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Uncategorized

A moment to pause & reflect

Not much to highlight today, as Sostevinobile braces for our public debut at ZAP’s Grand Zinfandel Tasting at Fort Mason on Saturday. But Your West Coast Oenophile would like to send out his best wishes both to Fred  and to Ira, two followers of this blog who also managed to extricate themselves from the tentacles of professional advertising but now face daunting medical hurdles. These challenges, too, can be surmounted, so, as we so often toast at Italian gatherings, cent’anni!

Categories
Cabernet Sauvignon Zinfandel

My karma ran over your dogma

Wednesday was a day of several firsts for Your West Coast Oenophile, but the one I particularly wish to share was my introduction to the wonders of potato plastic! I’m not speaking of Mr. Potato Head, the beloved Hasbro invention that, way before Don Rickles vivified him in Toy Story, preoccupied untold hours of my childhoodbut the biodegradable polymer now used to make disposable picnic and deli utensils, found in environmentally-conscious establishments like Whole Foods.
As in most matters, there’s a trade-off involved in adopting such products. While the knife and fork ably cut and handled the soft slices of Diestel turkey breast I enjoyed while my Trek bicycle was being tended to, I doubt their relative diminution of rigidity (as compared to conventional plastic) could stand up to the challenge of nimbly slicing through a flame-broiled New York Strip.
And, rest assured, where there are outdoor Weber grills, there will ultimately be marinated grass-fed steaks, with Zinfandel or a well-aged Cab, occasionally punctuating this fish- & pasta-eater’s culinary routine. And if that means having to furnish guests with conventional plastic knives and forks, it may just have to mean plastic knives and forks (of the dishwashable variety). Accommodating good friends, as well as good barbecues, must, at times, trump unwavering adherence to fervent ideology.
I illustrate the point because, as dedicated as Sostevinobile will be to embracing the most comprehensive environmental criteria we can establish, we cannot be held to infinitesimally narrow parameters, and in some areas where values compete, attending to the comfort and desires of our guests must be paramount.
I participated in the inaugural gathering Wednesday night of ChangeSF, a networking event for ecological activists or those merely concerned for how they might improve the environment, sponsored by Conscious Revolution and Bay Localize, two notable organizations dedicated to many of the same principles locally-based sustainability that Sostevinobile espouses. Most of the evening was quite informative and quite enjoyable, despite a certain woman, herself of a readily-identifiable Slavic extraction, who rather tactlessly deemed that mistaking my name for being Spanish, instead of its mellifluous and syntactically distinct Italian origin, was “close enough.”
Oblique ethnic slights aside, what I found more jarring was her dogmatic stance that Sostevinobile ought only to serve wines from wineries that used recycled bottles. Certainly a noble ideal, provided I were willing to restrict our fare to an attenuated selection of wines from only four, maybe five, wineries throughout the West Coast region. And certainly, as I informed her, we will scrupulously make every effort to ensure that the bottles we do use will be properly recycled afterwards, but this assurance did little to sway her.
No matter what our philosophical or political tenets might be, Sostevinobile is first and foremost a business serving customers, not an arbiter of inflexible standards or a philosophical incubateur< /span> (French, not Italian, but close enough). We will always hold as our primary commitment an unwavering effort to provide our customers the finest selection of sustainably-grown wines found throughout viticultural regions of the three states we serve. It is a benchmark of excellence we hope our patrons will come to appreciate.
And as this blog is intended to be informative, enticing, occasionally amusing, but never didactic, it’s time for me to step off my soapbox and bring today’s entry to a close. And with that, I bid my readers and Wednesday night’s latter-day Savonarola a heartfelt до свидания (Russian, not Polish, but close enough).

Categories
Cabernet Sauvignon Petite Sirah Pinot Noir

Now give me a red envelope!

