Dan Berger and Barry Herbst - California Wine Country

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Barry Herbst from Bottle Barn joins Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger this week. (Due to a schedule mixup, Trecini Wines will be on the show next week instead of this week.) First they taste the Yannick Rousseau Colombard, Dan says it is difficult to make it this good, the acid has to be high and has to be well balanced with the sugar. Dan says that in 1965 this was the most planted grape in the United States. Paul Masson used it in his sparkling wine, which needed some good acidity. Yannick Rousseau moved to the US about 20 years ago. Dan mentions that there are what he calls “Gen-X” wines, whites that are being made from grapes that are less well known, such as Vermentino. They’re trying to break out of the Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc rut. Barry has been stocking it well at Bottle Barn. Dan Berger says that Sauvignon Blanc does have variations in it, but encourages people to try unfamiliar varieties. Barry says that people are willing to try more new things and they want novelty so he gets to stock the store with more variety than ever. Next they taste the J. McClelland 2013 Napa Valley Petit Verdot. It’s pretty dark red but not overwhelmingly dark. John McClelland and Anthony Scotti, who makes the wine, make it in a Cabernet Sauvignon style, but using Petit Verdot grapes. It is lighter than a Cab. Dan says it’s delicious and would benefit from decanting. Barry Herbst mentions that there were about 16 different Petit Verdots in the last Dan Berger competition. Dan says it will be strong in Virginia under those growing conditions. Steve asks Barry to talk about Bottle Barn’s contact list, called Barn Insider. It used to be for special bargains and the offers would sell out in a few days. Not they use public tastings, such as the Rosé tasting at the Hyatt. Next on October 30 they will do another one, on Pinot Noir. The Barn Outsider list is about spirits, rather than wine. These offers never hit the shop floor. They are only for subscribers. Next they open the Argentinian wine. It’s the most recognized brand out of Argentina. Laura Catena is an ER doctor at SF General. Her family owns this winery in Argentina and she brought in expert winemakers from Sonoma. Dan says that Argentina, as unstable as it has been, requires heroic efforts of certain people to survive and Laura is a hero. She brought Paul Hobbs from Sonoma County. This is their flagship #1 wine. Cadena Zapata is the brand. Dan says it is the best Malbec he’s ever tasted. It’s a typical grape which is #1 in Argentina. We grow it here too, as a blending grape. In Argentina they blend it with Bonarda. Dan asks if it is really worth $140, he wouldn’t spend that but he is enjoying drinking it. Malbec is not complex but this wine has brand new oak in it, which helps a lot. It would be better after 24 hours of air. The vines are 70 years old. Dan thinks it could lay down for 10 years. The last tasting is the 2011 Dornfelder, that’s the grape variety, a red, from Germany from Reichsrat Von Buhl. You could compare it to Pinot Noir, but the aromatics are different. More likely a blueberry jam, but also has some freshness of pine or forest floor character. Jammy, earthy nose, says Barry. Dan Berger says this is the rare red that would be good chilled. Steve asks Barry to discuss Barn Outsider. October 30, during the show time, at the Hyatt, they will do their next public tasting. Tickets will be about $40 and this one will have appetizers and Pinot Noir tastings. It will sell out fast, so we will talk about it before the event. Visit bottlebarn.com for all the information. Dan says that everyone is going nuts for high quality Pinot Noir. The good stuff is $50 a bottle or more.

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