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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wining by proxy with the STARS of Santa Barbara...

STARS of Santa Barbara
The Goddess of Wine can't always report on events, so First Acolyte, JD, steps up to taste his way through and report to you. This edition of Ian Blackburn’s LearnAboutWine/WineLA Santa Barbara STARS event again supported the T.J. Martell Foundation and this time was presented by RBC Wealth Management. These events offer a nice sampling of wineries of a region and include small and/or new wineries.

The Goddess of Wine was helping pour for one of these small excellent wineries (Shai Cellars) for both the trade and consumer portions and could not get out to taste too much. I attended the evening consumer portion. It is impossible to taste everything and then do any justice to all the wines, so I mainly concentrated on wineries new to STARS. And some friends' wines as well (wink, wink).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wining with Beekeeper Zinfandel...

The Goddess of Wine and JD attended the annual release of Beekeeper Cellars Zinfandel, this being the release of the 2012 vintage. Proprietor Ian Blackburn of LearnAboutWine and the new wineLA, teamed up several years ago with old friend and brother in wine, Clay Mauritson, to make the very best Zinfandel possible. Ian thinks of Zinfandel as California's grape, an intrinsic part of the history of winemaking in California, and he brings his passion to fruition.

The event at Josie in Santa Monica featured a vertical tasting of all the Beekeeper vintages, from 2009 to 2012, during which Ian recounted his education in winemaking, vintage by vintage. Four of the five wines we tasted came from the Madrone Spring Vineyard in the appellation known as Rockpile, owned by the Mauritson family, situated at the Northwest edge of Dry Creek Valley. All of the vineyards within the Rockpile AVA range from between 800 – 2000 ft. in elevation. Although Rockpile is located just 13 miles from the coast, Lake Sonoma provides an inversion layer that prevents the heavier fog that typically blankets other Northern California appellations, allowing for longer, more consistent sun exposure. Moisture and daytime temperatures are regulated by coastal breezes, and in many cases, steep slopes and rocky terrain require manual vine management.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Wining into the New Year...

After a spectacular case of the flu, the Goddess of Wine and JD are creeping back to health. 2015 started so badly, I have every expectation that things will improve! In the meantime, life - and wine - goes on. This year the plan is to start/finish clearing out the house, sell it, move to the Central Coast, and fully enjoy the wine-y life.

Towards the end of 2014, I was hired by Fab's to assist with choosing wines for their somewhat depleted list. This has been a good learning experience about how to determine what wines will sell for 'happy hour' as well as what will pair best with the standard and special menu fare. It has also provided a great opportunity to taste some wines that don't usually cross my path.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wining through the holidays...Christmas...

Christmas is always a bit problematic for me. For one thing, I'm Jewish, so the whole religious aspect is kind of lost on me. On the other hand, JD is not Jewish, so every year I ask him if he wants to decorate the house for the holidays, and every year, I get the 'look', so it's never necessary to do anything but display the holiday cards.

However, December 25th is my sister's birthday, and she LOVES everything about Christmas. Every year she decorates the whole house - multiple beautifully decorated trees, every David Winter cottage ever made, plus other cute cottage and village collections, plus, plus, plus. It's an ocean of cuteness.

Oh, and the Christmas/Birthday party. It used to be huge; my sis would invite every person she knew - family, friends, business associates. Most of Los Angeles, I think. As the years have gone by, the party has gotten smaller; now it's mainly family. And the family has gotten smaller, too.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wining through the holidays – Hanukkah…


Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah.
Let's have a party, we'll all dance the horah.
Gather 'round the table, we'll give you a treat.
Dreidels to play with and latkes to eat.

And while we are playing, the candles are burning low.
One for each night, they shed a sweet light, to remind us of days long ago.
One for each night, they shed a sweet light, to remind us of days long ago.
-      Traditional lyrics

When I was growing up, celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of the Lights, was fairly traditional. The family gathered for dinner – beef brisket accompanied by white potatoes and carrots, green beans, sesame seed rolls, lukshen (noodle) kugel, and, of course, latkes – potato pancakes – grated, oniony, fried pieces of heavenly goodness with a dollop of sour cream. It was a feast to celebrate the miracle of the oil; the small amount of lamp oil that lasted for eight nights after the Maccabees defeated the Seleucid Greeks. It wasn’t fancy or gourmet; it was comfort food.

