October 31, 2010 3 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): The Michelin Guide Release Party (San Francisco)

Brian Quinn, Jonny Cigar, Jean-Luc Naret (Michelin). Photo by Brian Quinn’s camera.

“One more!” shouted Jean-Luc Naret, “One more!” Naret, the spokesperson for Michelin Guide, posed for pictures as the after-party for the San Francisco Michelin Guide release party got underway. Half the room ended up in several photographs, such as this one:

Left to right: Ben, Eric, Sammy Davis Jr (aka Jonny Cigar), Meghan (Brett of Evoe’s wife), Jean-Luc Naret (Sinatra), Tessa, Joey Bishop (aka Brian Quinn), Kelly. Spice Supper Club & The Rat Pack.    Photo by Brian Quinn’s camera.

Let’s backtrack: The Noble Rot was invited to curate a wine list for the Michelin Guide Release Parties in New York and San Francisco. The opportunity came about thanks to close friends at The Whisk & Ladle Supper Club, who invited us to find boutique wines, worthy of pouring at such a coveted event, for such an elite crowd.

We readily accepted the task and set out to deliver a well-rounded collection of memorable wines that mirrored the principles set forth in Michelin’s own rating system–culinary destinations worth a trip, worth a detour–the wines we selected are just that–worth seeking out, worth a detour, off the beaten path, and uber small production (most under 400 cases).

Our “Three-Michelin” Star Wine List included:

De Sante 2007 Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley (100% Sauvignon Blanc, 200 cases). Grapes are grown on 40 year-old vines in the Oakville District in Napa Valley. The wine is stirred on its lees. Producers Katharine and David DeSante are rocking it.

Herman J. Wiemer Dry Riesling – Magdelena Vineyard 2008 (100% Riesling, 130 cases). Easily, one of the best Riesling from upstate New York and worth a detour, for certain.

WesMar 2007 Pinot Noir Hellenthal Vineyard (100% Pinot Noir, 262 cases). A terroir-driven wine all sourced from the Hellenthal Vineyard in the Sonoma coast. The vineyard, at 1200 feet sits above the coastal fog and neighbors are Palmheyer, Turley’s Marcassin and Flowers. Denise Selyem and her husband Kirk began making wine at Williams-Selyem and roughly a decade ago they launched their own label, WesMar.

Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley Proprietary Red 2006 (56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 6% Cab Franc, 392 cases). You ever been to Pritchard Hill in Napa? Well, you’re going there with this wine, at least with the Cab Sauv and Cab Franc. You ever been to the Blackbird Vineyard in the Oak Knoll district of Napa? Well, the Merlot will show you the way. Think of this wine as an homage to the artisans who grace Ma(i)sonry’s walls. Ma(i)sonry is right down the road from The French Laundry and absolutely worth a visit. Everything there is for sale. When you sit down for a tasting flight of their Artisan wines you could potentially purchase the chair, table, glasses, and of course, the wines.

Covenant 2007 and 2008 Red C Napa Valley Cabernet (100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 450 cases). Covenant RED C happens to be, according to Robert M. Parker Jr., the “best Kosher wine on planet Earth.”

Mueller Family Vineyard 2007 Diamond Mountain Cabernet (100% Cabernet Sauvignon,168 cases). The Muellers have been making wine since 1982, when I was roughly zero (0) years old. This is the first vintage of this wine, which is grown way up on Diamond Mountain in Calistoga, CA on 1.1 Acres of land. Elegant and complex, this wine tastes as good as the view of Napa, from a good mile up the mountain. The Mueller’s property is surrounded by fruit tress and vegetables gardens and flowers–they have quite the green thumb.

Mueller, Ma(i)sonry, WesMar, RED C – Photo by Michelin Guide



Left to right: Christopher Kostow (Meadowood Chef who received his third and highly coveted Michelin Star), Angie Mueller, Frank Mueller. Photo by Brian Quinn.

One last surprise: mere days before the event, we made a quick stop off at the Natural Process Alliance in Santa Rosa, CA. We ended up chatting with a chap named Hardy Wallace who has as much of a sense-of-humor with respect to wine as we do. And the NPA is crazy cool. Their wines come in Canteens. Unfiltered! Unfined! All natural yeast fermentation. Only 25 parts per Million of SO2, which apparently is just enough to get it delivered to your house and have the wine waiting for you to drink before it begins to spoil. When you’re done, NPA picks up the canteens and refills ’em for you. Think of them as the modern-day milk-man for wine. Check em out. We invited Hardy to pour his snake-oil with us at the event.

Hardy Wallace of NPA pouring for our friend Thys-Jan of Ma(i)sonry. We made Hardy dress up for the event since Brian and I always wear three-piece suits. We were impressed with his style.                        Photo by Brian Quinn.

Please enjoy these mouth-watering taninc photos below, and check back in this week for many more posts on our Napa Valley adventures. They include: a trip to Laird with Jeff Morgan, a visit to Elizabeth Spencer Wines, and a visit to Domain Charbay (where they make Whiskey way up on Spring Mountain).


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