Enth Degree March 2006

News and notes from the world of wine.



Published:

The Enth Degree

Kyle MacLachlan - Actor, wine lover...
wine maker?

 kyle maclachlan
Actor Kyle MacLachlan has been in show business for more than two decades. His breakout role was in David Lynch's 1984 film, Dune; his other credits include Blue Velvet and Showgirls. On HBO's Sex and the City, he played Charlotte's husband, Dr. Trey MacDougal. MacLachlan now appears as defense attorney David Swain in the ABC series, In Justice. It's the actor's Twin Peaks performance as Special Agent Dale Cooper, a Fed with a fondness for good coffee and cherry pie, that is held most dearly by his many fans. In real life, MacLachlan has a fondness for wine—typically big reds.

Wine Enthusiast: What's the new series about? Does your character have an interest in wine?

Kyle MacLachlan: I play David Swain, a defense attorney and former prosecutor. Wine is not featured in the show, but I'm hopeful. The series is set in a gritty part of Oakland. So it's near the wine country.

WE: How did you become interested in wine?

KM: It started when I was in high school—well underage! I grew up in Yakima, Washington, which has become an area of pretty good wine production, but was not at the time. My earliest interest had to do with the family of my then-girlfriend. We would have dinners at her family's house, and wine was always served. We were considered adults, so we were allowed to have a glass—a simple white wine, like a California Chardonnay.

WE: When did you discover the good stuff?

KM: It started slowly. The first real great bottle I had was not until I was auditioning for my first film, Dune. The process was an ordeal. [Director] David Lynch sent me a bottle of Lynch-Bages—he thought it was novel that his name was on the label. It was all part of the conversation we had at our first meeting when it came up how much we both liked wine. So he sent me this bottle. It was his way of saying, "You're the guy that I want for the part." Ever since, we have traded bottles of Lynch-Bages for birthdays and Christmas.

WE: When did you move beyond mere drinking and begin to collect?

KM: I started collecting on trips to Napa in the late '80s, going up and staying at Auberge du Soleil, just being a tourist. I didn't know anybody up there—it was just a favorite place to go. I slowly began to hear about these producers that were a big deal. I bought a lot of Cafaro Cabernet—I'm mostly a Cab drinker—[and others] like Altamura, Dunn, Chateau Montelena. And then some others that were just okay.

WE: And now you're taking the next step?

KM: Yes, I'm making wine. I'm doing an experiment with Eric Dunham in Walla Walla, Washington, where he has a winery, Dunham Cellars. We got to be friends a few years back. I was about to get married and was searching for Washington wines and contacted him. I used his dessert wines at the wedding. I got to know him, and a friendship developed.

I approached him a year ago to partner on a side venture. There's no name yet and I'm not sure if it will be a blend, a single vineyard [wine] or what. The only thing I know is that it will be [a red wine]. We just harvested this year. I bought 12 barrels for the wine. First release should be the '05 vintage, out in '07.

WE: Will this wine be for sale?

KM: Among friends, people we know—if it's any good! We should have 250 to 300 cases.

WE: Have you been hands-on?

KM: I've been flying up there frequently over the past few months.

WE: What are some of your favorite wines?

KM: I'm still really in love with big Cabs. But that's not all I drink. In New York, where we live now, is the Burgundy Wine Company, a great store. It's so close to the apartment, so I often find myself popping in. I buy both red and white Burgundies, but I probably appreciate the whites more. But I have such a hard time with some of the names.

WE: What have you had lately that really impressed you?

KM: I pulled a '97 Pride out from my cellar—it's a huge California Cab, and it was delicious. I have a case of those, and they're doing very well. I have some '97 Montelena, too, and a couple of bottles of Ann Colgin's wine—those are for special occasions. —Chris Rubin

A Drink a Day Keeps the Pounds Away?

For years, the customary thinking has been that if you want to lose weight, cut out the booze. Now comes a study suggesting that alcohol use may actually protect against obesity. Researchers analyzed data from more than 8,000 respondents to a major national health and nutrition survey and found that one or two alcoholic drinks a day cut the risk of obesity by 46 or 59 percent, respectively. Moderation is key, though: Binge drinkers and those consuming four or more drinks a day were much more likely to be overweight or obese.

