Red, white, and sparkling carpet at Kermit Lynch Tasting

Some of the cool people I got to taste with in San Francisco…

The pre-Kermit-Lynch-tasting evening began with an aperitif of stinky wine at Terroir Natural Wine Merchant where we hung with my new friend Guilhaume Gerard. Between him chasing off a would-be shoplifter, a discussion of the cutthroat nature of our trade, and some Django on vinyl (how cool is that?), we had a fantastic time. I’m really digging Guilhaume’s blog, Wine Digger, and highly recommend it. (Book editors: there’s a story there that hasn’t been told yet.)

The pre-tasting dinner was held at an excellent restaurant I’d never been to, Jardinière, with a very chic, glamorous art-deco ambiance and great food. The man himself, Kermit, took time out to chat music and pose for a photo-op with me and the lovely Tracie B.

Also got to taste with Gerard’s partners the next day at the portfolio tasting, Luc Ertoran and Dagan Ministero (to the left and right, respectively) and their friend Ian Becker of Arlequin Wine Merchant in SF.

The previous week, I tasted beer not wine with Clark Z. Terry, who came to see our band Nous Non Plus play in SF. In my view, Clark represents the future of wine marketing: he’s cool, he’s hip, he’s way-friggin-intelligent, and he’s dialing Kermit into the age of viral marketing. Check out the Kermit blog, authored by Clark.

Tracie B and I got to catch up with one of our favorite people in the natural wine business, the inimitable Lou Amdur of Lou on Vine. I don’t really miss living in Los Angeles but I sure miss cozying up to the bar at Lou on Vine and checking out what he has in his glass. Terroir in SF may be giving him a run for my money but Lou remains for me the best natural wine bar and best wine bar period in the U.S.

Representing Austin in the house was Monsieur Josh Loving (center), Austin’s top natural wine palate, classical guitar player, and one of the coolest dudes I know in Texas. We kinda went ape-shit over 1987 Terrebrune Bandol Rouge that we tasted together. Geoffrey Metheny (right), who pours wine at Fino in Austin, had his eye on some of those California natural wine girls.

Our friends Dan and Melinda Redman, who own the company I work for, were so way-super-cool and generous to bring me and Tracie B along for the ride and what a ride it was. Thanks again, guys! Tracie B and I had a blast.

I didn’t taste any wine with this funny bunny but I did take this picture of him in the Sonoma downtown square where he was hanging with some Lego Stormtroopers. Thanks for reading this far!

More on Maynard…

Above: From left, winemaker Eric Glomski, national sales manager Paula Woolsey, Mosaic Wine Group founder Dan Redman, winemaker (and, yes, rockstar) Maynard James Keenan, and me, myself, and I at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona.

A lot of folks have commented and left comments asking for more info on Maynard’s wines. Check out this post by my friend Dan, whose company I work for in Austin.

Maynard was totally cool to hang out with and we nearly fell out of our chairs laughing at dinner that night. Eric is one of the coolest winemakers you’ll ever meet and I really dug his natural approach to winemaking. Paula owns and runs a fun restaurant in Jerome called The Asylum, a restaurant on the fringe, where she treated us to some great food and wine the night after our tasting and vineyard tour. Jerome, AZ is a pretty trippy hippy town with a headshop and a haunted hotel. The inhabitants of Jerome are called “Jeromans.” As I’ve always said, when in Jerome…

Check out Dan’s post for more about Maynard and Eric and their wines.

The trip to wine country Arizona and California gave me a lot to think about and I’ve received some interesting comments like this one from Seth P:

    With all due respect, I’d like to point out something about your recent entry. You say that “people who live in Napa and Sonoma [...] favor big, oaky, concentrated, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon in their glass.” In my (reasonably extensive) experience in California, Napa and Sonoma are worlds apart. Granted, it would be hard to find a Sonoma Cabernet that could be mistaken for a Margaux, but then again Cabernet tends not to be the focus in Sonoma. Those wineries in Sonoma that do Cabernet or Cabernet blends tend to create wines that are restrained in alcohol and fairly authentic in fruit and spice. Yes, the Syrah, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel tend to be a little more powerful, but to my taste these are perfect matches to the food and culture of the region. If you’re looking for old-world, stop by Acorn for the “Medley” or Sunce for the Wild Hare Merlot and tell them I told you to visit :)

I’m still catching my breath from the last ten days and still wrapping my mind around what I saw and tasted. I will post more on “terroir delivered” (think “Jerusalem delivered” by Torquato Tasso) shortly… Thanks for reading!

Napa Valley take-out

Check out Avvinare’s post in the “Remember Abruzzo” series. Thank you, Susannah, for participating!

Above: We dined yesterday evening atop Howell Mt. in Napa Valley, looking out on to one of the most beautiful (and most manicured) vineyards I’ve ever seen. Napa Valley take-out isn’t just any old take-out: roast brisket sandwiches, locally grown lettuces, and can’t-be-beat California asparagus.

It’s hard to believe… neither Tracie B nor I have ever been to Napa Valley.

Above: Tracie B looked so beautiful in the early evening light atop the mountain, the lush valley playing backdrop to the golden sunlight on her face.

Frankly, I am embarrassed that I know so little about the winemaking history and tradition of my own country — and my home state, for that matter. As Craig Camp points out rightly, wine professionals — above all — should drink locally.

Above: From left, Tracie B., Dan Redman (the owner of the company I work for), Dan’s lovely wife Melinda, and our friend Elton Slone.

We’ve only been here for a day but it’s been fascinating to see these places — some of them, the most famous growing sites in the world — and try to wrap my mind around what Napa Valley is and what it means.

Above: Our hotel room in downtown Napa looks out on to the Napa river.

I’m posting in a rush this morning as we get ready to go out and taste with some of the wineries the company I work for represents but I’m sure Tracie B and I will both have lots to post about in the days that follow.

Stay tuned…