Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thoughts on December 24th...

It's been an odd week. Thought I'd have written a post earlier about the delightful day JD and I had last Friday tasting wines at the Cornell Winery and the Rosenthal Winery tasting room and dinner at the Sunset Restaurant, and yet, somehow, I just wasn't getting it together. I'm sure it had something to do with the one-year anniversary of my mom's death on the 20th - been thinking a lot about her this week. Even though she had been mostly lost to us due to Alzheimer's for several years, this past year I kept wanting to talk to her. My mind would play tricks on me - I'd have a thought about something or other, and think, 'Oh, I have to tell Mom about that!' And then I'd remember. I really miss her.

Meanwhile, last week JD and I had a 'stay-cation.' Slept in almost every day. Took our time. Had few actual plans for the week. It was refreshing! After Tuesday evening's special event at Craft, we had a theater management team meeting at our house, where in the middle of the meeting we got to test the stain-stopping ability of white wine over red when JD accidentally spilled a large amount of red wine on the carpet. We quickly opened a bottle of white wine that we had no intention of ever drinking (long story), poured it over the red, sopped up the liquid with paper towels, and it worked surprisingly well! Our friends couldn't believe we just opened a bottle to spill! Pretty funny.

Friday, got up a bit earlier for a doctor's appointment. Got a clean bill of health and a cortisone shot in the shoulder (just bursitis and tendonitis, nothing serious), and headed for a solid breakfast at IHOP. JD had pumpkin pancakes and eggs and stuff; I had the crepe Florentine, which was actually pretty good, although I'm not really sure about the chicken being real chicken. Had an odd consistency. Finished breakfast and headed north.

The Cornell Winery is a wine shop and more, located up in the Agoura Hills, owned by Tim and Denise Skogstrom, that features wines grown and made locally, meaning wineries and vineyards in the Malibu AVA. Tim is a close friend of Ian Blackburn (LearnAboutWine), and Denise and I went to LearnAboutWine School together two years ago, and I was delighted to see, when we entered the store, that another alumna of that class was behind the counter. Deanne welcomed us and then tried to figure out why she knew me. Then, we tasted wines.

2008 Rosenthal Surfrider Sauvignon Blanc - Edna Valley. Clean, grassy nose, with lots of grapefruit and a long finish. $17. Bought 2 bottles.

2008 Republic of Malibu 'Beach Blonde' Chardonnay - 91% local (Malibu)/9% Viognier from Santa Ynez; aged in stainless, 'rested' in oak; winemaker Michael Barnes from Santa Monica; winery in Camarillo. Pale gold color, aromatic light oak in the nose, lightly toasted flavors, very drinkable right now. $22. Bought 1 bottle.

2007 Republic of Malibu 'Pink Lady' - Rose made from Syrah/Grenache from Corral Canyon vineyards. Lovely bright pink color; clean and slightly soapy (in a good way) bouquet; very dry, cherry cola flavor. I liked it; JD not so much. He found the finish oddly bitter. $19. Note: The label displays the Malibu Pink Lady, who briefly appeared above one of the tunnels on Kanan Road back in the 60's.

2007 Cantara Cellars Barbera from Lodi. Deep red in color, big berry nose. Lots of berry fruit and licorice, but not sweet. I would drink this with cheesecake - with berry topping! $32. Bought 1 bottle.

2007 Milan Vineyards 'Maximilian' - Santa Monica Mountains, Topanga Canyon. 50% Merlot/25% Syrah/25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Proprietors Amy and Milan Rubenstein have fashioned a gorgeous deep purple wine, redolent of sweet, yet smoky cherries, deepening and finishing with black pepper. $45. Bought 1 bottle, and am looking forward to drinking it!

2006 Hoyt Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - Malibu. Nose was vegetal, kind of barnyard-ish; taste was green pepper, black pepper and anise in the first sip. Swirled and tasted again - black cherry came to the front! I wondered if there were Cabernet Franc in the mix, but Deanne said that Hoyt's vineyards - extremely local - have a distinct flavor that she can identify blind. $19. Didn't buy, but am still curious about it.

2005 Malibu Valley Vineyards Reserve Syrah - mainly from the Triunfo vineyard off Kanan Road. Deep red color, not much nose, but dark red fruit to taste. Low alcohol, which was nice and unusual for a CA Syrah, but JD and I didn't find it that interesting. $15. And I keep asking what CA winemakers mean when they use the term 'Reserve', as it means nothing legally.

NV Saddlerock Old Vine Tawny Port. Saddlerock is the second label of Malibu Family Wines. Off-sweet with lots of chocolate and cherry and a kind of candied pecan nuttiness going on. Wonder what grapes are actually used. 19% alcohol. $20. Bought 1 bottle.

