Anthony Dias Blue is the Executive Director of the San Francisco International
Wine Competition and the event is celebrating its 35th year in 2015.
Andy explained the protocol for judging the wines and introduced the newest
judges to the old-timers.
Chandler Moore gave everyone some words of advice and wine
She's the Managing Director of the event and has been a pillar
at the judging for all 35 of its years.
Assisting Chandler are Chloe and Nicolette.
At 9am we ambled into our tasting rooms, wearing our protective tasting jackets
and embarked on an ambitious schedule of wine judging. There were about 16
panels this year, with three or four experts at each tasting table.
Each panel would taste something like 300 wines and some judges were enlisted to
whittle down the Double Gold selections for the Sweepstakes tasting on the final
Each panel has a list of the Wine Categories they will be judging. We know
the type of wine or grape variety and we know the vintage. For some
categories, we know the range of sugar in the wines (especially helpful when
tasting Rieslings, for example).
We do not know the price of any of the wines, nor do we know if it's a wine that
is bottled or entered as a "bag in box." We do not know if the
bottled wines are sealed with a cork or screw-cap. We do not know if we
are tasting wine from a prestigious region or something from Timbuktu.
We typically make some notes about each wine and award it a medal, if we feel
it is worthy. As we make our way through the wines, should we encounter what we
believe to be a "corked" bottle (that is, a wine smelling musty, along
the lines of a cellar full of dank, wet newspapers), we ask for another bottle
to be opened in hopes of finding something of "sound" quality.
This is one reason why wineries are asked to provide multiple bottles of each
For some people, the idea of this kind of "power
tasting" is daunting.
But if you're an experienced taster and know what you are looking for, it's
actually possible to taste though many flights of wines over the course of the
day and do a good job with your assessments.
This year I was on a three member panel, chaired by Dr. Valery Uhl.
Valery moonlights as a wine judge, gallivanting around the world to taste wine.
In addition to being the director of The North of The Gate Wine Competition,
she's been invited to judge at competitions in America's Midwest and Asia, as
well as numerous judgings in California.
Valery, in real life, is a Radiation Oncologist in the San Francisco Bay Area,
which explains her X-Ray Vision and ability to harness not only Megavoltage, but
judges such as myself and Dan Berger.
Being the proud Mom of an Eagle Scout, she knows how to Be Prepared.
Plus, Valery is famous!
Tasting with the legendary Eno-Scribe Dan Berger is truly a Vintage Experience.
And a good Vintage it was, for that matter!
Dan has logged many years of experience in the world of wine and has terrific
stories to tell.
He shared some with us and then some more...but we enjoyed
listening to Dan.
I'm surprised they're not lined up out the door for this!
The film is about as long as a double feature and there's free Buttery Chardonnay
to go with a bucket of Popcorn!
I recently had a nose job (can you tell?) and my Hair Club For Men subscription
expired, so I was wearing the cap issued to members of the Schloss Vollrads
I would have been on their Soccer team, but when the manager asked how I was
feeling, I responded with "Well, I can't kick." So he put me on
their softball squad, instead.
Jim Trezise can always be found in a "New York State of Wine."
But, actually, he was the recipient of the New York Wine & Culinary Center's 2014
Chairman's Award at their NEW YORK STATE OF MIND Dinner this past year.
Jim is one of the most famous people to ever reside in Penn
Yan, New York where you'll see signs like this one:
Dr. Rowald Hepp is the Managing Director and winemaker at Germany's famous
Rheingau estate, Schloss
It's a reasonably new business, started about 800 years ago, well before
Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue and more than 150 years before the start of the
Ming Dynasty. Schloss Vollrads might have been vinifying Riesling long
before Chaucer penned his Canterbury Tales and nearly 300 years before da Vinci
painted the Mona Lisa. Had she tasted a good bottle of Kabinett Riesling
from Vollrads, there would be no question about her smiling.
Another member of the A Team is New Zealand's Jim Harré.
Jim is a famous globe-trotting wine judge. He tastes at competitions in
the UK and Asia, along with the San Francisco judging and Air New Zealand's Wine
Awards, amongst others.
