New Arrivals Meet Old Vines in Contra Costa County
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
So we get an e-mail invitation, as did everyone on their mailing list, to join Livermore winemakers Steve Mirassou (Steven Kent Winery) and Tom Stutz (La Rochelle) for a sit-down tasting/discussion of their new premium program, the Grand Cru Collection.
It’s a small portfolio of vineyard-designated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from much-sought-after sites that they had to schmooze for, wait for, and otherwise finagle fruit from.
The photo above indicates how civilized the event was, held in the tiny tasting chez Rochelle’s elegant cabin. Having RSVP’d, our host consulted the list and led Kath and me to our table.
Notwithstanding my last couple of paragraphs, this thang was not stuffy at all! It was casual all the way: shorts, open-toed shoes, shirts unbuttoned low. And that was the dudes.
It was great. Winemakers Steve and Tom expounded on the vagaries of forming relationships with growers up and down the Cali coast, trying to secure even a row, never mind a block, of prime fruit. It’s the total antithesis of what we see here in CoCo, specifically our city of Oakley.
Oakley has growers/farmers sometimes desperate to sell their wonderful old-vine Zin, Mourvèdre and “Kerrigan.” And other parts of Cali have growers with a waiting list.
Sometimes, one waits behind the velvet rope to get in to the club. And sometimes, that rope ain’t velvet; it’s made of trellised vines stalk.
Tons of great insight from these two winemakers/foragers/adventurers/pioneers/salesmen trying to create, successfully Kathy and, I might add another high-end brand. Kath even mentioned that this inaugural Grand Cru program tasting had the whiff of “Time Share Presentation,” although she loved all the wines, as did I.
But, truthfully, there was no hard sell at all. There was no “limited availability” mentioned. There was no “already allocated to high-end restaurants” stuff.
Sure, like a crack pusher on the street, the Grand Cru program was trying to hook you up: “Baby, the first one is free; I gots what you need later.”
Three Chardonnays from up and down Cali:
2010 Ferrington Vineyard, outside of Boonville in Anderson Valley (where the Roederer sparkling iconoclasts decided to bivouac)
Down south to Rosella’s Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands
And then sumpen-sumpen from the Russian River Valley
And one Pinot Noir, which was outrageous. Kathy noted mint in the nose; I got some eucalyptus in addition. I was the one to raise my hand, and my query basically took credit for everything. Tom says to me, the loudmouth, that “Well, you win the prize,” I’m guessing for the punch line. Apparently Tom and Steve admitting that they smelled the same stuff, but at different times. And, bordering the old Buena Vista site, their source has no eucalyptus, nor crazy mint presence. It comes and it goes.
As Christopher Guest says in “Best in Show” when asking if he knows a particular dog trainer: “Well, I do and I don’t.”
For Tom Stutz and Steven Morasses. Well, I do. Kath do, too.