Wine Tasting with Will
Will is from the Bay area and worked at a bar in downtown San Francisco for years. “I don’t know much but I know a lot about wine,” he says at a recent wine tasting at the Privateer Marketplace Wine Bar in Oceanside, CA.
But before Will can tell you about wine…he first needs to have a discussion on dirt.
“Soil remains a critical component in the terroir of wine growing,” says Burtner.
Terroir is a French term that means environmental characteristics that give a wine character.
French winemakers have observed the differences in wines from different regions for centuries.
Winemakers of the ancient world understood that different regions have the potential to create very different and distinct wines, even if the grapes were exactly the same.
The Greeks would stamp seals on wine of the different regions they came from and those regions established reputations based on the quality of their wines.
The Benedictine and Cistercian monks of Burgundy, France detailed observations of the terroir and even went so far as to “taste” the soil.
“Sonoma and Napa are two areas that have the most diverse soils on Earth,” Burtner preaches.
Napa and Sonoma
Close to the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by mountains, Napa and Sonoma Valleys have climates that are perfectly suited to growing fine wine grapes.
The long growing season has warm days followed by cooler nights and allows grapes to ripen evenly and slowly.
The valleys have more than 30 different types of soils which is very diverse for such a small area.
Burtner details “There is a volcano on the back side of Napa and it spreads nutrient rich soils throughout the valley that you don’t get anyplace else on earth.”
Volcanic, maritime and alluvial soils all exist together and were created by geological events that occurred over a 60-million-year time period.
Napa was formed by volcanic activity and alluvial waters the of San Pablo Bay which reached as far inland the town of Yountville.
The soil Ranges from gravelly loams to silty clays and these soils vary in fertility and depth.
Alluvium (from the Latin, alluvius, “to wash against”) is loose soil or sediments.
A flooding river spreads horizontally and fills the floodplain (or valley) with muddy streams of silt and enriches it with fertile, alluvial soil.
Alluvial soil is fertile because during the process of transport, soil particles adsorb various nutrients from river water, hence it becomes fertile.
“Wine is basically a weed with fruit,” Will replied to the question of why don’t wine grapes burn out the soil after a few years like planting corn crops.
“It will dig and dig into the earth until it gets what it needs.” Some vines will last from 100-150 years.
The first wine tasted at the event was a Carneros Hills Pinot.
Carneros is a microclimate and was the first American Viticulture area recognized by it’s climate characteristics.
“Caneros is the only winery that sits between Sonoma and Napa,” Burtner tells the eager crowd of wine tasters.
“It sits right on the San Pablo Bay and because of that it stays cool and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay really like cool weather.”
Alluvial fans pull the nutrients off the Volcano and bring it down to mix with the silty clay of the San Pablo Bay.
“The further a vine struggles to goes down into the earth the more nutrients and flavors the wine picks up.”
You get certain flavors from those grapes that you can’t get anyplace else due to that unique terroir.
“You get these single vineyard wines that you can’t get anyplace else due to the terrior and the diurnal temperature.”
Diurnal temperature swings increases the ripening with the warmth of the day but balances the natural acids in the grape with a sudden drop in temperature at night.
This Pinot exhibits aromas of sandalwood, cinnamon and forest floor that weave bright fruit notes.
This was the first commercial vineyard planted in Santa Barbara.
“When you put your nose in the glass you will pick up an intense aroma of Brettanomyces.”
Brettanomyces is a yeast spoilage and tastes a bit like bread.
Old world wines and some Belgian Ales may have a tiny amount of brett that some drinkers covet.
Some say it is a dead ringer for sweaty horse blanket.
Burnter clarifies, “If done properly it adds character to the wine.”
This single vineyard 2013 is a 94 point vintage and exceptional.
This is actually the coolest AVA in California which makes for a smaller more intense berry.
According to the Vintner’s notes this Pinot Noir was grown on a rocky ridge that capture the morning sun. The grapes were cold-soaked for up to a week, fermented in open top tanks, gently pressed, then aged in medium-toast French oak,
It is earthy with crisp cherry and fruit notes and a light texture on the palate.