Jim became a Fried Chicken Aficionado (we took him to The
Front Porch for Champagne & Fried Chicken) during this year's San Francisco visit and
he enjoyed watching the Golden State Warriors basketball team on their way to an
"Too bad we leave before the parade in Oakland." Jim told a group of
Bay Area sports reporters.
"We'd have liked to hang out with Steph Curry and the boys, but we're
heading back before the Festus-ivities. Crikey dick! I still can't
believe they won it all!"
Being such a sports fan, Jim and his lovely wife Wendy stopped
on the East Coast to take in a Mets' game.
Andy fired up his calculator one night and a week later finished tallying the
results. It seems his various efforts in touting food and wine on WCBS in
New York, KNX radio in Los Angeles and his various print and internet articles
(The Tasting Panel magazine, The Somm Journal, etc.) reach something like
30-Million people each month!
Last year Mr. Blue received an Anthony Dias Blue Bobblehead doll (said to be
priceless, as they broke the mold after making the first one), a high honor
Ask any of the judges at this year's event and they'll all tell you "It's a
Heidi Peterson Barrett is a famous "consulting winemaker," as well as
making her own wine called La
It seems everything she touches turns to gold in some form or another.
Her husband's family owns Chateau Montelena and the couple embarked on a
& Barrett, producing Napa Cabernet.
Napa Valley Gothic.
When she's not in the vineyard or cellar, she might be found flying over local
vineyards, out at the Pacific Ocean, scuba diving, or possibly motoring around in
Eduardo A. Dingler is the wine guru and Iron Palate for Chef Masaharu
(an Iron Chef) restaurant empire. Señor Dingler-San (he was born in
Mexico and travels back home to visit Morimoto Mexico City) is new to the SF
International Wine Competition this year.
We understand Andy had a favorite wine in a flight and was cajoling the panel to
consider giving it a Double Gold. "For Pete's Sake, let's get this to the Sweepstakes tasting!" Eddy D politely corrected Mr. Blue, saying "Andy, at Morimoto's, we say
it's for Pete's Sah-kay. And we prefer Junmai Daiginjō-shu
As noted above, he travels a lot...
...even wrote his name in the dust on the moon!
Sean Ludford is Mister BevX,
a jack-of-all-trades in the world of Beer, Wines and Spirits.
He hails from Chicago and is the foremost expert, among these SF International
Experts, on the wines of Bali.
He can speak for a good five minutes about grapes such as Alphonse-Lavallée,
Belgia and Probolinggo Biru (which he'll tell you is also known as
Chasselasloulou or Skip to My Lou).
We suspect this did not get entered in this year's judging.
Mr. Ludford is clearly a celebrity in Chi-Town!
Michael Feil, who's in the US Witness Protection Program evidently, led Panel C
through its 300 wine marathon. Michael, after stints at the Westchester
Country Club in New York and Lake Merced in San Francisco, has been sequestered
in Florida on Jupiter
Island. They, apparently, allow him to travel a
couple of times annually and he seems to make a trip to San Francisco to hang
out with fellow wine geeks (such as Ziggy E, Dana F and Tim M).
With so much experience on the links, Michael is the only judge at this event
capable of "sabering" a magnum of Champagne with a Nine Iron!
Michael says if that doesn't work, he'll simply have to open the bottle of
Cristal "the old fashioned way."
Ryan "Red" McHendry is new to the San Francisco International Wine
Competition this year. He's a member of the Kroger National Wine Team (we
think he's their point guard, but he might be a shortstop, too).
He's from Louisville, so his nickname on this panel was "Slugger."
"Some of the wines have a lot of wood on them, but I think I prefer the
ones that really hit it out of the park, if you know what I mean." said The
Ryan said he found the Sweepstakes tasting at this event to be sort of a
"Kentucky Derby of Wine," though sometimes with less sense of which way to go.
"At least there were a few thoroughbreds in the Sunday tasting..." he
Also on this panel was The Great Kate.
