Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wining and wining and wining...

It's been a crazy couple of months. Lots of projects at the day job getting in the way of the Goddess' wine plans, but we still managed to get to a few places. We'll start with the most recent and fill things in as we go.

My dear friend, Rico Mandel of Miz en Place, invited me to cover the opening of a new wine bar in Malibu, Malibu Beach Wines. MBW is the brainchild of Jim Palmer, proprietor, grower and winemaker of Malibu Vineyards wines. It's a lovely space, right on Pacific Coast Highway, where you can taste and purchase boutique wines grown in the proposed Malibu AVA and Central Coast. When I say 'boutique' I mean small production, lovingly-tended and passionately-made. The winemakers and wines being spotlighted for this opening event were Jim Palmer and Malibu Vineyards, Carol Hoyt of Hoyt Family Vineyards and Shawn Shai Halahmy of Shai Cellars.

Winemakers Jim, Shawn & Carol
Once all the invited media were present, Jim introduced his wines, his guest winemakers - who also spoke about their wines - and the tasting officially began.

There are about 50 vineyards in the Santa Monica Mountains, some as small as half an acre. "There are a lot of small producers making 20 to 30 cases a year of great wine, and they have few outlets to sell them," says Palmer. His aim is to carry as many of the local wine producers as possible, especially those with whom he has a personal relationship. Each winemaker has a unique story to tell that is reflected in the wine they produce.

To enhance the tasting, MBW had other local foodies there with generous amounts of delectables. Freshly roasted nuts from Magee's Nuts, luscious fruit spreads from Just Jan's Jams, cupcakes from Gotta Have Smore, and the most amazing handmade Teleme cheeses from Franklin's (available at Whole Foods), plus McQuade's Celtic Chutneys and Rustic Bakery Crackers. There was also a platter full of charcuterie, and gourmet pizzas supplied by local restauranteur Francesco V. of Tra di Noi Ristorante.

I started with the Hoyt wines. When Carol and Stephen Hoyt moved to Malibu, they wanted a home where they could walk to the beach or grow grapes. Incredibly, they were able to do both. In 2001, they  planted their first vineyard with Chardonnay. In order to figure out how to make wine, Carol bought 100 lbs of Cabernet Sauvignon and made her first wine in the kitchen of their house. After their first harvest in 2004, they moved their winemaking to a custom crush facility and made their first Chardonnay. Now they grow fruit and source fruit from Santa Ynez, Malibu and Paso Robles. They also purchased an 86 acre ranch in Paso Robles where they are growing Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viogner, Grenache, and Petit Verdot. Their consultants include Etienne Terlinden of Summerland Winery, and Travis Proctor of Terravant Winery in Buellton.

Carol poured several of her wines, including a lovely Chardonnay, that despite lots of oak and full malolactic conversion, maintains a tremendous balance of fruit and acid. My favorite of her delightful reds is her proprietary blend called Dylema (a portmanteau of her kids' names, Dylan and Emma), a 2009 melange of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Malbec. $19 at MBW.

Jim Palmer has been growing grapes in the hills of western Malibu and making wine since 1997, all single vineyard varietals including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sangiovese, in a microclimate of rich soil on a south-facing hillside at 1200 feet. Long days of sunlight and cool ocean breezes make some delicious wines. I've long been a fan of his Syrah, and was happy to taste it again on Friday, along with his interesting 'orange' Pinot Grigio - brief skin contact gives it a lovely color - and his delicious Rose of Sangiovese. All Jim's wines are available at the tasting room for $25 and under. A great deal!

Of course, everyone knows that Shai Cellars' proprietor and winemaker is my best buddy, Shawn Shai Halahmy. He was pouring his 2009 releases: Adome - means 'red' in Hebrew; a blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. Those of us who love his wine generally refer to it as 'crack'. Yeah, it's that good. He also poured his lovely 2009 Grenache. All his fruit is sourced from the Santa Ynez Valley in the Ballard Canyon and Tierra Alta regions. We love Shai and we're thrilled that Malibu Beach Wines is going to carry his wines.

Some of the other wineries featured at MBW that were not poured on Friday include Dolin, Pizzulli, La Vina Gomez, Republic of Malibu, and Casa Dumetz.

It was also a special day as I got to play with so many of my wineaux and foodie friends - Eve Bushman of evewine101 and Claudia Sheridan made the long trek from the Santa Clarita Valley, Shawn Burgert aka The Wandering Wino, Georgina Stassi of La Vita Fresca, Joe Wehinger of the Daily Ovation, and more!
The Goddess is happy

And the day continued as Rico and the lovely Jodi B. and I hit the Cornell Winery for a bottle of Gioia 'Tiggy' while waiting for the Saddlepeak Lodge to open. But that's a story for another day. Cheers!

Oh, and all photos courtesy of Rico Mandel Photography. Thanks, Rico!


Claudia said...

Great article Denise, and thanks for the mention :) As always, it was great seeing you!!

Goddess of Wine said...

Thanks, Claudia. It was great seeing you, too.

I think we need to create an event where we just invite our favorite wine writers - and bring lots of wine and snacks - and party without the need to write an article about it!