Burgundy is royalty among wines

Think of the most fruitful Pinot Noir you have ever tasted, one that you would break out for a new, sensual relationship that you wanted to cultivate so that nothing would get in the way of a memorable evening of pleasure. Sounds like the scene from “Sideways” when Miles and his new relationship were trading images of their favorite Pinots. Well, add to those berry, cherry visuals a bowl of chocolates, violets, and herbs and you have French Burgundy, the birthplace of Pinot Noir. Nowhere else is the grape so successful in making world-class wines with the pinot imprint. Burgundy is also the home of Chardonnay and Beaujolais, but we’ll save that for another day.
Good fortune smiled on me as I ran into a Burgundy expert a few weeks ago who represented Louis Latour, a premier Burgundy family since the 1700s. This is a Grand Cru property, a signature designation from the French government. It is the largest Grand Cru property in the Cote d’Or district. I spoke with Guillaume Akouka about the Latour 2005 Burgundy I had recently purchased for $40 and considered it a steal at that price.  “The ’05 has an amazing taste,” he declared. “We work with what nature has served us.  Everything in the old world is terroir, the land and the climate. Those vineyards that have a history and can understand this principle, can make the best wines that are designated Grand Cru. “
If you can do your homework and can find a 2005 vintage Burgundy for a similar price, grab it. It is considered the best vintage for French wines in more than a decade.
 There has been a very select number of the 2007s that have circulated in preview sessions that have caught the palates of wine connoisseurs and the results have been raves and applause. Look for the town of Beaune in the Cote de Beaune for a pedigree of fine Burgundian wine, rooted in the earth with a hearty cherry and spice sweep. More on Louis Latour at www.louislatour.com.
Preserving Old Coach history in wine
Sandy Mubarak, one of the family members of Old Coach Vineyards, deep in the heartland of Poway, leaned over to me and exclaimed “We only make wine that we like,” as we tasted her 2007 Primitivo Reserve, the Italian grape that is the original grape of Zinfandel and was released at the end of last year. The winery began operating commercially in 2007 and also offers a Sandy’s Syrah, a Petite Sirah, Rhone inspired blends called The Firestorm and Overland Stage. The Overland Stage is uniquely interesting in that it follows the northern French Rhone “Cote-Rotie” style that allows white wine grapes to be used in the blend. In this case it‘s 10 percent Viognier in with 90 percent Syrah. It sells for $25.
Old Coach wines have already earned Silver Medals where submitted and have developed a thriving Wine Club where members enjoy 20 percent discounts and a recent hosted Luau Party on the pristine 40-acre property that was purchased some 20 years ago. Only five acres are planted for wine. “We wanted to do the best job we could with what we can handle ourselves. This includes 6,000 vines of French and Italian grapes producing 500 cases per year. Son Jason pitches in with the “vine to wine” process in-house. He is co-winemaker and works on the marketing and branding of the Old Coach label, reflecting the original coach trail to San Diego that runs through the rocky, granite property.
All their wine is stored in an underground cellar built under a hill next to the crush and fermentation facility. It is a temperature- and humidity-controlled bunker-like room with a steady 58 to 60 degrees. Power is solar and production is all sustainable agriculture without the use of chemicals.
“We look for a road less traveled,” Jason said. “We try to develop repeat business in boutique wine shops and restaurants. It’s a style all our own.”
Old Coach seems like it’s traveling the right road as a beacon for a San Diego style of winemaking. See more at www.oldcoachvineyards.com
Wine Bytes
— The Wine Loft in the Carlsbad Forum has a “First Class Flight” featuring top quality wines. From June 24 to June 26, taste wines by Valdez. Cost is $40 per person.  Tuesdays are newer wine tastings from 5 to 7 p.m. for $10 each. Call (760) 944-1412 for details.
— Temecula Creek Inn hosts the Best of Italy with a four-course Artisan Wine Dinner on June 25. Reception is at 6:30 p.m., dinner is at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $85 each.  Call (951) 506-1760 to RSVP.
— La Costa Wine Company offers a Rombauer Wine Tasting from 5 to 8:30 p.m. June 25. This Napa Valley Winery is one of the best. Admission to the tasting is $20. Call (760) 431-8455 for details.
– Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido is bringing in Frank Family Wines to its tasting event from 5 to 7 p.m. June 26. Frank is a double gold winner with its ’07 Zinfandel. The cost is $15 each. Call (760) 745-1200 for more information.
— Morton’s The Steakhouse, downtown San Diego, has a Paso Robles Justin Winery tasting and dinner to partly benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. June 29. The cost is $95 per guest. Filet Oscar is the feature entrée, with the legendary Justin Ososceles, 2007. Call (619) 696-3369 to RSVP.

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