Kate Radburnd is the winemaker and manager of the Pask
Winery in New Zealand's
Hawke's Bay as well as being a big-wig with the Wine Institute of New Zealand.
She is said to have a chair at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, New Zealand's
longest running wine competition. One of the judges claimed the chair was
a throne, but we're fairly certain it's more like these:
Bill Ward writes for the Star-Tribune in Minnesota, as well as his Decant This
Bill spent many years as a sports writer and now he writes
about the hits & misses of the wine world.
He's got a cool web site and it's written in plain English.
He is definitely an "old timer."
Bob Silverstein led the congregation of Panel D this year.
As you can see in the photo, Bob has eclectic tastes and likes Red, Whites,
Golds, Silvers, etc.
Signor Roccia d'Argento makes an annual pilgrimage to Italy and the Pope, we're
told, comes to visit Bob and his friends (as long as Silverstein provides a few
bottles of Pontiff-Worthy Wines).
Bob's panel pontificated about this year's wines and sent a few bottles to the
Sweepstakes tasting (held on Sunday, naturally).
He's often heard, during panel deliberations, "Hey, you're preaching to the
Steve Izzo is the beverage director at San Francisco's famed Waterbar restaurant
along the Embarcadero.
If you like seafood, Steve's restaurant is wunderbar, too.
Steve set sail from his hometown in Connecticut a couple of
decades ago and his boat came ashore in San Francisco (or so the legend
goes). He's a big fan of Rosé wines, as well as Champagne...(of
course! Waterbar is a great place for Oysters!).
Steve shared his pearls of wisdom with his panel mates in judging this year's
wines which made his colleagues happy as a clam.
Mike Tadich rounds out Panel D.
He's an Italian Wine Guru based in Las Vegas, working for Wirtz Beverage Group. He was asked to "find the gold," so naturally he obliged and
picked up the glass you see in the photo.
Tadich grilled his colleagues about which wines they preferred in each flight.
He is the only judge who's a master at the card game known as Tablić (Vegas
casinos will not allow him to play!).
Tadich owns the largest collection of Lepa Brena albums of any of the SF
Andy Blue owns the second largest, while Judge Ron Washam has her as a Facebook
friend (along with Alice Feiring).
As All Panel D Members are Follicly-Challenged,
The Following Message is Presented as a
That video was made (and posted) prior to anyone running
either for cover or elected political office.
It is not intended as a political endorsement or statement, but merely as
If you do not find it amusing, please click
here and we will transport you to a more sensible web page.
"Don" Charles Mara chaired (if you call a bicycle seat a 'chair')
This snapshot was taken during a "test flight" of wines, as Andy and
Tim wanted to be sure judges could differentiate between a red wine and a white.
The Mara-thon Man heads The
Mara Wine Groupand
Charles is well known on both the L'East Coast and The Best Coast.
Dmitry Medvedev, current Prime Minister and head Sommelier in Russia (he's known
as the Dim Somm there) asked US President Barack Obama about possibly purchasing
some Mara wines for service in the Kremlin.
Obama said "nyet, we don't have enough for this country. By the way,
do you know your last name is a nightmare for dyslexics?"
"Crimeans, too." said Medvedev.
Drake McCarthy is the director of sales (both of them) at the Golden
State Wine Company.
Drake has many years of experience in the wine business.
Diamond Wine Merchants, Villa Italia, Europvin and now Golden State.
"This cat has nine lives," explained Tim McDonald (another Mc)
"and he's on number 4 presently."
"That's not counting his work as an Eno-Fashion model, though."
Andy Perdue is "Curly" to the Moe and Larry on this wine tasting
Andy writes for the The Seattle Times and Great
He's the only Judge to have had his living room carpeted with Astroturf.
Mr. Perdue is also one of the few to have been enshrined in the Double (Gold) Bubble Wine
Taster Trading Cards, Series One.
He's so famous, there's even a University named after him,
though they misspelled his name.
One judge reminded me there's even a chicken named after this guy...
