Art and Wine at Stanford

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We are both Stanford alumni. One of the perks of living in the greater Silicon Valley area is the opportunity to attend occasional events sponsored by the Stanford Alumni Association. On another blog we have reviewed the Anderson Collection, a stunning collection of modern and contemporary art housed in a new building adjacent to the Cantor Arts Center with its Rodin Sculpture Garden.

Saturday, August 15, we joined about 925 other alumni and friends at the Stanford Alumni Art and Wine Stroll. The wines were from fourteen wineries with strong Stanford connections. The complete list is at the end of this article.

The Venue

The Cantor Arts Center has a sculpture garden featuring a number of Rodins. There are also more contemporary sculptures, some affiliated with the new Anderson Collection. That collection is housed in a brand new museum devoted entirely to the art collected over the decades by the Anderson family. Harry Anderson founded Saga Foods in New Jersey, but quickly moved the operation to Menlo Park, California. The Vanity Fair article “A Dorm-Food Fortune Has Funded the Best New Museum in Silicon Valley,” if anything, understates the magnitude of this installation.

The Venue Art and Wine at Stanford

The Wine

After all, this is California Wine Fan, not California Art Fan. (Note to self: consider registering that domain.) We won’t try to cover all the wines because we’d like to actually get this story published. A complete list is at the end of this story (with URLs).

Our pick for the best in show is Muns Vineyard‘s 2010 pinot noir. Ed Muns ’71 is the founder and head honcho at Muns Vineyard. Located in the  Santa Cruz mountains, the vineyard overlooks Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay on the Loma Prieta Ridge 2,600 feet above the ocean — the highest pinot noir vineyard in this AVA. The 2010 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate pinot noir ($40) is excellent. The Muns pinot shows forest floor and black cherry aromas. More black cherry, blueberry and chewy tannins on the palate. Muns is a great example of making pinot noirs that can age a few years.

Ed Muns Art and Wine at Stanford

Ed Muns

We have tasted Sokol Blosser and Trione before. We had no idea they had any Stanford connection.

We immediately headed for the Sokol Blosser table. They were pouring their 2012 Dundee Hills pinot noir ($38). Aromas of cherries and cranberries with more cherries and wet slate on the palate, and just a hint of spice in the finish.

Susan Sokol Blosser Art and Wine at Stanford

Susan Sokol Blosser

Susan Sokol Blosser and Bill Blosser are both class of 1966. Their son, Nik, is class of 1993. The winery’s future seems to be in good hands.

Our tasting notes for Trione’s 2012 Sonoma County pinot noir ($39) say big, big, big aromas, featuring black cherries and tannins on the palate. Lay this one down and don’t open it until 2017 at the earliest.

Trione also offered their 2014 sauvignon blanc ($23). Whole lotta grapefruit here, both aromatics and palate. A nice fresh, crisp finish rounds out something.

Trione is the namesake of Vic Trione, class of 1969. That happens to be the same year I got my B.S. (but not from Stanford).

Hindsight Wines presents an interesting contradiction. Why “hindsight?” Co-owner Alisa Gean ’82 has a BS and MD from Stanford. She had a very successful career in neurosurgery until health problems forced her to cut back on her medical practice.  This has been a fortunate turn of events for wine drinkers.  Dr. Gean, Keith Hargrove, and Seth Gersch were sitting around one evening with their partners in wine. They were trying to come up with a name. Someone suggested “Foresight.”  Someone else said, “No, Hindsight.”  The “20/20” followed immediately.

Alisa Gean and Keith Hargrove Art and Wine at Stanford

Alisa Gean and Keith Hargrove

Naturally there is a Hindsight 20/20 Proprietary Red Blend 2012 ($35). This is a pretty good, quaffable Bordeaux-style wine. Lots of earth on the palate with a hint of green pepper,

The Hindsight 2013 Napa Valley chardonnay ($28) is an explosion of apples and pears on the palate hard on the heels of a hint of citrus aroma. Very little oak, no tannins, yes good. We rate this a bargain.

Cardinal Rule Wines offered a 2013 Russian River Valley pinot noir ($35). This is the earthy, leathery style both in the nose and on the palate. There is just a hint of cherries on the finish.

Cardinal Rule Wines is Stanford start to finish, including Warren Louie ’80; Rose Chan ’82; Leslie Scharf ’73; Sarah Scharf ’10; and Stephen Scharf ’75.

Test Pilot Label Art and Wine at StanfordWe’ve tasted Cooper-Garrod wines at the winery on several occasions. But we didn’t know that Doris Cooper was in the class of ’79. Doris is the daughter-in-law of George and Louise Cooper. The Garrod part is Louise’s maiden name. George had a career as a fighter pilot in World War II. After that, as if he needed more excitement, he was a test pilot for NASA. We were pleased to see the Test Pilot, F-86 ($39) label. The wine is a Bordeaux-style blend with aromas of plums and leather. The flavors are more plums and a hint of cedar. This one needs a few more years in the cellar. Cooper-Garrod vineyards and winery are certified organic and sustainable.

