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Wine Club Newsletter - August 2017

The 20-40 Man

Lori & Gary Parker, with Morro

August 1, 2017, was our beloved Maitre d’ Morro's 40th Birthday AND his 20th year work anniversary in The Brasserie! Morro is truly the lifeblood of our business. His dedication to our guests, attention to personal details, and passion for exceptional food, wine, and service make him our absolute VIP.

Celebrate Morro's anniversary with us all throughout August. We'll be sending special offers exclusively to our email subscribers. Make sure you've subscribed so you don't miss out!

 Open Table Award! Best Wine List

Once again, we were in the Top Ten!

Looking for the best restaurant wine lists in San Diego? You’re in the right place. Each month Open Table analyzes more than 400,000 new diner reviews. We sort the results by category to help you discover new favorites. It's a great partnership: you reserve, eat, and review. We listen...and deliver the results for all to benefit. Enjoy!  More Info Here

2014 Elyse, L’Ingénue

Growing Region: Sierra Foothills, California
Varietal Composition: 45% Roussanne, 30% Marsanne, 19% Viognier, 6% Grenache Blanc
Fermentation: 16 Months is “Experienced” Oak Barrels
Alcohol Content: 14.3%
Suggested Retail: $32.00
WineSellar Club Price: $26.09

Broad Strokes:                 
I met Ray Coursen at Whitehall Lane Winery in 1985. He is a great person, and I love his wines. Ray was nine years at Whitehall Lane Winery in Napa Valley's historic Rutherford appellation. His dedication took him from tasting room to cellar to head winemaker. It was with owner, Art Finkelstein that he honed his skills in the art of blending. Ray calls Finkelstein the inspiration for his winemaking style today and says "Art’s theory was simple – fruit first, and then wine is a collection of nuances and balance."

In 1987, Ray and Nancy were ready to start their own wine label.  Elyse Winery began with 286 cases of Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard, which is still a cornerstone vineyard source for the winery. After a decade of nomadic winemaking at various custom crush facilities, the Coursens’ purchased a small winery and vineyard on Hoffman Lane in 1997, the home of Elyse Winery and Tasting Room today.   

The bottle has a red capsule, which throws me off on a white wine. The wine is brilliant, with a golden hue, laced by an off-green tinge.

Fragrantly pleasant, with ripe fruit of orange, melon, apple blossom and coconut juice. Hints of the oak abound, with ginger flower, vanilla wafer and ripe apple. A solid nose that keeps evolving in the glass.

It’s a 2014, so it has its edge softened by time in the bottle. That said, the voluptuous fruit is round and fully envelops the mouth with its deliciousness. Totally agreeable! Some cream laces the perfectly firm, lovely acid. L’Ingénue has a long and lovely, lingering finish. The texture on this wine is amazing!

Peach, very ripe tree fruit, ginger, vanilla, some cookie dough, almond, pineapple and perhaps peach brandy. The wine has a lovely harmony to it.

Serving Suggestions:
I served it with the recipe this month, the Summer Salmon Tartare, and it the combination was a knockout hit. Also, great with shellfish, Asian cuisine, and fowl.

2015 Contrade Negroamoro

Growing Region: Puglia, Italy
Varietal Composition: 100% Negroamoro
Fermentation: 3 Months in Oak Barrels
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Suggested Retail: $15.00
WineSellar Club Price: $13.49

Broad Strokes:                 
Negroamaro is a dark-skinned grape variety that has been associated with the Puglia region in southern Italy for at least 1500 years. Negroamoro is valued for its deep color, medium-full tannins and dark berry fruit flavors. The variety can also add earthen tones that can cross over into slightly medicinal flavors. It is mildly aromatic and can produce complex wines that show characteristics of ground brown spices such as clove, cinnamon and allspice.

Puglia's Salento Peninsula, where Contrade hails, is arguably the source of the finest Negroamaro wines. The warm Mediterranean-style climate here suits the variety well, allowing the vines to achieve optimum levels of ripeness. A relatively drought-hardy variety, it is rarely troubled by the area's limited rainfall.

The Contrade label design is a restyled graphic of the rose window of one of the most popular baroque churches of Lecce, Basilica di Santa Croce. The wine is black at the core, and deep crimson on the edges.

