list and a wildly overcooked steak.
Duncan McGillivray made a success of Two Dogs, an Australian brand of alcoholic lemonade, and a chain of brewpubs in Australia. When he sold it all to Pernod-Ricard in 1995, he finally had enough money to do what he always wanted: plant a vineyard and make wine.
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