8/20 - Showed some support for SSH at a small tasting of mostly local wines at J. Hamilton Wines (actually at The Plug Nickel) in Westlake Village, about whom there will be a separate post. Got to spend a bit of quality time chatting with noted winemaker, Norm Stafford, whose 2006 Humaliwo Ventureno blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc was full of chocolate and spice. Norm was the winemaker/consultant for several of the wineries there that day, and it was interesting to see how he dealt with different grapes and styles of wine.
8/28 - Having been sent a box of Patland Estate Vineyards wines by Mike Patland, I got the band together at FAB's to do some tasting. Tasters included Shawn, Debra, Marya, JD, and me. Manager Amelia stopped for a couple of tastes and we got her opinions as well. Of the 4 wines, we all liked the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc which we found to be medium-bodied, full of honeydew and pink grapefruit, and we found the 2008 Proprietary Blend of Cab Sauv, Malbec and Syrah to have a creamy, chocolaty, blackberryish, yummy (yes, that's a technical term) feel. The 2008 Syrah and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon left us all gasping for air due to their high alcoholic smell. We literally couldn't smell the fruit due to the wines' imbalanced nature. Maybe these wines are so big they need more time in the bottle? Hard to say. Based on reading the Patland website, the family is clearly passionate about what they're doing and have invested a lot of money and sweat in their passion. I look forward to seeing what they will do in the future.
8/29 - The Santa Barbara Vintners Association did a small, intense tasting at a|k|a bistro in Pasadena, followed by dinners at a|k|a bistro and Bistro 45. Michael Perlis wrote a great recap of the day, and you can find it on EveWine101. JD and I were able to spend a bit of time on some wines new to us, and opted to have a quiet dinner next door at Il Fornaio, with a nice 2009 Uvaggio di Giacomo Vermentino from Lodi.
8/31 - We attended the annual Hot August Night with the Duke of Bourbon at the Warner Center Marriott. I love these events. David Breitstein (and his crew) brings together winemakers and wine lovers, generously pours wines and serve piles of cheeses, breads and fruit, and we all have a great time. This year's offerings were up to the usual standard: Diamond Creek, Rombauer, Louis M Martini, M Squared, and O'Shaughnessy Estate. Our faves that night included the 2009 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace, Volcanic Hill and Gravelly Meadow barrel samples, and the Rombauer 2007 and 2006 Cabernets. And I confirmed that I really don't care for big, oaky Chardonnays at all. Sorry. Other folks there loved the Rombauer and O'Shaughnessy Chards. Me, not so much. Now a Joseph Drouhin white Burgundy would do the trick, but that was not an option...sigh...
9/4 - JD and I attended Cheese 101 at Anthony's Fine Food & Wine in La Canada. This is a brand new restaurant/cheese bar/wine bar, and the food is wonderful, Anthony is an artist with cheese, and Tony (the other partner) is delightful and knowledgeable about wines. Anthony provided a history of cheese making to accompany the delicious examples of cheesy goodness. And he paired the cheeses with two easy-to-drink wines: 2009 Vina Mayor Rueda Verdejo - a refreshing floral, green peppery nose with nice minerality and apple and melon in the mouth. The red was a terrific 2010 Il Trullo Primitivo del Salento - big, jammy in best way, and a good match for a couple of the stronger cheeses. We learned, we tasted, we drank, we laughed - and then we ran outside to see a gorgeous double rainbow over the mountains.
9/6 - Got on the road early the next day and headed north. Had to pick up wine at Laraneta and Tablas Creek for Cooking for Love. It was around 100 degrees in Paso Robles, so after making our two stops, we fled to the ocean. Morro Bay was a delightful 57 degrees and foggy. We were happy. We headed to STAX Wine Bar and spent around 4 hours hanging with Nic Doyle, who splits his time between STAX and the Morro Bay Albertson's, where he's the wine manager. We tasted a bunch of wines - and even liked some of them. I really liked the 2009 Sinor La Vallee Pinot Noir from San Luis Obispo. At under $30, it's a bargain. The 2009 Murphy Goode Cabernet was a typical fruit forward Napa Cab; very friendly and easy-drinking for $19.95. We promised to come back the next evening - and I would pour some Shai Cellars 2008 Adome for him.
9/7 - After taking care of family obligations, and making a date with cousins Sara and Bill to meet at STAX that evening, we headed to the Morro Bay Wine Cellar at the other end of the Embarcadero. We've tasted there before; they have a lovely view of the bay and a diverse and well-priced inventory. The young woman behind the bar was sweet, but not knowledgeable about what she was pouring, so we helped her. Most of the tastes of the day were not that interesting, but there were a couple of good ones: 2010 Telmo Rodriguez Basa Rueda Blanco Verhelho - greenish, with soft fruit and nice acidity; for $17, it was hard to pass up. 2007 Maloy O'Neill 'Fremere' Petit Verdot/Cab Sauv/Cab Franc from Paso. Some serious tannins, big, could lie down for several more years. 2007 Halter Ranch Cab Sauv from Paso. 80% CS with small amounts of Petit Verdot, Cab Franc and Malbec. Full of anise and eucalyptus in the nose, big red fruit in the mouth and lots and lots of tannins with a spicy finish.
