Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wining and adventures in Pasadena...

We set off early Saturday - breakfast with the usual gang at Lancers, plus a couple of Pete's nieces (new friends we now adore). Over to the Beauty Lounge in Pasadena, where Gina made us look shiny and new, and on to more adventures in wine.

Tasting @ Heritage
It was too early for most of the wine bars in Pasadena to be open, so we walked over to Heritage Wine and Spirits. We hadn't been there since the new owners had taken over, so we didn't know what to expect. Christian poured a glass of the 2008 Jana Rosé of Grenache for me (light, fresh, crisp), a glass of the 2009 Maipe Torrontes (a great aperitif) for JD, and we started off an adventurous afternoon! We sampled a fun sparkling Rosé, Fresita, a unique blend of Chilean sparkling wine (a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel) infused with fresh, handpicked strawberries from Patagonia. A little sweet for my taste, but Christian says he has trouble keeping it in stock. I believe it!

We tasted a 2009 Panky Rosé by Fontes & Phillips. It's a classic Rosé made from equal parts of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah from Camp 4 Vineyards in Santa Ynez. Delicious. We've tasted it before at Avant in Buellton, and I remember liking it then, too.

Our two favorite wines of the day - 'cause we tasted a bunch:

  • The Domaine Brazilier sparkling blend of Chenin Blanc and Pineau d'Aunis, also known as Chenin Noir - a red grape - blended into a delicious frizzante with terrific minerality and long yeasty finish. We really liked it and took a bottle to bring to the Memorial Day celebration tomorrow.
  • And the 2008 Pannuzio Malbec from the Giovanni Vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. The wine is a blend of 108-year-old vines and new vines; spicy, full of anise and wonderful red fruit.

We spent more time there than we planned, partly because we were having so much fun with Christian and the group of young wineaux sitting next to us at the comfortable bar. Christian and I spoke at length about the possibility of putting together some wine education classes in the future, so we'll see what ensues. What kind of classes would you be interested in attending, dear readers? Lemme know!

Big pours @ Vertical!
Moving on from Heritage - after several hugs from our new friends - we moseyed over to Vertical Wine Bistro. I've been wanting to go there for a while, but timing just wasn't right. This time, it worked. We headed up the steep flight of stairs (yes, there is an elevator) and stepped into the dark bar. The host greeted us, we sat on a low, padded bench against the wall, and took our time looking over the extensive wine list before making a choice. I chose a 2007 D'A Sicilia Nero D'Avola; JD went for the 2007 Biul Gine "Priorat" blend of Grenache and Carignan from Catalonia, Spain. I liked the Nero D'Avola, but JD's red blend was truly delicious. We paired these wines with crispy fried calamari, and leaned back against the pillows enjoying our somewhat decadent afternoon.

The bistro was starting to get busy and noisy, and we decided we were going to move on. Had to walk a bit, as I discovered I was a little buzzed and didn't want to get behind the wheel. Thus, we made the delightful discovery of Beyond the Olive, a store on N. Raymond specializing in California-grown Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Artisan Vinegars.

What a tasting! Just like wine, every oil has it's own special elements. We started with an EVOO by Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe; its peppery finish hit the back of my throat in fiery manner! Luckily, there was bread and water to cool things down. We tasted about 10 oils, several amazing vinegars, and even some special salt. We learned so much from the charming young woman - and forgot to get her name...sigh...sorry. She was so helpful and anxious to share her knowledge. We settled on Panacea Farms Frantoio organic EVOO. It has a buttery start with a slightly bitter, herbaceous finish that is going to pair beautifully with the artisan vinegars we already have at home.

And so we returned home, happy and relaxed. Such a good day! Hope you all have a great Memorial Day, spending time with family and friends, and raising a toast to those who served our country. Cheers!

No comments: