• Some friends have a way of making things better. You get a call, your face lights up with joy and you think… Wow, how did you know I needed that?

    I want you to be that friend today. Call up a friend and share a smile.

    While we are on the subject of smiles. I’m going to talk about some days that I loved with wine and friends.

    Chablis in the sun with oysters or muscles…. One of my favorite meals with an old friend was at a little place called Rose’s Cafe on Union in San Francisco. It was around 11:30, the sun was unseasonably out, and we were determined to enjoy the warmth. We ordered muscles cooked in a white wine and garlic broth.  With this we paired a lovely Chablis (a Chardonnay from Northern France).

    Another time some friends and I went to Nopa (a restaurant named after the district ‘North of the Panhandle’ kinda like Weho is West Hollywood). A great restaurant and Chris, the sommelier, does an amazing job with the wine list. He always has an aged white or rosé from Vina Tondonia or Gravonia (a Lopez de Heredia wine). We partook of the aged rosé, which I believe is out of stock, but others are available at K&L. The restaurant is fabulous. We shared a bunch of food, including two bowls of fries.



    A third fun wine moment was in Dolores Park with a bunch of homemade sangria (which I’ve written a recipe for). This occurred many times actually.

    I encourage you to grab a friend and make a wine memory.

    Speaking of friends. One of mine asked me to shed some light on a little region called Burgundy (Bourgogne in French). I could spend days on this subject, and I just might do that. Let’s start off simple, with just the main red regions, and go from there.

    Now Burgundy is arguably the foremost expert on Pinot Noir. It is unlike nearly all of California Pinot Noir. It’s not about being bold and fruit driven. It’s about the delicate subtle nuances that I cherish.


    France beget Burgundy beget Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais

    Reminds me of the Old Testament.

    Anyhoo, the family tree looks like this


    .                                                France

    .                                             Burgundy

    .                                      /                       \                          \


    .                   Côte d’Or                   Côte Chalonnaise               Beaujolais

    .                      /              \

    Côte de Nuits               Côte de Beaune


    I have already talked a bit about Beaujolais, so I’m going to talk about the other regions for a bit.


    The grading scale has a few generic categories and then goes Village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru. Grand cru being the penultimate, and also the lowest production. Supply and demand causes the price on these wines to be astronomical. Do not fear though, because many great bargains are to be found.


    Côte Chalonnaise is south of Côte d’Or, and the base of it is just north of Lyon. It has a similar climate to Côte d’Or, but doesn’t get as much rain and doesn’t run along a single long slope. Most of Burgundy is covered in limestone, flinty clay, chalky soil with some deposits of iron.


    *side note: Most of Burgundy allows up to 15% of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc to be blended into the red wines, although this rarely happens.


    The region has no Grand Cru wines, but the sub region Mercurey is renowned for making some affordable beauties that generally have a spicy cherry component. Mercurey’s soil has a high iron marl content that imparts a distinct minerality to the wine.


    Côte d’Or (Slope of gold) has two babies (sub-divisions).


    Côte de Beaune is the baby brother vying for attention. Some great white wine comes out of this region, but the gentle slopes and warmer climes make it more difficult to achieve the greatness that is it’s older brother.



     Côte de Nuits (Slope of night), just south of Dijon, has 24 of the 33 Grand Crus. With a cooler climate yet sunny steep slopes, the Pinot Noir grape has found a perfect home here. This region is the epitome of Terroir. Terroir is the French term for what the soil imparts in the wine to make the region identifiable merely by tasting the wine. With components of cinnamon, licorice, raspberry, blackberry and earth (spices and violet), this region is most prized Pinot Noir region in the world.


    I know I only scratched the surface, but with Burgundy you really need to take it slow.


    -Jonathan Hood