Nick Ponomareff is the other judge who's in the Witness Protection
Program. Nick is the Coxswain of Panel F (he's had rowing experience,
being coached by the legendary Stork
Sanford!), so he's able to navigate some
choppy waters with the capable scullers such as Mr. Whitley and Mr. Franz.
The Cornell team for which Nick rowed is still called the "Big Red,"
which explains, to some degree, his taste in wine!
Nick has a long history of writing about wines and his CALIFORNIA
GRAPEVINE publication has been around for decades.
And the difference between God and Gold is the letter "L."
Michael Franz is an editor and managing partner with Mr. Whitley on the web site
After a long stint as the wine writer for The Washington Post, Franz and Whitley
launched their wine critics web site which has some terrific and thoughtful
He claims he's The
Guy With The World's Best Job and given the
broad spectrum of wines he writes about, the man may be correct!
He dresses in black for wine judgings, eschewing the white lab coat as then nobody
can tell he's spilled.
Apparently he's well-versed in wine & doughnut pairings, as well as which
wines go best with Ice Cream.
Wilfred Wong was The Chairman of Panel G.
Some judges will tell you Wilfred has a Checkered Past,
Others contend it's more of a Chinese Checkered Past.
Wilfred had to bail out of Friday's judging, as his Darling Wife Alice (that's
what it says on her driver's license, we've been told) had some sort of medical
issue in connection with her busted arm.
Standing in (well, sitting in really) for Willie was Wendy Stanford, a colleague
of SF Willie's at wine.com.
The good news is that Alice is doing well and is able to match Wilfred
one-for-one on their San Francisco Cappuccino outings.
Wilfred did sit in for Wendy on Saturday, though.
Judges on Wilfred's panel, not surprisingly, voted to have Wendy sit in for
Wilfred in the future and they even collected $4.32 for a Cappuccino to keep him
One judge brought an old Polaroid "Swinger" Camera for Wilfred to
use while he's scoping out yet another place where he can purchase a coffee in San
Francisco for less than five bucks.
Here's a photo one of them took with "The Swinger" (the camera, not
Another of this Rogue's Gallery-of-a-Panel is Jeffery Stivers.
Being on Wilfred's Panel means Never Saying No To Fortune Cookies.
You can see a few of them cracked open to the right of Jeffery Stivers.
Jeffery is the Wine Guru at GARDNER JUNCTION, a new joint in West Hollywood.
Mr. Stivers recently traded his Cicada suit for a railroad
Conductor's outfit as this new restaurant has a sort of railroad theme.
We wondered what sorts of wines Jeffery will feature...maybe this?
As for fortune telling, though...Andy consulted a Soothsayer and asked
"Which of the judges is most likely to topple over an entire flight of wine
Kevin Vogt is the Sommelier at Emeril Lagasse's Delmonico
That means he takes the gambling out of ordering a bottle of wine at this Las
Vegas dining hot-spot. Kevin also is responsible for a micro-production of a Napa Cabernet called
Only a few barrels of this wine are produced each vintage, so it's more of a
Mystery to most wine drinkers.
Kevin had been held hostage (in a manner of speaking) in Spain's Costa Brava a
few weeks before this year's wine judging. He's always "on the
go," traveling to far off wine lands or taking a safari in Africa and
shooting all sorts of wild-life (with his camera).
We found a ticket of his on the floor under the tasting table during the
As part of his 'ransom' payment to be able to come back home, Señor Kevino was
required to sit on a panel with Mr. Wong and Mr. Stivers, apparently.
He and his boss, Emeril Lagasse finally decided their own plane was a good
After completing our flights at the judging, we went out for a beer.
I asked the bartender (would he be a beerista?) if he had a suggestion for an
"Yeah, try this one. Sin City's Ale With a Tale. It has a nice
head every time I pour it."
Oh my Gawd!
Ziggy Eschliman managed Panel H...She's known as Ziggy The Wine Gal, by the way.
Ziggy is heard over the airwaves in North Coast Wine Country here in
California or around the planet (and maybe beyond) on the world wine
Many people have a "Krush" on Ziggy...she routinely puts a few
drops of Pinot Noir behind each ear and some Malvasia on her wrists, which may
explain the entourage following her around at this year's competition.