I hope all my readers will join me today in wishing a heartfelt 恭喜发财 (Gung Hay Fat Choy) to my beloved Ginkgo Girl! She knows I could never have accomplished any of this without her.
I wish I could be so unabashed in all my praise. But my most recent foray in wine tasting leaves me feeling a bit tepid. Before I assay the wines I tasted from the San Francisco Wine Society, let me first note my great admiration for Crushpad and the many splendid, up & coming wineries that have incubated in their Potrero Hill facility. A Donkey and Goat, (who blew away everyone at Rhône Rangers a few years back with their unreleased 2000 Syrah) Eno, VIE, San Sakana are but a few of the burgeoning wine producers who initially honed their skills at Crushpad’s custom crush facility, then moved onto their own operations. even as boutique operations, these wineries either bought or contracted their own vineyards, supplied (or functioned as) their own winemaker and diligently crafted their product as distinctive expressions of the oenological arts.
Now, however, many of winemaking aspirants subscribe to Crushpad’s systematic program, buying pre-designated grapes and relying on in-house technicians to develop their wine. Which is fine for the occasional hobbyist who simply wants to bottle a few cases to serve to his friends or custom bottle a wine exclusively for Joe & Bob’s commitment ceremony or for Aunt Martha’s 90th birthday, but seems to me to be somewhat disingenuous when bottling wine for commercial sale.
Don’t get me wrong—many of the wines the members of SFWS produce are indeed noteworthy. Jazz Cellars put out a most respectable 2006 Petite Sirah, sustainably cultivated at Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard in Mendocino. Seawind Wines offered a pair of Pinot Noirs, the 2007 Split Rock Vineyard from the Sonoma Coast being a clear favorite. But how do you justify a $70 or $90 Cabernet that is bottled from grapes that are systematically available to program subscribers?
Even if a wine in this price range is no longer considered stratospheric, it still ought to have a distinct character to justify its price. Andy Beckstoffer’s To Kalon Vineyard inarguably produces some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon ever made in Napa, but if my wine tastes the same as your wine and the same as our friend’s wine, where’s the unique value proposition?
One of the great beauties of wine is its symbiosis of artistry and nature. Terroir need not be the only determinant of a wine’s character or flavor (there are numerous 2eme Cru offerings that I have tasted whose highly-vaunted terroir tastes more of soil than of grape). A good winemaker is a craftsman, who puts his distinctive mark on every bottling, making it his personal signature. It would behoove many of the wine bottlers in the SFWS to focus on making their next vintages far more individualized and less homogeneous.
Of course, I give myself the prerogative to be contradictory or to go back on my word as this blog evolves. So, despite earlier promises to shy away from a rating system, I reserve the privilege of bestowing a special approval on any wine I find so exceptional, I cannot restrict myself to proper tasting technique for a wine professional. The category of Too Good To Swill & Spit will be awarded to any wine I encounter that begs me to linger and enjoy a full glass (if not bottle)! As such, my first  goes, somewhat ironically, to the 2005 Flying Wine Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. What earns this wine my kudos is the roundness it derives from adding 15% Petit Verdot to its To Kalon Cabernet. A standout wine at this event, and an outstanding wine in general.
Anyway, enough of this banter this New Year’s Day, 4707! 红包拿来!

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Uncategorized

Il Reggio Marco I (or Marco Più Grande)

