“Happy Birthday, Sonja!” The Week in Wine, 1-6 August, 2017

My parents spent most of the week with us, helping me build a massive shelving unit in my wine cellar, which by the end of today should be completed. In those times we weren’t working, we visited the Kaneko Museum and saw the John Buck exhibit, which was incredible. We also took some walks, played Trivial Pursuit, and had some pretty lengthy chats about life, politics, and so forth. My dad favoring gin, my mom beer, and Sonja tea or water, I didn’t have much time for wine this week… until last night.

I took Sonja to dinner at V. Mertz for her birthday last night. It was the cite of our first date and so many wonderful memories after. We sat at “our table” and enjoyed talking with the manager, who over time has become a friend of ours. We also had some utterly incredible food and paired each course with wine over the course of nearly four hours. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the woman who gave me two perfect children and who makes our family work the way it does. I can’t say enough good things about my wonderful Sonja, though I do try. Taking her out for a wonderful meal last night was the least I could do for her birthday, and it was great for us to have a chance to catch up without someone interjecting “Bellybutton!” or “Wah!” in between our every sentence.

Last night’s wines were all wonderful, made even more so by excellent food pairings. Our sommelier, Matthew, explained each one in depth.  Below, I’ll focus on a few that really stood out to me, and relay a bit of what I learned about each one as well.

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The first, paired with a beautiful English goat’s cheese, was a Gruner Veltliner. I’ve really fallen for this varietal over the years, for its diversity in pairing, relatively low cost, and typical high quality. This one checked all the boxes, and got us started right last night.

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Calera was new to me. A winemaker trained in Burgundy who is renowned for Pinot Noir apparently sought out Burgundian-stlye soil, found it in the Central Coast, and had his own AVA established there. Our Somm friend couldn’t say enough good things about this producer. Sonja loved this rose’, as did I. Distinctly Pinot Noir from nose to finish, the delicacy and nuance were undeniable and easy to appreciate. Beautiful wine. I’ll be looking for more Calera wines soon.

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Playfully, Matthew reminded me of how little I know of the Old World, and brought this wine as a learning experience. Aglianico from Abruzzo which I believe the label is telling me is mixed with the far more common to that region Montepulciano, it was robust yet distinctly old world, and paired terrifically with the perfectly prepared beef ribs I was enjoying.

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This Pinot Noir is the new label from Omaha native Chris Brocway, of Broc Cellars. Low in alcohol but with plenty of acidity, Chris makes old world style wines. This was paired with Sonja’s duck to great effect last night. Chris Brocway does it again!

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After dinner, we went to La Buvette around the corner and used a gift card that Sonja had been given on her bachelorette party nearly five years ago. I was eying a pricier bottle of Champagne when our very helpful waiter suggested that this was the better bottle, and for less price. We took his advice, and were glad we did. A beautiful sparkling rose’ from Burgundy, it was fully dry with hints of strawberry and rosebuds in endless bubbles. We sat at a quiet candlelit table for another hour or so and chatted while we share this lovely wine. I only hope that Sonja enjoyed her birthday as much as I did!

Another week in the books, and some more fabulous wine paired with it! Happy birthday to my beautiful wife of four and a half years, the mother of my children, and the glue that holds out family together. I love you, Sonja! Cheers, friends!

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