Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wine Dinner

Furry Husband told me about a Keenan wine dinner at the last minute and we decided to go.

Keenan Winery is his new, I LOVE THIS WINE, vineyard. He visited them on the advice of an industry friend during his last trip to CA - (which he won for being a Super Salesman but spouses aren't allowed cuz it's a "work trip" - and yes, that's me making those quotation marks in the air with my hands)

He came home with a Keenan baseball hat, a Keenan sweatshirt, he brought home a bottle of each Keenan wine varietal and told me he joined their wine club. It was all Keenan this and Keenan that for a while.

When he found out that Michael Keenan from the winery was coming to town and hosting a wine dinner at The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant, he just HAD to go!
It turned out to be a really fun event. It's so interesting listening about the wines and the vineyards - the history behind it all and how it came to be. I get my geek on cuz it's really all about agriculture and producing a crop ... Furry Husband is getting his geek on with the wine speak... and there is great food in front of us and glass after glass of yummy, yummy wine.

I took notes so I wouldn't forget to tell you the highlights:

**The Melting Pot sommelier was born in 1983 - young punk! I was 13 in 1983. (no offense to anyone born in 1983 ... I'm just bitter that I'm old and have no specialized skills to pay the bills...)

**A couple we sat with told us the lake we walk our dogs around was owned by his great grandfather, a Russian immigrant and in 1914 his great grandfather sold the farm with the lake to two brothers, with the same last name as his great grandfather but no relation, and not to his son. There are no old family photos cuz the great grandfather was a penny pincher and wouldn't pay for anything so extravagant...

**At one point a few people at our table were discussing the Keenan label. Michael Keenan came over to help clarify...
He told us that he was a general contractor in the San Francisco area in the 70s, was hired to build a house in Napa and he came to Napa in search of a local crew to help build this house. He stopped by his father's winery - of which he was not yet involved....

He saw one of the new label designs, said it was this dark bottle with dark juice inside and the label was dark - you could barely see the trademark K. He said, and I quote, "That's a pretty fucked up label."

The person at the winery told his Dad and evidently his brand-new Stepmother had designed the "fucked up label". This caused a big family rift - he referred to his Dad's second wife as "the woman" and said he didn't talk to his Dad for a couple years. Once "the woman" was called back by Satan and died from leukemia, he stepped in to console his Dad who was "for whatever reason" torn up by "the woman's" death.

They reconciled, his Dad told him to take over the winery and he did. He soaked off all the "fucked up labels", which started the feud, on the rest of the bottles - two years worth.

**He talked about the movie Bottle Shock - the story of Americans beating out French wines back in the 1970's (if you haven't seen that movie - rent it - it's MARVELOUS!). And how when American wine makers went to France, the French would hold these secret meetings in order to dupe them.
Michael Keenan spoke in a French accent at this point: "Fill ze Americans with bullshit! Tell them ze vines must really struggle, zey must be on ze verge of death to make good wine! Show them ze worst vines in your vineyards! Then we take them back, give them ze best wines from our cellars, ze wines from ze healthy vines and we send them on their way!"

He described how his Dad came back to the States and would walk around casting withering looks at his vines - the vines were full of struggle and barely clinging to life... and then when his Dad died and "the rein of terror ended", he, Michael Keenan began to water the vines when they needed water, he improved soil health and focused on vine health....
Now his wines are all free run juice, they get everything off - the skins, the seeds and fermentation completes in the barrel. The healthy fruit just gives up the color - it's magical.
(I get a bit lost in the wine speak with the fermentation and pressing and talk of "one week in 2005, the sugars and acids rose together - it was freakish!" I have no idea what that means but understood from the murmurs it doesn't happen... well, except for that ONE week in aught-five.)

** He talked about the movie Sideways and how with that movie, Merlot sales died while Pinot Noir sales skyrocketed which is pretty funny because it was all an inside joke.

