Punk and funk meet at Terroir in San Francisco

Tracie P and I will never forget the first time we visited Terroir Natural Wine Bar and Merchant on Folsom in San Francisco in May 2009. We watched on as then co-owner Guilhaume Gerard, wielding an aluminum baseball bat (conveniently stowed above the bar for ready access) chased a homeless man out the door and down the street after the man attempted to steal a bottle of wine. Unflustered, Guilhaume soon returned and put the bottle back into a display case and picked up our conversation where we left off.

Terroir has seen its ups and downs since its heyday in 2009 but it’s still there and I thank goodness for it: it’s the one place that I make sure to visit every time I’m in San Francisco (since I travel there more often than not to play with Nous Non Plus, it’s tough to make time for a proper dinner but I can always find a moment for a glass of something natty).

Saturday evening, the last I spent in SF, I went to Terroir accompanied by good friend Billy and Zanotto for a celebratory lap (following our well received Col Fondo tour).

Owner Luc Ertoran poured us some great wines, including the sparkling Vin de Savoie, above, and the Mauzac and Duras by Plageoles from Gaillac.

The wines, conversation, and company were awesome and I really dig the free spirit of Terroir, where you never know whom you’re going to meet and what you’re going to taste at midnight on Saturday on the gritty side of SF.

But the thing I love the most about Terroir is how Luc — or whoever is manning the bar — always has something by the glass that will surprise and thrill me.

This gig may not be for everyone but it sure does it for me…

In other news…

A lot of folks have been quoting Matt Kramer’s recent post on “the big lie of wine democracy.” Ha! If you, like me, are laughing heartily at the thought of a byline by Wine Spectator’s Kramer with such an outrageously self-referential title, please come sit at my table and I’ll pour you some Pampanuto Bianco!

With all due respect to the many writers who are quoting him and drawing inspiration from his muzak, I think it’s worth pointing out that Kramer works for the very same military industrial complex that propagates that very same semiosis…

Wine for thought for this last weekend before Tracie P, Georgia P, and I head to Italy for our 2012 harvest trip…

Thanks for reading and buon weekend yall!

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!

NPA and NN+ in SF CA

Above: A view from the stage. My bandmate Céline Dijon (Verena Wiesendanger, right) was in a super good mood last night at our show at Rickshaw Stop (hint: a fan was buying her Jameson). The show was a blast and we did three encores. Thanks again to Waldo of Rickshaw for letting us rehearse at the club: enjoy the Clos Roche Blanche Cot we gave you!

It was something of a blogger summit and a meeting of virtual friends last night between Terroir Natural Wine Bar and Merchant and Rickshaw Stop in SF.

Among them were my virtual and now real friends Cory Cartwright (author of Saignée) and his delightful wife Emily. We shared a bottle of the enigmatic 2002 Ribolla Gialla by Gravner. One blogger, who prefers to remain anonymous, noted (and I concur) that the Gravner is an “abstract” wine, a wine (in a certain sense) that you cannot drink. There’s no question that Gravner’s wines are fascinating, thought-provoking, and intriguing: as the wine aerated it revealed a remarkable array of fruit aromas — think dried and moldy apricot (but in the mouth, it still felt to me like the wood dominated). Owners Dagan Ministero and Luc Ertoran were on hand as well, and a lively discussion of “orange wine” ensued and they generously tasted us on a number of bottlings (including Ca’ de Noci and Damijan). Virtual friends Slaton Lipscomb and Simona (author of Briciole) were there, too, and Clark Terry of Kermit Lynch blog fame also joined up at the show.

The most interesting and unique wine of the evening was the Natural Process Alliance skin-fermented Chardonnay (above), sold only in reusable stainless-steel containers. (Spume has written about this wine as has Alice.) This wine is as stinky and cloudy as it gets and it is 100% delicious (maybe not for everyone but just right for yours truly). Slaton noted that it tastes slightly different every time because its malolactic fermentation has not completed when it ships. You can only get locally and I highly recommend it.

The crowd was fantastic last night and we did three encores, closing with a rocking version of “Ca Plane Pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand. Tonight we play at an all-ages club in San Jose and I’m just passing time until tomorrow when I get to be reunited with my Tracie B, who’s flying in to visit with her girlfriends and see our show at Spaceland.

Highway run
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go ’round and ’round
You’re on my mind
Restless hearts
Sleep alone tonight
Sendin’ all my love
Along the wire