Organic wine & food match: Robert Sinskey Marcien & Maria Helm's braised veal shanks

Randy Caparoso is an award winning wine professional and journalist, living in Denver, Colorado. For a free subscription to Randy's Organic Wine Match of the Day, visit the Denver Wine Examiner.

When Biodynamic® guru Alan York began consulting with winegrower/proprietor Rob Sinskey of Robert Sinskey Vineyards (a.k.a. RSV), the first thing he advised was to “get over the voodoo doo-doo” and find the “practical ways to get it done.” “I was never that heavy into Rudolph Steiner’s spiritual philosophy anyway,” confesses Sinskey, “but what makes sense are the steps that give your vineyard a distinctive personality… if it means planting according to the rhythms of the earth and employing sheep herders to mow the grass, so be it.”

Although Biodynamic® certification didn’t come to RSV until 2007, the original “tipping point” for Sinskey goes back to1990; when he observed one of his Chardonnay blocks in Carneros shutting down and phylloxera strangling the vines. “At that time we were spraying and constantly sterilizing the soil to the point which it had basically become a ‘dead zone,’ showing little sign of life, almost no birds or earthworms to be found. It was our winemaker, Jeff Virnig, who originally brought up the subject one day by asking, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we were organic?’”

So throughout the ‘90s Sinskey’s goal was to jump-start microbial activity in the soils of his property – 5 acres around the RSV winery in Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap District, and another 200 or so in the Los Carneros AVA – by ceasing the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and the like; and by 2001, when RSV received its CCOF certification, the earthworms and birds were back in multitudes.

Sinskey’s vineyard manager, Debby Zygielbaum, is both meticulous and obsessive in her aversion to, in her words, “better living through chemicals.” “It’s not like we have it easy,” she tells us, while driving us through her “shaggy” vineyards – bespoke with varieties of grass, poppies, ponds, fruit and olive trees, and even a pristine pasture for a bourgeoning flock of sheep – up and down the Carneros hillsides.

“One of our biggest barriers,” according to Zygielbaum, “is powdery mildew, for which 508 (the anti-fungal Biodynamic® tea spray prepared from horsetail) is not enough” – and so she finds it necessary to supplement with some sulphur. “Gophers, mealy bugs, nematodes, you name it, we got it, and we take organic measures to keep things in balance. But at the end of the day, the pay-off for what we do in the vineyard is in the wine: in this day and age of Robert Parker and wines that taste all the same, there’s something beautiful about something that tastes of a place, and I think we’ve got that.”

Which brings us to RSV’s top-of-the-line blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which Sinskey affectionately calls Marcien – French for “from Mars” (or, “you must be crazy”). Says Sinskey, “we call it Marcien because when we first started planting Bordeaux grapes in Carneros (a cold region with shallow clay soils rather than the deep gravel and moderate climate associated with Bordeaux), some people thought we were nuts. But you taste the wine and tell us what you think.”

What do I think? If you’re a wine lover who prizes the elegance and deep, compact intensity of red Bordeaux, the 2005 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Los Carneros Marcien (about $50) will blow you away! No, it’s not “Bordeaux,” it’s Carneros grown Merlot – luscious, velvety, seamlessly textured – knit to the black, wild, plummy, licorice, gnarly tobacco, and smoky room qualities associated with the Cabernet grapes. Since Sinskey also happens to be married to Maria Helm – a great chef, formerly of the San Francisco’s recently shuttered Plumpjack Café –the Marcien’s ideal food context is also key to maximum consumption. The Sinskeys recommend this recipe for braised veal shanks with olives and bay leavesdouble-wow!

Views: 6

Comment

You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Advertisments

 

DEPARTMENTS

Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries

Smartbrief

Restaurants may feel the pinch of pricier coffee later this year

Prices for arabica coffee futures hit a 26-month high amid a drought in Brazil, which produces a third of the world's coffee  -More

McDonald's rules out all-day breakfast in push to simplify

McDonald's breakfast menu accounts for 25% of the chain's U.S.  -More

Easy ways to use 5 uncommon spring greens

As light, crisp greens arrive at farmers markets and grocery stores, chefs are finding creative ways to add them to spring me -More

JOBS & CAREERS

Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

National Restaurant Association Offers Training DVDs on Harassment Prevention, Social Media Use, and Customer Service

The National Restaurant Association has released three new DVDs that offer best practices in dealing with harassment and discrimination, customer service training, and the first of its kind video guide on the use of social media.

Yum! Brands Reports First-Quarter EPS Growth of 24% Excluding Special Items

China Division System Sales Increased 17% with Operating Profit Growth of 80%; Yum! Reaffirms Full-Year Guidance of at Lea

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.

CROWD FUNDING

If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.

TED TALKS VIDEO

TED: Hamish Jolly: A shark-deterrent wetsuit (and it's not what you think) - Hamish Jolly (2013)

Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer in Australia, wanted a wetsuit that would deter a curious shark from mistaking him for a potential source of nourishment. (Which, statistically, is rare, but certainly a fate worth avoiding.) Working with a team of scientists, he and his friends came up with a fresh approach — not a shark cage, not a suit of chain-mail, but a sleek suit that taps our growing understanding of shark vision.

TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service