Miles from the movie says he hates Merlot and yet he covets wine from Cheval Blanc , a vineyard in France growing 57% Cabernet Franc grapes and 40% MERLOT grapes. Michael said there was also mention of a French wine, Petrus, a 100% French Merlot... oh! NOW I get the inside joke... hahahahahahahahahaha!

Chateau Cheval Blanc

Yeah, whatever. Now, just fill my glass up you 1983 sommelier punk you!

** Someone asked Michael Keenan what his favorite year was. He replied, "07, hands down, best vintage. It's fuckin' awesome!"

** We ended the evening with a fondue pot of flaming chocolate which was a little scary to me. Chocolate = good. Fire = pain. (I confuse easily) Paired with Keenan's meritage, Mernet. A 50/50 blend of merlot and cabernet.
A blend of only two of the five meritage blends... he was trying to think of a name for it and thought of Cab-lot... no, no, no! That sounds awful! He's in the shower one day, trying to think of a name when it hits him - Mer-net! He gets out of the shower dripping wet and runs into the kitchen to tell his wife, "Honey, what about MERNET?!" His wife looked at him, told him, "That's great dear, but you are dripping all over the fucking floor!"

We ate up our chocolate-y fondue goodness paired with Keenan's Mernet until there was no more and the bottles ran dry.


DebH said...

That sounds like an absolute Perfect Dinner!! What fun that must of been. I would of been sloshed by the time I left and would of enjoyed every minute. I have been hearing about the Melting Pot as a dinner place but adding the wine session with is a genius idea for business. You must of taken some excellent note, cuzz that is one crazy interesting though story! The fella sounds like a hoot!!

Shanster said...

It WAS a perfect dinner and I was a little schnockered by the end...

I'm not sure how I read all the little scribbled notes after! It was way too fun to forget all those little details/stories. I had to take some notes!

Kelley said...

What a wonderful evening... makes me want to go drink good wine and eat good food just thinking about it (but mostly just drink good wine)!!! Thanks for the insight into the Inside joke on Sideways... and I just recently watched Bottle Shock and LOVED IT!!! I may have to go look for a Keenan wine... wonder if we have any in Laramie?? : )

Shanster said...

I know p that movie made me all vaklempt...

Duh- I knew I was forgetting something - a link to Keenan vineyards... it's in there now. I bet there are NO copies of the old wine label... sounds like it was a damn, sore subject!

Cheryl said...

Oooo, wow, that sounds good! Pork, duck, sirloin, I love them all! Nothing better than a good steak. With good wine and a rich chocolate dessert! These are the things that help make life a great ride!

I would love Michael Keenan's job! I don;t know anything about wine though, my favorites are the fruit flavored white zinfandels.

Dedene said...

I laughed all the way through your post! You are too funny. I can't really imagine a wine-maker talking like that, but then I've never met an American wine-maker. The stuff sounds really yummy. I love merlot. However, the Petrus is so hideously expensive that I don't think I've ever tasted that.
Loved your post!

Foxxy said...

Sounds AWESOME! I enjoy Keenan wines as well. Although when I'm drinking at home I stick to Tizzy cause it's cheap and tastey.

Heather said...

This is awesome! I'm just catching up on all of my blogs after being gone. John and I went to the russian river valley for our honeymoon. Lots of wine stories coming up just as soon as we get internet at our house. Does Furry Husband know of the Schlumberger winery? It was by far the best wine we tasted and also 'in the family' for the company John works for (also called Schlumberger). Anyway, their Cab Franc was amazing.

Shanster said...

Cheryl - I'd never had duck before and I liked it... I liked EVERYTHING during that dinner!

Dedene - me too - Merlot is my favorite. It was the first wine I really loved and was sorry to hear of it's "bad rap"...only it leaves more on the shelves for ME to drink!

Foxxy - nuthin' wrong with tasty, cheap wines! We have a few favorites too - Red Truck is a fun drinkin' wine in our house.

Heather - I wanna say I've heard of that wine...but I'll have to double check with Furry Husband! Mostly I drink whatever he puts in front of me and so far I've liked it all! *hic*