Цар, transliterated either as Tsar or Czar, holds the same etymology as Kaiser, which is ultimately derived from Caesar, or G. Iulius Caesar as he was known before Shakespeare’s time. Truth be told—I’m just looking for a pretext to play with my Cyrillic fonts. Still, I often ponder how I would run things if I were Czar of the United States.
For starters, I would immediately sever jurisdiction over alcohol from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). With no apology either to the NRA or the nicotine mongers at Altria, R. J. Reynolds and even the pseudo-holistic Natural American Spirit, there is no parallel between alcohol consumption and their lethal products. As a most perspicacious commentator (whose name eludes me) once noted, “it is the abuse of alcohol that is harmful, whereas it is the mere use of tobacco that causes its toxic effects.” To look at it from another perspective, the health benefits derived from moderate consumption of alcohol, and, in particular, wine, are well documented; try to cite any salubrious aspects to smoking. Or getting shot.
As Czar of the United States, I also would have put a complete freeze on the stock markets the moment the Dow hit 12,000. No movement, no trading, no evaporation of $4 trillion in capitalization. Meanwhile, I’d provide an opportunity for all the idle hedge fund managers, investment bankers, and stock brokers finally to accomplish something of genuine value to society. A true derivative of their worth, so to speak. Here is your hoe and your pail of asphalt. Imagine how pristine and pothole-free our city streets would be now!
OK, so perhaps it’s a bit hubristic to think I can run the entire country by fiat (after all, it’s not like I’m a 47-year-old neophyte). Maybe I should restrict my sights and simply aim to become Czar of California.
If I were Czar of California, I would immediately take steps to liberate us from the hegemony of the federal government. Be that establishing California as an autonomous province, à la Québec, or outright seceding from the Union. Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, even both states of Mexico’s Baja California would be more than welcome to join us (note that all these jurisdictions encompass significant wine-producing regions). On the other hand, Nevada would not be included, although I would annex all of the areas surrounding Lake Tahoe, even if it means ceding them Bakersfield as a quid pro quo.
Think of this as the West Coast’s risorgimento, and I, its Garibaldi. All I’d ask for in compensation would be a homestead on Angel Island. With WiFi access and 24 hour ferry service, of course.
As Czar of California, I would immediately restore the drinking age to an appropriate 18. Furthermore, I’d permit the service of wine at meals to minors at a family’s discretion, whether it be at home or in a public dining establishment. Readers will note the corollary diminished rate of alcohol abuse among societies that already have established this practice.
Again, I may be overreaching. Let’s therefore limit my sights to becoming Czar of California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control. As an autocratic reformer, I’d swiftly move to alter the hours alcoholic beverages can legally be served to 8 AM until 4 AM (as opposed to the current 6 AM-2 AM span). Where is the vibrancy of a cultural that has rolled up and is already beneath the bedsheets by the time Leno and Letterman begin their monologues? And do we really to have need folks pounding down boilermakers at 7 in the morning?
Another change I would implement would be to include all grape-based spirits within beer & wine licensing. So many of the wineries throughout the West Coast (Jepson, Bonny Doon, Germain-Robin, Clear Creek, Sonoma Valley Portworks, St. George Spirits, to name but a few) make extraordinary alambic brandies, eaux-de-vie and grappas—it is a considerable shame that these products cannot be served alongside the wines of our region.
Grappa, which, like Your West Coast Oenophile, is called Marc by the French, is produced by one of the earliest codified sustainable practices. The vinaccia (pomace) left over from the production of wine is fermented, then distilled to a level around 80°. Admittedly, grappa is an acquired taste, but it can be delightful as its production methods are laudable.!
There is a bar in San Francisco’s North Beach district that does not realize that grappa is not the same as wine and pours a glass as such. As this erroneous practice is an indulgence in which I partake not infrequently, I will not name the establishment here, for fear that I might disabuse them of the notion. However, it is fair to say that two  7 oz. glasses of grappa can give substance to any illusion (delusion?) of grandeur or otherwise.

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Uncategorized

Beating around the Bushes

I didn’t vote for Obama. Nor did I vote for McCain. It should come as little surprise that Your West Coast Oenophile, the founder of Sostevinobile, the first wine bar dedicated to local, sustainable wines, is a card-carrying member of the Green Party. Besides, that insipid institution known as the Electoral College renders my vote virtually meaningless in any Presidential election, so I followed my conscience and wrote in Al Gore.

Despite what yesterday’s posting might seem to imply, this blog is not meant to harbor any political bias. Wine, after all, is meant to be one of life’s great equalizers. That said, it should be noted that, for the past four elections, the road to the Republican nomination has gone through me. Think this is hubris on my part? Hardly! Dole, Bush, McCain—each has a first cousin with whom I have been friends. Has there been a more common thread? Aspirants for 2012, take heed!
Boasts of connectivity allows me to segue into another story, of how I tried to leverage my first foray into producing my own wine label off the elder President Bush. On the morning of Nov. 9, 1988, the day immediately following the election, I woke up with a spurt of inspiration, the genesis of which still eludes me. Nonetheless, the first words I uttered in post-election semi-stupor were “George Herbert Walker Blush!”
It did sound good, I have to admit. A rather deft slogan, “A Kinder, Gentler Wine,” quickly came to mind (even Orson Welles’ “We will sell no wine before its time” was not this incisive). Next came a name for our label, which continued in the vein of gentle parody: Thousand Points of Light Wines.
Through my aforementioned connections to certain members of the Bush family, I was able to send off a proposal to the American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural Committee that we donate a considerable number of cases to the Jan. 20, 1989 festivities in Washington, DC. All that remained was the incidental matter of actually bottling the wine.
In 1988, the late comedian Pat Paulsen had a winery up in Asti, CA. In fact, he owned the entire town of Asti and had proclaimed himself mayor. For those who remember his inexorable campaign, Pat Paulsen for President, this turned out to be the only government office he ever held. A better fit for Thousand Points of Light Wines could not be found, particularly in view of the fact that Pat had been divorced twice that year and was in serious need of a revenue-producing venture.
With Pat on board, I managed to source a commitment of some 500,000 gallons of négotiant White Zinfandel from San Martin Winery. Keep in mind that the wine we had elected to produce was to be called George Herbert Walker Blush—not exactly a Stags Leap Cabernet or even a Rosato di Sangiovese, but a rather pedestrian (albeit serviceable) entrant on par with some of Ceres’ finer vintages. We titrated and tasted in the San Martin lab until we had just the right balance. I whipped up a label in white Aachen Bold lettering, with a Yale Blue background framing a picture of the White House highlighted with gold foil trim. The scintillating copy of my piquant back label did not miss a single beat.