With some solid, lovely floral notes, the spicy and ripe black fruit notes are pleasing compelling. I called this the “Changeling”, as it continues to change, taking on a more European character of earthiness, tar and licorice.

It has what I sometimes refer to as a “chunky” texture, meaning it’s kind of big and blocky. Medium in weight and body, the fruits are laced with some assertive tannins, and slightly drying on the finish.

In no particular order, I experienced these elements at various times while I had the wine opened for 2 hours: Black cherry, black pepper, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, spices, tar, root beer, cherry-cola, blueberry jam, bittersweet chocolate and cocoa.

Serving Suggestions:
This is a wine that loves to have food with it. I was thinking pizza, pastas, or as an aperitif, with ripe as well as hard cheeses, olives, tapenade and pate terrines.

2012 Idle Cellars Merlot, Los Chamizal Vineyard

Growing Region: Sonoma Valley, California
Varietal Composition: 100% Merlot
Fermentation:  Barrel Aging
Alcohol Content: 14.6%
Suggested Retail: $39.00
WineSellar Club Price: $33.29

Broad Strokes:                 
From the Winery: Berkeley Native and entrepreneur and Ben Larks, an artist from Los Angeles. Our shared affinity for world travel and adventure led us to connect in 2006 while working crush in Sonoma. Idle Cellars was born with our first batch of Cabernet Sauvignon reflecting, as in most harmonious relationships, a balanced yin and yang between city dwelling Heavner and country living Larks.

Our knowledge and deep understanding of our agricultural surroundings allows us to choose what we believe are the best processes for each varietal of wine. Working together for 9 years now, Ben and Ari’s winemaking bond is stronger than ever, escalating the Idle movement one glass at a time.

We hope our wine brings people together, be it at a lively dinner party or a lazy BBQ, and that it gives all who drink it the same joy we had making it.

At first glance, it’s nearly impossible to read the word “Idle”. It looks more like an Asian graphic for a rice wine then for a wonderful Merlot. But I suppose once you know it, you will never forget it. The wine has a dark garnet hue, leaching to cranberry edges.

A very intense, dense nose exhibiting huge dark cherry and boysenberry fruit, with hints of blueberry, chocolate and plum.  This is gorgeously laced with sweet vanilla oak, milk chocolate, raspberry, herbs and black tea. I also got a granola thing out of it, with nuts, oats, and grains.

With excellent structure, it is vertical, very firm, and looks to have a long life ahead of it. You can feel and taste the wood tannins, and some heat. However, that is disappearing as you notice the silky and satin-like character in the middle and finish.

Right from the nose, but the fruit goes first. It’s major yumminess for the dark cherry, boysenberry, raspberry, sweet vanilla oak, chocolate and herbs (mainly sage). Look for white pepper, some old leather strap, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, and then a clay-like earthiness, reminiscent of a classic St. Emilion Bordeaux.

Serving Suggestions:
The wine will keep for a number of years, improving in the bottle. I suggest getting 5-12 of them, and drink 6-12 years our, a bottle every year!

2014 Dancing Crow Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills

Growing Region: Red Hills AVA, Lake County, California
Varietal Composition:  86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 5% Petite Sirah
Fermentation: 6 Months in French Oak Barrels, 25% New
Alcohol Content: 14.3%
Suggested Retail:  $24.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $21.59

Broad Strokes:                 
From the Winery: One cool, Spring day in the shadow of Mt. Konocti, a family came to lay out their vineyard using straw to mark the vines. While feasting during their midday lunch, they saw a murder of crows dancing around the straw, which made them laugh. Yet, when they looked again, the crows and the straw were gone. The family learned two things that day: be wary of dancing crows, and what to name their vineyard.

From Gary Parker:
From my home by Lake Hodges, we see crows fly at dusk every night from the hill tops down to sleep by the lake. Sometimes we see a few dozen, sometimes a hundred or so. While this had no connection to why we have chosen this wine for our wine club, I do feel a kinship with the winery, and am also very respectful of the intelligence of these birds. I LOVE the wine also!

As you can tell, the theme of the Dancing Crow Vineyards packaging intrigues and delights me. The wine itself has a very dark core, blackish, with skin of a deep red apple, which bleeds lighter as it gets to the rim.

This is one of the most tropical fruit fragrances I have ever experienced from a red wine. Yes, dark red fruit and some nice meatiness are apparent, but so are banana, mango, vanilla, and papaya. Good dash of oak from the new barrels as well.

