Federal Wine & Spirits

29 State Street, Boston, MA 02109

West Coast Grace

Lovelier Wines to Pair with New American Cuisine - an Offer, then a Dinner
November 14, 2021



The Offer

Some artisan winemakers have been quietly revolutionizing the way many West Coast wines, especially reds, are being made.

 They are reimagining traditionally big and bulky cabernets, syrahs, and the like as modern wines that tread the runway graceful and flowing, clad in silk rather than a barrel. They tune their wines to marry the lighter, more incisive dishes that many of us are eating now.

Some call this style burgundian. This newer sensibility began with pinots there, was then adopted by some pinot growers in America, and has now spread to other grape varieties. If burgundian means nuanced and precise, even graceful, so be it.

Can cabernet and Syrah deliver pleasure in this guise? When a few weeks ago I had the chance to taste examples from two estates new to me and an old favorite whose wines have come alive this way, my palate said Yes.

Samsara takes its name from the Buddhist term for the natural cycle of life. They know the right way to make pinot and chardonnay from selected micro-sites in the cool Sta. Rita Hills above Santa Barbara. Their wines seek to show the distinctive natural elements at play on each vineyard, harnessed through a low intervention winemaking style. They have a Zen sense of the right extraction levels to create wines of weightless finesse with very concentrated flavors. Both the Chardonnay and single vineyard Pinot are perfectly poised.

Rasa Vineyards in Washington’s Columbia Valley make equally beautiful wines from a classically Latinate perspective. They chose to name their sensuously complex four-grape red blend Occam’s Razor (in logic, the simplest explanation.) The wine is a paradox, how one that displays a swirlingly complex succession of flavors can bear such a simple price of $21.

            Likewise, naming their cabernet franc QED Choice function does not begin to convey the impeccably etched sensuality of the wine. Even the best Franc reds of the Loire or South Africa do not begin to approach this wine in sheer beautiful sensuality.

    I must mention one other red. There is so little of it that it will not be at the dinner. I do not remember ever tasting a so finely nuanced a Syrah as the Rasa Veritas Sequitur. It traces the truth of its grape in a New World parallel to the style and precision of a Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape. It is as if Monet made Syrah. It is extraordinary.

I have been a fan of Sonoma Mountain’s Laurel Glen Cabernet since almost its first vintage in the 80s. It had been an excellently defined wine with a power that was sometimes rustic when young. Napa Valley veteran Bettina Sichel, also of the famous Bordeaux family, purchased the estate in 2011 and reimagined the wine. It is still precise but now shows a forward delicacy that makes it one of the most succulent Sonoma Cabs I have tasted.


2019 Samsara ChardonnayOrganic; Aroma: Rather rich very dense soft relatively rich, very heady; Mouth: Rich creamy rather fat rich concentrated, a green apple note, long sweet finish; Very Good - Excellent 48; Case 41

2015 Samsara Pinot Noir Rancho La Vina; Color: medium dark; Aroma: Clean rather pretty, richly fruited, plump, delicate with richness; Mouth: Very pure dark current elevated, sweetly rich but weightless, poised; Excellent 66; Mixed Case, 59.4; Case, 56

2018 Rasa Occam’s Razor; Color: Medium dark black; Aroma: Soft rather heady, reserved; Mouth: Sweetly intense, complex and herbal, a nutty quality, sweetness on the finish, very long; Very Good Plus 21; Case, 17.85

2018 Rasa QED Choice Function; Color: medium dark; Aroma: Fresh, lightly fresh, very pretty lifted, in  a lifted style  very pretty, light & lifted; Mouth: Very pretty, sift textured rather rounded, delicate very pretty & nuanced, a ballerina of a Cab Franc; Excellent 45; Case, 38.25

2016 Rasa Syrah Veritas Sequitur; Aroma: Heady sweet rather delicate, very pretty, very modulated, soft white bacon, lovely; Mouth: Absolutely lovely, smooth, a vin du reve, poised and beautiful, an Impressionist Syrah; Outstanding 129; Case 110

2015 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon - Organic; Color: Very dark; Aroma: Dense some well-integrated opal, rounded fruit, pretty; Mouth: Smooth texture, herbal, very precise, nutty very pretty delicate, long, a lightly crafted, precise rendition of cabernet; Excellent 89; Case, 76


Order by phone at 617.367.8605, or reserve here: order@federalwine.com


           - Len Rothenberg


The Dinner

Catalyst Restaurant

300 Technology Square, Cambridge

Wednesday, Dec 1, 6:30 PM

Of Note in These TimesCatalyst is in the same building as Moderna’s labs and shares their air purification system. There will be separate tables for each reservation, spaced apart. 


William Kovel

Who better to create dishes to of such finesse with these wines  than Catalyst Chef William Kovel?

The Pairings

Octopus Carpaccio, Arugula ,Pickled Jicama, Blood Orange Vinaigrette

2018 Samsara Chardonnay


Lamb Ravioli, Red Wine and Wild Mushrooms Ragu, Horseradish

2018 Rasa Occam’s Razor Red Blend


Roasted Rohan Duck, Potato mille-feuille, Kale, Onion mustard

2015 Samsara Pinot Noir Rancho La Vina


Veal Tenderloin, Parsnip Puree, Melted Leeks, Bacon jam

2018 QED Choice Function Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley

2015 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon., Sonoma Mountain


$135 per person, includes tax and gratuity

Free validated parking at the nearby 800 Technology Sq garage

Reservations 617-576-3000

Or request a reservation form via the button below


Reserve for the Dinner



Choose 12 or more bottles of one or assort any 12 of these wines at their special case prices.

Wines arrive later this week


downtown on orders more than $75;

in Greater Boston on orders more than $175