Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wine & Tequila

Doug & I were extremely fortunate this week. Our friend Robin is a wine rep for Hahn Family Wines, & she invited us to her magnificent home on Monday evening to meet their main winemaker, Adam LaZarre. We're very lucky to have befriended Robin over the last couple of years. She's an amazing cook, has introduced us to fabulous wines - in my opinion, most notably Catena wines, distributed by her former company, as well as selections from Hahn - & is just a great person overall. Robin is truly one of our favorite people, & it's just a huge bonus that she gives us big pours at her tastings.

No, really - the big pours are just a huge bonus.

Being the aspiring wine geeks that we are, Doug & I have met quite a few winemakers. While I can say that some of these encounters were interesting, most were rather benign. With the exception of 2 - Charles Smith (formerly of Black Flag) & Adam - the winemakers were content to talk of soil Ph levels, rainfall, elevation, & various other blah-blah-blah. Adam? He drank tequila, bourbon, rum, & wine, & talked about anything & everything. He'd tell you a little about the wine but nothing that was too complicated - his main concern was that you simply enjoyed the wine. That's what it's all about in the end, isn't it?

Sure, I understand that winemaking is a science & an art. I admire the people that are able to do it & do it well. However, I'm just an aspiring wine geek, & to be honest, a lot of the technical details just don't matter to me that much. I don't believe that there's ever been a time that I tasted a wine & said "You know, I think the Ph level must've been different for this vintage." What does matter is that I love & appreciate the end product - I mean, really, I just want to drink the stuff - so talking to Adam LaZarre was perfect for a dolt like me. In fact, when I told him that I appreciated his simpler approach, he said "It's all the fruit - I just play with it a little bit."

While we were there, we also got a chance to hang out with the owners of one of our favorite stores, The Wine Barrel. They said that Robin & Adam would be at the store on Wednesday, so we said we'd go & invite friends. Since Adam has such a love of tequila, Doug decided to pick up an airplane-sized bottle of Cuervo for him. He gave it to Adam, who then opened it immediately & downed it in 2 gulps. Considering he'd been drinking wine, the man must have an iron stomach.

At this tasting, we were able to try a couple of wines that Robin didn't have at her house, along with some favorites. Most notable was the LaZarre 2005 Pinot Noir - Bien Nacido. Yum...& it even had a cute leopard-spotted cork! My fashionista friend adored that detail. I would've loved to pick up 1 of the 4 remaining bottles, but with today's gas & food prices, $49.99 was a bit too steep. For NOW. Instead, we picked up a bottle of the Huntington 2005 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, & the just-bottled-2-weeks-ago Hahn 2006 Syrah, both under $15 a bottle & downright scrumptious. Great wine doesn't have to break the bank!

Adam signed both bottles, but I didn't look at what he wrote...he signed one bottle at Robin's with something about hookers, so I guess it'll have to be a surprise!


TheDivineMsEm said...

Oh to live in a state where we can get wine shipped - I'd be trying everything you blogged (well - everything under 20 bucks - I'm cheap). Magnificent home, eh - makes me wonder if we aren't both in the wrong line of work - sounds like wine reps do quite well besides just the benefits of getting to drink lots of wine and chat up cute winemakers, sigh.

Elaine said...

I love Adam. We judge wine together and we both went to Fresno State. He's so fun.

I love SB too.

Thanks for the comment on my blog. Now that I've found you, I'll be back. =)

LucyinStLou said...

That sounds like so much fun! We do enjoy Hahn wines and think they are a great value. Will you save your signed bottles? They sounds like fun keepsakes.

Claire said...

Oh, Em - MOVE. And no, Robin didn't get her fabulous house by being a wine rep...if that were the case, I wouldn't be working where I do!

Thanks for coming by, Elaine! Adam does rock, doesn't he? I think he'd be a hoot on a night on the town!

Lucy, I guess we'll save them, but where would we put them? I've already thrown out 1 signed bottle from Source, & while I wish I hadn't, I had no place to keep it & it'd just be another thing to dust... We'll see.

Hahn wines are tremendous values, & they've just come out with some from the Santa Lucia Highlands that are wonderful!

Jennifer said...

Claire - I love your blog - just added you to my google reader. I can't wait to try some of the wines you mention.

Please, please give Mattie a hug and a kiss from me!!!

Anonymous said...


You always have the grooviest of blogs. I must have some of this wine. Sorry I missed the tasting :-(

LucyinStLou said...

We store our special empty bottles in our old wine bottle display case. Not sure if I'm describing it well, but it's the thing that you use to put bottles in that's not a cellar or bar. Sort of like where you put your pretty bottles.

Danny said...

Befriending winemakers can get you some inside tracks that can get you some incredible insight and the opportunity to taste wine that the bourgeoise never stick their noses into. I spent a lot of time with a local winemaker years ago and it was him more than any book or other resource that educated me about the mechanics of good wine.
He's gone from us now, but I have many fond memories of afternoons in his cellar after his tasting room closed, going through incredible old vintages of Riesling, Cab and his incredible Chardonnay, listening to jazz and drinking great wines in between bites of hard cheese and crusty bread.