Combining Business and Pleasure – Spann and MacRostie Impress

22 May

We (Lori and Ray) are continuing research on wine and food and pairings, currently visiting Sonoma and Napa over the next 10 days; this is the first report. Our son Sam just graduated from Quinnipiac and daughter Kristin from Hass business school at Berkley. Along with son Ian and their significant others, we are staying at a rented home in Kenwood, in Sonoma. They all are providing great support with the research. After a taxi pick-up at 4 am to fly to San Francisco, we got right to work and visited 3 wineries, Gundlach Bundschu, Spann, and MacRostie, wineries we hadn’t visited before but with at least one wine from each at Pairings Wine and Food.

Gundlach Bundschu is the “oldest family owned winery” in Sonoma. Because of their fame, the tasting room is pretty big and busy. We’re impressed that Gundlach Bundschu has reduced production from 90,000 cases to 30,000 per year and that all the wines are estate (no more sourcing). We had a nice tasting, a line-up of 10 high quality wines. It started with a lovely Alsation style (dry) gewurz and ended with their Cab Vintage Reserve, a complex bold red that we loved (the symbol above Lori and Ray in the pic is the label for the Vintage Reserve). We had just opened their delicious Cabernet Sauvignon at the most recent Saturday Pairing, a big hit, and which will remain at the store.

The next two wineries are small and relatively unknown, with special wines made with passion…which we love. The Spann tasting room shares a small art/photograph store in the town of Sonoma. As a group (see picture) these wines were well-loved. Rick did a nice job presenting the wines. We tasted their Chardonnay, Carneros (lemony, crisp and refreshing, touch of oak), followed by the 2010 Chard – Viognier which was even better than I remembered (it’s at Pairings), yummy and long. The MoZin, (also at Pairings), is a great blend of, you guessed it, Mouvedre and Zinfandel, another lovely blend. The S&M (Syrah 90% Mourvedre 10%) is fruity and big and the MoJo (2005) is elegant, with black fruit and minerality on the nose with dried cranberry notes; complex and fresh on the palate, muscular and long. We will see if the MoJo and/or the S&M can be brought into the store. We bought both to have with steak at dinner sometime soon.

Next was MacRostie, whose winery and tasting room is in an industrial park. If you ever go, call to make a reservation. Kevin Holt, the winemaker, presented the wines (see pic of him and Lori and Ray). We have their chardonnay at Pairings, which is wonderful. The tasting started with the regular 2010 chard, followed by a barrel tasting of the 2011, and the wines just kept getting better. The Wildcat Mtn. Chard, at less than 1000 cases, is

From the Barrel

special, even richer and more intense than the regular chard. The grapes are grown high up and near San Pablo Bay, with soil that is the product of ancient volcanism…red and decomposed. Two Pinot Noirs are similarly impressive, the 2009 Sonoma Coast beautiful, with spicy and complex fruit, floral aromatics…just delicious. The Wildcat Mtn Pinot Noir has similar qualities, but more complex and balanced with earthy notes. The Syrah was a big surprise, with black pepper and spice; a Northern Rhone, cool weather type of Syrah seldom found in CA. We’re hoping to have Steve MacRostie present his wines at Pairings in the near future.


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