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Straight from the Vine -- Archives : December, 2009

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    Inka's, Peruvian cuisine.

    SF’s Mission Dist. Ceviche on a plate, like salad. Spicy: Chenin beats SB. Great beef heart. Take ultra-ripe Cab.

           There are eight or nine Peruvian restaurants in San Francisco ranging from Limon and La Mar on the high-priced end, through Mi Lindo and Mochico in the mid-priced category, to El Perol and Piqueo’s in the bargain basement. There is even a chain: Fresca. But restaurant prices have more to do with location, leasehold improvements, and faddishness than they have to do with service and food quality. A place I like on the lower end of the price scale is a nicely appointed, but distinctly unpretentious, small spot on Mission St, three blocks south of Cesar Chavez (, 415-648-0111). Inka’s doesn’t have a wine list yet. Take your own; they do have nice enough glasses. D...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 27 2009 12:30PM | 0 comments

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    1996 Ramonet 1st Chassagne-Montrachet (Caillerets)

           Older bottles of prestige White Burgundy can be risky; this one was sublime – a memory like a night on the rug in front of the fireplace with a lover you’ll never see again.

           About $225 in a retail store. Tasted in a class at Fort Mason comparing quality levels of Burgundy.
           Employing older White Burgundies in class is always an adventure. They are very expensive, and most American consumers have never tasted an aged Chardonnay. So even if the wine is in impeccable condition, which is by no means guaranteed, chances are good a large portion of the audience is going to find it ‘strange.’ And then individual personality kicks in. Some percentage of the audience is going to naturally define ‘strange’ as negative.
           Personally I’ve always been a big fan of Chardonnays picked a litt...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 24 2009 1:13PM | 0 comments

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    2006 Vougeraie Savigny-les-Beaune (Marconnets)

    Bio-dynamic since 2001. Wild yeast. Attractive feral nose with black cherry robe. Minced squab and plum sauce.

           At speaking engagements, British wine writer Clive Coates likes to joke about Burgundian vintners, “You know, they’re all peasants.” Clive is not being disparaging. He is colorfully illustrating the manner in which Burgundians are yoked to the land. Wealthy, well-educated, well-traveled vintners from Burgundy still spend months of every year in their vineyards pruning, pulling leaves, replanting, and harvesting. This close relationship to the soil may help explain why Burgundy has so many organic and bio-dynamic vineyards. Heaven knows, organic grape growing is not easy when rain is likely to fall at any time during the Summer.

           Domaine de la Vougeraie was organized by Jean-Charles Boisset and his sister Nathalie in the 1990’s to consolidat...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 22 2009 12:08PM | 0 comments

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    Global Warming and Wine

    Dear Asst. Prof. Diffenbaugh -
             Global warming is NOT going to empty anyone's wine glass. Although I do hope your choice of the wine industry to sensationalize your work does accurately reflect a huge wine interest on the part of Stanford alumni.
             Global warming may raise the price of Two Buck Chuck, and it may move vineyards from Bakersfield to the Willamette Valley, but it isn't going to stop the production of wine. In fact, one good indicator of global temperature over the last 2000 years has been whether or not wine was being made in the British Isles. For several periods it was too cold to grow grapes there. Today England has hundreds of tiny wineries.
             Every year about a quarter of the vineyard acres in California shift bac...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 20 2009 4:32PM | 0 comments

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    1999 Salvestrin Cabernet Sauvignon (Estate)

    Wonderful 10-yr-old Napa Cab, at a very reasonable price. Given the right setting, this is one you can feel in your loins.

    Salvestrin is one of those charming Napa estates which sidestep all the nouveau-riche baggage, with attendant dilettante implications, by virtue of having been owned in the same family since Prohibition. In 1932 Rich Salvestrin’s grandparents bought 26 acres of the historic property founded by George Crane just south of St. Helena on the west side of the valley in 1879. Their purchase included the Crane’s Victorian house, where you can stay today for $240 a night.
             Rich’s dad sold the grapes. I mean no derision when I point out that makes the Salvestrins Napa Valley farmers. My point is to draw more clearly the distinction between the Salvestrins and other Napa Valley groups ...

    See the remainder of this post in the Top Wine Reviews section

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 3 2009 2:05PM | 0 comments