Enth Degree September 2006

News and notes from the world of wine.

The Enth Degree – September 2006

Q&A with Geena Davis


Auction Napa Valley’s most visible celebrity this year was film and television star Geena Davis. She took time out from her auction activities to spend a few private moments with Wine Enthusiast.

Wine Enthusiast: How often do you come to the Napa Valley?

Geena Davis: I haven’t been here for a number of years. It’s so incredibly beautiful and easy to get to from Los Angeles; I don’t know why I don’t come here more often.

WE: Do you like wine?

GD: Yes, I love wine. I went to a fun "cult" wine tasting the other day with Rich [Frank]. It’s amazing how much flavor you can find in glass of wine.

WE: What do you like best about being president of the United States on your show?

GD: It might sound silly, but I really like all the trappings. You know, like having my own secret service agents. And I love it when the generals snap to attention. Of course it’s not real, but it’s really fun. From a more serious perspective, I think that portraying a strong woman president to millions of Americans has created a positive role model for women and girls across the nation. This is definitely a role that transcends entertainment.

WE: Do you like to cook great meals to accompany your favorite wines?

GD: I cook at least once a year; usually at Thanksgiving or Christmas. You see, I have this disease: I’ve got to do everything perfectly. So it takes me about four days to prepare a great meal. I guess that’s why I eat in restaurants most of the time! —Jeff Morgan

Raleigh restaurant creates personal wine lists for top customers


If you’re digging into a classic escargot pie or lobster Thermidor, chances are that you’d like to enjoy it with a wine that’s up to the task. At Nelsons, a newcomer to the Raleigh, North Carolina restaurant scene, those willing to shell out a $5,000 annual fee can pair a personally selected private stash with the restaurant’s classic American and European cuisine.

Nelsons’ Private Wine Bin Program customers receive their own monthly special reserve list, and their own mahogany bin that holds up to 15 bottles. Program perks include some quality one-on-one time with wine director David McComas, who sits down with customers to determine which wines they’re craving. A glance at a recent list, with everything from an organic Searby Vineyard Chardonnay to Core Winery’s "Hard Core" red, attests to McComas’s affinity for esoteric wines. McComas essentially acts as a broker, sourcing his guests’ requests.

One client has him working on a list that "focus[es] on 2003 Chateâuneuf-du-Pape. Some are small-production [bottlings] such as Château Pignan and Château Rayas’ second label." Nelson’s sells the bottles to consumers at retail prices, sometimes even less. "If you dine a couple of times a month…it’s a value," McComas points out. Bin customers also get dibs on the restaurant’s most coveted seats. The real treat that makes the $5,000 fee worthwhile? Members are entitled to one 12-person dinner at the restaurant—naturally with paired wines.

Nelsons, 521 Daniels Street, Raleigh, North Carolina; 919.832.9815, www.nelsonsrestaurant.com. —Alia Akkam



Tired of drive-thru burgers? The upscale Old


Homestead Steakhouse’s in Boca Raton, Florida, newest menu item is a burger comprised of American prime beef, Kobe beef and Argentine cattle, garnished with organic greens, exotic mushrooms and tomatoes, selling for $100. The restaurant is donating $10 from each sale to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. · The Codorníu Group has appointed Bronco Wine Company as its importer and national distributor. · The BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) has launched a new, comprehensive Cognac Web site, containing a directory of Cognacs, facts, figures, news and trends. cognac.fr · Bernard Hervet will be joining Bouchard Père et Fils as CEO at the beginning of 2007, replacing Jacques Montelle, who is retiring after nearly 30 years’ service to the winery. · Fetzer Vineyards will place the wine industry’s largest solar array atop its winery bottling facility in Hopland, generating 1.1 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually, enough to offset more than 960,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. This is the equivalent of taking approximately 80 cars off the road for a year, or planting 130 acres of trees. · French Rabbit wines and American Forests are teaming up to restore the forests in the U.S. Vintage-dated varietal wines are packaged in recyclable 1-liter Tetra Pak containers termed ePods. French Rabbit has pledged to plant one tree for every four ePods sold. · For the adventurous, San Francisco’s Incanto restaurant is now offering whole beast dining—comprised of roast suckling pig, lamb, or goat, carved tableside for an entire group to enjoy. Not quite what you had in mind? Try the Il Quinto Quarto Tasting Menu, featuring Chef Chris Cosentino’s favorite offal dishes. incanto.biz · René Renou, the president of the Institut National des Appellations d’Orgine (INAO), and one of the most influential men in
the French wine industry, died June 18 at age 54. He began his career as a wine producer in the Loire and president of the local union. He became president of INAO in 2000. Renou was in the midst of reforming the vast numbers of Appellation d’Origine Controllées (AOCs) by dividing them into two separate groups. · Winebow has acquired Boston Wine Company, expanding their distribution
network into Massachusetts. · Jackson Family Wines has acquired Murphy-Goode Estate Winery, located in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. · Warre’s, the oldest British Port company, has acquired Quinta do Bom Retiro Pequeno in the Rio Torto Valley. · Al Brounstein, the pioneering Napa vintner who founded Diamond Creek Vineyard in 1968, died June 26 at the age of 86, from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. Brounstein was the first vintner since Prohibition to plant vineyards on Diamond Mountain. He was largely responsible for Diamond Creek becoming one of the original cult Cabernets in California. Courtly and accessible, he and his wife, Boots, who survives him, always were ready to open their doors and pop open a few bottles. Brounstein is survived by Boots, his son, Gary, step-sons Phil Ross and Chuck Ross, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. For more information, visit www.winemag.com. —Samara D. Genee

A New Way to Sip

Straws are for drinking milk. But wine?
Enter the Wine Prism, created by David Gates, an employee in Rubicon Estates’ hospitality department, and his wife, Christina. The Prism is essentially a glass straw with an aerating hole that the Gateses claim magnifies the wine’s characteristics. At first they considered stainless steel but nixed the idea, afraid that it would impart flavors to the wine, says David Gates. Instead, glass "allows you to see the air and wine mixing together." The genesis for the idea came from the couple’s son, Dominick; at the age of five, he suggested that his parents drink their wine with a straw.

Enology students in California State University-Fresno’s advanced tasting classes informally use the Wine Prism, as did the judges at this year’s West Coast Wine Competition. $19.95; www.wineprism.comKristine Hansen

Published on September 1, 2006