Archive | December, 2009

Inka’s, Peruvian cuisine.

SF’s Mission Dist. Ceviche on a plate, like salad. Spicy: Chenin beats SB. Great beef heart. Take ultra-ripe Cab.

Suggested Restaurants for Fine Wine

A place I like on the lower end of the price scale is a nicely appointed, but distinctly unpretentious, small spot on Mission St, three blocks south of Cesar Chavez (, 415-648-0111). Inka’s doesn’t have a wine list yet. Take your own; they do have nice glasses. Decant before you go. I’m not the only one who likes Inka’s ~ they were written up a couple months ago in the NY Times.

Food Background

     There are several things to note when considering Peru as a source for interesting cuisine. First, the potato is native to Peru. Because of its ability to provide increased nutrition per sq. ft. of growing space, the potato became famous in places like Ireland and Russia, but it was unknown there until 450 years ago. Same with the tomato. What would Italian cuisine as we know it be without the tomato? But the tomato came from the Andes in Peru – Bolivia – Ecuador. Italians had never seen a tomato before the Renaissance, and its first mention in European literature came in 1554.

Read this post in its entirety on the Stanford Alumni Wine Blog site.

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06 Vougeraie Savigny-les-Beaune (Marconnets)

Bio-d since 01. Wild yeast. Attractive feral nose w/ blk cherry robe. Minced squab + plum sauce.

Green Wines

     At speaking engagements, British wine writer Clive Coates likes to joke about Burgundian vintners, “You know, they’re all peasants.” Clive is not being disparaging. He is colorfully illustrating the manner in which Burgundians are yoked to the land. Wealthy, well-educated, well-traveled vintners from Burgundy still spend months of every year in their vineyards pruning, pulling leaves, replanting, and harvesting. This close relationship to the soil may help explain why Burgundy has so many organic and bio-dynamic vineyards. Heaven knows, organic grape growing is not easy when rain is likely to fall at any time during the Summer.

Wine Education

     Domaine de la Vougeraie was organized by Jean-Charles Boisset and his sister Nathalie in the 1990’s to consolidate several prestigious properties they had acquired with their father Jean-Claude under a single, more easily marketed label. In all, the vineyards for the Vougeraie project totaled 37 hectares (94 acres) spread out over 29 Burgundian appellations. The goal was definitely to create a luxury brand: there are parcels in five red and one white Grand Cru vineyards. About a quarter of the property is in Vougeot. Yields are low ~ barely over two tons per acre. These holdings ~ plus ownership of prestige domaines such as Bouchard, Jaffelin, Ropiteau, and Mommesin ~ make the Boisset family the wealthiest wine estate in all of Burgundy. As if that weren’t enough, in September of this year 40-year-old Jean-Charles married Gina Gallo

Find the remainder of this post on the Stanford Wine Blog titled Straight from the Vine. Continue Reading →

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Effects of Global Warming on CA Wine

Sensationalized by Stanford prof to claim future demise of fine wine on the West Coast. May be some great computer work, but the conclusions drawn are ridiculous.

     On Dec 17th at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, Noah Diffenbaugh, an Asst. Prof. of environmental earth system science at Stanford University, presented a paper using high-resolution computer models to predict future climate impact on certain local area crops. See Stanford News Service to read about the paper in more detail.
     Prof. Diffenbaugh’s claim was, “Global warming could reduce the U.S. wine-grape region by 81% this century.” The Stanford Alumni website dutifully produced a feature story on Diffenbaugh’s presentation headlined, “Global Warming Could Empty Your Wine Glass.”
     Bruce Cass disagrees. See Bruce’s Stanford Alumni Assoc. blog called Straight from the Vine to read his rejoinder.

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De Tierra Vyds.

Monterey County. Two estate wines from certified organic grapes. Very good quality, bargain priced. Strongly recommended.

How green is your wine?

