WINE Recommended bottles, fall events in Sonoma, urban wine classes ... here are a few wine tips for true autumn flight. Check out my online Appetite column on the Pixel Vision blog at SFBG.com this week for restaurants making some of Napa's best cocktails, a family vineyards wine-tasting report, and more Wine Country dining reviews.
An in-house wine club with storage facilities and a wine school launched in April, SF Wine Center (757 Bryant, SF. 415-655-7300, www.sfwinecenter.com) hosts intimate classes, held in owners Brian and Hillary McGonigle's inviting City Room. With kitchen, library, and comfy leather chairs, it feels more like a friend's home than a classroom. This room is available for private parties, as is a wood-lined, speakeasy-like room tucked away above the wine storage area — it feels ready for a cigar, a glass of Pinot, and a round of cards and good friends.
Recently, a class led by James Beard award-winning writer and Burgundy expert Jordan Mackay was a walk through regions and wines of Burgundy in the best way possible: by tasting a wide range side-by-side. We discussed styles and regions as we sipped nine different wines — a steal considering class price (generally $60-75) vs. costs of wines poured. Tastes ranged from a meaty 2009 Dujac Fils & Pere Cambolle Musigny ($65 a bottle) boasting excellent acidity and earthiness, to a rare 1976 Domaine Leroy Romanee St. Vivant Grand Cru ($500), with sediment and funkiness (it's a whole cluster wine, after all), and notes of black tea, mushroom, leather, smoke, moss, tart cherry. Fall classes start up September 25th and sell out quickly. Watch the website for the fall schedule.
Bluxome Street Winery (53 Bluxome, SF. 415-543-5353, www.bluxomewinery.com) wins cool points just for being an urban winery whose product is actually made right here in the city with grapes from various Sonoma plots. It's already a wine-tasting respite, and some change is afoot with new winemaker Web Marquez, who is also one of three winemakers at Anthill Farms and one of two at C. Donatiello. His early days interning at the excellent Williams Selyem — and in New Zealand and France — give him a balanced perspective on Old and New World wine styles.
While we have to wait until next year's bottling to see the results of his approach with Bluxome's wines, in the meantime we can enjoy a tart 2011 Rose of Pinot Noir, or the acidic, balanced 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, or a Chardonnay and three Pinots (all bottles under $45). Taste in the candlelit space while watching winemaking through glass windows under a projected movie (shining on a brick wall) showcasing San Francisco in pre-1906 quake days when winemaking in the city was common — there were no less than 120 wineries and commercial cellars in SoMa alone. Here's to Bluxome reviving our rich urban wine history.