Winemakers had to settle for mediocre vine stock.
But a few enterprising vintners took it upon themselves to smuggle in French rootstocks.
The Bootleg label is literally an X-Ray image of a desperate winemaker smuggling in the vine stock in a suitcase.
Some say California Cabernet Sauvignon wouldn’t be the same without the introduction of the illegal Bordeaux rootstocks clones.
This red is a Jackson Family Wines limited edition bottling and is made by winemaker Brian Kosi.
Kosi is a master blender known for crafting age-worthy wines and has worked with many prestigious Napa Valley wineries.
His career spans over 15 years with positions at Acacia Vineyard, Opus One, Plumpjack Winery, Beaulieu Vineyard and Freemark Abbey.
Winemaking is part of his family history and his goal is to create well-balanced wines that are food friendly.
Kosi’s intent was to make a big red blend with loads of dark fruit and power.
According to Burnter this Merlot based wine blend is the first vintage of the wine.
Bootleg is primarily a Napa blend of 36% Merlot, 28% Petite Sirah, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, and 4% Zinfandel.
“It is a silky smooth and not super complex in it’s flavors. This is a wine you enjoy throughout the night,” says Burtner.
“I like the fact that Sideways got rid of the bad Merlots and now they are making better wine.”
Bootleg Blend is luscious red with soft tannins and velvety texture.
This Cab is from Rutherford, Napa Valley, one of the region’s most renowned sub-appellations.
“It can be argued that Rutherford is the best place on Earth to grow Cabernet Sauvignon,” explains Burnter.
“You can age this for 20 years – you will lose fruit but gain character.”
Rutherford dust is term used to describe the dusty feeling of tannins in a Rutherford AVA Cabernet Sauvignon.
People identify Rutherford dust as a specific flavor, sometimes cocoa powder or coffee.
The Cab is a medium-full-bodied wine with rich tannins and a big flavor.
It also as a lovely ruby color with aromas of currant and dried herbs.
The winery and estate vineyards are certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
Food and Wine pairing
Your palate picks up sweet, salt, sour, bitter and umami which is a savory.
Burnter goes on to explain, “People always ask does wine really effect the flavors in food?”
“And I always reply, does toothpaste change the flavor of orange juice in the morning?”
The toothpaste comes in and blocks off your sweet receptors and opens the bitter receptor and all you taste is bitter because of it.
Will sums it up by asking the crowd to visualize shapes for sweet, salt, sour, bitter and umami. Sweet is a triangle and salt is square, bitter is a circle etc.
What ever you eat will make the shapes bigger or smaller. So it ends up accenting the shapes with the wine.
Tannin is the reason we don’t mix big red wine with seafood.
When tannin mixes with the iodine of the seafood, it creates a metallic flavor.
“But Pinot Noir has very thin skin, it’s light in color and not very tannic which is why you can pair it with seafood,” Burtner educates.
So if you are serving Salmon don’t serve Cabernet. Instead serve a nice big steak and save the Salmon for a light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
“There is a ton of flavor for this wine and should be served with a big meaty rib-eye steak.”
IT’S ABOUT BEING FRESH
Fresh local food, fresh wine and craft beer.
Oceanside is a typical Southern California’s beach town with warm sandy beaches and a historic wooden pier.
The Privateer Marketplace is the neighborhood hang for craft beer and wine, artisan bites and 100% coal fired pizza.
The Privateer Marketplace has monthly wine tastings and an impressive walk in wine cooler as well and several NewAir AWR-520SB Wine Coolers.
“We use the smaller NewAir Coolers in the front of the house so we don’t have to keep going in and out of the big cooler and fluctuate the temperature on the majority of the wine,” owner Charlie Anderson added.
The Privateer Marketplace wine is always kept fresh and perfect serving temperature.
The restaurant utilizes the farm to table practice by buying produce from a local farm that is less than a mile from the restaurant.
It was recently named one of San Diego’s best pizza places and boasts delicious thin crust Neapolitan-style pie.
According to one self admitted Pizza freak on Yelp, Richard H. from Encinitas, “5 stars for their Margarita pizza – so damn perfect and reason enough to come here.”