This evening I got a sneak preview of the newly opened San Francisco Wine Center, SOMA's unique combination of wine storage, tasting center, wine distribution center, and clubhouse. Owners Brian McGonigle and Paolo Mancini are industry insiders that are trying to create something different in San Francisco: a gathering place for the serious wine collector and the newbie. With two areas that will be used for formal tastings and informal open-a-bottle-with-friends gatherings, they hope it will allow lots of local wine geeks to mingle. Tastings will be largely like the one I was treated to today: wines that Indie Wines, the distribution wing, carry, hopefully along with the winemakers themselves. This will give an opportunity to learn first hand from the winemakers from as far away (like the upcoming event with Eben Sadie from South Africa) and get first crack at their wares. The storage area is like the one you are keeping those LPs that you can't seem to throw away (guilty as charged!) --only much colder! Check out their website for all the pricing details. Like any storage facility they have lots of different options and incentives.
As for Indie Wines, they are bringing in some good stuff to the picture as well. I had a chance to taste a few wines with them this evening. Here are my favorites.
2006 Greenwood Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County
This has so much Semillon in it that you might think it's not SB at all. It has the floral character of a cold-weather Viognier with lime-tinged roundness in the mouth. This is not the wine to grab when you want a grassy Cloudy Bay knockoff, it's just a different, but very delicious beast altogether.
2005 J. K. Carriere Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Lots of bright cherry fruit and forest floor on the nose, bright on the nose, but brooding on the tongue. Delicious but I'm looking forward to this with a couple more years on the bottle.
2003 Temple Bruer Shiraz/Malbec blend, Langhorn Creek, Australia
Something completely different than your garden variety Aussie glug. The heavy dose of Malbec makes this a pretty wild-smelling wine. Plenty of wood going on as well. The vineyards have long been organic and sustainable and the result is clean and complex with good grip.
2006 Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz
Very spicy and young, bright and ready to be put down for a few years of rest. Very new world with deft dose of oak. Nice and well priced.
2004 Columella, Sadie Family, Swartland, South Africa
The best of the flight, especially after an hour of so in the decanter. It is a Syrah dominated blend but the rest of the components are a mystery that maybe Eben can reveal himself when he visits. Huge mouthfeel and filled with ripe New World fruit, the blend of 25 parcels of grapes is extremely artful. My comment at the event was that I would like to see this wine in a few years when the makeup fades a bit. Recommended.
2001 Tom Eddy Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This is a blend of several Napa parcels and the result is very pleasurable indeed. There is a touch of bramble, tobacco and cocoa on the nose with a very big, classy mouthfeel. Slick and drinkable now. Recommended