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SOMM SERIES: Joshua Orr @ Marina Kitchen

Marina Kitchen's Joshua Orr does your holiday wine shopping for you


Bring-a-decent-bottle party season is here. You could stare at the shelves until, in a Rorschach moment, a pretty label speaks to you. You could treat it like a numbers game and just get the least bank-breaking 90-pointer. Or you could let San Diego's top sommeliers' guide you to the best. We've asked them to play down to our level, including one from the grocery store, one from the wine boutique, and one "I just sold my startup/I am Oprah" pick from their personal collection.

Our series started with Jesse Rodriguez at the Grand Del Mar. Today, we head Downtown to Joshua Orr, an advanced sommelier and bar manager at San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina. Orr put time in at Sin City’s Molto and Flamma Trattoria (MGM Grand) before heading west. Every week, he orchestrates pairings for Marina Kitchen’s prix fixe menu—using premium wines that aren’t usually available by the glass (menu for this week at bottom). Here are Orr's picks for your holiday wine buying:




GROCERY STORE: 2010 Iberian Remix Albariño from Edna Valley, California
“It’s a delicious, dry white wine that has no oak influence and lots of citrus, peach and green apple flavors. Made by a master sommelier originally from San Diego. Best of all, the label is a play on the classic Endless Summer movie poster.”

WINE SHOP: 2009 Zotovich Cellars Estate Chardonnay from the Sta. Rita Hills, California
“This is a very well made Chardonnay from a region that’s taking the wine world by storm right now. The winemaker, Ryan Zotovich, was recently mentioned in the Los Angeles Times as one of California’s “Young Guns” and certainly is one to watch.”

"HELLO, I'M OPRAH" SELECTION: 2008 Keller Hubacker Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany
"This is one of the world’s greatest dry Rieslings from one of Germany’s finest and youngest producers. These wines have such amazing depth and complexity of flavor that comes across so pristinely clear it is shocking. If you ever thought you didn’t like Riesling, I dare you to try this!”




GROCERY STORE: 2008 Branham Señal Red Blend from the Rockpile AVA in Sonoma, California
“This is a delicious blend of Syrah, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel from one of California’s most unique growing regions, Rockpile. Smoky and ripe with loads of dark fruit flavor, this is a perfect wine for impressing friends at holiday parties.”

WINE SHOP: 2010 Bergstrom Winery Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley, Oregon
“This is a mind numbingly good Pinot Noir from one of the great producers in Oregon and grapes from one of Oregon’s finest vineyards. Bergstrom has been buying fruit from the Shea vineyard for so long that they have access to the best sites with the oldest vines. Which all adds up to great wine.”

"HELLO, I'M OPRAH" SELECTION: 2009 Michel Gros Clos de Rèas - Vosne Romanèe from Burgundy, France
“This vineyard is a monopole, meaning Michel Gros is the sole owner (a rarity in Burgundy), which is a really good thing. The vineyard is located right next to the La Tâche grand cru, one of the most highly regarded Pinot Noir vineyards in the world. This all translates to a wine that drinks well beyond its price tag. Simply incredibly Pinot Noir.”




GROCERY STORE: 2009 Mont Marcal Brut Rosé Cava from the Penedes, Spain
“This delicious sparkling dry rosé is a hidden gem, for sure. The price only benefits the consumer because the wine drinks well above its price tag. It comes from Spain’s classic area for sparkling wine, the Penedes, and is made in the same style as Champagne but with a native grape called Trèpat.”

WINE SHOP: Jean Lallement Brut Grand Cru Champagne from Verzenay
“This wine is pretty amazing stuff for the simple reason that the same quality of fruit that goes into Dom Perignon or Crystal also goes into this wine but is a third of the price. It is 100% grand cru quality fruit, handmade by the same person who grew the grapes (a rarity in Champagne). This “farmer fizz” is part of the farm-to-table movement that is going on in Champagne right now.”

"HELLO, I'M OPRAH" SELECTION: 2005 Pierre Peters Les Chetillons Mesnil Grand Cru from Champagne, France
“This wine is known as the poor man’s Krug Clos du Mesnil. If you know what that is, then your mouth should already be watering and your jaw on the floor. Krug Clos du Mesnil is one of the most expensive bottles of wine (wine... not just Champagne) on the planet. Pierre Peters farms a section of vines from the same legendary single vineyard and makes a wine that’s one-tenth the cost. Truly epic Champagne without the epic price tag.”




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