The Somm Set by Benchmark Wine Group






Dan Petrowski

Welcome to our newest series, The Somm Set. Each month we’ll be sitting down with a guest sommelier and uncovering their guilty pleasures, cellar staples, and everything in between! Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves!


This month on The Somm Set, we’re excited to feature Dan Petroski. Join us as we explore everything from his passion for wine, favorite wine and food pairing, and his newest endeavors.


The Somm Set Home
 

This week from Dan:

Hello, Everyone.

This is my fourth and final e-mail in our four-course dinner together. I hope you have enjoyed the wining and dining so far. In last week’s e-mail, I mentioned that Cassoulet and Cabernet was a post-harvest tradition in my house, and we are now about to turn the calendar into November; it’s time to dust off the old Bordeaux and breakout the Le Creuset.

First and foremost, cassoulet and Cabernet are not the best wine pairing, but you can’t fault me for liking to say the words together, cassoulet and Cabernet. Trust me, say it out loud. The dish appreciates a little spice and savoriness alongside some grippy tannins, so we’re not far off with Cabernet here. But if you do have some Trevallon (50% Cabernet, 50% Syrah) from Provence in your cellar, it will be your best pairing.

As for the cassoulet itself, I prefer the recipe presented by British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his River Cottage cookbook series, the book called Meat. The dish, he writes, “is one of the most controversial dishes of French gastronomy” due to the debate about the use of lamb, tomatoes, and breadcrumbs. If you have had cassoulet, you can appreciate the conversation it creates at the table. Let’s keep that in mind and talk about some wines.

Buon Appetito,

-Dan

Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot

I plan to break this down simply into Napa Valley and Bordeaux. I will start with Napa Valley, and although I could use a whole year of newsletters to walk us through a year of Napa Cabernet dinner parties, I will try and be as concise as possible; so, I am going to skip past Napa’s greatest hits and mention a couple of wines that may or may not be on your radar and are definitely some of my favorite food pairing red wines coming out of the Valley.

First is Drinkward Peschon, founded by Lisa Drinkward (Behrens & Hitchcock) and Francoise Peschon (ex-Araujo, Vine Hill Ranch, Matt Morris Wines). This is the epitome of the insider’s wine; impeccable quality, great vineyards, and the price point doesn’t break the bank.

The next insider wine is Ad Vivum, founded by Chris Phelps, Dominus’ winemaker for 12 years during its ascent in Napa Valley. Some would consider this wine, like Drinkward Peschon, to revel in Napa’s past, but I find both wineries have crafted a modern style of Bordeaux wines here in Napa, wines that are full of grace and elegance and hold a firm grasp on your palate.

The last Cabernet from Napa that I want to highlight here is Thomas Brown’s Rivers-Marie wines. Thomas put himself on the map, making other people’s Cabernet, but when he started Rivers-Marie with a focus on Pinot Noir, he soon shifted into a selection of single-vineyard Cabernet bottlings, which are pound-for-pound the best quality for the value of any Cabernet in Napa.

If Napa isn’t your thing, I understand and won’t be offended. But if you try any of the three wines above, give me a call and let me know what you think.

As for Bordeaux. When I open a bottle of Bordeaux in my house, it is usually a focus-point in the evening, and the table won’t be crowded with many other offerings to turn your attention away from the food, wine, and the conversation.

In my last e-mail, I said Giuseppe Mascarello’s Monprivato was my favorite Italian wine; if I had to state my favorite from France, that wine would be Haut-Brion. This probably stems from a singular moment of drinking this wine with Andy Smith, winemaker at DuMOL, at the 2006 DuMOL harvest dinner. It was nothing but a joyous evening at ZaZu restaurant in Santa Rosa, and that 1985 Haut-Brion has haunted me every day since.

Staying on the left bank, my next choice for dinner at home would be Leoville Las Cases or their neighboring sister winery, Clos du Marquis. Clos du Marquis was the first Bordeaux wine I ever purchased a “future” of, and it was the heralded 2000 vintage. I didn’t have a big budget for wine back then, and the wines were under $30 a bottle. It was a score to grab a case, and I am hanging on to one of my last bottles for a bit!

I must jump to the right bank for one recommendation before I bid you all adieu. Let’s go to Pomerol and the estate of Vieux Chateau Certan. This is a gem of a property flanked on both sides by glorious neighbors, Petrus and Le Pin (also owned by VCC’s family, the Thienpont’s). I find this wine to be more structural than its neighbors due to the levels of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet blended into the wine, as high as 25% in some vintages and therefore a greater compliment to food on the table.

Adieu.

In Adam Gopnik’s phenomenal book, The Table Comes First, he quotes a conversation with another great British chef, Fergus Henderson, in which chef states when you find your new home, “the table comes first.” Meaning you purchase the dinner table first. It’s the center of your home, it’s the center of your experiences and conversations with family and friends. It’s the proper place to share a bottle of wine.


Check out all the wines mentioned below!


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Ad Vivum
2009
3 In Stock
750ml
TWI94
V92
RJ92
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Clos du Marquis
2004
10 In Stock
750ml
WS91
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Haut Brion
2002
1 In Stock
750ml
WE96
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2006
12 Pre-Arrival
750ml
OWC
WA96
D96
V95
WE95
JD95
WS94
CT94

To request a 12 pack OWC, please inquire.

Due to arrive Jun-Jul 2024

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2009
1 In Stock
750ml
WA100
JS100
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2009
12 Pre-Arrival
750ml
OWC
WA100
JS100

To request a 12 pack OWC, please inquire.

Due to arrive Jun-Jul 2024

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2010
12 In Stock
750ml
OWC
WA100
AP100
FM100
JD100
WCI100
VV100

To request an OWC, please inquire.

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Leoville Las Cases
1989
1 In Stock
750ml
MLVTS
D98
WS96
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1995
1 In Stock
750ml
JS97
WCI96
WA95
WS95
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1996
2 In Stock
750ml
WA98
V96
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2001
1 In Stock
750ml
WE97
WA93–96
JS95
D95
TC95
WS94
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Rivers Marie
2009
4 In Stock
750ml
V94
WA94
WS93
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2013
3 In Stock
750ml
V91
CT91
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2015
1 In Stock
750ml
V93
CT92
WS91
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2014
1 In Stock
750ml
CT93
V92
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Vieux Chateau Certan
2011
1 Pre-Arrival
750ml
WE97

Wines due to arrive 3-4 months after purchase.

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2015
19 In Stock
750ml
JS100
JD100
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2017
3 Pre-Arrival
750ml
WS98
V98

Wines due to arrive 3-4 months after purchase.

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Benchmark Wine Group

445 Devlin Road
Napa, CA 94558

Phone: 707.255.3500
Fax: 707.255.3503
SMS: 707.200.4049

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