Winemaker Dinner: A Night of Firsts

Last night’s Winemaker Dinner at Franklin Square Wine Bar in Oakland was a night of many firsts. It was the first time I’d ever been to the wine bar, but I dare say it will not be the last. What a cool little spot with some of the most energetic staff you’ll ever see! Also, it was the first time I’d ever tasted goat. I must admit, after discussing the potentially cannibalisitic element of eating goat while drinking A Donkey and Goat wine, I was somewhat hesitant to dig in. But my tastebuds were so happy that I did, and I can only hope that the Donkey will someday forgive me for savoring his dear little friend.

And the wines, of course! This was the first time I sampled some of the finished and bottled–as opposed to barreled–spring releases. I thought I knew exactly what was in store, but I was quite taken by surprise! Compliments to Jake, the chef, for making such bold but happily-married pairings that really enhanced the individual wines. And the winemakers, of course, couldn’t resist the opportunity to impose some experimental side-by-side vintage tasting. Comparing the Tamarindo Rousanne with it’s (successful) experimental sibling, the El Dorado Rousanne, proved what a difference the extended lees contact on the latter made. The Tamarindo offered a refreshing citrus, while the Rousanne left long, rich taste of honey on the palate. Similarly, the singular addition of Counoise to make 2007’s Three Thirteen into 2008’s Four Thirteen transformed it, as one fellow diner vouched, from a 4 pm wine to a 9 pm wine. Indeed, when directly contrasted, the Three Thirteen flirts with fruit and the Four Thirteen shouts of spice. What a night of fabulous firsts for all!

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