WCC Donelan Family Wines with Joe Donelan

at Yono's Restaurant, Albany, NY, 5/29/2014

A couple members of my Albany group have been buying Joe Donelan's wines since he separated from Pax. I was cutting back on my wine buying at the time, and it felt a little like when a married couple you like gets a divorce and it is easier to avoid them both, so I had not tried them. Anyway, the guys in my group arranged with Joe to come up to our area and taste us on his recent releases.

Yono's was chosen as the venue and it turned out to be a great choice for these generally subtle and complex wines. Dominick Purnomo once again did a terrific job of making sure the food matched the wines perfectly and was able to join us for dinner.

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The Chardonnay was opened at 4:30 and the last 2 Syrahs (Obsidian & Richards) were decanted at that time and served from the decanters. The rest of the wines were opened at 6:15. All the wines were served at room temperature. Joe generously opened 3 bottles of each wine. Dinner began around 7:30 and ended around 10pm.

Before the first course, we were served an Amuse Bouche of R&G Cheesemakers Chèvre, Crispy Speck, Lemon Zest, Parsley, as well as a Stuffed Zucchini Flower. Dominick added the latter just because they came in fresh today. R & G Cheesemakers is an excellent local cheese maker in Cohoes, NY.

Flight 1: Whites
Hand Rolled Peekytoe Crab Rangoon with Minted Yuzu Old Chatham Yogurt, Cucumber, and Kaffir Lime Gremolata.

Flight 2: Pinot Noir
Pan Seared Maple Leaf Farm's Duck Breast with Red Wine, Shallot & Cherry Reduction, Cauliflower Cous Cous, and Pea Tendrils.

Flight 3: Syrah 1
Roasted Pennsylvania Pork Tenderloin with Thyme Jus, Potato Puree, and Red Ribbon Sorrel.

Flight 4: Syrah 2
Char Grilled Black Angus Beef with Roasted Chef's Garden Beets and Sauce Bordelaise.


This was a great evening of wine, food, and fun. The Rhone varietal wines from Donelan Family Wines really are in the top echelon of European-influenced California wines.

We did not do our usual voting for wine of the night, but I informally polled the group. Everyone liked the wines overall. Everyone liked the Venus Roussanne. Several people liked the Pinot quite a bit. There was quite a mix of opinions on the Syrah, most likely do to peoples' stylistic preferences. One person liked the Christine the best, but the others were a little too big for his taste. Most everyone else really liked the Obsidian. The Richards was a little more divisive with one person calling the nose "skunky" while another person liked it even more than I did, rating it 100 points.

Notes posted from CellarTracker

People Pix

Jared and Joe.
Bob, Jared, Joe, Bob, John.
Larry and Bob are serious.
Joe, Bob, John, and Dominick.
Bob, John, Dominick, and Joel.
Mike, Matt, Steve, Tom.
Dominick introcduces Steve Kerzner, Chef de Cuisine.
Chef de Cuisine Steve Kerzner enjoys our much deserved applause.




All original content © Ken Vastola