San Francisco & Wine

Old wood is best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read. San Francisco & Wine! What a Trip!

There are memories and memories, but this one impressed me one night at the Wine Cellar, The Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, Florida, USA, when a tipsy old timer shouted: “I surfed from Baja California to San Francisco when there were only nine or ten surfers on the entire Pacific Coast. I spent three-month summer vacations in our High Sierra cabin 60 miles from the nearest road. I drank milk from my own ranch.”

“Capital eccentricity!” Validity, absurd and boring, even if I am in front of my own common sensibility”, I said to myself within the huge room of my silence.

I hear this when I was enjoying a glass of Robert Mondavi, Opus One 1986, an expensive and very valuable wine. They use only the best of the best grapes. This great wine was born from the collaboration between Baron Phillipe Rothchild and Robert Mondavi, two of the most respected names in the wine world. 
My favorite vintage of Opus One, prior to 2007 remains the 1996. Things continued to improve with the wines of Opus One in subsequent vintages as grapes from the To Kalon Vineyard were now part of the wine. As of today, 2013 is the best wine in the history of the estate.

Is Opus One a Meritage? 
Of the last four vintages, the 2016 is certainly the most open-knit in the early going. The blend is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec. The fermentation vats are elevated, allowing the juice to move by gravity. The wine of Opus One is then aged in zero use French oak barrels for close to 20 months. With close to 170 acres under vine, the average annual production is quite large at more than 25,000 cases per vintage. Wines in this style tend to age for a longer period of time, an average of 20 to 30 years, due to their high acidity. San Francisco is famous for its Golden Gate Bridge, steep streets, Alcatraz, and “you got it, dude!” It is as famous for its restaurants and food trends as it is for its remarkable bridge and cable cars. 

Among the unique or regionally typical foods to be sampled in San Francisco are abalone, Dungeness crab, sand dabs, bay shrimp and crusty sourdough French bread. Many local restaurants serve Joe's Special, a dish that originated in San Francisco. It always includes eggs, spinach and ground beef. Other common ingredients include onions, garlic and sometimes mushrooms, and various spices. It is a scramble!

In fact, business was so good that the city constructed the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge during the Depression. The United Nations Charter was drafted and ratified in San Francisco in 1945.

Louis and Helen Hontalas opened Louis’ at the top of an Ocean Beach cliff back in 1937, and these days it’s up to their grandkids to keep their dream alive. Louis’ combination of midcentury decor, jaw-dropping views, and focus on organic (yet still diner-style) foods and sustainable practices makes the 82-year-old spot feel timeless. 
The plague of the COVID-19 pandemic killed this culinary fortress with its very iconic presence as a restaurant. Beyond the well known and not very well known, all in their multiethnic or racial diversity, came united to blend into a unique culinary menu by being in this unique latitude, longitude and altitude epicenter. 
The wine cellar for the most part brings wines from the best terroir on Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Central Valley, etc.

There are not many culinary meeting places all over this planet, that enjoy a unique one-to-one relationship with Mother Nature.

My Cut. 

“…I drank milk from my own ranch.” No, thank you, I will have the wine.

-Cato Yañes


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