The annual Wine & Spirits Top 100 event sends many oenophiles into a frenzy - 100 fantastic international
wineries pouring their best offerings until the waters run dry (literally)- what's not to like? Being a self-proclaimed wine n00b and also being unable to afford 12-packs of or Screaming Eagle,
I was beyond excited to score a free ticket at work - plus, I heard they were pouring Krug and Cristal,
and I decided this was probably a good time to see what all the fuss was about. (Squeee!)
The event was being held at the San Francisco Design Center Galleria, and for the first time,
they were including a few up-and-coming Bay Area restaurants in the mix - totally exciting for someone
who loves food (like moi). Our tickets allowed us into the "public" portion of the event,
which was a bit of a madhouse. I'd highly recommend getting trade tickets if you can.
Arranged by wine type (Sparkling, Rich Whites, Floral Whites, Pinot Noir, Rhone Family, etc.),
the booths were lined up all around the first and second floors of the Galleria, with the
handful of restaurant booths interspersed within the winery tables, serving complementary foods.
One of the wonderful things about this event was that many of the booths actually had the
winemaker pouring - a great opportunity to talk about the wine and learn a little bit about the vineyards.
Even though you're supposed to start with the sparkling and lighter whites and end with dessert wines,
I kind of liked going all over the place (it keeps me from getting palate fatigue).
I started with a glass of 2004 Iron Horse Green Valley Blanc de Blancs.
Next up - a deviled egg with crab meat from Nettie's Crab Shack.
From there, we went all over - 2002 Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Cristal
(and yes, it lives up to the hype), 2006 Calera Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir
(already a personal favorite), NV Krug Grand Cuvee (another fabulous sparkler!).
In between the wine tastings, we also managed to eat and endless supply of Hog Island Oyster Company Kumamoto and Sweetwater oysters,
Hudson duck with toasted farro from RN74 (Michael Mina's new restaurant venture), braised pork belly from heaven's dog, and "pho" beef tacos from Kitchenette (seriously amazing).
When we got to the second floor (Cabernet central), we tried some 2005 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon
(holy tannins, Batman) and some Iberian wines - a 2005 CVNE/Contino Rioja Reserva caught my attention, paired with Gitane's "Bacon Bonbons"
(a bacon wrapped prune stuffed with goat cheese)... perfection. I also enjoyed flour + water's pumpkin soup - lovingly and carefully prepared,
although it was the temperature of molten lava; one had to be careful not to burn their tastebuds off...probably not a smart idea for a wine tasting.
Back on the first floor, we wandered the Pinots again and ended up tasting a really fantastic wine from
Drew Family Vineyards, their 2007 Fog Eater Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.
After having Drew's Pinot Noir, I wanted to try Flowers winery offerings, we had the 2006 Flowers Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, Andreen-Gale.
Not bad, but sadly, nothing to write home about. (Sorry, guys.) Last but not least, I ended the night with a tasting of Vilmart &
Cie... 2000 Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Gastronome Premier Cru followed by the NV Brut Cuvee Rubis paired with milk chocolate from
Brix Chocolates and a little huckleberry compote with goat cheese puree from Candy Bar.
All in all, an overwhelming yet awesome event.
My only with is that it were less crowded so you had more time to really take your time and taste wines and take notes.
But for a wine neophyte such as myself, it is a great place to taste some of the big names without shelling out tons of cash. Totally looking forward to next year!