here's the beef

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For the past two months or so, I have been working on a library wine tour for one of my brands, a Napa Valley pioneer that was part of the infamous Paris Tasting in 1976. (If this sounds familiar, it is. This is not the first time I've worked with a historic Napa producer. You'll remember that my last brand was also a Paris Tasting alum.)

Anyway, part of the preparation for this series of library events involved tasting through the entire Cabernet Sauvignon portfolio. (I know, I know -- my life is incredibly rough.) This took two days and involved about 100 wines. I'm not kidding -- this was tough. It's no easy feat to taste Napa Cab back to back to back. The tannins do a number on your tastebuds, and your teeth turn a remarkable shade of purple. I had to work really hard to stay focused; with this many wines, it was tempting to stop paying attention to nuances and say everything tastes the same (which is definitely not true because a 1967 is going to be profoundly different from a 1997).

How to prevent palate fatigue?

Meat. And lots of it.

Our winemaker swears that eating "meat roll-ups" counteracts the tannins in Cabernet and refreshes the palate. So while we were tasting all of these wines, we were also helping ourselves to a gigantic plate of meat. And I guess it worked because we survived and were able to pick out a very nice selection of wines to show during the library tour, which launched last night with a tasting and dinner at Boulevard, that good ol' bastion of fine dining in San Francisco. (And yes, I'll admit it -- this was actually my Very First Time at Boulevard. When I told that to our dinner guests, they looked at me like I was crazy. Apparently, it is a sin to be a foodie and not eat at Boulevard.)

Wines shown included the 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon (the very same wine that was in the Paris Tasting), the 1987 Cabernet Bosché, the 1987 Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, the 1995 Cabernet Bosché and the 1995 Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. All in all a great lineup and a wonderful evening, and our guests seemed really pleased. (Crossing my fingers now and hoping this leads to ink. Dear writers: Please write.)

The performance repeats again Thursday at Martini House in St. Helena and next week at Spago in Beverly Hills.

What can I say? Fun stuff.

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