9/7 - Back at STAX, we opened the 2008 Shai Adome and impressed the heck out of everyone there. Nic, knowing we were coming back, opened 2 bottles from his own cellar - a killer 2000 Chateau de Cruzeau Pessac-Leognan from the Graves region in France. Smelled like dirt - in the best possible way!! He also treated us to a 2008 Hitching Post Cork Dancer Pinot Noir from Santa Maria - always a favorite, easy-drinking Pinot. While we were there, Deborah Scarborough of The Black Cat Bistro in Cambria came in, sent over her card because she recognized the Goddess! I poured her the Shai and gave her Shawn's card. I guess I'm his unofficial agent.
Meanwhile, our cousins arrived. We drank some wine and headed to a new place in town - DiStasio's Italian Restaurant. They were barely open, construction still going on; the servers were doing the best they could, but service was spotty. Still, the food was excellent, the wines (yeah, yeah, we brought the wines) delightful, and the company crazed as always.
9/8 - We headed to Cambria on Thursday - our favorite little town on the CA coast. Breakfasted at Linn's so we had a base, and headed to the Cambria Wine Shop - now Madeline's Wine Shop. David Stoothoff, the Proprietor/Chef of Madeline's, our favorite restaurant in town, bought the wine shop and kept the staff. Dennis was off traveling, now that he doesn't have to worry about running a business, and Kelley the Wine Demon was there to pour and entertain. Highlights - and purchases - were: 2009 Domaine des Persenades Cote de Gascogne - a crisp blend of Ugni Blanc and Columbard, fruity with an illusion of sweetness, but bone dry; 2008 Domaine Alain Normand Macon la Roche Vineuse (Vin de Bourgogne) - a peachy, apricot-y surprise; 2006 Derby 'Fifteen 10' Red from Paso Robles - a Rhone-style blend with lots of anise; 2008 Adelaida Pinot Noir, Paso Robles - cherry/raspberry nose, with dried cherries and mushrooms in the mouth; 2009 Missing Leg Syrah from Templeton - we call this breakfast wine: fruit, coffee and mocha, bacon! There was a rumor that John Alban was involved with Missing Leg, but Kelley wasn't sure. Nice rumor! We finished up the day with an amazing dinner at The Black Cat Bistro. Deborah is a world class chef! Cheers!
9/9 - Friday, we tearfully left the coast, first heading inland to Dark Star Cellars to pick up wine for Cooking for Love. Susan got Norm to sign a magnum of Ricordati for the silent auction, and then I cornered their son, Brian of Brian Benson Cellars, to donate a couple of bottles of his best Kandy Red. Thanks to all the Bensons for their generosity! Not wanting to stay too long in the heat, we headed south and stopped at Taste of the Valleys Pismo Beach to spend an hour or so with the lovely Lissa. Oh yeah, and taste some wines! We went home with a bottle of 2008 Trenza Tinto, a Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blend that added in some Tempranillo just to make it a California blend. Yum! We also grabbed a bottle of Jim Clendenen's Il Podere (Au Bon Climat) Teroldego - an Italian varietal that we really like.
9/12 - Grape of the Night - Semillon - Always interesting and fun, the biggest discovery was that, despite the fact that JD and I actually have a few bottles of 100% Semillon in our cellar, I don't really like it unblended. Now, add it to some Sauvignon Blanc, and I'm happy! The only Semillon I liked that evening was the 2010 Chateau Granville Lacoste from Graves that the Weidemans brought, and it had 20% Sauv Blanc! Rusty spoke at length about botrytis, the "noble rot" and Sauternes, but unfortunately, none of the wines we tasted that night were botrytized, so that was that. I'm sure Rusty will post a lengthy and detailed description of the evening on Eve's blog.
9/13 - Quick dinner at FAB's and discovered a 2009 Ajello Nero d'Avola - a yummy little wine from Sicily. I think Nero d'Avola is my new favorite grape!
9/16 - Laraneta wine dinner at Nicola's Kitchen - Delicious and fun! And got to spend the evening chatting up our good friend Rico Mandel.
9/17 - Met up with Marya and longtime friend Deb D to taste some Cakebread Cellars at Wally's Wines. Reconfirmed that I really don't like big oaky Chards, but I do like big Napa Cabs and Merlots. So sue me. We needed more wine, so we hopped over to The Wine House and played downstairs in their Enomatic tasting room. Some good finds and some not-so-much finds. Stayed for dinner at Upstairs II. Great tapas, and luckily, we all brought wine to share, so it was fun indeed! Oh, did I mention that Shawn showed up at Wally's and stayed with us through the evening. Good times!
9/18 - And finally - before we just collapsed - the Grand Opening of the Four Brix Wines tasting room!! We love Four Brix wines, and we adore the 3 couples who turned their love of wine into a winery. I posted on Facebook that we were going to attend the opening on Sunday, and Grape of the Night friends, the Dellapiane's, showed up to party with us. Don and Cheryl took some great photos, a few of which I'm posting here. The tasting room in Ventura is beautiful, the back of the 'store' is ready for wine processing, and we look forward to visiting there often. Cheers to the Stewarts, the Simonsgaards and the Noonans!
|Steve Simonsgaard of Four Brix Wines (left) makes sure the Goddess & her entourage are happy|
|Cheryl D., the Goddess, Gary Stewart of Four Brix,||& JD|
Whew! It's been a month. Stay tuned for more exciting adventures with the Goddess & JD! Cheers!