Napa Valley Style

Yesterday I attended Keenan’s private party. Robert Keenan was a real estate investor in San Francisco who passed away last November. When asked to reflect on his career he said the best piece of property he ever bought was the land he bought on Spring Mountain. Spring Mountain is above St. Helena. You make a left at Madrone and a right at Spring Mountain and after about 20 minutes look for the sign on the right. Keenan is one of my favorites. GB can tell you, they’re old school. The tasting room is a barn and the juice is downstairs in the cellar. A lot of the grapes are grown on the property. They know me by name there. This is where they roll out everything. The Summer Blend is their white that I just love. I’ll put it up to Rombauer’s Chardonney every day of the week. It’s a more elegant wine, really built for summer. They were pouring their Chardonneys (there are three) Merlot, Cab, and the Spring Mountain Reserve, that got a 95 rating. There is not a bad wine in the bunch. The best thing about it, is their wine is priced below every one elses. The Chards are around $18 a bottle, the Cabs are around $45 I think. That Spring Mountain now sells for more. I bought some futures yesterday. Michael Keenan was in the cellar pouring from a barrel, two yet to be named Cab mixes. One had French clones in it, the other had Davis clones in it. They were selling the futures by the bottle so I got one of each. Michael Keenan thoughtfully explained maloactic fermintation to my friend, who I’m sure understood every other word. It was quite interesting. I pushed him to keep explaining how they made the wine there, even though she was glazed over by then. How often do you get a private audience with the winemaker? Cool dude.

Next stop, my old standby Freemark Abbey. I’ve been concerned because they are my benchmark for wine. I compare all Cabs to their Bosche. They were sold last year, after being in bankruptcy for some time. Some of my buddies in the tasting room had gone other places (Cardinale and Cakebread in particular). Yesterday, an old gentlemanly guy helped us. I asked him if Ted Edwards and Tim Bell were planning on staying on. He said the new ownership doesn’t mess with the wine production. That was a sigh of relief to me. After seeing what happened to Folie a Deux (who’s tasting room is now next to Mustard’s I think) I didn’t want that to happen to my beloved Freemark Abbey. I’ve been drinking their wine since 1980. They had three Bosche’s open yesterday. The 1991, 1994 and current release. I have a bottle of the 94 in my collection. It’s still aging beautifully. They’re selling it for $120 a bottle right now. Twice what I paid for it. They also had a “Bootleg” Cab what amounted to pulling the top off when they bottled, like bootleggers do with shine. It’s very good and was in the the club shipment I picked up. Their Gravel Chardonney was excellent. I don’t get shipped their whites, but I like their Chardonneys. They make them in the European style, not the California style. I was happy that as far as the wine was concerned, it was business as usual.

Next stop was supposed to be Cakebread to see my old buddy Bob. Bob tells me all the secret squirrel stuff in the valley. Bob told me about Cindy’s Backstreet years ago. He told me about a little white hut at the end of a street that had spectacular cheeses and bread and would let you have a picnic there. Bob knew which winemaker was going where, why and who drove their pickup into the canal after too many. However, we saw Franciscan and my friend used to belong there, so we went inside to get her membership straightened back out. Too many moves and they lost her. Franciscan is part of a family of wineries that include Mt. Veeder (much better than Franciscan) Simi, Estancia and several others. More importantly, their parties are the best. Sometimes they’ll open up the libraries and OMG. We went through the Mt. Veeder line. They have a Cab that they are selling for $40 a bottle that’s excellent. Since my friend was lost off their list they gave her 30% on anything we bought yesterday. She hadn’t yet made that leap of logic when I said “honey, 30% is $12 off, making this a $28 Cab”. You can’t not bring this home. She did.

Yesterday was my free day. I made it an epic free day. Keenan had salmon egg rolls and asian slaw. Yes. Lamb ribs. Yes. Grilled tacos. Yes. Grilled sausages. Yes. Brownies. Yes. Then I came home and had a nearly one pound NY and mashed potatoes. And finished a pint of the light half baked. I’m soooo riding my bike to Danville and back today. As soon as I figure out what sized inter-tube fits it.

