Roll out the Barrel at a Winery in SoMa

Following up on a tip from a client, we stopped by the Bluxome Street Winery in SoMa recently. The client had suggested that the winery would be a good site for a party. Since we were in the neighborhood, picking up some wines for another client at K&L wines on Fourth Street, we walked around the corner to check out Bluxome Street Winery.

The client was right. Bluxome Street Winery works very well as an event site. It is one of dozens of urban wineries springing up in San Francisco and the East Bay. It has the gritty charm of a real working winery, combined with an open and spacious feeling. It’s a good story to tell as well.  There were dozens, some say hundreds, of wineries in San Francisco around the turn of the 20th century. Most were based in SoMa, know then as South of the Slot, named after the cable car tracks that ran on Market Street in those days.

Bluxome produces about 3000 cases a year, with an emphasis on balanced and elegant Pinot Noir. The winemaker, Webster Marquez, has an excellent track record. He is co-owner and co-founder of Anthill Farms Winery and the winemaker for C. Donatiello Winery, both in Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley.

So you’ve got the space covered, you’ve got the wines covered. You can throw a party or have your wedding in wine country without ever leaving the city.

We will be catering an event there soon and will update with more details. In the meantime, you can contact them directly at www.bluxomewinery.com, phone 415.543.5353. The tasting room is open every day except Monday from noon to 7 pm if you want to check it out and taste the lovely wines.

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Ann Walker Catering can help you choose the right site for your event. We have catered in most of the major event centers in the Bay Area and can offer detailed site maps and the upside and downside of the sites.Site selection is only one of the many services we offer. We are a one-stop catering service.

 

Riding the New Wave Rhône Wines

Tirelessly tasting Rhônes

 

We like to say we don’t do “wedding food.”  Our food is real, not dumbed  down to suit all tastes. And, be it a wedding or other event, we want you to enjoy our food with some really distinctive wines, like several we tried recently at Romancing the Rhônes, a tasting of California wines made from varietals associated with the Rhône region of France.

They were  wines that complement the kind of full flavored foods we serve. In general, the Rhônes have intense layered fruit and bright acidity that enhances the food, unlike some of the over concentrated fruit bombs so popular now that mask and muddle the flavors.

The tasting featured dozens of superb wines from all over California and a few from Oregon. It was sponsored by Affairs of the Vine (www.affairsofthevine.com) and held at the Old Mint in San Francisco.

The wines are part of what I call the Second Wave of West Coast Rhônes.  The First Wave of Rhônes came in the 1980s and 1990s when California winegrowers like Randall Grahm and a few others  discovered that California’s soils and climates were well suited to Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Roussanne and other Rhône varietals.  The Second Wave of Rhôneistas have built on that, making small lots of exciting site-specific wines that show well with a wide variety of dishes.

These Second Wave winemakers are also doing some interesting blending, often breaking out of the Rhône box altogether to shape a delicious glass of wine.  A good example of that is La Sierra Azul by Clos Tita wines of Santa Cruz, a blend of Syrah, Merlot and Viognier that is exceptional, an elegant wine with bright fruit and balanced flavors.

Tercero Wines from Los Olivos takes a more traditional approach. They were pouring an incredible lineup of Syrah-Grenache-Petite Sirah blends from single vineyards on the Central Coast.  And if you want to step back from the reds, Tercero has a lovely rosé made from Mourvèdre.

Other favorites from the tasting include Hug Cellars, especially the red wine blend called El Pape and a delicious Mourvèdre from Fenestra. Cinnebar  Winery from Saratoga was also pouring a top rated Mourvèdre. Also on the A list was Red Belly, a terrific old vine Carignane from Skylark Wines. Among the whites, we enjoyed the Viognier and Roussanne from Cass Wines.

Turns out that pioneering Rhône Ranger Randall Grahm is also riding the Second Wave with a lovely little red wine called Contra, a mélange of Rhône and non-Rhône grapes that  hits all the right palate pleasure buttons and sells for under $15. More, please!

On that note, many of the best wines we tasted at Romancing the Rhônes retail for under $20.  Because the wines often come from small artisan producers they can be hard to find.

But finding good wines, distinctive wines is just one of the many extras we offer at AWC.  We don’t believe you should have to eat bland food or drink boring wines.  We will source out-of-the ordinary and delicious wines to match your menu and arrange for delivery to your event.

 

—Larry Walker

 

 

A Passion for Pink

 

©2012 Ron Scherl

Nothing says summer like a glass of pink wine.  Even here in the cool San Francisco Bay Area, a glass of rosé can drive the fog away.  Truth to tell, rosé is a good wine choice year around. It just seems  to make the party go better, whatever the season.   And wine consumers are beginning to get the message.

Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare is one of California’s top rosés.  Bonny Doon owner and winemaker Randall Grahm has been a rosé freak for decades and his passion is finally beginning to pay off.

“We have seen an explosion of interest in fine pink wines,” he said, adding that California winemakers are getting the message and producing rosé of outstanding quality—dry wines with good acidity to carry the bright fruit flavors.

That step up in quality has been important in moving the wine consumer away from the image of the sticky sweet White Zinfandels that ruined so many picnics a few years ago.

At Ann Walker Catering, we do take an active role in recommending wines to go with out food and rosé is a delicious favorite.

Here are a few recommendations of rosé from California and elsewhere to add a pink glow to your party.  All wines are priced under $20.

Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2011 Central Coast Rosé.  Paint It Pink! This may be Randall Grahm’s best rosé ever. It is rich on the palate without being overwhelming with intense fruit and a pleasing minerality.  This wine has the strength to match with pork, lamb, almost anything from the grill.

Casal Garcia 2011 Rosé Vinho Verde. An old favorite from Portugal. The wine is Crisp and lively with engaging aromas and a bright finish. Makes a perfect aperitif but also a treat with spicy southeast Asian dishes.  And at only 10% alcohol you can have a third glass. Who’s counting?

Crios 2011 Rosé of Malbec. Susana Balbo makes exceptional wines, some of the best in Argentina, and she takes rosé seriously. It shows. There is deep fruit with a silky texture and a long finish.  Don’t rush this wine. Sip and savor. This is what good rosé is all about.

Domaine de Fontsainte 2011 Gris de Gris Corbieres Rosé.  You can count on Kermit Lynch, the Berkeley-based retailer and importer, to offer outstanding French rosé.  This is a blend of several grapes from the Languedoc region of southern France. It is full-tilt pleasure in the glass with intense fruit and a bright acidity that keeps you reaching for another glass.

Donkey & Goat 2011 Isabel’s Cuvée Mendocino Grenache Rosé.  A fairly complex rosé with ripe berry flavors and a long finish from the East Bay urban winery. This would pair well with grilled lamb or chicken and is the perfect match for salmon.

Mont Marcal NV Cava Brut Rosado.  No tasting of pink wines would be complete without a bubbly. This Spanish Cava offers distinctive flavors with bright acidity and lingering fruit flavors and at a quality point equal to most non-vintage Champagnes.  Splendid as an aperitif or serve with nuts, olives, cheese.

—-Larry Walker

(Ann Walker Catering will be glad to help with the wine choices for your event. We will also source the wine and arrange for its delivery to your event.  Also, ask us about our complete wine program, involving wine selected to match your menu.)