Updated: Nov 7
By Jerry Kolins, WSET III
The Davidson Village Inn is a place for wine enthusiasts and those who long for genuine home-style hospitality. The proprietor, Mariano Doble, and his wife, Caroline, understand the concept of “servant leadership.” Servant leadership is a style known for empathy, stewardship, and personal growth of others. To accomplish this, Mariano uses his skills as a “connector.” He brings people together. Then enlightenment occurs—especially if you desire to understand the human fascination with viticulture, winemaking, and wine consumption-that last one is my favorite.
It all started at 6 pm, November 2, when Mariano connected us to Master Sommelier David Keck, who led us through a disciplined approach to blind tasting three unknown white and three unknown red wines. I have often said the skill of identifying wines depends on the basics, i.e., education, training, and experience. In other words, you need to drink a lot—and I’m good at that. However, this trio of basics is inadequate without winning the genetic lottery. Your DNA will have a significant impact on your ability to detect aromas and flavors. My lottery ticket seeking the combination of nucleic acids required of a master sommelier read, “This ticket is not a winner.”
The dozen or so wine enthusiasts who attended David’s talk were knowledgeable. David slowly extracted from us the key elements of each wine. I missed the “wet wool nuance of Chenin Blanc, but when it was described, I immediately remembered the association. In other words, I enjoyed listening and deducing from the discussion the grape varietal in question. This is how we adapt to our limitations.
One of the special moments of the night was when our master sommelier asked us whether any faults could be detected in the first wine. Roger Gerhardt shouted, “Yes, the wine is not red!” It was a Sauvignon Blanc, and though we all enjoyed that New Zealand wine, Roger knows “red.” After class, Roger’s home was opened to us for wine and dinner.
Roger has a fantastic wine cellar that is thousands of bottles deep. If you know these wines, you know the wines of the world. Watching bottles from four decades of Silver Oak opened was heavenly. I blurted out, “We are witnessing Christmas in November.” But Roger was just getting started. Then the left bank aromas and flavors of Château Montrose 2002 were unveiled, followed by Château Clerc Milon 2002, Château La Fleur-Petrus 1999 from the right bank, and then, from Graves, Château d’Yquem 2003. Can you outperform this? Rosa, Roger’s wife, did.
Rosa announced dinner. The filet mignon in a mushroom sauce was the most tender imaginable. It captivated my attention, and demanded a second trip to the kitchen. Accompaniments included Caesar’s salad, asparagus, potato sticks, and, don’t forget—Château Montrose. The Michelin Guide needs to add Chez Gerhardt as their new three-star restaurant worthy of travel far from home for a unique experience.
Then, I returned to the Inn and stared at the hundreds of bottles of wine that lined the wall of the living room. The place beckons me to return. I pay attention to beckoning walls.