The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 28 of 128

SAN FRAN INSIDER An Evening with A Friends by Deborah Parker Wong s a winegrowing region, Sonoma County has cap- tured the imaginations of both career winemakers and career filmmakers, with world-class wine is being pursued and produced there by masters of both disciplines. Two such families being winemaker Richard and Alis Arrowood and their long-time friends, Pixar's John and Nancy Lasseter, who joined to co-host a tasting of their portfolios—Amapola Creek and Lasseter Family Winery—at the Ritz-Carlton's Parallel 37 in San Francisco. The evening's five-course menu, created by Chef Ron Siegel, began with the Lasseter wines, which are stylish Provençal, Rhône and Bordeaux blends made from estate fruit by consulting winemaker Julia Iantosca. Enjoué, a pristine rosé developed after considerable research by Nancy, was paired with a first course of equally pristine and savory Kampachi sashimi. Sonoma duck breast paved the way for a lively GSM blend, Chemin de Fer (French for "railroad"), which sports an image of the steam train that runs through the couple's Justi Creek Syrah vineyard, and two Bordeaux blends, Amoureux ("lovers"), a Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and a Merlot-dominant homage to Saint-Émillion, Paysage ("countryside"). The evening's menu, signed by Richard Arrowood and John Lasseter. Richard and Alis poured several releases of their organic Amapola Creek label, named after the Spanish word for "poppy," including a crisp Joseph Belli Vineyard Russian River Chardonnay that Siegel paired with a delicate tortelloni stuffed with miner's lettuce, celery root and mild green pepper. A namesake Syrah/ Grenache blend, Cuvée Alis, a single-vineyard Monte Rosso Zinfandel and Arrowood's signature estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon accompanied a succulent course built around Angus ribeye, trumpet mushrooms and cipollini onions. While the conversation at table revolved around winegrowing and winemaking, this memorable evening was far more than an exercise in assessing the wines and their affinity for inventive, haute cuisine; it was a rare opportunity to converse and compare notes with two families whose enthusiasm for Rhône varieties may only be seconded by their abiding respect for the unique Sonoma terroirs that produce them. From the century-old field blend of vines that comprise the cherished Heritage Block at Justi Creek,to Arrowood's lifetime of winegrowing experience that has been instrumental in guiding the Lasseter's in their quest for growing extraordinary estate fruit, we were honored to spend an evening in the company of friends who have indeed become masters of their universe. 28 / the tasting panel / august 2012 C M Y CM MY CY CMY K Chemin de Fer, from Lasseter Family Winery, is a lively GSM blend. The Amapola Creek Chardonnay from the Joseph Belli Vineyard.

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