Naturally, the final hurdle proved fatal. We were felled not by opposition from the incoming administration nor the objections of the Bush family (whom I’m told really enjoyed the idea), but the low-level apparatchiks dwelling somewhere in the basement of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. When The Wine Institute  tried to submit our label for approval, it was swiftly rejected, based on ATF’s interpretation of Title 27, Part 4, Subpart D, §4.39, Section (a)(6) of the United States Code of Federal Regulations, which addresses prohibited Practices in the Labeling Requirements for Wine. The section in question disallows:.

A trade or brand name that is the name of any living individual of public prominence, or existing private or public organization, or is a name that is in simulation or is an abbreviation thereof, or any graphic, pictorial, or emblematic representation of such individual or organization, if the use of such name or representation is likely falsely to lead the consumer to believe that the product has been endorsed, made, or used by, or produced for, or under the supervision of, or in accordance with the specifications of, such individual or organization.

Now, to this day, I contend that not even a quasi-intelligent person could reasonably assume that the President of the United States had any connection to our wine (note my disclaimer on back), but try telling that to a Washington bureaucrat. Sure, if Bobby Koch had been CEO of The Wine Institute twenty years ago, we certainly could have rammed the approval through the ATF, but back then he wasn’t even married to George W.’s sister Doro. Chances are, had we chosen to fight their ruling, we’d still be litigating today.
And so, the only bottle of George Herbert Walker Blush—A Kinder, Gentler Wine ever made sits perched atop my bookshelf. Tales of my subsequent venture with Pat Paulsen will take up a later installment of this blog. For now, this day belongs to the Punahou Kid, and whether you consider him the most ill-prepared President to take office since, say, George W. Bush, or whether he portends to become the most inspirational President to take office since, say, George W. Bush, we all need him to do extraordinarily well with the formidable task he has lying ahead.

Categories
Sparkling Wine

Tiny bubbles

Maybe it’s yet another sign of global warming. Then again, maybe it isn’t. Either way, we’ve been enjoying 70° weather in the San Francisco area for the past week or so. Mitigates quite a bit for not having a team in the Super Bowl yet again.
I used the occasion yesterday to make first cycling trek for 2009 over the Golden Gate Bridge. Sausalito was glorious in the mid-afternoon radiation, and I managed to time things so I watch the sun slip below the Pacific as I crossed the Bridge back to San Francisco.
The only nadir to my ride was the legion of clueless tourists crossing the Bridge on rented Blazing Saddles bicycles. Any regular cyclist will tell you that these folks are more hazardous than the rampant potholes we are continually swerving to avoid as we cross the City. Someone needs to look into equipping all Blazing Saddles bicycles with radio-signal locks—you know, like the kind they put on shopping carts so you can’t remove them from the Safeway parking lot—that disable the rentals as soon as they reach the foot of the bridge span.
Still, a two-hour bike ride always perks up my appetite, so I arranged for the Ginkgo Girl to pick up a couple of Dungeness crabs from the nearby San Bruno Supermarket. I’m not about to reveal my preferred recipe for steaming crabs here, although I will allow that Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay is a perfectly serviceable wine to use as base for the broth.
In our house, it has been a long-standing tradition for everyone to name his or her crab for a designated nemesis or thorn in one’s side (Cindy Noah, Jack Choe, Mike Nelson, Jackie Dague and the entire roster of the 2002 California Angels—over the years, you have all met your proverbial fate). My partner in Sostevinobile, David Latimer—a mellower sort than I—takes exception to this practice and needs to be left alone in the kitchen so that he may make peace with the crabs before they meet their certain demise.
The Ginkgo Girl has no similar problem with our ritual, but yesterday I exercise a bit of droit du seigneur and named the two crabs George and Dick in honor of their pending departure from the national scene. Certainly many will wish this culinary execution had been more than symbolic.
In honor of this momentous occasion, and to complement my excellent cuisine, I chose a favorite mid-priced champagne, the 2004 Iron Horse Brut. Ooops! I know I’m supposed to call it a sparkling wine, as it heralds from the Russian River Valley and not the eponymous French AOC. Be that as it may, there are still may superb méthode champenoise wines made here on the West Coast and in other regions around the world. While I am not yet ready to concede the arrival of sparkling wine from Long Island, I have been consistently impressed many of the sparkling wines produced in Mendocino, Sonoma, the Willamette Valley and elsewhere. Many, of course, are branches of their esteemed French and Spanish counterparts, but of the independent sparkling wine houses, Iron Horse has always stood strongly alongside the more-recognized names like Schramsberg and Scharffenberger. Paired with cracked Dungeness and a tangy homemade aioli, the 2004 Brut did not disappoint.

