San Francisco Vintners Market 5 Comes Alive! (Big Discount!)

I attend a large number wine events.  That might even be an understatement, to which my fine readers can attest!  Thus, I feel that it’s saying something to describe an upcoming wine event as one of my favorite series of wine events, ever.  The San Francisco Vintners Market (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) wine tastings are those exact events: totally fun, onsite wine purchasing available, and of course, fantastic wines to taste in unlimited amounts.  And lucky readers, for round 5 (DING) of the #SFVM, I now have a fat discount so you cats can partake!

One reason, besides the many that I just poured out above, that I love these events so much is the number of new wineries that I discover each time we attend.  We always get the VIP tickets in order to get access to the Reserve Room, where we taste bottles of wine that most normal humans can never afford (without the event discounts to buy onsite, of course 😉 ). One great discovery that we’ve made has been the small family winery Sciandri Family Vineyards (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog), they of the newly formed Coombsville AVA in southern Napa Valley.  Big, but balanced Cabs come out of this producer, as does some big and warm, family hospitality.

All of this doesn’t even include the awesome gourmet bites and sponsors that you can also check out, while swirling some good stuff around in your keepsake logo glass.  Lastly, get your learn on and chat with some of the many winemakers that are actually in attendance and pouring their work, a rarity for events of this size.  So join us next month, at the next SF Vintners.  Enter the code “VINOPANION” for a nifty 50% off of your tickets, or just follow the links below.  Cheers!

What: San Francisco Vintners Market – Spring Time In The City
When: April 14th & 15th
Where: Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion, San Francisco, CA
General Admission: $80.00 (Includes all wines except Reserve Room)
Reserve Admission: $100 (Includes Reserve Room access to wines priced at $50 per bottle or higher)

Times: Trade tasting 12pm – 1pm Saturday & Sunday (RETAIL WINE BUYERS AND MEDIA ONLY)
General Admission: 1pm – 4pm Saturday & Sunday
Reserve Room Access: 12pm – 4pm Saturday & Sunday


Click below for tickets at a 50% discount:



Wines tasted at SF Vintners Market (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) events:

[winelist query=”SFVintners” num=”100″]

Wild Horse Dinner with Winemaker Clay Brock

Wild Horse Winery & VineyardsI’ve been a fan of the good value found in third label wines of Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards for some time now.  Their baseline Wild Horse line of wines are always a good bet for high QPR every vintage, particularly the widely available Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  I had yet to ever try their two high end labels however, so when I was invited to have dinner with their Director of Winemaking and taste through their top wines at the tasty Local Kitchen in San Francisco, I jumped on BART and headed over.

2005 Wild Horse 2007 Cienega Valley Calleri Vineyard NegretteWild Horse actually started out in 1981 as a senior project by original founder Kenneth Volk (now manning his own eponymous winery).  It was named for the wild mustangs that lived in the hills east of the winery and over the years has grown substantially.  It now encompasses three different sub-labels and many a wine within each, including rare varietals such as Blaufrankisch, Negrette and Malvasia Bianca, though only as winery exclusive releases.  Wild Horse also has a 50 variety heirloom tomato garden on site, one of the many areas of the estate that are fiercely guarded by Floyd the Lllama.  Wild Horse embraces the creative challenge that the multitudes of soil, climate and overall terroir give to winemaking across the large and diverse Central Coast appellation.

Local Kitchen and Wine MerchantI arrived at Local Kitchen with the expectation of another great wine and food event.  I’d attended previously for the great TasteLive Elderton Estate tasting a few months back, put on by JJ Buckley. Their multitude of small plates and super-fresh ingredients make for some outstanding wine pairings, perfect for their own substantial wine list and unique wine merchant.  I turned left into the grand private room that doubles as a daily wine cellar for Local and greeted Tia Butts (Twitter) from Benson Marketing and Alicia Laury from Constellation Brands.  Next to them was my good friend, the unsuppressable Thea Dwelle (Twitter) of Luscious Lushes.  Once we said our hellos, the guest of honor for the evening, Clay Brock, stepped back into the room.  Clay is of medium height and with short-cropped hair.  His quiet demeanor and welcoming face belied his jovial personae, but hid the quick wit that I was to happily discover later in the evening.

