Open That Bottle Night 2011: Table for Two by valleyfog
Open That Bottle Night 2011

The wines: Fleury Champagne and Vynfields Pinot Noir

It was dinner for two this year for us on Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) 2011. In the past, we have gathered friends together and shared multiple bottles of wine, but this year it was just Ms. Waits and Mr. Mast enjoying some good wine together. It had been a busy beginning of the year and we had just had Brian’s teenage nieces visiting for a week, so we didn’t have our act together this time around. Alas, there’s always each other and it was nice to sit down to a delicious meal, open some great wines and debrief on our week.

Jennifer has been very much on the sparkling wine track these days, so we knew that one of the wines would be Champagne. Jennifer’s choice was a NV Blanc de Noir Brut from Fleury, a smaller grower in Courteron, France in the Champagne region. Given that we are pinot noir lovers, we were excited that this was an all-pinot sparkler. This was a recent acquisition and Jennifer was eager to try it out. It was given to her by someone who was listening to her radio show (Jennifer’s alter-ego is a DJ at a local college/community radio station here in the Bay Area) when Jennifer was playing an old vinyl wine instruction record from winemaker/wine educator/UC Davis graduate Bern Ramey. We’ve written in the past here about the parallels and overlaps of wine and music, so this was just another example of that interplay.

Vintage Instructional Wine Record- "Bern Ramey on Wine"

Brian’s choice was a 2002 pinot noir from Vynfields, a small winery in Martinborough, New Zealand. We had visited Martinborough and stayed at Vynfields’ guest house when we were touring New Zealand in 2004. The Victorian guest house – not on the winery property itself – had a wonderful garden in the back with fresh fava beans, herbs and other produce and flowers growing in the back. We remember foraging for dinner fixings one afternoon and there was nothing more relaxing than shelling freshly picked fava beans for that night’s dinner.

We were also inspired by the owners – John Bell and Kaye McAulay – and their transition from previous careers to winemakers and winery owners. Little did we know that a year later, we would start our own winemaking venture. The Vynfields bottle was one of eight bottles we managed to smuggle back into the States from this trip (the limit is 1 liter). We’re not sure if they export to this country, so it was definitely special and waiting in the wings to be opened.

The meal: cocoa-dusted pork tenderloin

Wine must be paired with food, though, so on the menu was a cocoa-coffee-spice dusted pork tenderloin, served with a farro-bacon-arugula salad and green beans (yeah, just green beans…lost the creativity at that point.) As dinner was being prepared, we cracked open the Fleury. It had a wonderful nose – yeasty and toasty – and a brisk palate with hints of pear and light cherry fruit. It was a nice foil for the farro salad with its acidic and nutty components.

The Vynfields pinot noir, after the sediment settled once it was right-sided, was surprisingly transparent. Also surprising was its tartness and acidity. The nose was earthy and herbal and showed such New Zealand typicity with its aridn notes. The palate was brisk with light cherry and strawberry. This pinot has lots of layers and was enormously satisfying after all these years. Yes, we know, an 02 isn’t that old, but with new world wines, you never know. Its earthiness matched well with the warm spices of the seared pork tenderloin.

So why were we not drinking a Waits-Mast wine on OTBN? That is a question we often ask about other winemakers – don’t they drink their own wine all the time? Yes, when they’re being interviewed by Food & Wine magazine they say they had their latest vintage (hey, if we ever get interviewed by F&W we’d do the same!), but we all want to keep exploring and enjoying lots of different wines. And yes, we drink our own wines pretty regularly, but part of being a good winemaker is exploring the spectrum of senses to inform our ever-evolving palates. That, and we have a boat-load of wine in our basement and somebody’s got to drink it!

Thanks to Dorothy Gaither and John Brecher for coming up with the idea of OTBN, giving us an annual (if not more often) excuse to finally open that bottle we’ve always been meaning to. Remember, wine is for drinking, not saving forever. So, drink up and enjoy your bottles (and hopefully they include one of ours!)