June 17, 2007 @ 10:06

Bon Mots and Cheap Shots

Executive compensation has been all over the news lately. The average CEO makes 400 times what the average employee makes. So, since my salary is exactly the same in 2007 as it was when I left Bloodless Title Company in 2000 I decided to look up our CEO compensation. He makes 160 times what I make. I’ve got thirty years experience, so I’m probably high end for him. Especially when the executives came around and gleefully clap their sweaty little hands while informing us that lots of the tasks we do are now being done in India by “engineers” who are paid $16 a day, versus what it costs to have it done here, by me. Uh, that was my career you just shipped to India. Thanks a lot, asswipe. They pay you $11,837,190 annually to come up with that crap? Aren’t you a jewel.

I’m building a body for life:

Weight 208

Fat 36.5

BMI 35.5

I’ve been relatively vigilant and it’s paying off. This program works, if you stick with it. I’m 40 days into this challenge and down 10 pounds.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Robert Keenan Winery for my very first appearance at their summer blow out. They’ve got a 95 on their Cab, which is quite a coup for a little winery. Robert Keenan was a real estate investor from San Francisco. He said the best piece of property he ever purchased was the vineyard on Spring Mountain. Sadly, Mr. Keenan passed last year before he could see the 95 ranking on his Cab. Godspeed old boy. You done good.

Let us have a moment of silence to mark the passing of an amazing man. Baron Guy de Rothchild (pronounced Gee) passed away at the grand old age of 98 years. He was born in 1909 in France, heir to the House of Rothchild, that of course included the Chataeu. As a Jew, he fled France in WWII and originally went to New York. He returned to London to join the Resistance with Charles deGaulle. He returned to France with DeGaulle and rebuilt the family fortune that had been lost in the war… starting with the wine. His banking empire was requisitioned in 1979 by the Socialist government of Mitterand. To you Baron, I shall lift a glass to a life well lived.

Arrowood -Russian River Valley Cote de Lune Blanc, Saralee’s Vineyard 2004

How I found Arrowood. Right place, right time. Harry and I were going up the Sonoma side and had already been to BR Cohn (they totally rock on so many levels) and were going to stop at Imagery and their sister winery, because their wine dog is a red Doberman Pinscher. We went into Imagery and went to their reserve counter. A young man poured us a glass of godonlyknowwhat. Then the lady next to us sets down her business card. She was the Event Planner from Stag’s Leap. This guy wet all over himself babbling on ad nauseum about various areas in the Bordeaux and how those conditions mimic the Valley of the Moon, blah blah blah. Little boy, she’s the Event Planner for Stag’s Leap. If she wants Imagery’s wines, she’s going to make a phone call. She’s not the hiring manager, and her date is a lot more handsome and well off than you. Don’t be such a dork. Serve the other people at your bar. Especially the two on the end who are going to open a wine bar…dumbass. My house won’t be serving Imagery. So we left, unserved and saw a little sign to Arrowood. Not only were they wonderful hosts, their wines were excellent. Last night I had the Cote de Lune Blanc with my Mahi Mahi, white beans and basil. It was wonderful. I have a pinot of theirs as well.

Bravo Arrowood!

Drive it like you stole it!

In a fit of temporary insanity, The Contessa called me last Saturday night and asked for assistance retrieving his new Carrera from the Porsche dealership in Redwood City. Of course, I would help a friend in need, but I’m pretty sure I need to drive the Porsche.

OK, Richard Edson is my hero and I felt like him pulling out of the dealership. So the first thing I have to do is get the thing onto Highway 101. That was just screaming scarey. The gears are so tight on that thing. We got up to San Mateo and stopped by 750ml had a beautiful DuNah Chardonney in a flight of three they were serving. Then we decided a bottle was a great idea. And a cheese plate. It was a delightful afternoon. And then we drove it home. Whee! That was fun. Unfortunately, it was Memorial Day weekend and I thought it prudent to keep it under wraps so I never took it over 85, but what a fun toy.

1998 Moss Creek Zinfandel

Every now and then I reach into the wine fridge and pull out something that amazes me. Tonight it was the 1998 Moss Creek Zinfandel. Now, I’m no dope so if I bought it, there’s something interesting about it in the first place. This thing has probably been there longer than I’d like to admit. I don’t remember when or where I bought it. I think I got it from the little place on the right of Highway 29 just past Sequoia. Or maybe at Sequoia and it was one of those places that also marketed another winery’s product.

It’s got that old wine feel. Hell, I’m drinking a 9 year old Zinfandel. It’s got that older wine color and it’s big, huge with cherries. Very soft mouthfeel, has certainly aged well and has that eloquent feel that older wine should. I had it with a grilled filet mignon and roasted potatoes and it was exquisite.