All during the tasting, we were admiring the wonderful local artists' work displayed throughout the tasting room. We spent much longer there than we planned, but we were having so much fun with Deanne and Deanotta (sp?), that we just stayed and played. We left with 6 bottles of wine and promised to return soon.

Got back on Kanan Road, which becomes Kanan Dume Road, winding thru the Santa Monica mountains to the sea. We turned left on PCH - that's Pacific Coast Highway for those of you not native to Ellay - and looked for the Rosenthal Winery tasting room. The tasting room shares a parking lot with Beau Rivage restaurant - a landmark in its' own right. We've been fortunate to have actually visited the Rosenthal estate (working for LAW - will work for wine!), an extraordinary estate in Newton Canyon, not open to the public. The Malibu Hills Vineyards are situated at elevations between 1,450 to 1,510 feet. To the west of the vineyards is a 1,630-foot ridge making a unique microclimate in the hills above Malibu. We've been fans of Rosenthal for a long time, but had never visited the tasting room!

Sean welcomed us, presented us with the tasting menu and the 'sushi' card for choosing which of the wines we wanted to taste.

2007 Surfrider Riesling - from Arroyo Seco in Monterey. Nose is honeysuckle and jasmine; in the mouth lots of apple and stone fruit with a creamy finish. $20. Bought 1 bottle.

2008 Surfrider Viognier - from Arroyo Grande in San Luis Obispo county. Lovely perfumey nose; slightly sweet, fruity. $21.

Skipped the rest of the whites and hit the reds!

2008 Surfrider Pinot Noir - Edna Valley/Firecreek Vineyard. Light-bodied, cinnamon on the nose, strawberries in the mouth. $27.

2000 Rosenthal Merlot - Malibu Estate - Newton Canyon. Elegant, with with hints of red cherry, plum, exotic spices, and a kiss of oak. Bright berry fruit, smooth mid-palate, and a lingering finish with well-integrated tannins. We liked this wine a lot, and it was on sale!!! for half price. That made it $11.25/bottle. We bought a six-pack, some of which will be under my sister's Xmas tree.

2001 Rosenthal Merlot - Malibu Estate - Newton Canyon. Lots of veggies/green pepper in the nose. I asked about the makeup of the wine, and Sean said there was some Cabernet Franc in the mix, which explains why a Merlot would smell like green pepper. Too much oak for my taste. $25.

2000 Rosenthal Cabernet Sauvignon - Malibu Estate - Newton Canyon. Deep purple color with aromas of oak and spice. The wine tasted a bit tired - maybe the bottle had been open for a while? Still, the tannins were surprisingly firm and there was a strong, black pepper finish. $30.

2001 Rosenthal Cabernet Sauvignon - Malibu Estate - Newton Canyon. Same deep purple color, and similar nose to the 2000, but tastes of blackberries and mint, with sage rounding out both the nose and mouth. Lovely. $35. Bought 1 bottle.

2004 Rosenthal Cabernet Sauvignon - Malibu Estate - Newton Canyon. Consistent with the previous Cabs, elegant and tasty, although this wine could stay in the bottle for while. Tannins were extremely firm. Nice spicy finish. $39.

2005 Surfrider 'Red' - 73% Merlot/26% Cabernet Sauvignon/1% Petit Verdot, all from the Newton Canyon vineyard. Cherries, vanilla, violets on the nose; red fruit and spice on the palate with a bit of oak. Lovely. $29.

Just a note about the Surfrider wines: Since many people associate Malibu with surfing and beautiful beaches, Rosenthal designed a label incorporating this coastal lifestyle with fine wines. Each wine features a different label series that changes with each vintage: California's picturesque coastlines, surfers, Woody's, VW Vans, and wooden long boards are all featured on their various varietals.

These wines support the Surfrider Foundation, a grassroots, non-profit, environmental organization that works to protect our oceans, waves, and beaches. For each bottle purchased, a donation is made to this praiseworthy enterprise.

The sun was beginning to get low in the sky, so we headed north on PCH to the Sunset Restaurant, located right on Zuma Beach in Malibu. We've been there a few times, and we're always happy. The setting is extraordinary - right on the beach, dolphins swimming by, perfect sunsets. And the food is good, too! We brought in the bottle of 2001 Rosenthal Cab, showed our LearnAboutWine membership card so they would waive the corkage fee, and settled down with a huge garden salad with goat cheese, pomegranate seeds and pecans (or walnuts?). My hanger steak arrived with perfect, crunchy pommes frites. JD's swordfish steak on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes with Chinese broccoli was also plate-licking good. Dee-lishus!!

The sun set gorgeously while we ate dinner. Got some good shots that I'll post on Facebook later. Took a leisurely drive home to end a perfect day. Now, getting ready for the holiday weekend. Cheers, everyone!

1 comment:

John said...

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. "It means just what I choose it to mean - neither more or less."
Perhaps the use of "Reserve" by CA winemakers falls under the same Carrollian heading.