Categories
Grenache Mourvèdre Syrah

Il Comitato per la Restaurazione del Papato Italiano

The aforementioned title belongs to an organization I’ve spearheaded since 1978’s investiture of Cardinal  Wojtyla (Ioannes Paulus PP. II) as the first non-Italian Pope since 1523. As it remains with his successor, Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedictus PP. XVI—I knew studying Latin for twelve years would eventually pay off), our rallying cry has always been “questo papa non conta!” Someday soon, the Italian people will reclaim this office, which, like the mayoralty of San Francisco, rightfully belongs to us.
Of course, I’m not ignorant of church history and realize that the papacy has not only not been the exclusive province of the Italians, the Holy See has not held uninterrupted in Rome since ~42 A.D. From 1309 to 1377, the papacy was relocated to the French city of Avignon, in no small part because of Pope Clement V’s desire to be near the source of his most favored wines. Clement planted vineyards just north of Avignon, near the banks of the Rhône, which were assumed by his successor, Pope John XXII, who also built the famed castle which gives this commune and AOC its name: Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Many of the Rhône varietals have found considerable success throughout the West Coast’s AVAs, including Syrah, Mourvèdre (Mataro) and Grenache, the principal grapes designated for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Many wineries here make their own homage to this very approachable Rhône blend, led by Bonny Doon’s impresario Randall Grahm and his satiric Le Cigare Volant (note my generous attribution here, even if Boony Doon’s former label, Big House, plagiarized my unlaunched Château Lompoc—the Wine Served Behind the Finest Bars in America). Another of my perennial favorites has been the Kunin Pape Star, a blend that is delightfully skewed towards Grenache.
Finally, I manage to open a bottle of 2006 Michael Grace GMS last night to accompany a quick-broiled salmon fillet I served for dinner. GMS is a blend from grapes grown at Laetitia’s Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, balanced between 60% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre and 30% Syrah. An approachable wine to be sure, quite drinkable alone or as a companion to the aforementioned salmon. Affordably priced for a wine of its complexity—only wish the Ginkgo Girl and I had discovered it while we were making our way through the week of post-Thanksgiving turkey entrées.
Basta per oggi… 

Categories
Cabernet Franc Pinot Noir Syrah

I have GOT to learn how to swill & spit!

