Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Wine House Presented Winemaker Shane Finley from Russian River Valley in California at a Shane Wine Cellars Winemaker Dinner

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Winemaker Shane Finley from Sonoma County

Winemaker Shane Finley from Sonoma County and Michael Pearce, the owner of the Wine House in Fairfax in Virginia, teamed up for a 3-course winemaker dinner.

Shane Finley and Shane Wine Cellars

Shane’s main job is Associate Winemaker at Kosta Browne Wines in Sonoma County, one of the hottest Pinot Noir producers in California. He has been with Kosta Browne now for 5 years. During that time, he has started in his spare time to produce wines under his own label - Shane Wine Cellars. The quantities are small, but what we tasted was great. This is a very promising winemaker.

Shane is also a great communicator. Well, he studied English and received a B.A. in English from the Virginia Military Institute. With that, he headed to New York City to take a corporate insurance position. It was in New York were he was bitten by the wine bag. He changed course, and worked as intern for a number of years wineries around the world. Without any formal training in wine, he started at the bottom and began to work his way up.

Pictures: Winemaker Shane Finley from Sonoma County

He started out as a harvest intern with Copain Wines in 2001. Then, he traveled to Australia to work the 2002 harvest with Torbreck Vintners in the Barossa Valley. From there, he continued his globe-trotting and spent one year in France's Northern Rhone working for Pierre Gaillard in his Cote Rotie, Condrieu and Saint Joseph vineyards. Shane returned to California in the summer of 2003 and resumed working for Copain Wines. 2 years later, he accepted the Assistant Winemaker post at Paul Hobbs winery and in spring of 2006, Shane became Associate Winemaker at Kosta Browne Wines. At the same time, in his spare time, Shane started his own wine production - Shane Wine Cellars. “I want to produce handcrafted, terroir specific varietal wines” said Shane.

The Wine House in Fairfax

This was a very intimate winemaker dinner. We were all sitting around a communal table – about 12 of us – and talking with the up and coming winemaker Shane Finley, tasting his wines and enjoying the wonderful Wine House menu. Al McCosh, the owner of Nice Legs, joined the conversation as did Michael Pearce.

Pictures: Michael Pearce, Owner of the Wine House in Fairfax, with Shane Finley and Christian G.E.Schiller

The Wine House is a wine store and a wine bistro at the same time. It offers a bistro-style dining experience paired with a large selection of wines from all over the world. I find the atmosphere very appealing – relaxed, sophisticated, and modern. The wine selection is excellent. You buy by the glass or bottle. When you buy a bottle, Michael explained how it works: “Our wine list is our retail store. Simply pick a bottle off the wine rack at retail price and open it at your table for a $ 10 corking fee. For those of us that enjoy dining out, we know what great value it is to pay retail price versus restaurant mark-ups”. I like this concept very much.

Michael was born in New Zealand. His wine career launched itself 15 years ago in his hometown of Wanganui, New Zealand, where he opened a restaurant. This was followed by traveling the world onboard a cruise ship where he worked as a Sommelier, before meeting his Northern Virginia borne wife Jackie onboard. They relocated to New Zealand, where Michael worked at Craggy Range Winery in Hawke’s Bay. From there, they moved first to the West Coast and then to Fairfax, where they established the Wine House 6 years ago.

Michael is very knowledgeable and helpful. I enjoy very much talking with him about the wines he offers in his store. One brand of wines he is in particular knowledgeable: Lil Rippa Wines. Michael produces these wines with a partner in New Zealand. These are affordable wines to enjoy on an everyday basis.

What we Ate and Drank

First Course

Arugula Salad with Roasted Red Peppers and Portabella Mushrooms with White Balsamic Vinegar and Herbed Crouton - Paired with Shane Me Fille Rose 2010:

Second Course

New Zealand Lamb Loin Chop with Toasted Orzo, Wilted Greens and Fig Demi - Paired with Shane The Charm Pinot Noir 2009:

Third Course

Cervina Venison Tenderloing with Truffle Mash and Wild Mushroom Bordelaise - Paired with Shane The Unknown Syrah 2008:

The Wines

2010 Shane Ma Fille Rose

350 cases produced.

90% Syrah and 10% Grenache. “This was barrel-fermented, had minimal skin contact and did not go through malolactic fermentation.” said Shane. Was 3 months in used oak – no new oak. Shane told us he was aiming for a Tavel style with this wine, and he's done a nice job.

Picture: Shane Finley's Wines

A Rose which reminded me very much of the South of France, fresh, fruity, vibrant acidity with hints of citrus and and strawberries on the nose, great summer wine.

2008 Shane The Unknown Syrah

220 cases produced.

100% Syrah. Whole cluster fermentation.

A big, mouthfilling wine, blackberry and plum coupled with pepper and spice notes, although already starting to drink nicely, it's clear that this wine is made for aging - I would put it away for 5 to 10 years.

2009 Shane The Charm Pinot Noir

100 cases produced.

100% Pinot Noir. Shane’s first Pinot Noir. 25% new oak. It was sold within 2 weeks after the release.

Dark purple color in the glass, nice legs, aromas of dark fruits and smoky oak on the nose, good structure, appealing on the palate with a load of plum and cassis flavors, long finish.

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