Thursday, November 11, 2010

Steak Dinner and ‘08 Continuum, Deconstructed

It’s Friday night, at last. I’m home from a good solid day of Wine Scouting and I’m excited to try a new recipe for a grilled New York strip steak to pair with the bottle of Gigondas I claimed from the tasting lab leftovers. Where’s the beef? Whole Foods. Now, I’m sure you’re already totally clinging to my prose here, like a Matt Kramer oratory on how impressed he is with himself for being so hip, but there is a point to this story, and even a cameo by Tim Mondavi.

Let’s face it; Napa Valley is a circus, and a damn fun one at that! Napa is constantly on the stage, from daytime wine tasting to evening dining and, yes, the occasional late night dance-off contest in the Bounty Hunter’s Wine Bar. We’re a tourist industry, no doubt. I’m sure though, if you’ve spent much time in Napa, you realize that when we say “it’s just another day in paradise,” we mean it! We work together, eat together, drink together and do business together but, more importantly, coexist in a very small valley together. So it’s not too out of the ordinary that, while patrolling through my local grocery store, on the quest for provisions, I would just happen to run into Tim Mondavi (As an aside, I think Tim is secretly addicted to our pulled pork sandwich… he’s a regular).

We exchange formalities which, with Tim, are an effervescent back and forth of acknowledgement free of pretense. I introduce him to my wife and they exchange words about Prague (her hometown, which he knows a surprising amount about). He thanks me and the Bounty Hunter in general for all we do which I humbly return and I compliment him on a stunning ‘07 vintage and the huge response from my customers. Of course, I have to ask him what to expect with the ‘08. I now know one truth; asking Tim Mondavi about the 2008 vintage is like asking Bruce Bochy how he felt about his team’s finish this year.

Continuum estate vineyard
The man is passionate, and for good reason. In 2008, they are much closer to the goal of producing the entire makeup of the wine for Continuum from their estate property on Pritchard Hill (if you haven’t seen the site, I highly recommend getting up there on your next trip to Napa). With 70% of the final blend coming from the estate vineyards, it stands to reason that the blend has changed slightly. In fact, a new, as of yet un-utilized Bordeaux variety grape is coming into play. (I won’t tell you what grape, but you’re welcome to guess). Tim tells me with pure conviction how proud he is of the vintage and how much he can’t wait to release it. I am so captivated by his enthusiasm that I forget we’re in a grocery store; where are my manners! I tell him I can’t wait to try it, and I apologize, jokingly, for bringing up work in the produce aisle. He shakes my hand graciously, laughs and says “No, no, no. I love talking about the wine; I’m really excited about it!” And I knew he meant it. Just another day in paradise. Now, where’s the beef?
--Räm Hatley, Wine Scout

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