Before dinner, the adults would sip cocktails and nosh on chopped chicken or beef liver and crackers. At the dinner table, we mostly drank water or soda, because my folks weren’t big drinkers, and they weren’t wine drinkers. If wine was needed for a barucha (blessing), there was Manischewitz Concord Grape. Insert shudder here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wining through the holidays…

It’s that time of year again. The “holidays”. You throw a party, or you go to a party. For a huge meal. It could be a traditional roast turkey, accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Or it could be roast goose or duck, or a Honeybaked ham. Or (shudder) a turducken.

Regardless of what you, your friends and family choose to share, it’s going to be a big meal with a lot of different elements, so you’ll want to choose wines that will enhance and not conflict with the flavors found in your meal. You can play it safe and offer Chardonnay or Pinot Noir with your turkey, but how about trying something different to spice up your feast?

The Goddess of Wine tends to favor wines with good acidity to counter the fatty content of many of the tasty accompaniments to a hopefully moist and well-seasoned turkey. Oh, and I tend to lean more towards red wines, so here are some suggestions, all of which are locally available.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Key to Wine Country Returns to Santa Barbara

Exclusive wine and food weekend in Santa Barbara County December 5 - 7

BUELLTON, CA The Santa Barbara Vintners is pleased to announce the dates and schedule of experiences for its winter Key to Wine Country experience weekend December 5 - 7, 2014.  Three days of unlocking exclusive events and offerings at nearly forty wineries and vineyards throughout Santa Barbara’s scenic wine country makes for the perfect wine and food lover’s weekend.  Keys to unlock Santa Barbara’s wine country are valid for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and can be purchased online for $100 per person at www.sbkeytowinecountry.com.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Wining with Pere Ventura...

The Goddess of Wine was invited to lunch at Il Grano Ristorante Italiano for a special tasting of Pere Ventura Cava. Fourth-generation winemaker and proprietor Pere Ventura Vendrell charmed us as he told us his family history and led this intimate group of wine writers and retailers through the wine tasting.

Pere's family wine heritage dates back to the late 19th century when his great-grandfather, Manuel Montserrat Font, helped produce the first bottles of Spanish Cava made in the traditional French method. In the early 1900's, his grandfather, Pere Ventura Peracaula, was a distinguished enologist, acquiring knowledge and experience in Dijon and working in the most prestigious Champagne houses, including Moet, in order to bring modern production techniques to Penedes and establishing benchmark quality for Cava.

Pere's father, Jaume Ventura Montserrat, continued the family tradition, and encouraged his son to become part of the family business instead of following his vocation to the priesthood. Pere brings his deep spirituality and a strong sense of identity to his wines. Each bottle is sealed with a rendering of his handprint, symbolizing his personal guarantee. Salut!

Wining Miscellany...

The Goddess & JD
The Goddess of Wine hasn't been doing much writing lately. There's been so much going on, it's been overwhelming. So, here's a quick recap:

First, I left the earth job. Yep, retired several years earlier than originally planned. It's all Goddess of Wine now! A bit daunting, but wine gigs are coming in, so I know I can make it happen.

Second, because I now have time during the day, I've gone to wine events that I would have previously covered by proxy via JD. He's been at some of them, too, but he's been busy consulting at various places, so it's lucky I've been available.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wining with Wines of Naoussa at Faith and Flower...



Back in June, the Goddess of Wine and JD were invited to attend an intimate tasting of the Wines of Naoussa at the lovely Faith and Flower restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. From the invitation: Wines of Naoussa presents 13 wineries pouring their Xinomavro wines. Xinomavro is the main and noblest indigenous red grape varietal of northern Greece. Its name reveals its basic features: high in acidity (Xino - sour), and deep almost black in color (mavro - black) with powerful tannins. This combination of high acidity and phenolic richness results in wines with the possibility of aging for many years. Wines made from Xinomavro have a complex and unique aromatic character, composed of fruity and vegetal aromas of tomato and olive.