So Saturday was supposed to be the big day when I made my public debut as a wine blogger and budding entrepreneur at the Wine Questers Taste n Tell gathering on Treasure Island. I say “supposed to be” because the good folks at FedEx Office (née Kinko’s) managed to turn my quick printing of a dozen or so makeshift business cards into a 2+ hour ordeal—I would elaborate further, but the manager called me Sunday and offered to print up a whole box of cards on, naturally, recycled paper stock gratis.
Anyway, I rushed out across the Bay Bridge (halfway, actually) and arrived at the warehouse winery VIE shares with Blue Cellars on the old naval base at around 4:40 pm, only to discover the event has wound its way back to San Francisco a home in the Marina. After a frantic call on my iPhone and another furious drive back over the Bridge and across the City, I arrived at the makeshift tasting room for Canihan Cellars, a mere 12 blocks from my house (as opposed to the impromptu 30-mile, traffic-filled loop I had taken). Of course, my belated arrival meant that I missed out on six of the seven wineries Taste n Tell was featuring, but at least I had a half-dozen business cards to pass around. Moral of the story: if you don’t drink, drive (or so I guess).
Now the whole idea behind Taste n Tell was that all of us technophilic wine critics were suppose to sample the offerings from VIE, Blue Cellars, Morningwood Wines, Treasure Island Wines, AP Vin, Sol Rouge and Canihan Cellars, then instantaneously report our findings on an array of social network sites via iPhone or Blackberry. Of course, in my case, this was pared down to only the last of the seven wineries. And, I have to confess, I’m kind of new to both parts of this proposition, not just the dexterity required for rapid thumb-typing but the professional protocol of wine tasting. In other words, I still swallow my sample pour. Two rounds of six different wines and the Touch Screen becomes an amalgam of blurs and typos.
Nonetheless, I am happy to report, from the recesses of my memory, that Canihan Family Cellars is quite an impressive wine operation for one so small and relatively young. Their organic vineyards in Sonoma are managed by Phil Coturri, one of those can’t-seem-to-miss stalwarts of the wine industry and produce a formidable lineup of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet Franc.
Now I happen to be quite the fan of most what I would term also-ran varietals, like Petit Verdot and Pinot Meunière (not to mention Aglianico, Albariño, Arneis, etc.), something that will become more evident throughout this blog and in our Sostevinobile wine bars. I tasted both Canihan’s 2005 and 2006 Cabernet Franc and was elated. The earlier vintage, which won a Gold Medal at the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition particularly stood out for its peppery bite and remains quite the bargain at $20.
Canihan offers both Pinot Noir and Syrah under their eponymous label, as well as in a special bottling they call Exuberance. The name could not be more à propos. Their Pinot Noirs are grown “just across the street” from the Los Carneros AVA on the Caroline’s Block of their Sonoma Valley vineyard and exhibit a full-bodied, rich
flavor and aroma with distinct echoes of their terroir. Again, the 2005 Exuberance Pinot Noir won gold medals from both the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the 2008 West Coast Wine Competition.
The crown jewel of this jewel of a winery, though, is its Syrah, again with a much-heralded 2005 vintage under both the Canihan Cellars and Exuberance labels. In 2007, their inaugural offering, the 2004 Syrah pulled off an incredible feat by winning Double Gold Medal (as Best Syrah) and being judged the Best Red Wine of Show in the 2007 San Francisco International Wine Competition (out of over 4,3000 wines entered). Any description I might personally offer would pale in comparison.
So perhaps I can be forgiven, at least this time, for not relegating my 15 ml sips of these wonderful wines to Paul Giamatti’s favorite brass spittoon. There will be plenty more tastings to come and by then my wine vocabulary should have tacked on the word “Strewth!

Categories
Viognier

Who wants to be a billionaire?

Apparently, I am nearly the last person to learn that Microsoft intimated at Wednesday’s CES kickoff that it is scrapping Vista. Not sure what that really means—I never use their derivative operating system nor any of the execrable software they publish. Besides, I was immersed in Macworld this week.
Still, back in 2000, I actually met Microsoft’s Big Kahuna. And I don’t mean the guy with the perennial $8 haircut.
We had just finished dinner at Viognier, a noted San Mateo restaurant and wine destination (how could it not be with a name like that?). Manned by Gary Danko at the helm of the kitchen, Viognier sat perched atop the 4th Avenue branch of Draeger’s, an upscale grocer with a rather impressive wine department in its own right, and had recently been voted the #2 restaurant in the entire Bay Area. As we exited the elevator to the sidewalk, whom should I see standing on the corner but current Microsoft CEO and America’s ninth-richest person, Steve Ballmer! Of course, recognizing Steve in public is a rather simple featone would not tend to describe him as a poster boy for 24 Hour Fitness. Nonetheless, I’m sure Danko’s gastronomic wonders managed to augment his ample girth by an inch or two.
Corpulent cracks aside, I decided to introduce myself (we actually have a number of acquaintances in common). Knowing he was deeply immersed in battling the Justice Department’s efforts to split his company into two or three separate entities, I extended my right hand in a semi-conciliatory manner and proffered, “Don’t worry, Steve. No matter what happens, they can never take away Microsoft’s ability to innovate.”
I’m not sure he ever caught my gist…