Uvaggio Wines in Lodi specializes in Italian varietals. Our guess is that the Lodi terroir is close to ideal for this. We were lured to their table with the promise of vermentino, a grape we first encountered at Tessa Marie Wines in Los Olivos.

The Uvaggio 2013 Lodi vermentino ($14) is very quaffable but light on the vermouth. Their 2012 Lodi barbera ($18) is a true Italian wine, big and chewy with lots of bite.

Uvaggio’s Stanford connection is via Mel Knox ’68 who was pouring at the event. Mel’s day job is running Mel Knox Barrel Brokers in San Francisco. He’s an interesting guy. Visit the company website and check out Team Mel/Wines by Mel. He partnered with Jim Moore in 1997 … well, we’ll let Mel tell the story:

Uvaggio Quote Art and Wine at Stanford

(click for larger image)

As Jim Moore points out on the winery website, Uvaggio is much easier to pronounce than the original name: l’Uvaggio di Giacomo.

Vintage Estate Wines is the creation of Dave Rogers ’75. The company actually houses a number of labels and brands. On this day Dave was pouring two wines from Windsor Vineyards. “Is that the same Windsor Vineyards we remember from decades back?” we inquired. Indeed, it’s the same place founded by Rodney Strong 55 years ago. Windsor has always produced wines that were very approachable. They have moved into a higher market segment under Dave’s leadership. But Dave has continued a long Windsor tradition: custom wine labels.

Windsor’s 2012 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon ($32) greeted us with aromas of huckleberries and earth. On the palate are cassis and more earth. Not bad for a cab.

The 2012 Sonoma County Reserve chardonnay ($18) features aromas of green apple and white peaches leading to yeasty minerality on the palate.

Vintage Estates also has a series of wines aimed at the millennial market. In the past we’ve noted that Tooth and Nail in Paso Robles has targeted this market. Vintage Estates is, um, more straightforward in their approach. While exploring the company website we ran across the Sexy Wine Bomb label. Dave also pointed to the labels of the Wine Sisterhood. If you’d like a break from stodgy wine marketing, this website will entertain you for a few hours.

Wine Sisterhood Art and Wine at Stanford

(click for larger image)

Other wineries of note for various reasons include Huge Bear Wines (for the name, RoAnn Costin ’81) and The Farm Winery, another we’ve tasted before, known for very big cabs (Jim Madsen ’89 and Santiago Achaval ’89)

Conclusion

This was a great event. Thanks to the Stanford Alumni Association for sponsoring it and to Stanford University for providing such a great venue. But next time we’d like cooler weather.

Name URL Stanford
Connection
Bodkin Wines http://www.bodkinwines.com Chris
Christensen ’03
Cardinal Rule
Wines
http://www.cardinalrulewines.com Warren
Louie ’80; Rose Chan ’82; Leslie Scharf ’73; Sarah Scharf ’10; Stephen Scharf
’75
Cooper-Garrod http://www.cgv.com Doris
Cooper ’79
Hindsight
Wines
https://www.hindsightwines.com Alisa
Gean ’82
Huge Bear
Wines
http://www.hugebearwines.com RoAnn
Costin ’81
MacLeod Family
Vineyard
http://www.macleodfamilyvineyard.com George
MacLeod ’43; Greta MacLeod ’48
Martellotto
Wines
http://www.martellottowines.com Greg
Martellotto ’96
Muns Vineyard http://www.munsvineyard.com Ed
Muns ’71
Round Pond
Estate
http://www.roundpond.com Ryan
Bovet MacDonnell ’01
Sokol Blosser http://www.sokolblosser.com Susan
Sokol Blosser ’66; Bill Blosser ’66; Nik Blosser ’93
The Farm
Winery
http://www.thefarmwinery.com Jim
Madsen ’89; Santiago Achaval ’89
Trione
Vineyards
http://www.trionewinery.com Vic
Trione ’69
Uvaggio Wines http://www.uvaggio.com/home.html Mel
Knox ’68 
Vintage Wine
Estates
http://www.vintagewineestates.com Dave
Rogers ’75
  Sexy Wine Bomb http://www.sexywinebomb.com
  Sonoma Coast Vineyards http://www.sonomacoastvineyards.com
  Windsor Vineyards http://www.windsorvineyards.com
  Wine Sisterhood http://www.winesisterhood.com

About the author

Tony Lima has been a California wine fan since arriving in California from the east coast in 1974. He's lived the growth and expansion of the West Coast industry first hand. He's seen the fickle California Wine consumer fads pop up and burst... the craze for Zinfandel, then oaky Chardonnay, then Merlot, now Pinot Noir. On behalf of fellow Californian oenophiles, he hunts for great pinot noir and great values in pinot noir all along the West Coast. His day job is Professor of Economics at California State University located in Hayward. His undergrad degree in chemical engineering (MIT) and his MBA (Harvard) and Ph.D. Economics (Stanford) are the root of his interest in the Business of Wine. He is a card-carrying member of the AAWE - American Association of Wine Economists.

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