The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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BEHIND THE SCENES WITH FRED DAME A Conversation with Eric Entrikin, MS Wine Director, Left Bank (locations in Menlo Park, Larkspur and San Jose, CA) photos by Nikki Ritcher Fred Dame: Eric, I'm sitting in a classic French brasserie about to pull the cork on one of my new favorites, the Charles Krug 2010 Vintage Selection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. When is the last time you drank a Charles Krug wine? The Peter Mondavi family has to be one of the the greatest of the "Old Guard." Eric Entrikin: It's been some time. I remember the wines of the '60s and early '70s being fantastic. I'm looking forward to sampling this wine. The 2010's are really a winemaker's vintage, and this wine is an excellent example of difficult vintage conditions. I'm tired of wines that have the alcohol and acid balances out of sync. In this wine I'm seeing more restraint and character of the fruit. This is classic Napa Cabernet and I'm happy to taste it! Fred: Would you call it "old school"? Eric: No, I wouldn't. I would call it "new school" with some restraint. It's full-bodied, rich and full of fruit. I think that 2010 will surprise a lot of sommeliers out there. Fred: So Eric, now that you are with the legendary Roland and George Passot, when did you master the French language? Eric: (laughing) I haven't and I don't think I ever will. I always think I speak French until I get to France. We do have a number of French employees, but not as many as I would have thought. It's been a challenge with the pronunciation and wine list identification. Fred: I agree; it must be visa or economic issues that are making it more difficult. Regardless, is the list here a large percentage of French wine? Eric: Almost all of the wines in the brasseries are French or domestic. In the steakhouses we have more of a world selection. At the brasserie I would say this list is almost split evenly: 50 percent France and 50 percent domestic. Fred: You're working with a classic bistro menu here: 32 / the tasting panel / may 2013 escargot, salade lyonnaise and steak frites. We know that Roland and his team can execute those dishes superbly. I've always thought that with wide varieties of shellfish, salads and rotisserie that it would be difficult to Eric Entrikin, MS, shares a glass of Charles Krug Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon with Fred Dame. select a list that complements a majority of the dishes. Eric: Not only that, my friend. Each of the brasseries is based around the specialties of the Executive Chef, and they're all from different regions of France! We have it all, from haute cuisine to seafood to Provençal classics. Fred: That is a challenge. What have you done to make sure that each location maintains its identity? Eric: I have given the Chief Sommeliers at each location the opportunity to take up to 20 percent of the wine list and taper it to the chef's menus. Fred: How hard it is to buy French wine in California? Eric: It's really not very hard at all. We have a huge number of importers and brokers that give us virtually anything we might have a reason to feature. And of course our friends at American Wines & Spirits always take care of us. Fred: I was hoping—no, expecting— that you would say that. And I see that you have mastered that most unique of French gestures, the "bof" [a burst of air expelled through the closed mouth].

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