She also carries a Badge:
Michael Cervin, famous writer, speaker and bon vivant was one of Ziggy's Wine
Pals for the judging this year.
Mister Santa Barbara authors several interesting blogs and has written articles
for a number of publications (Decanter, Forbes Travel Guides, Santa Barbara
News-Press and on and on and on).
He's a water expert, too. CLICK
HERE FOR HIS WATER LOG BLOG
And he's got a cool site featuring
places the average bear might not ever visit... CLICK
HERE FOR THAT
Michael has interviewed comedians Dan
Aykroyd, the late Jonathan Winters and Gina Gallo. He's had Q&A's with
entertainers such as Dave Koz, Mick Fleetwood and Peter Mondavi, Sr. And
he's interrogated sports figures such as Mario Andretti, Greg Norman and Georges
And we're told he doesn't "soft soap" these celebrities.
Christopher Sawyer is a wine country Sommelier who's a regular on the wine
Chris is also a movie buff and is not only able to pair wine & food, he's
able to pair cinema and wine!
In an article with The Hollywood
Reporter, Sawyer paired (for example):
Yeah, I'm just as perplexed as you are right about now.
Meanwhile, Chris recently had a medical check-up...
"It's called Psomm-Riasis and there is no known cure," one doc told
Mark "Baby Face" Bowery is one of the gray-beards of the SF
International Wine Competition (if he had facial hair, anyway).
He worked at the Sonoma winery of SIMI back when Zelma Long was in charge...
...and Andre Tchelistcheff was a consultant.
He even played tour guide for Leon Adams, as they drove
around Oregon wine country when it was in its infancy...
...and nobody knew what Pinot Gris was.
He wears a number of hats (none of them being Tim McDonald's fedora) and handles
the wine program at Mendocino's famed Albion
And his photo is nicely framed on the wall of one of the rooms up there in Little Red Riding Hood country.
Tonya Pitts is the Sommelier and wine director at San Francisco's One
She's a big fan of California wines, but also features some eclectic imports on
She's been a closet Riesling fan, but says "We don't call it a Closet, per
se. We call it a Kabinett."
An Artist in her spare time, she has a fine palette to go along with her
fine wine-tasting palate.
Tonya is a Most Capable Wine Judge!
She's got a big fan club, too. The members carry around photos of Tonya.
Phil Markert is now working for the Southern California conglomerate that
operates grocery stores such as Albertsons, Vons and
Pavilions (or as he calls
them, "Markert's Markets").
During the tasting someone yelled out "Wine spill on Aisle 6! Repeat:
Wine Spill on Aisle 6" and Phil was the first to jump out of his chair to
see about helping with the clean-up.
For the wines Phil tasted, the glasses were brought not on the rolling cart like
the rest of the stemware, but his came in a shopping basket.
"12 glasses or less."
His votes for the wines were not tabulated on a standard tasting tabulation
sheet, but scanned by a Barcode Reader.
Phil is responsible for truckloads of wine, too.
Jerry Cooper is The Man at Swirl
on Castro, a small San Francisco wine & spirits boutique with
a tasting bar and he's The "J" of Panel J.
Mr. Cooper is, of course, a swirling expert:
"I swirl Northern Hemisphere wines in a clockwise motion in the glass, with
Southern Hemisphere wines show best swirled counter-clockwise."
Actor/Comedian Steve Carrell played the role of Jerry Cooper in the Hollywood
"Gone With The Wine."
When asked if he preferred white or red, Cooper responded
"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"
Hanging with Mister Cooper was Tim Teichgraeber who, in real life, works as a
lawyer in the world of Entertainment Industry.
He moonlights writing about wine (and spirits), with his articles being found in
a range of industry and consumer publications.
Tim likes his wines to be "loud" and his music to be "at cool
Mister T has written articles on really exciting topics such as Concrete Fermenters
and Convection Toasting or Farmer's Market Wine Sales and Finding Water with a
No wonder Timmy Skyscraper is also called "Mister Excitement."
