Mendocino Pinot has panache

If you are heading up to Northern California wine country, plan some time in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County and celebrate the Pinot Noir Festival with the locals May 14 and May 15. 
OK, I will admit I would rather be in Oregon if I’m on a “best-of” hunt, but I’m open to any discussion when it comes to “may the best Pinot win.” Pinot has a richness and diversity that makes it the royal flush of the wine world.  And Anderson Valley does its best to keep up with the front-runners with its unique viticultural climate of warm sunny days and cool, foggy nights. Swiss and Italian settlers planted first in the mid-1800s. A venerable old name, Italian Swiss Colony Winery is located at the southern end, in Asti. But it wasn’t until 1983 that the valley officially became an appellation with its Pinot
Noir, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer dominating.  Goldeneye, part of
the legendary Duckhorn Vineyards was chosen as the winery to host the Pinot Noir Grand Tasting from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 15. The winery is between Boonville and Philo on Highway 128. There will be more than 100 Pinots to taste, but I expect Goldeneye will get the most attention.
They are not the budget Pinots you taste in the south of California.
This is the real deal, with their 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot retailing at $55, to the 2007 Ten Degrees priced at $100 on their website. 
Zach Rasmuson is Goldeneye’s respected, dedicated winemaker. He worked long and hard at Napa Valley’s Stags Leap under the great Warren Winiarski who instilled in him the Bordeaux style of red winemaking.
Zach always had an eye for Pinot Noir and the Anderson Valley, and when his time came in 2003, he joined Goldeneye as their winemaker. “Pinot Noir is an amazing, malleable grape, he asserted. “You need to be gentle. It’s a process of minimal intervention, of finesse not muscle. We’re not trying to replicate the wines of Burgundy (where the grape comes from) at Goldeneye. Pinot reflects its terroir with remarkable clarity. We have an extensive palette of flavors from which to create. The result is an extracted, elegant wine.”
Mendocino Wine Country has about 84 wineries, emphasizing handcrafted, artisan-style wines. Some names to know besides Goldeneye are Edmeades Winery that features old vine Zinfandel, Fetzer Vineyards, one of the biggest value wines in the world, Parducci Wine Cellars, Rosati Winery, Cakebread Cellars and Philo Ridge. 
For more on these wineries and others, access
Eat, drink and enjoy at Canapes
A fascinating personality in the fast-growing San Marcos restaurant and wine scene has triumphed with his new, stylish Canapes, in Restaurant Row. James Allyn can now commute across the street from his North County Wine Company to his serendipitous Canapes, featuring more than 30 small plate culinary delights from almost every corner of the world. The flamboyant food and wine entrepreneur took me through his wine list with a huge selection “by the glass.” And there it was the Goldeneye Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley Mendocino, featured above.
Allyn deftly took me through a mixed menu of his brilliantly crafted small-bite “sideways, munches, feasts and tastes,” with a perfectly paired group of wines that tapped into the flavor of the selections. Many of his menu items are gluten-free, vegetarian dishes underlining local, fresh produce. With the beef, it’s only Certified Angus. Up to 30 menu choices, with a wine/beer list of more than 130 names to pick from. The outside patio will get really popular as the weather warms. Two firepits and live bands will keep it full of music-lovers. Canapes offers catering and soon will be announcing a Saturday and Sunday brunch. 
Canapes (Can-ah-pays) means small plates in French. “Mi contento” is Italian for “I have had my fill and I am happy.” That’s exactly how I felt after a visit to Canapes.  See or call (760) 510-2088 for details.
Wine Bytes
— The Grand Collaboration at Addison in the Grand Del Mar is from 5:30 to 10 p.m. May 14 featuring Viader and Summerland Wineries. A grand menu will be presented by both Addison and Amaya chefs with a six-course dinner and wine pairings.  The cost is $125 per person. Call for an RSVP at (858) 314-2000.
— Barrels and Branches Nursery in Encinitas presents a wine tasting and food pairing from 6 to 9 p.m. May 15. Five different Relm Wines will be served. There will also be live music. The cost is $32. For details call (760) 814-1198.
— Oregon and Washington wines are side by side in a tasting at Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego from 2 to 9 p.m. May 15. Enjoy Pinot Noirs, Cabs, Merlots and many blends. There is a $20 tasting fee. Call (619) 236-0005 for details.
— La Costa Wine Company has its big Wine Expo 2010 from 2 to 6 p.m. May 22. More than 50 wines will be tasted from all over the world. Purchase them at huge discounts. Appetizer are specially prepared by Dinners by David. There is a $15 fee.  RSVP only by calling (760) 431-8455 for this special event.
— The 28th annual Paso Robles Wine Festival is May 21 through May 23. A Wine Auction and Dinner is added this year on May 22. This is Paso’s biggest event of the year. For more information, visit or call (805) 239-8463.


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