FURTHER SPRING MUSINGS

It’s spring alright – sunshine and rain and fruit blossoms and weeds and baseball and more. 

We threw our April Fools’ Day anniversary party on Saturday, April 3rd – the only day of the week without pouring rain. More than 125 Taft Street aficianados sipped and feasted on fire grilled beef and lamb, vegetarian lasagna, salad and apple/berry crumble. More than a few corks were pulled, and more than a few cases of our “Heritage” Pinot Noirs went out the Tasting Room door. This will surely become an annual event. 



On the road again this week; for three days I will cover the Denver market. I love Denver – when it’s not snowing. 

Over the next couple of weekends we will pour our wines at two local spring festivals: the Bodega Bay Fishermen’s Festival on April17th and 18th; and Sebastopol’s Apple Blossom Fair on April 24th. Come one and all. 

Just finished a biography of one of West County’s most famous residents – Lowside of the Road: a Life of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskin. This unauthorized book traces Waits’ life from his teenage years in suburban San Diego, to Los Angeles and his notorious residence at the Tropicana Hotel, to New York, and finally to western Sonoma County, where he has resided for the past dozen years. The book is an interesting read; one which nicely points out the conflict between one’s public persona and the “real” person. Can they be fused? On this, Waits is an interesting case study. 

The next big winery event is our President’s Club annual spring party, scheduled for Saturday, May 15th. It’s a great time to taste new releases and sit down with friends over a barbeque. Preparations are underway. 

Cheers!
 
Mike

CONVERSATIONS WITH EVELYN #4

STAFF TASTINGS 

Periodically we gather our production, sales and administrative staff for formal tastings. We choose a varietal and compare our wine with six others, often local wines. We taste the wines “double blind;” that is we cover the bottles so neither the pourer nor the tasters knows the identity of the wines beforehand. We have each taster list the wines in order of preference, and the wine with the lowest aggregate score is the winner. Before we unveil the wines, we start with the highest score and discuss each wine’s merits/demerits. 

Double Blind Pinot Gris Tasting

Mike Tierney:These tastings keep the salespeople up to date on the competition. What other benefits do you see, Evelyn?
Evelyn White: It’s also an educational tool. By tasting together we develop tasting profiles, whereby we begin to look at wines in a similar way. 
MT: So everybody is on the same page – I get it. More? 
EW: Yes. Tastings are a natural setting to utilize my experience and training in staff development. For example, we can all look at a “corked” wine, and experience first hand a common but often confusing phenomenon. 
MT: In these tastings, how easy is it to identify your own wine? 
EW: I’m usually fairly confident, though by no means infallible. 
MT: Higher points for Taft Street wines? 
EW: Not really. If a wine is well made, I’ll score it accordingly. 
MT: Anything else to say about these tastings? 
EW: I think they reaffirm the general impression of high quality wines originating in the Russian River Valley appellation. Also, it’s interesting to discover alternative winemaking techniques. 
MT: We just had a 2009 Rose of Pinot Noir tasting, and the Taft Street wine was the winner. Congratulations! 
EW: Thanks. It’s a great wine to sip while watching a Giants’ game. 
MT: Or the A’s. Have fun on your upcoming trip to Chile. 
EW: I’ll try.

April Fools Forever

This weekend we’ll showcase a pair of heritage wines – a 2008 Sonoma County Pinot Noir and a 2008 Mendocino County Pinot Noir with our original (1982) label – with pricing to match. This is all a part of our April Fools’ Day anniversary celebration. After some gorgeous weeks of early summer like weather March has gone out with a vengeance. Winter like storms have battered us for days, with little end in sight. Family and friends of Taft Street are gathering at the winery Saturday afternoon/evening for a good old April Fools’ anniversary bash. Oh well, whatever the weather gods deal, we’ll play… and play….and play. With the weather (theoretically) warming up, bottling is in full swing – for clients as well as us. We are also starting to look at blends for the 2009 Russian River Chardonnay – our flagship wine. As usual, we’re dealing from strength, as Evelyn White has created a palette of Chardonnay components that are uniformly excellent. I spent a busy and rewarding few days in the New York City market a week or so ago. Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota are to be visited in the weeks ahead. Laurie has been up and down the state of California, and has recently been working with Kaitlyn (Tasting Room manager), visiting North Bay accounts. Taft Street couldn’t have two better ambassadors. With this weekend’s party out of the way, Kaitlyn and staff will concentrate on the President’s Club party for Saturday, May 15th. One of the highlights of Taft Street’s year, this year’s event will once again delight the hearts and souls of all who attend. A thank you to all who have sent your thoughts to us over the past month. I’m happy to report that there is nothing to report regarding health matters and Taft Street personnel. Mike, Laurie and I are at the top of our games – so to speak. Cheers, Mike Tierney President, Taft Street Winery

A Couple of Sauces

With this weekend’s party coming up, I looked for a variety of sauces to accompany the meats, breads and chips. Here are two, each serving 4-6.

Ingredients

Hummus

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 16 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients but salt and pepper to a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread on bruschetta or celery stacks.

Romesco Sauce

  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup roasted almonds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  1. Cook garlic and bread in olive oil until brown, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Place all ingredients into food processor and mix to a smooth paste. Add ice water as needed,
  3. Goes particularly well with grilled meats and fish.
Both these sauces work quite well with our heritage wines – 2008 Sonoma County Pinot Noir and 2008 Mendocino County Pinot Noir.