• I went to a wine tasting the other day. It took place in the Old Mint in San Francisco. The new mint currently resides on a hill about a mile away from the old which I’m sure is due to lack of security. It was one of the few buildings to survive the fire of 1906 which the Old Mint website says saved the US economy.

    Upon approaching the mint the staircase and giant columns seemed a bit daunting, not to mention the security at the door (very much needed when holding a free industry wine tasting downtown.)

    Once past the guards I gave my credentials at the desk and was handed a book containing the wines at the tasting, a pen, and a wine glass.

    Inside the building it felt like a castle. Large thick stone walls with high ceilings and an incredible concrete courtyard in the center. It was the perfect place for a wine tasting in that it was near all public transit and downtown. Thus making it possible to step away for a mid day wine imbibing, as we all like to do during business hours.

    I started off with a bit of cured meats and crackers

    My apologies, that is not the picture of food I was looking for, although that was a fun day. Here it is..

    I always start with white wine so as not to beat up your palate before the red entree. First up was Abad Dom Bueno a varietal called Godello (pronounced go-day-oh) from Bierzo, Spain.

    According to Vinos Unico (The importer of the wine) it is:

    A high quality, aromatic grape, which is a native of Galicia. It’s best wines show the kind of ripe, rich,
    crisp fruit somewhat similar to Albariño but with a bit more acidity and soft oily like texture.

    The wine has no sulphites added and is unoaked. A huge bonus in some circles.

    I later checked out a vault that was attached to the tasting room. I discovered a hidden compartment and tons of $20 gold coins if someone wants to go back with me and walk off with.. hmm I probably shouldn’t be broadcasting this..

    The wine is always arranged differently, but usually every producer gets their own table. The following image shows spit buckets (if you believe in spitting), the representatives of the wineries behind the table, and the tasters with their wine guides out for note taking and prices.

    They often have large map boards depicting the wine regions that the wines come from and on occasion tell all the grape varietals that are grown in each.

    I did not throw a ninja star to try and slice the cable holding up the chandelier, but I certainly thought about it.

    There was even a producer that had a boxed wine “From the Tank’, meaning it was unoaked and went straight from the fermentation tank to the box. ‘Ghetto classy’ I like to call it.

    One of my favorite French wine regions is Chateauneuf du Pape. I tasted an excellent one called La Bastide Saint Dominique.

    91-93 points Robert Parker: “The 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape exhibits sweet blackberry and black currant fruit intermixed with notions of cherry jam, licorice, incense, truffles and underbrush. Fresh, elegant, medium to full-bodied, pure and long, it should drink well for at least 10-12 years.”

    It can be found for around $30 and is superb!

    For dessert I had Patricius Tokaj 2008 Katinka Late Harvest. The grapes Furmint and Harslevel are grown in Hungary and left to stay on the vine until the juice becomes concentrated and is then fermented.

    After fermenting the wine is aged in large oak barriques for a year that gives it vanilla and butterscotch notes. Medium bodied and mildly sweet it has a lot of spice and character. I like it.

    I get to return to the Old Mint next week for a gala dinner to celebrate d’Arenberg’s 100 year anniversary (a winery in the McLaren Vale in Australia.)