What a delightful evening! A new kid in town - well, Sonoma - Adam Beaugh, the new Social Media Director for Jackson Family Wines put together a party to celebrate the Wine Enthusiast Magazine #1 ranking of Cambria's 2006 Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir. Adam just moved from Austin, Texas and is not that familiar with LA, so he invited everyone who knew anyone who was blogging or Tweeting about wine.
The celebration was held at Craft, Tom Colicchio's upscale restaurant in Century City. I was anxious to attend this party, because I'm pretty sure I will never be able to afford to eat here on my own dime! This venue is where all the power players in LA meet to be seen - Creative Artists Agency is in the building as well - and I'm on the low end of the power scale, so...
In addition, the evening was in support of the Children's Bureau, a deserving organization working to prevent and treat child abuse. Carmine Salvucci, the Children's Bureau Chief Development Officer, spoke movingly about the work being done to help families end the cycle of violence.
Craft provided a table filled with delicious charcuterie offerings, and cheerful wait staff proffered gorgeous and delectable hors d'oeuvres - which my trusty assistant didn't photograph...we were both too busy chatting up Cambria proprietor Barbara Banke, Winemaker Denise Shurtleff and Wine Enthusiast Editor Steve Heimoff, all while imbibing the lovely wines being highlighted.
The first wine poured was the 2007 Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay. From a vineyard named after one of Barbara's daughters, this Chard startled me a bit with the seriously oaky nose, but after a few minutes of swirling, the oak backed off, revealing the aromas of apples and peach, with a long finish tasting slightly of vanilla.
Wine number two was the 2007 Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir. Julia's Vineyard produces some really wonderful Pinot sourced by several local wineries, including Foxen, Byron, Lane Tanner, and Hitching Post. The 2007 Pinot is dark purple with an earthy nose and medium tannins. It made for easy drinking while hanging out with fellow blogger Eve Bushman (Eve's Wine 101) and various new friends.
Right around 8:15, they started pouring the 2006 Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir, which was what we were all there for. I'll quote what Steve Heimoff wrote about it around 9 months ago in Wine Enthusiast: "This is the best Pinot Noir at this price on the market. Easily. It's picture-perfect cool climate, absolutely dry and silky, with complex flavors of cherries, Mandarin orange, cola, pomegranates, licorice and cinnamon spice, made even richer by smoky oak. Just lovely, and gets even better as it breathes in the glass." I couldn't agree more. I had to stop myself from allowing the waiters to pour more in my glass - after a few pours, that is!
Denise Shurtleff, the winemaker, was kind enough to spend a bit of time with me, describing her work at Cambria, and the Pinot Noir program she's been working on for the past 10 years. She's developed several growing areas - different elevations, different clones - and ferments and ages all the different Pinots in small tanks. Her goal is to create all these wines that are complete wines on their own, and then she blends them to reach her vision of what her Pinot Noir should be. I'm not surprised that the painstaking work she's put in resulted in the 2006 Julia's Vineyard being honored by Wine Enthusiast. It's lovely!
Several things added to the fun of the evening. First, it's always fun to drink with Eve! Second, both of Barbara's daughters - Katherine and Julia - were there helping drink the wines from the vineyards named for them. They're both finally legal drinking age, so they could help! While talking with Steve Heimoff about the crazy evening of historic Bordeaux we had last Friday, a young woman came up, gushing with enthusiasm about Steve's blog and her own writing. I looked at her name - Erin McGrath - and asked her if she was the same EM who was a friend of a friend of ours. She is - and she's now working at the Heritage Wine Company in Pasadena as their Social Media guru!
And finally, just to add to the whole 'small world' trend going on, when JD and I arrived, I noticed a tall blonde who I knew I knew. Couldn't place her, and JD didn't recognize her, but I KNEW I knew her. Around 8:30, during the speech being given by Carmine, she was standing near me with a few other folks who also looked familiar. Carmine thanked Ted Meisel for his contributions to the Children's Bureau, and I realized why I knew these folks - I used to work with them! Ted was the CEO of Overture Services, and the tall blonde was Lynn Loeb, who was the head of Legal. I worked for Overture for over 4 years, until the company was swallowed up by Yahoo! and I was laid off. We had a nice chat, with Ted pretending to remember me - it's been almost 6 years since I was laid off, and we weren't close. He was always a gracious and kind man, and it was a real treat to see him.
So, congratulations to Cambria Winery and the Children's Bureau and Craft for a perfect evening! Cheers!