We tasted up and down both banks for over a week and re-tasted many wines several times. Overall the vintage appears to be very good to great with some areas doing better than others. The Left Bank is fairly consistent, particularly Margaux and Paiillac. The exception is Graves and Pessac-Leognan where there is some inconsistency. On the Right Bank Pomeral seems solid. Saint-Emilion is all over the place depending on what the wine makers attempted to do in the cellar. The folks who "pushed" and tried to do too much extraction often made heavy, unbalanced wines. On the other hand, those that were "gentle" and let the vintage make the wine appear more successful. We were in Bordeaux and tasting the very young wines quite early this year and it would be wise to expect many of these wines to change profoundly by the time they are released to the public. What we got was a snapshot of where the wines are now, but in general there is a lot to like about the 2005 vintage in Bordeaux. Certainly the folks in Bordeaux are very confidant that they have a great vintage on their hands. Be advised that as I write this hype for the vintage is building and prices have yet to be released. Nothing we have heard make us think prices will be anything but high. I hope to see you in San Francisco this Saturday for my monthly Bordeaux tasting where we will be featuring the delicious and user friendly 2003 vintage. -Steve Bearden
K&L Wine Merchants hosts regular wine tastings in both of its Bay Area locations. At the San Francisco store wine tasting are held each Saturday from Noon to 3 p.m. and on Thursday evenings. In Redwood City tastings are held on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Wine tastings provide a wonderful opportunity to discover a new wine region or variety, or rediscover some old favorites—without having to commit to the purchase of an entire bottle! No need to reserve a space, just come on in and pull up a glass! For further information about other special monthly tastings and dinners, please see our website at www.klwines.com and click on the “local events” bar.Tasting Upcoming Thursday evening Tastings at K&L San Francisco: 04/20/06 Cain Vineyards 04/27/06 Darioush 05/04/06 Honig 05/11/06 Ruston Family Vineyards 05/18/06 Cliff Lede 06/01/06 Clos Saron 06/08/06 Duckhorn Vineyards 06/22/06 Vinum Cellars
Wonderfully provocative article in the San Francisco Chronicle last thursday on restaurant corkage. This is a hot button issue for wine savvy diners, and your piece exposes the flaws and attitudes with regards to wine markups. While I don't agree with Pizzeria Delfina's policy not allowing diners to bring in their own wine, the restaurant has created a solid and inexpensive list. Any diner should be thrilled with this situation. However, Delfina's Stoll says "What if you collected fine tablecloths... so you wanted to bring one in to eat off of?" At my restaurant I would ask my customer "On which table you would like me to drape it?" Richard Reddington states that "I have investors that I need and want to pay back. How do I make up the profit?" Let me guess: exorbitant corkage and high wine prices? More Reddington: "When you write a budget, you think wine is going to represent a big chunk of your revenue. When it doesn't, the numbers don't make sense." "(Corkage) really undercuts our business model." Sounds like you botched the business model, Richard. Don't make it the diner's problem. Bobby Stuckey of the French Laundry says corkage is only beneficial to people with a lot of money and not beneficial to the rest of us. When I look at a restaurant wine list and see Edna Valley Vineyards Chardonnay for 35 bucks, corkage is only for rich people? Ronn Wiegand says that the markup of wine in restaurants is the same as the food. Great, so the diner pays 200 to 300 percent of the cost on food, and the restaurant says that it can't make a profit unless the same markup is used for wine? Hmmm. Restaurants CAN offer mature wine. They do not have to cellar the wine for years and charge prohibitive pricing. Some wholesalers offer older vintages that can be ordered and shipped within a day or two. So strike that argument. Reddington again: "All that corkage really covers is the 12 glasses that get ruined every night." "We broke a $100 decanter the other night, and there's your corkage." You broke a decanter, and that is justification for charging astronomical corkage fees? Not great customer service. That's right, customer. Restaurants are in the food SERVICE business. On the flip side, the 'BYO' advice listed in the article is golden. Diners, don't bring wine that a restaurant has on its list. And if you DO take advantage of corkage, you should tip as if you purchased wine off of the list. The do's and don't go both ways. And if you are put off by corkage policies, don't dine at that establishment. If you don't like commercials, don't watch T.V. Anyone out there feel the same? Differently? I'd love to hear your comments. And don't worry, I'm not really this cranky. I wrote the above as a letter to the editor but decided it was too harsh. It still is- but my feelings about this issue still strongly favour a corkage policy and a fiscally responsible wine list. --Joe Zugelder
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