     Talking about how ‘green’ a wine is can be very complicated. Not using pesticides says little about the winery’s attention to energy and water conservation. Is an ‘organic’ wine from Italy still green after all that weight of liquid and glass has been shipped to San Francisco? Does your ‘bio-dynamic’ winery pay their workers a living wage? And do any of these matters contribute to good taste? How far can I trust claims of ‘greenishness?’

de Tierra Vyds

     It’s a thorny issue. We will revisit it frequently on the Stanford wine blog [, it’s titled Straight from the Vine]. But we will begin with a winery recommendation that needs very few qualifier adjectives. These two wines taste great, and they are both pretty reasonably priced. The grapes are grown within 100 miles of the Stanford campus. The vineyard was the very first one in Monterey County to be certified organic by CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers).

Continues at Stanford wine blog.

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06 d’Angerville Volnay (Cailleret)

Modest color, but tightly refined nose w/ floral highlights. Beautiful oolong-like finish. Value.

Both Volnay and Montelie can represent pretty good bargains in a Burgundy market which seems to be continuously hyperventilating. This off-vintage wine, nevertheless comes from a very highly-regarded 1st Cru vineyard, and perhaps Volnay’s most illustrious producer. Like a tall, slim woman on a Parisian boulevard, this wine is both elegantly understated and eye-catching at the very same time. It makes you feel grown up, at a young adult price.

Wine Education Vacation

2006 Marquis d’Angerville 1st cru Volnay (les Cailleret Vyd) from the Côte de Beaune. Tasted at the monthly Friday night Varietal Series class in Nevada City [href=””]. Retail store wine cost is around $85. Wine was part of a comparison to illustrate district characteristics amongst red Burgundies. Others included two Frederic Magnien premier crus from the Côte de Nuits: a Chambolle-Musigny (Feusselottes); and a Vosne-Romanée (Suchot). Unfortunately the Suchot was corked.

Background wine education

     Volnay is a small town just south of Pommard in the southern half of the Côte d’Or, France’s legendary Burgundy region. This southern section is best known for white wine, and some of Volnay’s vineyards do cross over into neighboring Meursault. There are no Grand Cru vineyards in Volnay. Indeed there is only one Grand Cru red vineyard in the whole of the Côte de Beaune (Corton Bressandes), i.e. in this southern half of the Côte d’Or. Nevertheless, Volnay does have several Premier Cru vineyards of which they are justifiably proud. Les Cailleret is just south of town along the main road.
     The proximity of Volnay to Pommard is confusing because the wines bear virtually no resemblance to each other. Pommard is jammy, the most californicated of all the red Burgundies. Volnay is more frequently delicate, perhaps in the style of New Zealand Pinot Noirs from Central Otago in the middle of the south island, except Volnay has a floral perfuminess reminiscent of Chambolle’s best wines. Bad Volnay is thin and watery. Great Volnay has a lifted berry character backed up by the complexity of black tea. Rarely would anyone describe Volnay as robust in the mouth. Restrained is more often the phrase that springs to mind. Careful never to over accessorize. Understated. Old money.

Taste the Wine

      The 2006 d’Angerville was a wonderful example of what the French would call Volnay typicité. Far from lightweight, on an internet dating site it would still have called itself “slender,” and I would have gone along. The wine was much more substantial in terms of flavor concentration than in terms of alcohol and extract. That is an impressive structural expression, no less because it is so unusual when one’s daily fare is California wine, especially today. The nose was overlain by blackberry essence, but lifted by the scent of yellow roses and heather. Round and full, but not big nor obvious. In the mouth the wine was smooth, not at all grippy, with long acid to make you salivate. Like a good comedian, this wine left you wanting to hear more next week.


     This wine would be perfect with duck leg confit served in a salad of spring greens with pomegranate seeds. Just a hint of raspberry vinaigrette and some hazelnut oil to dress the salad. It could be the first course, but would be better as the third or fourth in a five- or seven-course meal. The idea is you want fragrance without weight. Don’t turn the confit into high-end sloppy Joes with a sauce. Merely use the duck leg by itself, maybe crisped just a bit under the broiler before being separated from the bone and sprinkled in meaty chunks about the salad.

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