—Debra Gordon

 
Uncorkings

Wondering what the next technological advance will be for your computer? How about wine tasting? A chemical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Lorenz "Larry" Biegler is working on a computer model that can mathematically identify the traits of good wine. · Elizabeth Martin-Calder is the new executive director of the Walla Walla Valley

 
Wine Alliance. · A new research method, applied to wine bottles found in King Tut's tomb, have revealed that the ancient Pharaoh drank red wine. Discovered by researcher Maria Rosa Guasch-Jane, it is the first discovery of red wine dating back to that period. · According to the Center for Wine Origins, 57% of U.S. wine drinkers believe the most important factor in choosing a wine is its origin. · Here's a tip if you're one of the many folks worried about bathing suit season: Scientists have discovered yet another slimming secret: the juice of the agave plant, the same distilled into Tequila. The juice is also thought to cut cholesterol. The downside? The benefits are lost when distilled into alcohol. · According to Constellation Wines U.S., one-fourth of American wine consumers find shopping for wine "complex" and worry about making a "mistake" when buying wine. · An online study entitled "Project Genome" (conducted by Constellation Wines U.S.) has discovered that wine drinkers fall into six distinct categories: enthusiast, image seeker, savvy shopper, traditionalist, satisfied sipper and overwhelmed. Let us know which one you are and why! · Terry Hall has been named Napa Valley Vintners communications director. · Making wine while the sun shines: The latest California winery to go solar, Paloma Winery in St. Helena, has mounted an 18-kilowatt solar electrical system to their barrelhouse roof. It is expected to provide energy for the next 50 years.

—Samara D. Genee

Destination: Savannah

 
John Berendt's novel-turned-movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, put Savannah on the map for many travelers more than a decade ago. Still, world-class accommodations, dining and wine lists keep many people coming back for another taste.

The "in" place to stay (and dine) in Savannah is Mansion on Forsyth Park. Just opened last spring, this 126-room contemporary hotel offers spacious rooms, more than 400 pieces of original artwork, optional butler service and the luxurious Poseidon Spa. The Mansion's 700 Drayton Restaurant has already earned its place on the short list of the city's best restaurants, thanks to an eclectic menu and wine list, and an artsy, upscale setting. (Pairing to try: The sea scallops with applewood bacon, creamed leeks and salmon caviar with a glass of Foris Pinot Gris.) The 1888 Victorian building features is also home to the Carriage Wine Cellar, and 700 Kitchen Cooking School. The latter typically offers two courses daily covering a variety of culinary themes. Inquire about Mansion packages (like the "Savory Savannah Sampler") that include accommodations, classes and more. (The Mansion on Forsyth Park and 700 Drayton, 700 Drayton Street, tel: 912.238.5158.)

If you want to stay right in the heart of the historic district, you can't miss Kehoe House, one of the city's top historic inns. This restored 1892 mansion has 13 large rooms, each with its own décor, and serves wine, tea and hors d'oeuvres every evening. Here, you'll also find one of the better Southern breakfasts in the region. The 16-room Ballastone Inn provides a similarly comfortable location, ambiance and experience, courtesy of owners Jennifer and Jim Salandi. (Kehoe House, 123 Habersham Street, tel: 912.232.1020. The Ballastone Inn, 14 East Oglethorpe Avenue, tel: 912.236.1484.)

Visitors who seek shelter in the historic district should head to the 68-room The Marshall House, which is nestled on Bourbon Street, among some of the city's top restaurants. In fact, the hotel's fairly formal 45 Bistro is well worth a reservation whether or not you're staying in the hotel. Chef Ryan Behneman's osso buco is simply delectable. (The Marshall House and 45 Bistro, 123 East Broughton Street, tel: 912.644.7896.)

The restaurant scene is thriving in Savannah, and seems to be on the cusp of rivaling Charleston's dining dynamics. Il Pasticcio is a locals' favorite. Its open, cosmopolitan feel and traditional Italian food and service share top billing with an Italy-heavy wine list full of super Tuscans. At just $99, the four-course chef's tasting for two is one of Savannah's best dining deals. Another don't-miss Savannah selection is a Vida Restaurant & Wine Bar, whose menu always includes a creative "fresh catch of the day" entrée; by-the-glass wines change daily—check the chalkboard for that day's selections. (Il Pasticcio, 2 East Broughton Street, tel: 912.231.8888. a Vida Restaurant & Wine Bar, 113 West Broughton Street, tel: 912.232.8432.)

Located in a stately Georgian mansion built in 1771, The Olde Pink House offers a menu befitting the Old South. Whether you dine in one of the mansion rooms upstairs or in the basement-level, candlelit Planters Tavern, the menu is the same: fried green tomatoes, grits and the like, which this reviewer happily washed down with Conundrum, a five-variety white wine. Ask for a peek at the wine cellar, housed inside a former bank vault. (The Olde Pink House, 23 Abercorn Street, tel: 912.232.4286.)

You'll want to walk off those grits, and Savannah obliges with walking tours and ever-improving shopping options. Either of the two visitors' centers (one on Martin Luther King Boulevard, and the other on River Street) can provide a map of historic points of interest. For shopping, the relatively new Savannah Wine Shop is already a hit with wine enthusiasts in search of hand-picked bottles rarely seen elsewhere. City Market and its environs (especially Broughton Street) provide a nice mix of national chains and local originals, including City Market's Savannah's Candy Kitchen. Ask them for a sample, and how to pronounce "pralines." (Savannah Wine Shop, 225 West Broughton Street, tel: 912.232.3323. Savannah's Candy Kitchen, 318 West St. Julian Street, tel: 912.201.9501.)

—Lynn Seldon

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