A snapshot of Tim getting ready for another "blind-tasting."
Keeps His Reviews & Ratings Short & Sweet, as he's totally a man of few
140 Characters or Less.
He's also a Bass Player when he's not tasting wines...
Ron is a funny guy, so he can immediately
determine when he's tasting a funny wine.
The HoseMaster knows not all wine is bottled poetry.
"Some of these are a bit like dactylic hexameter. Others are more
reminiscent of iambic pentameter.
And then there are the Silvers, Golds and Double Golds."
Yes, the Poem-Master of Wine!
And his acerbic wit often barbs some people who are not at all thrilled to have
been skewered by The HoseMaster.
At a recent Gun & Dolls Show at The Cow Palace, we saw these bullets being
We never discount The HoseMaster, though!
McMahon is no stranger to airport security, as his passport shows
he's been judging wines in Switzerland, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Tokyo, London and
"Some of these wines are not my bowl of rice," said McMahon, "while
others are a corker! You know, a dinky di."
"Our job here is that of a fossicker. We're searching for gold!"
"It's London to a brick that Wine H is getting a gold
from me, while Wine L stands out like a shag on a rock. I'm thinking Wine
C isn't worth a zack, though."
Yes, sometimes speaking with Jim is a bit like conversing with Wilfred.
In both instances you might need a translator.
He's a bit old fashioned and was handing out these over the weekend.
Some of the younger judges had never seen a cassette tape!
It had a recording of Jim reading his Shakespearian-styled wine tasting notes.
All that glitters is not gold!
Kimberly Noelle Charles added a bit of decorum to Panel K.
"I had to be on 'K', since I couldn't be on the next Panel. Noelle,
you see. K?"
Kimberly routinely dresses for success.
And she's a big fan of the local baseball team, The Orange & Black, San
Francisco Giants (Brandon Crawford and Hunter Pence have her phone number on
their 'speed dial'), as well as being fond of Pierre Peters Champagnes and
several domaines' Bonnes Mares.
She's also a fan of Orange Wines.
"I especially like to use one in particular to rinse the Champipple out of my hair in the
Kimberly was singing "back-up" to a famous local singer who was
performing that weekend...
The Great Mendel Kohn was able to break away from touring with
ZZ Top to judge wines and Captain Panel L.
Mendel and his Tres Hombres Panel (William B-Good and Leslie B-Great)
mined a number of Double Golds.
The SF International photographer routinely calls Mendel "The Rabbi,"
but Kohn is not one to toot his own Shofar. "Actually, being in the
wine business, maybe I'm more comfortable being De-Cantor."
Sbrocco is the host of a popular TV program here in San
Francisco. She won a James Beard Award and so she opted to be on a panel with the
"best beard of the SF International Wine Competition," Mendel Kohn.
Leslie is the author of a couple of wine books, including Wine for Women: A Guide to
Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine.
Ms. Sbrocket is writing her third book (and screenplay): Adventures of a Thirsty Girl.
Leslie is a bit old-fashioned and still has not invested in a fax machine, DVD
Player or a color TV.
William Bloxsom-Carter is a new man this year at the San Francisco International
He left his chef's toque at LA's Playboy Mansion where he ran the kitchen and
moved to Paso Robles where he and his lovely wife run a charming bed &
Blox-Cart is a regular on the wine judging circuit.
And he's got his own Candy Bar.
We heard he recently gave a ride to some guests who were
staying at The Canyon Villa.
William picked up the clients at Niner Wine Estates (Niner won a bunch of medals
last year and their Cabernet was "Best of Show Red Wine) to drive them back
to the B&B.
Eyeing a bottle bag, Blox-Cart asked one of them "What's that?"
The lady replied "It's a bottle of Cabernet. I got it for my
"Good trade." said William.
As mentioned, he was the Executive Chef at LA's Playboy
Mansion...so it's not a surprise he'd been a sort of centerfold!
"M" as in McDonald.
