ValleyFogBlog


Sampling Sips and Bites at Taste of Mendocino by Jennifer
Taste of Mendocino banner

Taste of Mendocino 2013 (photo: J. Waits)

Last Tuesday, Brian and I poured Waits-Mast wines at the Taste of Mendocino event at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio of San Francisco. Featuring an array of producers and purveyors from Mendocino County, the event gave consumers, trade, and media the opportunity to sample tastes of wine, beer, cheese, coffee, chocolate, pie, and more. Representatives from other Mendocino companies and services talked about the range of attractions and lodgings in the county as well.

Taste of Mendocino Workshops

Taste of Mendocino Workshop Line-up (Photo: J. waits)

The day was divided into a trade/media event from 2-5pm and a consumer event from 5-7pm. Additionally, several panel discussions during the trade portion gave wine buyers and journalists an in-depth look at Coro Mendocino wines, food from Mendocino county, and the 2011 vintage of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Brian participated in the Pinot Noir panel, during which all of the wineries provided preview samples of the 2011 vintage. Since I was holding down the fort at our table while Brian spoke, I sadly missed the discussion. Luckily, Fred Swan did a thorough write-up for his NorCalWine blog, giving his take on the vintage and his tasting notes on the wines poured by Waits-Mast, Elke, Husch, Baxter, Harmonique, Bink, Balo, and Witching Stick.

Tasting Panels at Taste of Mendocino

Workshop Room at Taste of Mendocino (photo: J. Waits)

This was the first winemaker panel that either of us had sat on, so Brian was excited/nervous. It was pretty cool for Brian to be on the same panel as other esteemed winemakers from Anderson Valley, especially with someone like Mary Elke, whose wines we’ve admired for many years. Each winemaker got up and did a five minute presentation on their winery and the specific wine they were pouring for the audience.

Brian got up and talked about the yet-to-be-released 2011 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley. Everyone on the panel discussed the late-harvest rains and how they handled mold or Botrytis. Brian described how they handled the dampness at Wentzel, where the vineyard staff waited for the clusters to dry after the rains on October 10, did extra leafing to promote airflow and then used leaf-blowers to dry out the clusters further. The fruit from this vineyard was picked a full week after that rain, on October 17, and was the cleanest pick we had that year.

The crowd awaiting the beginning of the AV panel.

The eager crowd before the AV panel (photo: B. Mast).

The 2011 Wentzel still needs time in the bottle to age and develop further, but in Fred Swan’s overview of the panel, he rated this wine “highly recommended.” This bodes well for when the wine is ready for release later this year!

As had been the case when we poured at the 2012 Taste of Mendocino, this was a really fun and productive event, especially since so many of the attendees were from restaurants and retail shops. We don’t have the time to reach out to as many restaurants and shops as we’d like, so it is fantastic to pour samples of our wines at event where wine buyers are coming to us. We ran into some folks who we’d seen at last year’s event, made some new connections, and even crossed paths with people who I know from the San Francisco music and radio scene (it’s amazing how often the music, radio, and wine worlds collide). People were well-behaved and we didn’t hear or see any signs of broken glass (although someone did accidentally knock over our dump bucket, spilling icky leftover wine on our table).

We got some nice feedback on the wines that we poured. Whereas some attendees were adamant about not tasting our rose (they’d say, “no, I’ll start with the pinots”), those who did said that the 2012 Waits-Mast Rose of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County was “delicious,” “real dry,” “nicely balanced,” with “great acid.”

Golden Gate Club for Taste of Mendocino

Golden Gate Club during the Taste of Mendocino (photo: J. Waits)

When we poured the 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard in Anderson Valley, we got many questions about the status of Londer Winery. Friends and fans of Londer expressed their sadness that the vineyard was sold and the winery closed. We worked with the vineyard when Larry and Shirlee Londer owned it and hope that the resulting wine does them proud. Tasters said that our wine was “aromatic” and “juicy” and one attendee said it would be “great with chocolate.”

Our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley was described as “earthy,” “a little chewier,” and “complex,” with an “exuberant nose.” As far as the 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Oppenlander Vineyard in Mendocino County, tasters said that it had a “great tangy-ness,” was “sandy” and “bright,” with “an explosion of flavor on the palate.”

View of Golden Gate Bridge from Presidio

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Presidio (photo: J. Waits)

After wrapping up our day in the Presidio, we headed out to dinner with friends from Frati Horn Winery. We hadn’t been able to catch up with them much at the event, as their tasting table was located in the big room with the view at the Golden Gate Club. We swapped stories, shared winery gossip, and enjoyed a great meal before retiring for the evening.

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Taste of Mendocino Recap: Dynamite Wines that are the Shizzle by Jennifer

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Brian and I began a busy week of events (Pinot Days is this weekend) by pouring at Taste of Mendocino in San Francisco yesterday. The full-day tasting included both a trade event in the afternoon and a consumer portion in the early evening. Attendees had the opportunity to not only sample a huge array of wines from Mendocino County, but were also able try a variety of other food and beverage offerings from the area. The setting was the beautiful Terra art gallery in the South of Market district of San Francisco. In addition to the food, wine, and art; attendees were also treated to music performances, acrobats, and a rock and roll-themed food truck on the outdoor patio.

For this tasting we poured three of our Waits-Mast Pinot Noir selections from Mendocino County, including the 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Oppenlander Vineyard (Mendocino), the 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Deer Meadows Vineyard (Anderson Valley), and the 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard (Anderson Valley).

As is always the case, different tasters had varying opinions on the wines and there was no standard answer to the question, “What’s your favorite?” We enjoy hearing the descriptors that others use when tasting our wines, so we did the best that we could to capture some of our favorite comments throughout the day.

One taster told us that it was “very nice to taste some pinots with some delicacy and depth too.”  Others described the wines as “beautiful,” “otherworldly” (from a non-Pinot Noir fan), and “sinewy.” A few were directed to our table by friends, with one person proclaiming, “I hear you are the shizzle!”

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Here’s a quick recap:

2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard (Mendocino):

“smells and tastes like it’s supposed to”

it has fruit and aromatic intensity and “it’s a monster”

“beautiful mid palate”

“very Burgundian, earthy”

“the most aromatically intense Pinot Noir here”

“has plenty of acid, but wish it had more”

2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard:

“tasting perfect now”

“more jammy aroma” (than the Oppenlander)

“acid in balance”

“nice balance and complexity”

“a nice mushroom risotto would go well with this”

“dynamite”

“delicate, but complex” (from someone who said he’d dumped every other wine he tried)

2010 Londer Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley:

“perfumy, delicate”

“rich”

“wild cranberry and spice”

“bright cherry”

“much different nose…almost like a cherry cordial.”

“well-rounded…favorite (of the 3)”