Vinely Live: Michael Jordan & Fred Scherrer
A Dynamic Pairing
Michael Jordan and Fred Scherrer are a dynamic duo in both the world of wine and music. In the realm of viticulture, they’re perfect complements. Both are incredibly enthusiastic about wine, though in somewhat different ways. Jordan is a sommelier, while Scherrer is a winemaker. Together, they can create and appreciate wine at a topflight level. In addition to working in wine together, they also team up to make music. In fact, Sommtable is involved with one of their concerts.
An Overview of Michael Jordan’s Career
Michael grew up in a culinary atmosphere, practically raised in his father’s Los Angeles restaurant, Matteo’s. Serving up fine Italian fare, it was known for attracting Hollywood headliners like Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, and the Rat Pack. Michael, very much a people person, went on to become the wine director for the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide and Beachcomber Restaurant Group. From there, he became the director for the Jackson Family Wines. In this role, he travels to all over the world to share his expertise. Recently, he was a presenter at a master class in Hong Kong, leading a discussion on Pinot Noirs.
Michael is not only a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) – he is also a Master Sommelier. Achieving the status of a Master Sommelier is not easy – the pass rate is only 8%. There are four challenging examinations that contenders are expected to pass. The tests cover a broad spectrum of knowledge, including the science and history of wine, as well of mastery of the field as an art form. Holding both of these credentials is particularly impressive. There are only fifteen people in the world who hold both titles, and Michael is one of them.
Over the years, Michael has been a key player in the wine industry, as well as an invaluable educator. He has taught well over a thousand students, passing on his expertise to up-and-coming wine professionals. In addition, he has earned an impressive number of awards and recognitions, which include being named Sommelier of the Year by the California Restaurant Writers Association and being named American Sommelier of the Year by Cordon Du Vin World Society.
An Overview of Fred Scherrer’s Career
Like Michael, Fred’s start in wine had much to do with his upbringing. Raised on a family farm in California’s Alexander Valley, he gained an affinity for the land and terroir early in life. It was in Sonoma, on his family’s farm, that he first learned to make wine at the age of fifteen. He developed a strong interest in winemaking, and so pursued this interest in college. He attended the University of California at Davis, which is well known for its agricultural programs. There, he studied viticulture, rapidly expanding his knowledge of the winemaking process.
Fred went on to become the winemaker for the family-run Dehlinger Winery, nestled in the Russian River Valley. There, he honed his craft and built up the confidence to strike out on his own, and start his own winery. In 1998, he created Scherrer Wines, which produces about 5,000 cases a year. While Fred handles the winemaking process, his wife Judi, handles many of the business aspects of the winery. They’re a strong team, working together to make great wine.
While Fred makes a number of different types of wines, about half are Pinot Noir. Fred, as a man with many layers, resonates with the nuanced nature of Pinot Noir. This wine, which can be very casual and drinkable, is also profoundly delicate and demands careful attention. There isn’t much margin for error when working with these grapes. Fortunately, Fred has cultivated an eye for detail and a strong intuition for his winemaking process. As a result, the wines that he puts out each year are nothing short of sublime.
The Wines that Michael Jordan Loves
Michael still remembers the bottle that sparked his love for wine. It was Christmas dinner, and a 1961 Musigny was on the table. His mother had bought a case, and the wooden box that housed it was in the living room. Michael remembers the divinity of it – the wine was silky and delicious. Even at age nine, he found deep appreciation for such an excellent wine.
As Michael grew and matured, he developed a worldly taste for wines, as well as an extensive collection. In fact, the crown jewel of his cellar is an1863 Madeira. This fortified wine, which comes from the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal, was extremely popular in America’s early history. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were both reputed to be avid aficionados. Michael’s particular bottle is a Civil War wine. Because of the high alcohol content, the wine is well preserved, and to this day, would prove to be highly delicious and drinkable. It’s and irreplaceable cru – a piece of history preserved in a glass bottle.
The Wines that Fred Scherrer Makes
What is most striking about Fred’s wines is how deceptively simple they seem. Much like the winery itself, they are downplayed and authentic. Scherrer Winery has a raw and rustic look, and similarly, his wines are created in a way that allows the natural characteristics of the grapes to shine. The wines that he shares with the world are well structured and balanced. Even if this comes at the cost of achieving a desired color, Fred will not sacrifice authenticity for aesthetics. It is this dedication to achieving a sense of honesty in his wine that sets him apart from other winemakers.
While Scherrer Winery produces a host of impressive wines, two that are worth showcasing are the “Big Brother” Pinot Noir and “The Hill” Zinfandel.” The Big Brother is a blend of grapes from two different vineyards – one in Annapolis, the other from Bodega. The combination leads to a well-balanced and nuanced blend. “The Hill” is made from Zinfandel, which was planted by Fred’s grandfather in the 1970s. The soil is fluffy and light with only a bit of clay. In turn, the wine adopted a gentle character, highly drinkable, and perfect for enjoying with friends.