The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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Page 72 of 119

THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD YEAR FOR JESSE KATZ, Winemaker for Lancaster Estate in Alexander Valley. Named one of food and winedom's brightest stars in Forbes magazine's "30 Under 30," Jesse Katz was not only the only Sonoma County resident, but also the only winemaker on the list. The names were compiled by the likes of the culinary arts' own celebs, including Alice Waters, SWS's Lee Schrager and Danny Meyer. Now, with the debut of his own label, Devil Proof, Katz got a thumbs-up right out of the bottle, with a positive review by Robert Parker for his inaugural 2012 vintage, including this praise: "This may be the finest Malbec I have ever tasted from California." After working for several harvests in Argentina, Katz had a vision. "This is all single- vineyard hillside, dry-farmed 100% Malbec—something that I wanted to create after my time at the 'cult' Malbec houses [of Argentina], working for Paul Hobbs [at Viña Cobos] and Bodega Noemía, from the family that produces Argiano," he confesses. Instead of doing what many thought he might have done given his pedigree at some of the top Cabernet houses in the world including time at Screaming Eagle—that is, dive into cult Cab territory—Katz dreamed of doing what no one had done before: create a high-end Malbec from Sonoma's Alexander Valley, which is his home. "My goal is for Devil Proof to rival the best wines of the world, no matter what varietal."The name itself was inspired by a memorable time he and his father had in Cuba. "It was like the saying goes, 'Live well, drink well and the devil can't get ya'," he tells The SOMM Journal. His father, world-famous photographer Andy Katz, shot the iconic image that is on the label, from that same trip to Cuba. The original photo was auctioned by Justin Timberlake at a charity event for $17,500. Devil Proof 2012, Alexander Valley (SRP $80) is ponderous, an old soul that is leatherbound and exhibits notes of Worcestershire, spiced plums and espresso. Just when you think its massive side is too moody, in comes a gentler demon. Sweet molasses and blackberry jam uncrowds the denseness and unveils the lush - ness defined by Alexander Valley's noted ability for ripeness. "As a chef I real- ized early on that it's the little details that separate aver- age from great. My friend and Alexander Valley neighbor, Jesse Katz, has brought his keen eye for terroir and atten- tion to detail to this masterful wine." – Chef Douglas Keane Chef Doug Keane prepared a locally-sourced meal for winemaker Jesse Katz in his newly designed backyard in Alexander Valley: Sonoma Coast T-bone lamb chops; caramelized onions, garlic and braised kale (Bernier Farms); butter-braised leeks and fingerling potatoes (Bernier Farms); roasted radish (Wetzel Farms) with porcini mushrooms and garlic confit ( Bernier Farms); salad of mixed lettuces (Ridgeview Farms); and sheep's milk cheese with apples, walnuts, pomegranates and persimmons (fruit and nuts: Valley Oak Farms). Devil Food: A Meal in the Vineyards All the ingredients for the dinner came from within three miles of the Devil Proof Vineyard. Chef Keane is currently in the process of obtaining permits to build a new Cyrus in 2016 in the middle of Alexander Valley. { }  73

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