Month: March 2019
The Saddle Creek Wine Society had an amazing dinner and wine experience last evening. Rhonda Wood, owner & winemaker, along with Harrison Wood (her son), teamed up with new Executive Chef Chris Cox and Sous Chef Janet Weissbeck of Saddle Creek Golf Resort to make a memorable evening.
We were treated to six wines paired with an “over the top” culinary edibles which were presented with artistic charm and beauty. The first course of the evening was a seared jumbo scallop, fried prosciutto with a fig Gastrigue. This was paired with Wood Family Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay, Double Gold Winner from the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The “butterscotch and cracker jack” flavors engulfed each bite perfectly.
The second course served was a salad of organic greens, apple, plum, Bleu cheese with pear vinaigrette. This was paired with a 2016 Merlot, which won Silver at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition this year. The Merlot aromas of “plum and apple” set this in harmonious balance.
Just before the third course was served, the inclement weather just passed and we were left with this beautiful sunset view from our seats facing Gopher Ridge to the west.
The third course was one of the highlights last evening, a crispy pork belly with a spicy barbeque sauce and jalapeno polenta cake. This was paired with two wines this evening. The first being the 2016 Zinfandel “Big Wood” and a 2016 GSM. These wines possessed strawberry jam, silky tannins and exotic spices to round out the paired food.
The fourth course was the entrée for the evening, a grilled beef filet with mushroom risotto, Brussel sprouts and a Cabernet demi-glace. The wine chosen was Wood Family Vineyards 2015 “Especial” Cabernet Sauvignon which won Best of Class Reds at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. These two paired beautifully as the floral aromas of “exotic orchids & plumeria” as Rhonda described it. Black fruits and sculptured tannins created a delightful dance on the palate.
And for the finale, the dessert which was a triple chocolate mousse. This was almost a three dimensional art piece as opposed to food. Wines are always difficult to pair with dessert but the 2015 Petit Sirah, a Tri-County Gold Winner in 2018 was an uncontested home run! The Petit Sirah with blueberries and sweet black cherries was a perfect compliment.
All guests left the Grandview room astonished by the food preparation of Chris Cox with only two weeks under his belt at Saddle Creek Resort, his performance was simply impeccable. Janet Weissbeck as a very talented dessert specialist, was spectacular again as in previous winemaker events. A special note of thanks to Tammie Littlefield, Food & Beverage Manager, whose creative talents decorated the tables and coordinated a lot of the preparations for a festive evening. Besides being impressed with those three and of course Rhonda and Harrison Wood with their detailed information and descriptions of the wines, humor, stories, etc., all the Saddle Creek Wine Society Members who attended felt treated to a “very special meal paired with extraordinary wines” and eager for the next one!
Saddle Creek Golf Resort: http://www.saddlcreek.com
Wood Family Vineyards: http://woodfamilyvineyards.com
The world of philosophic thinking is vast, complex and without final definition. Thus the intent is not to justify or argue Plato vs Descartes vs Wittgenstein in this article. The purpose is to enlighten how ones preconceived cognitive and reasoning facilities have an impact on the wine choices. Really? Yes, really.
If you look at the philosophical thought through the ages, there are many schools of thought and identified disciplines. I would like to focus on three:
• Rationalism – a theory which states that the human mind has principles or a priori knowledge, independent of experience.
• Empiricism: a doctrine which stipulates that all knowledge comes from experience.
• Existentialism: theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will, moment by moment.
Rationalism, the thinking epitomized by Rene Descartes Cogito Ero Sum (“I think, therefore I am”) and Gottfried Leibniz calculemus (“Let us calculate”), theorizes that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge. Winemakers and wineries have grabbled with this thinking either overtly or subliminally for years. They believe they could get to “truth” by logic and “facts” in producing great wines. If you the consumer have preconceived tendencies being a Rationalist, you will most likely make your wine buying and wine choices, based upon Wine Ratings (Parker, Suckling), Wine Scores (Wine Competitions, for example SF Chronicle, Orange County Fair, etc.), Wine Reviews by trusted authors, Bloggers, Wine Influences, etc. Or when valuing a wine, knowing that the bottle cost a dollar, label, cork & foil another dollar and allowing somewhere between $3 to $12 dollars for the juice, you cannot possible comprehend why a wine could possible cost $100 or more, another stake in the ground that you are most likely a Rationalist. So when walking down the aisle of your local wine merchant, wine discount market, if you as a consumer are drawn to a “rating, score or a sentence by an author” and price again, you most likely are a rationalist. The signals are “objective truth” and light your way to your “wine salvation”.
This group believes no one but their own experience leads to knowledge. John Locke’s great quote sums up this perspective “No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience”. Similarly David Hume’s statement “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions”. Reading a wine review or recommendation is like rapping to a deaf person! They neither have the ability to hear nor pick up on the beat! Until they try it at a wine bar, a friend’s house, winery, restaurant or other opportunity, the wine is summarily dismissed as a non sequitur in their formation of truth being experiential. No insight or knowledge in gained a priori for the Empiricists. When shopping for a wine, if your thought process is akin to the Empiricists, you will want to “experience” the wine or perhaps the label on the wine bottle for intrinsic feel and determine the “quality of the bottle” or as mentioned tasting previously.
Here this groups lives “moment to moment” starting with pre-Socratic thinking from Heraclitus to Kierkegaard. The statement by Heraclitus that “you cannot step twice into the same rivers; for other water are eve: flowing around you” as the river is constantly changing. The correlation to the fundamental “terroir” (soil, weather, place, temperature, etc.) of a vineyard is a paradox for this consumer because “terroir” is always changing and is in play for the existentialist. Thus this consumer / wine buyer is affected by both rationalists and empiricist thinking mostly in the opposite corollary. They are distrusting of “hard core rational logic & thought” (rationalist) and previous life experience (empiricists) with the only reality/validity is with the wine at the moment (in time and space). The idea that one who once had for example, a Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot in 2000 will still like it in 2019 is not fit for the Existentialist as it must be tasted “presently”. Another example would be enjoying the aesthetic label on a wine bottle and choosing it simply for it at the time.
So summing up this quick analysis, which I have contemplated for some time, the current 2019 wine buyer is drawn to one of the three coordinates of thought. Looking back on some 2500 plus years of historical and documented thought process of philosophical thinking, perhaps today’s wine aficionado is best served by utilizing all three in making their wine selections. Recognizing your preconceived or proclivity for a type of thinking, has it short comings or drawbacks but you first must identify them and try to break out of “your conventional thinking”.
When thinking about X-Gen, Millennials and Baby Boomer purchasing decisions, the demographics may extend beyond year of birth, and be more influenced by each individuals thinking synapses, self- awareness and the ability to transcend their own limitations.
To fully appreciate the wine world of the 21st Century, taking account of your thought process and breaking the “chains that bound” to enjoy some amazing wines you may not have tried (failure of empiricism), break away from authoritative ratings (failure of Rationalism) and allowing one to revisit wines and wineries from the past (shortcoming of Existentialism).
Happy wine hunting and enjoyment!