Clay Brock - Wild Horse WineryOnce our last guest arrived, Katie Sweeney (Twitter) from YumSugar, we sat down to go through the wines once before having them with the tasty small plates found on Local’s delish menu.  Previous to this dinner, I was already well-versed in Wild Horse’s value line of wines.  Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, they have always been a solid goto for me when I needed a good value wine to recommend to family and friends.  I was quite excited to try their Unbridled cadre of vino, which is a higher quality, sometimes single vineyard-level tier of wines.  Despite this significant bump in quality, I still found these wines contain quite a nice level of QPR, continuing the trend that I find with their base level of wines.  Standing on top of the Unbridled wines are what Clay and Wild Horse consider their finest wine, the Cheval Sauvage, a much more new world, full-bodied style of Pinot that shows a good appreciation of depth and complexity.

Wild Horse @ Local KitchenClay already had a successful wine-making career prior to arriving at Wild Horse in 2008.  He grew up in Napa Valley and worked summers at Christian Brothers.  Clay then continued his career after college, marriage and dalliances in other industries with a stint at Corbett Canyon Winery.  Further stops at renown wineries of Ken Brown and Byron Winery led him to the winemaker position at Edna Valley Vineyards and further work at the famed Zaca Mesa Winery. Despite such a successful career, he’s most excited about his position at Wild Horse.  As Director, he can do “whatever [he] wants.”  If he feels he needs to check one of his many vineyards…he can; or he can take a long day in the lab at the winery. He loves the Central Coast for it’s multitude of climates and terroirs, allowing him to make virtually any wine that he chooses, from their varied fruit sources.  If he had his druthers though, he’d love to make a boutique, high end Grenache in Napa, where he feels that varietal might really excel.

Wild Horse Winery @ Local KitchenEven with the price point jumps that you get in the Unbridled and the peak at Cheval Sauvage, I can’t help but still feel that these wines deliver at every price point.  We were quite taken with by the 2008 Wild Horse Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard Unbridled Chardonnay and the 2007 Wild Horse Santa Barbara County Unbridled Pinot Noir 2007.  Both featured the great balance and mouthfeel that I look for in a wine (I’m not sure how many times I can type that!) and also have a great depth of fruit.  The ’06 Cheval Sauvage, while bigger than I usually like in my Pinot, still kept some cooler flavors of rhubarb, spice and good acidity and earthiness.  It was a fun evening of exploration through these Wild Horse wines and the tasty Local Kitchen fare.  A big thank you to Clay, Tia and Alicia for an interesting look at the wines of the Central Coast.

All of the Wild Horse wines that we tasted with Clay that night are listed below using our awesome new WineLog WordPress Plugin and tagged with “WildHorse2010Dinner“.  Go out and try these wines for yourself and then come back and tell me what you think!

[winelist query=”WildHorse2010Dinner” num=”100″]

Pinot Days SF 2010 + Discount!

6th Annual Pinot Days San Francisco 2010One of the most exciting wine events of the year is back in the Bay Area this week.  The 6th Annual Pinot Days San Francisco festival celebrates the fickle grape all this week, culminating in the awesome Grand Festival Public Tasting Sunday 06/27/10 inside the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason.  Last year we were treated to an enormous amount of fantastic Pinot, with so much great wine there to be had, I was actually a bit sad after we left, when I realized that we had only tasted 1/5 of the offerings that day!

5th Annual Pinot Days San Francisco 2009This year’s festival proves to be even better, with more producers and all of those phenomenal 2007’s that will be on tap, only one of the finest vintages for Pinot in the last 10 years.

