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Wineries & Winefolk

Ridge with Paul Draper

Wineries & Winefolk

What a great opportunity to not only try some incredible wines, but to be guided by such an incredible winemaker & pioneer. A true artist when it comes to wine... the winejazz and blues metaphors, the obvious love of family and life in general, the old-school romance, the grounded spirit of Paul Draper shines through. I felt honored to be able to participate in this tasting. I only wish he lived in Austin and would guide me through the Ridge wines nightly. A true wine icon...Holy Cow, am I proud to have these wines (especially the Monte Bellos) be from the United States! Cool cat and extremely educational... Thank you, Mirabelle! Thank you, Paul Draper and for everything you've done... You are appreciated.


In order preference. (Mirabelle Restaurant - Austin)

1. ‘91 Ridge Montebello $275 A+ -115 ***** 110706

—Genius/Haut Brion?/Extremely balanced & long-lived/Full-bodied, 36hr lover

2. ‘92 Ridge Montebello $180 A+ +10 ****

—Rockstar/somehow youthful at 14 yrs./polished, stylish, & refined/left bank Bord?

3. ‘90 Ridge Montebello $220 A -80 ***

—pruny cassis cocoa/still has full color/could definitely be Bordeaux/drink now/yum!

4. ‘03 Ridge Montebello $123 A -34 ***

—very tight/give 9-15 years/deep, super-ripe, creamy, and dense/leftbank Bord?

5. ‘03 Ridge Zin Geyserville $36 A -2 **

—sensual, elegant, and rich/better balanced in its youth/Pomerol lover’s zin

6. ‘94 Ridge Zin Geyserville $70 A- -48 *

—still alive, though lil tired

7. ‘03 Ridge Chard Santa Cruz $33 A -7 *

—wth?/color and juice appear aged/bone dry/closer to bone-dry textbook Puligny

8. ‘03 Ridge Zin York Crk $30 A- -6 *

—ripe, green/tastes like barrel sample/fruit shines much stronger than ‘04 Lytton

9. ‘04 Ridge Zin Lytton Spgs $36 A- -21

—thin and unusual Lytton/green, pyrazine, and raw vegetable

Ridge Winery


20 Years of Dominus at Wink

Wineries & Winefolk

Considered by many as one of the greatest wines of the United States, it is rare ( say the least!) that a 20 year vertical tasting of Dominus Estate would actually materialize. I only know of two others, one at the defunct Spago in Palo Alto (2006) and the other at One Sixty Blue in Chicago (2007). This wine dinner was the culmination of several years of “what if” conversations between Brian Owens (Gracious Wine Collector) and Mark Paul (Co-owner Wink & Zoot Restaurants, along with Stewart Scruggs). Both of these men have been incredibly giving in time, passion, and donations over the years, making the Austin community profoundly stronger because of it. This dinner was Sold Out and was an auction item, with proceeds benefitting the Texas Wine and Food Foundation.

I love the “tell of a tale”. Storytelling is important to me. If you’ve been around me, you know that I just about always “have a story”. The folk concept of sharing stories is beautiful. It’s how we relate to each other. From Grandpa passing along a story of poverty, survival, and responsibility, to the wisdom of a 3-year old’s “take” on life. A story is what we have in common. It’s what puts the experience in stride. All too often, in this fast-paced world, the stories get shoved to the sidelines in favor of strict scores, punch lines, or blatant trumpeters. I love to hear peoples’ stories. They are a part of what makes this whole thing real, to me.

Cue up the phonograph cylinder...

My wife, Aimee, was my first love in high school. As life’s journey would have it, that initial connection didn’t work out, as the two of us were destined to make a few other stops before settling down together, later in life, as we know it now. At one of my previous business “launch” celebrations, a guest (An Tran, the Valedictorian of our high school) mentioned that he had seen Aimee on I had never heard of Late that night, after the last guest departed the gathering, I sat down at the computer, paid the $30 to join, and registered to send her an email.

Read more: 20 Years of Dominus at Wink


A German Lost & Found in Burgundy

Wineries & Winefolk

Weingut Dr. Burklin-Wolf with Christian Von Guradze, Proprietor

These wines have nothing in common with German Rieslings other than the fact that they are Rieslings produced in Germany. Although they are aimed at the Burgundy market, I would surely pick them out as wines of Alsace, France, if blindfolded. They are bone dry. They are floral, mineral, and complex with a crisp steely acidity.

Read more: A German Lost & Found in Burgundy


Dutch Henry & Smith Madrone

Wineries & Winefolk

What treats these two have been…

Once again, Gary turns me to another California gem.

The 2000 Dutch Henry Cab Sauv Reserve. Born in 1992, this small family-owned and operated winery, located on the original Silverado Trail in Calistoga, specializes in artisinal Bordeaux reds. It’s a wine like this that leads me to rethink my California Value philosophy (my general view being the ‘lack of’). This wine is why I love wine and arrives two-sided. On one, it is a great wine. On the other, it is California Cab. It makes me smile. I plan to explore Dutch Henry.


The previous ride was with Smith Madrone. Born in 1971, this winery plays with Riesling, Cab Sauv, and Chard. I haven’t tasted anything but Cabs from them, but can place the Stamp-on-the-Head with a clear mind and open eyes…

The soulful and passionate California winetreats are out there, so keep the journey alive.

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