We'd been staying hydrated and pacing ourselves, but it was time for a rest. We stepped to the table next to the one with Sbragia's wines, just in case, while we had some beef ravioli. We looked at the silent auction items and decided that we would pass on the 3 nights at the Mauritson's Tahoe condo--with two other couples, and Clay and Carrie as our hosts and sommeliers. It sounded perfect except for the part about having to find two other couples we were willing to share with. We zeroed in on a pair of Magnums, one from Carlisle and one from Turley, in one lot. We figured that was something we would never see elsewhere. We also decided to bid on a private winery date with Ed Sbragia at his estate. I'm telling you, we really liked his wine. Also on offer was a bottle of Montagia 2002 Cab and a signed jersey from Joe Montana--didn't see him at the event, but he was a donor. Not my thing, but priceless for the serious fan. There was also a fun package called "ABV," or "Anything but Zinfandel," with magnums (!) of Kosta Browne PN and a super-rare Yoakim Bridge Cab magnum. (Yoakim Bridge is a tiny winery and it's hard to believe the one-man-band owner-winemaker even makes a magnum. His merlot is the only Cali merlot I like on a regular basis.)
We got to the tables and saw that bidding for the Carlisle/Turley package was already escalating. We put in a bid on the Sbragia tour and went to get some more wine. We discussed our bidding strategy--we'd come back and see if the magnums had gotten out of our range right before the closing. So far, we were the only bidders on the date with Ed.
So we grabbed more food and another bottle of water. We had a great tostada of (yep) Painted Hills beef from Mateo's Cocina Latina then went to the table where they were pouring RockWall and Bedrock. Even though I'll be drinking Bedrock at OT's next week (well, I hope so, anyway), I wasn't missing the chance. But I was slowing down, and I felt really badly not taking any RockWall because Kent Rasmussen and his wife were pouring it! Luckily, he was engaged, but I did have a nice conversation with her about living in Oakland and Alameda. Bedrock was serving the Monte Rosso. Nice, but not about to knock out Carlisle or Sbragia.
We moved on to some duck sliders--okay, but not quite as elementally duck as I like. We were now hovering in the main tent, as Clay was scheduled to make a speech. But I saw a table with Seghesio Home Ranch, and decided to hit a second wind. This is a classic Zin--nice and ripe, but not over the top, with that opulence and approachability that makes Zin such a pleasure. What an embarrassment of riches the night was becoming.
I'd been steering away from drinking any of Clay's Rockpile wines after the Beekeeper because that's what I have a lot of here at home. But they were previewing the Jack's Cabin 2011, which isn't released yet, and I couldn't resist. Not my WOTN, but it's very young, so I didn't expect it to show everything. And that's no knock: If you haven't had it, I think you should find some by hook or crook--I can direct you to a handful of restaurants around the country--because Clay takes a backseat to no one when it comes to Zin. That's why all the great names were here with their wines.
We were now at time for the speeches, Clay and the chefs posed for the photographers (and an extra time for all you Snoothers) and the exec director of the Downs Syndrome Association made a short speech and thanked one and all for coming.
We did go back and put down a bid for the Carlisle/Turley package, but only succeeded in driving the price up by another $50--good for the Association. At the last moment, a second bidder snatched the vineyard date with Ed Sbragia away from us. We hung out with the chefs from Palace Cafe for a little while (my wife is going there in two weeks with some business associates, so we wanted to talk about that and we had met some of them at a vineyard dinner before), then headed for the exit.
In addition to the chefs and winemakers who made this a great event, the Mauritson staff were there on a busman's holiday but were ready to assist and were great company. As some of you who have visited the winery know, the staff is first rate. Jonathan from the tasting room was great company, and Emma, the assistant winemaker, was helping out with the silent auction.
Great wine, great food, great people, great cause.