What could possibly be better than all of this wine in one space?  An exclusive DISCOUNT CODE for tickets to TRY these wines!  When you purchase your tickets, use the extrasupercool code DRXENOSF10 to get 15% off the ticket price for you and your fellow vinopanions!

Let me know how it went in the comments and cheers!

SF Vintners Market: Tasting AND Buying!

San Francisco Vintners MarketEvery once in awhile–wait, scratch that. Every few months it seems now, someone comes up with something exciting, new and innovating in the world of wine.  In this particular case, that new and innovative wine thing is a brand, spanking new wine event format!  The people that have been slinging the wine juggernaut known as Wine 2.0 (Twitter) for years are now behind the inaugural event known as the San Francisco Vintners Market.  Just why is this event so amazing and different from the many wonderful wine events that are held at Fort Mason in SF each and every year?  Well…just read a little further why don’t you??

Cornelius Geary (Twitter) and cohorts have come up with another winner because they’ve overcome one of the most perplexing and irritable aspects of just about every wine tasting event that I’ve ever attended…you can’t buy the wine you taste!  Happily, that problem is now a thing of the past and their solution is the core tenet to this new series of wine events.  Any wine that you taste at the SF Vintners Market can be purchased on the spot and taken home to be enjoyed at home.

So join me and my favorite vinopanions next weekend at the Market and enjoy wines that you can taste and immediately buy from over 150+ wineries from all over California’s many wine regions.  Indeed, I even have a special discount link for all of you readers!  Click my link to use the discount code “10bucksoff” and receive 10 dollars off either of the two entrance fees!  All of the necessary info is below and I look forward to seeing you at the event!

The Inaugural San Francisco Vintners Market

04/10/10 & 04/11/10

Noon to 5pm

Fort Mason Center, San Francisco CA

Discounted Tickets!

Espiritu de Argentina Winemaker Dinner @ Destino SF

Espiritu de ArgentinaOne recent bright evening in San Francisco, The Lady and I had the opportunity to head below the border, as in below the Equator…to Argentina!  A new wine label is set to drop on our half of the Earth called Espiritu de Argentina.  Combining the efforts of the US-based Cecchetti Racke, Espiritu de Chile and Argentine winery Bodega Monte Real, it will feature a full line of affordable and Argentine wines.  Lady and I met in front of the resto Destino, where we would have the lucky opportunity of getting a  sneak peak at these quaffable wines paired with a one-time 7 course small plates meal, all courtesy of Balzac Communications.

Destino: Nuevo Latino BistroDestino: Nuevo Latino Bistro is the brainchild and unique tasty destination restaurant by Owner and Executive Chef James Schenk.  It’s really two spots in one, with a full wall separating Pisco Latin Lounge and the other a full service restaurant and wine bar.  I found the cuisine to be rather unique, with many a fresh take on Latin cuisine or with an unusual flavor pairing hitting the mark with every course.  James was clearly engaged in the event, pacing in the background at times as his servers brought out a new pairing.  Each one was eventually met with a warm and pleased smile however, as each dish brought new cherry murmurs to the table.

We arrived just in time to grab a glass of Domaine Chandon North Coast Pinot Noir Reserve Brut Rosé that Kathy Whaley (Twitter) of Cacchetti Racke was pouring to awaken everyone’s palate.  This bubbly, a really good domestic effort with great acidity and fuller, creamy qualities, was a hit and really started the night on a upbeat note.  Joining us that night were all three Brix Chicks Liza (Twitter), Xandria (Twitter) and Nesta (Twitter), all in effect.  Luscious Lush Thea (Twitter) was also there, as well as Jason Mancebo (Twitter) of 20 Dollar Wine.

