Japan’s Wine Sleuth

Most winemakers dream of a favorable mention from Robert Parker. Calera’s Josh Jensen found someone even more powerful--Joe Satake.

Haven’t heard of him? That’s because he’s a fictional character: a sommelier in a best-selling Japanese manga, or adult comic book. No ordinary sommelier, he, though. Rather, Satake’s a kind of combination wine geek and James Bond--he names the wine and gets the girls (this is a comic book, after all).

Anyway, in a recent edition, Satake was faced with a killer tasting dilemma: two wines, blind, and he had to pick which was the legendary Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and which was the Calera “Jensen” Pinot Noir. Despite the attempts by a rival sommelier to trick him (he described the wines and then concluded the better one was the DRC), Satake triumphed, correctly naming the best wine as the Calera.

The result was an almost instant sell-out of Calera Pinot Noir all over Japan. On a sales trip, Josh Jensen was swamped and one tasting ran hours long because he had to stay so late autographing empty bottles.

This isn’t the kind of thing to turn a super-sommelier’s head, though. As noted in the comic book, “Joe Satake, while winning the championship, declines the honor. ‘A genius walks the road of proud loneliness,’ he says.”


South Pas Bleus

London Bridge is in Arizona, and now Le Cordon Bleu is in LA. Thanks to a recently signed licensing agreement, the Southern California School of Culinary Arts in South Pasadena is among the first American partners of the legendary French culinary school and the only one in California. The name of the school will remain the same, but the curriculum will be changed to reflect Le Cordon Bleu’s.

SCSCA is already working on a major expansion--55,000 square feet that will include 20 additional teaching kitchens and a fine-dining restaurant and cafe to be run by students. Also, an associates degree will be offered.

For more information, call (888) 900-2433 or visit the website at