Monday, November 29, 2010

Wining in November...a month to remember...

November has been such a fun month! Great food and wine, good times with friends. I love my life!

We kicked things off at the November Grape of the Night at the Valencia Wine Company with everyone's favorite sparkling wines, had a delightful evening of Cru Beaujolais wines with, followed up by amazing Cabernets from all over California at STARS of Cabernet with

We took a short breath, shared another gourmet dinner (osso bucco! polenta! dark chocolate torte!) at, found some wonderful artists hiding in Reseda, and shared a sad afternoon laying a dear friend to rest.

Then we topped off the month with a glorious day of wine and food in Malibu with the amazing Rico Mandel and a gaggle of girls from Saskatchewan celebrating a milestone birthday. Now, all I want to do is sleep!

Highlights of my meanderings:

11/8 - Grape of the Night at Valencia Wine:
NV Contessa Guilia Prosccco. Inexpensive, crisp, clean. Paired it with our stuffed sweet potato dinner on Thanksgiving. Delish!
NV Comte Ardoin de Dampierre Champagne. Not in my budget, but delicious!

11/10 - Wine tasting at
In honor of Beaujolais Nouveau, we had Cru Beaujolais instead! Did you know that there are 42 villages in the Maconnais region of France, the most famous being Pouilly-Fuisse? The Crus Beaujolais (consisting of either Gamay Noir, Chardonnay, or Aligote) are all accessible, easy-drinking, and mainly under $15/each.

My faves of the evening:
2009 Fleurie Domaine de Quatre Vents - some brett on the nose, great acidity, $15
2009 Moulin-A-Vent - The only Cru Beaujolais not named after a village, aged in oak, can stay in the bottle another 20 years, but great to drink right now, $17.

If you feel like you can't afford to buy a Burgundy, try some Macon Villages. You won't be sorry!

11/13 - Dinner at Bistro Provence in Burbank with Debra B:
I brought a half bottle of 2000 Chateau Potensac from the Medoc, which we savored while deciding what to order. JD & I bought the bottle a few years ago, and it's just been sitting waiting. Honestly, it could have stayed in the bottle longer, but once it opened up it was glorious, especially with my smoked salmon tart (left).

We opened Debra's 2006 D'Alfonso-Curran Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills, Sanford & Benedict vineyard). It paired perfectly with her risotto and my chicken. And it was extremely agreeable with the decadent dessert we shared. The icing on the cake was NO corkage. Don't know if they forgot, or they just liked us, but we were not about to complain!

11/18 - Dinner
Osso bucco! Polenta! Warm cabbage and prawn salad! Chocolate torte! And some tasty Argentine wines. It was OK, she lied. It was another amazing meal! Check my Facebook page for pictures of the dinner in progress. Watching Mark and Violetta work in the kitchen, making magical food is awe-inspiring. Goddess of Wine FB Page

Everyone took most of the week off for Thanksgiving while I worked on promoting my Introduction to Wine class coming up on 12/2 at Total Wine and More in Northridge. Should I worry that even the folks who said they're attending haven't bought their tickets yet? I'm staying positive - but it could just be JD and me - and some very nice wines - unless some folks commit to show up. Where are you guys? It's only $30 - and you get to meet the Goddess and JD!! And there's wine!!

11/28 - Wine tasting in Malibu with Rico Mandel and company:
1st stop - The Viceroy in Santa Monica to pick up the girls from Canada, who were giving their friend a surprise birthday wine tasting day. 2nd stop - A parking lot on PCH to pick up Alex, a recent acolyte of the Goddess, and a knowledgeable and fun denizen of the 'Bu, who provided terrific background stories about the region and the celebrities who inhabit it.
Teaching@Malibu Vineyards

1st winery: Malibu Vineyards. Real estate guy Jim Palmer successfully grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah, and creates magic blends. We picnicked between the house and the vineyards on a perfect California day: bright, sunny, breezy. The vineyard dog - a curious Jack Russell terrier - and the vineyard cat - the largest domestic cat I have EVER seen - hung around hoping for tidbits. Birthday girl Tanya and her posse from Canada marveled at the sunshine and ocean views while listening to the Goddess talk about the wines. Such good students!

2nd winery: Malibu Sanity. Winemaker Charles Schetter, a large-scale land developer by day, and a longtime Burgundy collector, planted six blocks of chardonnay and pinot noir in 2005, in his backyard, which happens to have the ideal microclimate: cool coastal breezes and lots of afternoon sunshine. His obsessive personality helps, too: Schetter tends the vines himself, has attended enology classes and constantly checks the computerized weather monitor that he keeps by his bed! Gorgeous views, an amazing home, an adorable 8-week-old bulldog, and well-made, truly hand-crafted wines. His 2008 Pinot Noir - of which almost none is left - is as close as California is going to come to Burgundy.

3rd winery: Cornell Winery. Not really a winery, but a tasting bar, art gallery and wine shop owned by Tim and Denise Skogstrom, who also have The Old Place, an historic restaurant right next door. We tasted thru this week's menu, and JD & I walked away with 2 bottles of the 2004 Malibu Valley, Triunfo Canyon Syrah - for $10/bottle! The Canadians - frequently checking their smart phones for info about the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup - their version of the Superbowl - tasted and purchased several of the offerings, along with cushioned wine bags for shipping home.

After the tasting - and the Saskatchewan Roughriders' loss to the Montreal Alouettes (the Alouettes? Really?) - we trooped over to The Old Place for a huge dinner and a visit with Tim, who showed us photos of his newest project, Cornell at the Malibu Courthouse, which may open pretty soon. Watch this space for news.

Happy and tired, our sturdy band fell back into the limo, dropped off Alex and headed back to the Viceroy. Hugs and thanks all around, and Rico, JD and I returned to the San Fernando Valley. For us, it had been almost a 14-hour day, filled with great wines, great food, new friends, gorgeous weather, and a real serious appreciation for my bed.

Many thanks to Rico Mandel, photographer, chef, event planner extraordinaire, for a glorious day among the vines in Malibu. Best. Day. Ever.

That wraps up November! I know this post was long, but I wanted to catch up as much as I could before the month ends entirely. Hope to see you on December 2nd at Total Wine and More. If you can't make it, please tell your friends! You can buy your tickets by clicking on the link in the upper right corner of this site. Just click on the 'Buy Now' link, and you'll be on your way to a new appreciation of wine!


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