Espiritu de Argentina winemaker Luis VillarrealWe trundled into the other half of the Latin food and wine duo and settled into our seats, just in time for Bodega Monte Real and Espiritu de Argentina winemaker, Luis Villarreal to have a surprise bottle of vino poured for our starters.  The ’09 Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Malbec Rosé is quite possibly the first rosé that I’ve ever tasted that was made entirely of Malbec.  I found it to be solid effort, slightly sweet, but with good zesty citrus peel and strawberry to balance that mild sugar.  While discussing this just bottle wine and his efforts to bring it over on the plane, I got a chance to study Luis.  He is a stout and well-balanced man, who is very well spoken and seemingly quietly passionate about all of his wines. I discovered throughout the evening however, that his passion for Argentine wine runs deep and once started, he will show that fiery passion in his discussions about his home region.

Now it’s time to dive into the wine pairings and menu!  I’m going to bullet-point the fine, tastily extravagant meal for the 6 courses that we enjoyed (we had to leave before dessert).

– Scallop Tiradito: ’08 Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Torrontés

– This is the signature white varietal of Mendoza and Argentina and I found that it had a wonderful floral nose that a Viognier lover would enjoy.  The palate was tropical and crisp with great fruit and acid.

-Roasted Apple Quinoa Salad: ’08 Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Chardonnay

– A beautiful pairing, the lemon zest and chayote matched the spicy Meyer lemon in this zesty version of this varietal.  This is also a great sipper!

Espiritu de Argentina @ Destino SF– Chicken Chorizo: ’07 Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Shiraz

– Another great pairing, the plummy, fruit forward type of Shiraz balances the hearty spices in the *outstanding* chimichurri that was also included as an item in our gift bags…YUM!  Made by interuppcion fair trade, it is made sustainably and socially responsibly right in Mendoza!

– Slow Braised Pork Belly: ’07 Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Bonarda

– This Bonarda was very interesting and again, a phenomenal value.  It was tied for my favorite wine of the night, along with the Torrontés.  It has beautiful violets and roses on the nose with charred, earthy blackberry.  The palate has the same great fruit alongside some great black pepper in the long finish.  Ten bucks?  You’ve got to be kidding me!

– Ox-Tail Empanada: ’07 Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Malbec

–  My favorite dish of the night was paired with the trademark varietal for Mendoza, Malbec.  Florals here as well, the earthy nose was different from the more fruit-forward palate that had great acidity to pair with the savory, mildly spicy empanada with a Malbec reduction…I stole the rest of the Lady’s as she chatted with Luis!

– Grilled Swordfish: ’06 Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Malbec Reserva

–  The final dish of the night was perfectly prepared and clearly a very fresh steak of swordfish with wonderful texture.  The Reserva features a lot more oak and I’d say this one should be laid down for a couple years before revisiting this powerful wine, featuring both red and black fruit on the chewy palate.  This was a risky pairing, but one that was a slam dunk, between the toasty oak in the wine and the grilled char on the fish.  Tasty.

Espiritu de Argentina @ Destino SFOverall I couldn’t help but be completely impressed by the value and QPR found in these wines.  All of these, aside from the slightly more expensive Reserva will retail at $10 here in the US upon release.  While fruit forward, they also feature great acidity, generally tamed and oak that balances the rest of the components in these food-friendly wines.  James and his creations at Destino convinced me that Latin food is certainly an innovative and fresh cuisine that continues to be successfully reinvented.  I’d like to thank Monica, Kathy, Luis, James and everyone else from Espiritu De Argentina, Cecchetti Racke, Balzac and Destino who provided the dinner and wines that night

Dive in and check out the full reviews of all of the wines from Luis and Espiritu de Argentina that we had that tasty night, with the links below.  If you would like to list these wines in your own WineLog, they are all tagged with “Espiritu2009Destino“.  All of my pictures from that night are on my Flickr, and grouped in a set, as well as on my Facebook.  Enjoy!


Domaine Chandon North Coast Pinot Noir Reserve Brut Rosé NV

Espiritu de Argentina:

Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Malbec Rosé 2009

Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Torrontés 2008

Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Chardonnay 2008

Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Shiraz 2007

Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Bonarda 2007

Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Malbec 2007

Espiritu de Argentina Mendoza Reserva Malbec 2006

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