To make a great wine truly exceptional, share it with friends,” vintner Maurice Wedell stated on his website WedellCellars.com. And when it comes to sharing, Maurice and Susan “Susie” Wedell are two of the most charitable people I’ve ever known. Over the decade or more that I’ve known the Wedells they have shared very special wines, from the awesome Domaine Romanee Conti La Tâche to Dom Perignon Champagne and aged Bordeaux. Even when they have come to my home they’ve brought wonderful surprises like Dom Perignon and other outstanding wines to share with our guests. That’s why it wasn’t unexpected to hear they made a Rosé of Pinot Noir from which 100 percent of the gross proceeds go to Enhancement, Inc. of San Luis Obispo. This non-profit support organization helps improve the quality of life for breast cancer survivors.
- PHOTOS BY STEVE E. MILLER
- ROSEY FUTURE : Maurice and Susie Wedell showcase their Rosé wine that is produced solely to provide money for breast cancer research.
The Wedell “Enhancement Rosé” was made from free-run juice taken from their Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. “We made it in the European tradition and it’s completely dry,” Maurice explained. “The common thought was that Pinot Noir didn’t make a fine Rosé. A famous winemaker who will remain unnamed told us that so we were just throwing it down the drain.” The Wedell’s new winemaker Kirby Anderson, however, believed the Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir would make a delicious Rosé. “We make our wines with the belief that they are going to age, and this Rosé has been getting better with time.” I had the same experience while tasting this Rosé at charity events they participated in over the past couple months.
The beautiful label for Enhancement Rosé is an original piece of art by Joanne Boule Ruggles, a breast cancer survivor who’s actively involved with Enhancement. Inc. The beautifully-hued self-portrait of her drinking Rosé was inspired by the Cal Poly art teacher’s appreciation for Wedell Pinot Noirs, and she is a close friend of the Wedells. An astute friend of mine noted the fact that the wineglass on the label resembles a breast.
“Although breast cancer has not affected my immediate family, it’s so common I think we all know someone who has been affected,” said Maurice. “We have many close friends who are breast cancer survivors, including my sister-in-law. Besides, there are so many small, non-profits that are really struggling right now. That’s why we decided to donate all of the proceeds from this wine to Enhancement, Inc.” Only 43 cases were made of the 2010 Rosé, but they will be bottling the 2011 soon and donating it, too.
The Wedells explained that Enhancement, Inc. provides retreats that help breast cancer survivors heal mentally, noting that health insurance doesn’t cover that type of rehabilitation. “The retreats take your mind off what you’re going through, and that’s not provided by insurance companies,” Susie Wedell concluded: “Enhancement, Inc. helps give breast cancer survivors their self-worth back.”
Desperately Seeking Guacamole
When it comes to local Mexican restaurants, I always find myself sorely disappointed. But ever the optimist, I get excited when I hear locals recommend a place as “authentic.” It happened just last week: I heard that a deli in Oceano is as authentic as it gets. Two days later I drove over, despite the wannabe critics on Yelp who complained mostly about bad service.
I sat down on the restaurant side to eat, and had to ask about the menu, what are tacos de sesos? “Brains,” she said simply. I laughed aloud as I didn’t know it was a common taco filling, which really said something about this place being authentic. But I stayed in my comfort zone, ordering one each of the carnitas and pescado tacos with chips and guacamole. The tortillas were fresh, and the carnitas tender as they should be.
My problem with the tacos de pescado was that it was little chunks of fish (she said she had no idea what kind, just that it was white fish), that were over-cooked. The tortilla chips were way too dark from over frying, and the guacamole looked like green milk. Daring to dip the edge of a chip in, I found it had more in common with milk than it did guacamole, it was flavorless.
I began to wonder, is it just me? Is it that I don’t really like authentic Mexican food because I’m used to Tex-Mex or California fusion? I drove home and went straight to my library of cookbooks. I easily have over a hundred on all cuisines. The answer was easily found in The Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy. She’s an expert that chef Craig Claiborne of the New York Times described as the high priestess of Mexican cooking; the first edition was printed in 1972. I have the revised edition, 1986, in which she said of guacamole: “There are many variations—making it with tomates verdes, or leaving out the tomato altogether, mashing the avocado with just a little chili and salt and a suspicion of lime juice. Practically anything goes, but within certain limits, which does not include the unneccesary additions that I see in most pedestrian cookbooks.”
I was glad to find it wasn’t me after all. Then I remembered the taquerias in San Francisco’s Mission District served great guacamole, not that milky stuff. This isn’t the only restaurant where I’ve seen it like that. The people working at Efren’s were so nice, but if the food is no good, I won’t return.
Contact New Times’ Cuisine columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.