The SOMM Journal

February / March 2016

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Page 72 of 132

72 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016 { gatherings } Day One We travelled to Jordan Vineyard & Winery Winery for a long-table dinner in their impressive barrel room, where the eve - ning's theme was "Bordeaux Varietals, Sonoma Style." A first flight of Sauvignon Blancs illustrated the cooler microclimates of the county. They exhibited the crispness and liveliness of the Sauvignon Blanc grape but with more citrus fruit than one finds in Old World examples. Jordan Winery Executive Chef Todd Knoll served up an Alaskan halibut poached in Jordan olive oil, with shaved abalone, grilled hearts of palm, yuzu quinoa and estate citrus. The synergy in the ingredients, earthy quinoa and meaty fish, was impressive in its own right but the pairing with these tart wines elevated the abalone and halibut flavors on the palate. Next were two formidable flights of Cabernet Sauvignon blends. Eduardo Boloños, Sommelier at Terroni in Los Angeles, unabashedly likes French oak and hence applauded Jordan's 2012 Cab. Abel Muñoz, from Village California Bistro in Palo Alto, compared his two favorites—Peter Michael Winery 2012 "Les Pavots" Estate, Knights Valley and the Laurel Glen Vineyard 2012 Estate Cab from Sonoma Mountain— noting that the former was a blend and had more power and structure and the latter, which was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon but nonetheless smoother. The highlight was presentations by Ed Sbragia of Sbragia Family Vineyards, and Daniel Baron and Brad Petersen of Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey Cellars. One criti - cal point that was brought to my attention was that Sonoma's Cabernet Sauvignon blends are often overlooked in discussions of Bordeaux varieties in California, which tend to focus on Napa. Day Two We were up early for a ride to MacRostie Winery and Vineyards and a masterclass in Chardonnay led by Bob Cabral of Three Sticks Wines, Steve Sangiacomo of Sangiacomo Family Vineyards and Simone Sequeira of La Follette wines. A tasting and discussion of ten Chardonnays from the 2013 vintage, from six AVAs, ensued. Cabral's observed that most changes he's witnessed have occurred in the vineyards rather than the wineries, noting that canopy management and site selection has received much more attention than in earlier winemaking times. Later, over lunch at Seghesio Family Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, we sampled a flight of 2013 Zinfandels. The wines exhibited a diversity of styles, from opulent and fruity to spicy and dusty. Jenny Brost, Floor Manager and Wine Buyer at El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma, applauded the austerity of the wines from Dry Creek— specifically the Dashe Cellars 2013 Florence Vineyard. Alexander Joerger, Buyer for Cost Plus World Market, which boasts 275 stores nationwide, found the deep dive into Zinfandel the "eye-opener" of the con - ference. "We saw such a range of flavors and styles of wines," he said. After lunch we visited the Rockpile AVA, a tiny appellation situated above 800 feet elevation, wedged into the northwest cor - ner of Dry Creek Valley. We climbed the outcroppings, got a feel for what it was like to work those steep, remote slopes, and listened to winemakers Keith Overstreet of Bruliam Wines, Carol Shelton of Carol Shelton Wines, Carrie Mauritson and Emma Kudritzki Hall of Mauritson Wines. Collectively they agreed that lower tem - peratures and near-constant winds, coupled with w ell-drained soils gives wines from Rockpile strength and balance. Teddy Panos of La Valencia Hotel in San Diego found the Rockpile visit the single most mind-expand - ing event of the summit and said he plans to add Carol Shelton's Zinfandel to his list. Day Three The Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Fort Ross–Seaview and Sonoma Mountain AVAs are are all home to iconic Pinot vineyards, and production styles vary greatly from producer to producer. To deconstruct it all, we were treated to a masterclass at Kosta Browne Winery before being whisked off to Jackson Family Wines for a guided tour of their extensive herb and vegetable garden and a lunch. Ryan Arnold of Chicago-based restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You and Brent Kroll of D.C.'s Neighborhood Restaurant Group suggested to the group that wines from lesser-known Sonoma AVAs are becoming hot commodities, particularly as consumers have become more open to trying wines outside their comfort zones. Overall, the three days presented a packed program of education, fun and social - izing—and for the 32 somms who attended, there' s no question that they'll return to their profession with Sonoma on their minds. Anthony Minne with Plum Market in Chicago really appreciated the chance to do comparative tastings of Sonoma wines along with producers. Jennifer Waggoner of Michael Mina Stripsteak/MM74 at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami said that they were already big supporters of Sonoma, but the education at the summit would enable her to present the wines more compellingly to her guests. Organizer and emcee Evan Goldstein, MS, during a Sonoma Summit tasting. Veteran Sonoma winemaker Bob Cabral, formerly of Williams-Selyem and now with Three Sticks Wines. (right) Vintner Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Winery (left) and pal Wilfred Wong, Chief Storyteller with

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