Domaine Porto Carras will present their portfolio of ancient and indigenous varietals including Malagouzia, Assyrtiko, and Limnio as well as their varietal blends including Melesanthi, Magnus Baccata, and Chateau Porto Carras.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Santa Barbara Vintners 24rd annual Celebration of Harvest Festival!


The Santa Barbara Vintners is pleased to announce the dates and schedule of events for the 24th Annual Celebration of Harvest Weekend October 10-13, 2014 in Santa Barbara Wine Country. The popular fall weekend celebrates the grape harvest when the nearly one hundred and fifty members of the association come together to share harvest tales and pour wine at the Festival Grand Tasting, participate in collaborative events like the new Friday night kick-off La Paulée dinner, and host individual tasting room open houses and vineyard walks. Tickets for the Festival and related events are on sale now at www.celebrationofharvest.com.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Wining by Proxy...Lunch with Aurelio Montes, Jr. of Montes & Kaiken Wines...

Occasionally, the Goddess of Wine can't make it to a wine event. Luckily, First Acolyte to the Goddess, JD, takes up the slack. Here's his latest report from the field:

Wine-tasting lunch with Aurelio Montes, Jr. of Montes and Kaiken Wines at Primitivo Wine Bistro, presented by Swords PR.

Primitivo is a quaint little restaurant in the laid-back beach town of Venice, CA. It is an assemblage, some of which may have been homes at one time. In spite of my long trudge across town, I was the first to arrive and could check out the place quietly while waiting.

The event began on their patio in back with a welcome wine of refreshing Sparkling Brut of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made in traditional method accompanied by an assortment of delicious passed appetizers, including: croquetas with romesco sauce and a cheese, grape and more combination on crostini.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - August Meeting - Rioja...

It was getting down to the wire and the Goddess of Wine had still not decided on a wine region to taste, so she thought, "Well, we haven't visited Spain in a while..." and chose Rioja. The group of tasters included First Acolyte JD (new Twitter handle @gowacolyteone), hostess-with-the-mostest Xochitl Maiman, Michelle McCue, Debra Bizek, and lovely-person-we-hadn't-seen-in-way-too-long, Amelia Yokel.

Rioja is a wine region, with Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca. Qualified Designation of Origin) named after La Rioja, in Spain. Located south of the Cantabrian Mountains along the river Ebro, La Rioja has a continental climate enhanced by the mountains that help to isolate the region and create a moderating effect by protecting the vineyards from the intense winds that are typical of northern Spain. The region is also home to the Oja river (Rio Oja), for which the region was probably named. Most of the region is situated on a plateau, at about 1,500 feet above sea level. The area is subdivided into three regions - Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Alta, located closer to the mountains, are at slightly higher elevations and have a cooler climate. Rioja Baja to the southeast is drier and warmer.

Wining and whining with the #WBC14...

JD & The GoW at #WBC14 Opening
The Goddess of Wine and First Acolyte, JD, attended the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference in fabulous downtown Buellton. The weather was perfect, the Marriott Santa Ynez and Zephyr Adventures did a good job accommodating the large group of winos...ahem...bloggers, and people were enthusiastic, outgoing, and cheerful. Mostly. This was my first WBC and will probably be my last. The $95 fee for "Citizen Bloggers" is quite reasonable for what was generously provided, but I'm still wondering if the time spent was worth it - which is why it's taken me so long to write anything about it.

There has been a spate of postings from many bloggers about the conference. The "unsanctioned" events were better than the scheduled events. Or not. There wasn't enough diversity in the presenters. Some bloggers had the best time ever; some not so much. Some were unhappy about "not enough swag". So many opinions, so little discussion. I'm still torn about my experience.

JD and I were happy to meet folks whom we previously knew only online. We also love the region and spend a lot of time there, which may have been both good and bad in terms of what was being offered. A couple of the breakout groups we attended were excellent, especially those dealing with Ballard Canyon and local Syrahs. There were many other events which I found out about after they had occurred. How were some people in the know and others not?