2004: Brian foraging for dinner at Vynfields "villa," Martinborough, NZ


Waits-Mast Wine Tasting Events: Spring/Summer 2011 by valleyfog

March 13, Rutherford, CA

Spring, you say? Okay, it’s still February in most of the country, but damn it feels like spring here in Northern California. The recent warm weather – yes, we know it won’t last – is getting us fired up for some of the spring and summer wine tasting events that Waits-Mast Family Cellars is planning to pour at. Here’s the short list for the first half of the year, so get our your calendars/smartphones/iPads and mark ’em down.

Tasting Events:

March 13, 2011, 2:00 – 5:00pm. When Irish Wines Are Smiling. This Irish themed wine & food tasting returns for its second year, featuring wines from Irish owned, named and ancestry wineries served alongside freshly prepared traditional Irish Dishes & Irish Cheeses. Waits-Mast had a blast last year and is pleased that we now have a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition that involves wine (although Brian does enjoy his pint of Guinness). Cost is $35 per person in advance, $40 at the door.

Location: Rutherford Grange Hall, Rutherford, CA
Tickets on sale now:

May 20 – 22, 2011. 14th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. This will be our third time pouring at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve attended the event, too, but suffice it to say we’re regulars at this point. Why? It’s beautiful up in Anderson Valley and you get to taste Anderson Valley Pinot Noir from more than 40 wineries. Geek out on Pinot Noir at the technical conference on Friday (includes lunch) and dine with the winemakers at Saturday evening dinners held in Anderson Valley and on the Mendocino coast. But wait, there’s more! On Sunday, visit the wineries during their open houses for special tastings, seminars, food pairings, and more. Check out our recap from last year here. Well worth the trip!

Location: Anderson Valley (Boonville, Philo), Mendocino County, CA

Tickets go on sale on March 15, 2011.

June 18, 2011. Pinot Days San Francisco. If you’re a pinot noir fan, you’ll be in hog heaven as over 200 producers are pouring hundreds of wines at this event in the Fort Mason center in San Francisco. There are a number of pinot aficionado events starting up to almost a week in advance, and then the Grand Tasting is on June 18. So as it grows closer, check back on the Pinot Days website to see more details. This will be the third time we have poured at Pinot Days SF (we also pour at Pinot Days Chicago).

Location: Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA


Stay tuned to our blog and our website’s News page for updates to the event calendar. And we hope that Spring comes fast wherever you are.

Valentine’s Day Special: Share the Pinot Noir Love by valleyfog
February 1, 2011, 12:16 am
Filed under: Promotions | Tags: , ,

It’s February and the time is nigh

To think about your honey, your love,

That special someone who makes you sigh.

It’s time to get creative

As the fourteenth will come soon

To think about an expression of your love

Something to make him or her swoon.

The best things in life are shared.

Love and wine are the most fun,

To savor together, a perfect match, a wonderful pair.

So spread the love with a certain treat

A bottle of something red and lush,

A glass of nectar that can make the heart beat

And in turn, a Valentine blush.

Pinot noir is the perfect greeting

To make this Valentine’s Day exceptional

And to ensure your next romantic meeting

Is both heartfelt and memorable.

A hand-numbered bottle, just for you

With February 14th just around the corner, Waits-Mast Family Cellars wanted to inspire your Valentine’s Day gift-giving with our little poem and a special limited discount. Now through February 5th we are offering 14% off of any wine in our webstore (no two- or three-pack bundles). Just enter the discount code “SWOON” when you’re checking out and hit “apply” to see the discount.

Keep in mind that if you want to ship your wine via ground shipping in time for Valentine’s Day, you’ll need to put your order in by this Friday, February 4th (if you’re on the West coast, Monday or Tuesday of next week may still work). There are three-day, two-day and overnight options as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone here at Waits-Mast Family Cellars!