Tim is the Director of Judging at the San Francisco International Wine
Competition and is a Reputation Engineer at a little PR firm in Napa
called "Wine Spoken Here."
Tim is often seen wearing a particular hat, which is why his
wife Lisa told us she thinks he's Fedorable.
He was once found skinny-dipping in a temperature-controlled tank at a Napa
winery after an outdoor harvest-season barbecue, wearing nothing but his Old
"That's why they call it a submerged cap fermentation. Besides, this
vintage the wine needs a bit more body." said Mister Tim, clearly Speaking
By the way, we hacked into Tim's office computer and found a curious
"error" message on the screen:
Tim is always in search of good palates for the judging, but it seems he found
one person with a good palette.
Virginie is an expert concerning the wines of French Guyana
and Suriname, but, more importantly about the wines of California's North
Coast. She's a fan of Pinot Noir and also enjoys pairing a Cabernet
Sauvignon with a steak.
I think it was Jeffery Stivers who saw her name tag and said "Oh yeah...I
used to drink your wine when I was in college. Strawberry Hill was my
favorite. You didn't happen to bring a bottle for the Judge's Dinner, did
At a recent Press Conference to tout the new Exterminator Movie, former
California Governator Arnold Schwazenegger was asked if he had a favorite wine
"Milk is for babies," he's been quoted as saying. "Vhen
you grow up you haff to drink wine. Cahlifornia wine. Austrian wine,
like a good Blaufrankie or Groovy Veltliner. Or maybe a Napa Valley
Cahbernet. Maybe a Peanut Nore. Whatever Virginie Booooone says is
good. She knows."
She's a fashionista and, as a result, is a big fan of the TV show "Project
Runway" and, especially designer Peach Carr.
When Tim McDonald heard the name Peach Carr, he told Kristina "Well, I
drive a Prius."
Kristina then mentioned she once rented a Volkswagen Passat and Tim replied
"Oh, I do enjoy a good Passito from time to time."
Meanwhile, she's found buying wine for Cost Plus to be a bit like solving a
Rubik's Cube puzzle...
He's credited, though, with consuming numerous bottles of Clicquot's top
Champagne, so they actually changed the name from The Great Dame to this:
The had a Fred Dame Roast and he came out "Rare," which isn't
surprising since they broke the mold when they made Fred Dame.
A little known factoid about The Great Dame is that he appeared in the Hollywood
holiday movie Elf.
He appeared in a snow globe in that film.
Bob Paulinski is a Master of Wine and works for the large retail chain of stores
He's their Senior VP of their wine division.
It was great watching Bob arm wrestle Fred Dame over which wines should receive
a Silver or Gold Medal. He wasn't just whistling Dixie when lobbying for
various medal awards, as Mr. Paulinski used to work for Bi-Lo Holdings, owners of
Winn-Dixie stores. He got his start in a little shop called The Blue Goat
in Traverse City, Michigan.
Bo-Paul enjoyed judging at this year's San Francisco International Wine Competition
and routinely offered his two-cents' worth about various wines.
Sometimes he'd offer his Five-Cents' worth since, after all, he's affiliated
He's got a good P-R Agent and you never know when you'll run into an article about Bob...
Former Sommelier Dana Farner is an expert in "racking" and these days
she's hung up her Somm's Tastevin and is working as a "Senior Wine
Advisor" (she looks young, though, doesn't she?) for a company called Soutirage.
Not surprisingly, Dana was dubbed "the Indie Rock Goddess
Sommelier" by a Southern California restaurant critic while she was working at
Wolfgang Puck's restaurant called "Cut."
La Grande Dame (Ms. Farner) had Bo-Paul and the other Dame on
Panel O following her around all weekend, so they were her "Entourage."
They were all being followed by a crew from the TV News show, 60 Minutes.
Dana, by the way, taught Paul Simon how to taste wine.
Clearly this snapshot was not made on Kodachrome.
"Yes, I've known Paul for a long time. And you know, he's still crazy
after all these years!"
Dana says her favorite Paul Simon tune is "Ernest & Julio, Down By The
She still has the original 45 RPM record!