Smooth and enveloping texture is quite lovely. In fact, it has a very creamy feel in the mouth. Call it power of suggestion, but the tropical fruit from the nose, seems to offer a kind of tropical fruit acid to the texture. End result: tropical fruit with ice cream.

The tropical fruit flavors on the nose did not exhibit any presence in the flavor profile, Instead, we got very ripe, black plum, toasted or grilled white bread, beef jerky, and De Anjou pear. I was also likening it to a root beer float, or an ice cream sundae, complete with vanilla, nuts, cherry and chocolate.

Serving Suggestions:
I think the first time you have this wine it should be on its own, so you can see if you experience similar smells and tastes. I really liked this wine, it is SO unique! CAW!!! CAW!!!

2011 Chateau des Eyrins, Margaux, Closerie de Eyrins

Growing Region:  Margaux, Bordeaux, France
Varietal Composition:  70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot
Fermentation:  French Oak Barrels
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Suggested Retail:  $42.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $37.79

Broad Strokes:                 
Owners of Chateau des Eyrins, Julie and Xavier Gonet-Médeville, are in many ways, the first couple of French wines. Both hail from storied winemaking families: Julie’s family is famous for its incomparable Chateau Gilette, and Xavier comes from a long line of Champagne growers in Le Mesnil. Leading a new generation of winemakers, they bring their family knowledge, methods and passion to the many wines they now make together. The wine scored 95 points in a small publication, with a suggested retail price nearing the $45 mark. Great value on a keeper Bordeaux!

While missing the typical rendering of the home Chateau, the label still looks and sends the signal it is Bordeaux. The label reads clearly, and I like it very much. The wine has more black and gray then it does red hue, except when it gets to the edge of the glass.

Very Bordeaux-like fragrance, in that there is a nice touch of the sweet and cedar-like component so typical with them. It is reputed that some wines from the region of Margaux exude violets in the nose, and we got that right off the bat. Very fresh red cherry/strawberry fruit, with some smoke and toasted almonds. Rhubarb pie, key lime pie, and the piecrust of each to boot!

The Closerie des Eyrins has a bit more stuffing than your typical Bordeaux wine. By that I mean is rich in extracted fruit, powerful, and packs a punch. A mouthful, yet still has the lovely Bordeaux texture. Drying and tannic on the finish, it is built for long-term cellaring and for grilled steaks.

Strawberry, cherry, pomegranate and rhubarb fruit come forward, along with those associated acids. You may also detect roasted nuts, cinnamon, black coffee, and in the back of the palate, vanilla bean. I also felt a Dr. Pepper or cola aspect to the wine, and a hint of chocolate nibs.

Serving Suggestions:
Give me a grilled steak, or a steak with green peppercorn sauce. You can put this in the cellar for an easy ten-year life. I think, at that time, you will be drinking a fabulous, well-aged Bordeaux!

Summer Salmon Tartare

Serves eight


  • 1.5 Lbs. Fresh Scottish Isles Salmon (3 oz. per serving)
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Cup Mango Juice
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Honey
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Diced Cucumber (1/2 size of Salmon cubes)
  • 1 Cup Diced Avocado (Same size as Salmon Cubes)
  • ½ Cup Diced Mango (Same size as Salmon Cubes)
  • 4 Tablespoons Minced Shallots
  • 4 Tablespoons Drained Small Capers
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, Chopped Fine
  • Crème Fraiche (Add zest of fresh lime)


For the dressing:

  1. Combine orange juice and mango juice in a pot and reduce on high heat by ½. Allow to cool
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add mustard, honey, lemon juice and olive oil. Whisk until well blended.
  3. Refrigerate the blend until ready to serve.

For the Tartare:

  1. Remove skin off salmon, and cut salmon meat into approximately 3/16” cubes. Place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add shallots, capers, avocado, mango, cucumber and basil to the salmon and gently integrate them.
  3. Add the dressing and work in with hands until all salmon is coated
  4. Place round mold on serving plate, and spoon salmon inside.
  5. Gently press from the top, remove mold, and top with lime zest Crème Fraiche.


If you are a fan of crispy salmon skin, save the skin and roast in a toaster oven at 400 degrees until it gets crispy.

Gary Parker, 7-2017

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