"Come on! I'll pay you a buck to taste this wine!" said Panel P
chairman Brian Baker.
Brian has worked in the wine industry for many years, but prior to that he was
in the travel business, so he's quite skilled at telling people where they can
In addition, he's quite The Rock Star. As we noticed by watching MTV that
The always delightful George Skorka, is one of the fixtures in the Los Angeles wine
George, also known as The Mad Hungarian (or is he The Green Hungarian?)...
...has many years of experience in selling and serving wines.
He is passionate about wine and loves discovering something new and exciting; a
wine he'd be interested in sharing with friends and family.
Some people think George is a bit of a Buda-Pest, but we know him as a
George, by the way, made the cover of a recent copy of ELLE.
He thought he was posing for L-A Magazine.
Adding further decorum to Panel O is NOLA's
Tim is "Mister Wine" in the Crescent City and is one busy fellow!
In addition to writing for New Orleans Magazine, Tim is heard of Louisiana
Tim has a simple rule when it comes to wine: Drink what you like, when you like.
That and: Only drink wine on days ending with the letter Y.
Tim is frequently seen hanging around museums in the New Orleans area.
After a long day of evaluating wines, the panels adjourn for the day in
the late afternoon.
Some go have a beer at Foley's next door to the Nikko, while others mosey
on over to Bartlett Hall across the street.
At the appointed hour, the Judges and the organizers of this marvelous
wine-weekend gather for dinner at The Nikko.
There's typically some bubbly and hors d'oeuvres.
Everyone grabs a glass of sparkling wine and there's an informal half
hour, or so, where people mingle, sip and scarf down some nibbles.
Valery (The Doc of the Bay) and Drake
Two-Maras and Michael
A Wine Dudette and Some Wine Dude
Kate, Jim, Rowald and Valery
The Dapper Dingler
Mendel and Mark
Kevin, Heidi and Sean
Tim and Ron
Simon and Garfunkel
Linda Baker and Phil Markert
People with the Letter "Y" in their Name: Tonya and Ryan
Tim, Mrs. Richard Batchelor and The Batchelor (Winemaker at Washington State's
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
John, Paul, George & Ringo
Mikey, Roy, Boy George and Jon (Culture Club)
Signor Michele Tadich
"When you find a fork in the road, pick it up!" said Jeffery Stivers.
Laurel and Hardy
Gladys Knight and The Pips
Andy and Chandler
The San Francisco International Wine Competition "Brain Trust."
Chandler and Dottie
Chandler and George
Wendy & Jim
Jim & Gerald
The Brothers: Johann Sebastian Schambach and Ludwig van Schamthoven.
Rocky & Bullwinkle
Rowald, Kellee and Kristina
One Market Meets One Somm
The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Joe Roberts and Kevin Vogt
Andy then introduced winemaker Richard Batchelor of Washington
as Maryhill wines were featured as accompaniments to the menu.
Maryhill Pinot Gris
We opened a "jug" of Drautz-Able 1999 Spatlese Riesling
This was a cool bottle to share with the crowd.
The Maryhill winery had a really nice Mourvedre.
Heirloom Tomato Tartare
Brian Baker (Mister Chateau Montelena) has smuggled in a nicely aged
bottle of Chardonnay.
It was showing well, too!
Penn & Teller
Leslie Sprockets, Good Time Charlie and The Fantastic Valery Uhl
Washbag and Doctor Valery
Delicious Austrian Red!
Blaufränkisch, Merlot, Zweigelt and a small drop of Cabernet
Spain's 2012 Aalto, a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, was also quite
Kate Radburnd brought over a nice bottle of Bellingham Wines "Bush
Nicely intense...good fruit on the nose with a faintly earthy tone and a
touch of wood.
You can tell it's getting late when the TokajiAszú is making the rounds
(Courtesy of Kimberly Charles).
Kimberly: "Tim, some TokajiAszú?"
Tim (grabbing some Kleenex): "Gesundheit!"
Dynamic Duo: Chloe
And with that, it was time to recharge the batteries!