Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lunch with Ally on Black Friday...

Met with fellow WineShop at Home colleague and friend, Ally C., at the Café del Rey in the Marina. JD and I worked several LearnAboutWine events there, and always thought about staying and dining, but we were usually so tired by the end of the event, we'd just go home. This time it was our turn to be waited on.

We got there early, of course. After the adventures we've had going south, we always give ourselves too much time to get someplace. But I can't be late! In my family that is the BIGGEST sin! On time is late - you have to be there 15 minutes early!

So we waited for a while in the car and then went inside, where we were shunted to the bar because the restaurant wasn't actually open yet. We ordered a couple of glasses of Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sparkling Brut from Australia at $8/glass. A yummy way to start the day! The wine had large, golden bubbles, with lots of citrus-y fruit at the front and a soft finish.

Ally arrived - on time - and we were seated. She ordered a glass of the Brut to keep up with us, and we talked and talked and talked, and finally got around to ordering our lunch. We looked over the wine list, which was diverse and interesting, and seriously marked up. We finally decided on a lovely 2008 Babcock Pinot Noir. One of the more affordable bottles of wine on the list at $43.

JD's choice - moroccan lamb burger with sheep’s milk cheese, tzatziki, harissa spiced fries $18. The fries were yummy, and JD didn't leave any evidence behind, so I'm assuming the burger was, too!

Ally's choice - grilled cheese and tomato soup - toasted brioche, mozzarella, parmesan, $15. She was very happy with her meal. The sandwich looked great!

Denise's choice - dungeness crab cake, kataifi, cucumber and dill tzatziki, toasted cumin (small plate) $9. I also had the soup of the day which was delicious and creamy, but I can't remember what was in it! We were so busy talking, I didn't write it down!

We talked about our business and how to improve it. We talked about wine education and how to get more of it, and incorporate it into our business - or turn it into our business. We're both a bit frustrated with WSAH right now. The economy has definitely affected peoples' willingness to host tastings and buy wine. And the company is making some changes that I think will be for the best in the long run, but the transition is a bit difficult right now. We'll see how things turn out.

In the meantime, we compared notes, told stories, strategized, gave our waitress a big tip - because we sat there a long time - and parted ways.

JD and I drove up the coast to Malibu, turning on Kanan Dume Road, with the intent of visiting our friends' wine shop, the Cornell Winery, but to our dismay, it was closed! We had checked the web site, but there was nothing to indicate they weren't going to be open on Friday, so we drove home disappointed...sigh...Still it was a lovely day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Thanksgiving weekend begins...

Ian Blackburn and his brother, Bob, have hosted the Night Before Thanksgiving dinners for 13 years. This year, with Ian getting ready to leave for New Zealand on turkey day, they chose a brand new restaurant, Mo-Chica, to entertain around 45 of their closest or newest friends. JD and I assisted Ian with setting up, and the staff at Mo-Chica took care of the rest.

The guests arrived between 7 and 8, each carrying a bottle of wine to share. There were 4 bottles of various whites - a dry Riesling from Tasmania, a sweet Riesling from Germany, a lovely Champagne from France, and another - no idea what it was. Everyone else brought reds. Cabernets, Merlots, Syrahs, Grenaches, blends of every sort; a couple of lovely Rhone blends, a lot of terrific California wines. No plonk at all!

Dinner was an interesting and eclectic blend. Peruvian food seems to be somewhere in between Spanish and Asian, and this was a good example. I think. What the heck do I know about Peruvian food??

Course 1 - Purple cauliflower soup. Seemed more like a squash soup. Delicious and creamy. I could have been happy with that! But there was more.

Course 2 - Causa - Sundried tomatoes and avocado mousse, with a slightly spicy olive aioli sauce. Well, the menu said avocado mousse, but we all thought it was creamed potatoes. Whatever it was, it was delicious! The aioli sauce was slightly spicy, but the dish was very well-balanced in its flavors.

Course 3 - Ceviche with scallops and caviar. Didn't like this one so much. There was no caviar that I was aware of, and there was SO much citrus - lemon/lime? - that it overpowered the scallops. There was a garnish of corn, kind of grits-like, which helped deal with the over-citrusy flavors, but I didn't finish it, and even Ian complained that this wasn't what he remembered.

Course 4 - Black cod with quinoa and pumpkin puree, accompanied by a roasted tomato. Yummy.

Course 5 - Pork belly with barley huancaina risotto. The pork was tasty, but there was so much fat, it was hard to find the meat.

Course 6 - Carob flan. You either liked it on not. I liked it a LOT. Who knew carob paired so well with Syrah?

After dinner, Ian turned up the music and danced. We fled to the mercado where Mo-Chica is actually located, and waited for either Ian to tire or security to throw us out. Which is what actually happened. Folks said their goodnights and left, and we cleaned up the glasses and wine stuff and got out of there.

We met back at Ian's loft, chatted for a bit and went our separate ways. In bed by 2 a.m., much later than we anticipated. Slept until 12:30 in the afternoon!

We had already decided that we were going to Bistro Provence for dinner on Thanksgiving. Got there at 6 p.m. with our bottle of 2003 Twomey Merlot in hand, and settled in for another amazing meal.

First Course - Butternut squash soup, apples, crème fraiche. Oh. My. God.

Second Course choice of various lovely dished. I chose the jumbo asparagus and brie tart, wild mushrooms, truffle vinaigrette, and JD went for the crispy pumpkin gnocchi with pearl onions, lardoons, spinach, sage. We were both happy with our choices.

Main Course choice of various dishes - traditional turkey dinner, rib eye steak, ham, salmon. We both chose the Grilled Rib Eye served with garlic mashed potatoes, rapinni, red wine jus. Huge steaks, perfectly cooked. We both took home half of our main course.

Dessert turned out to be a combination of apple tart with caramel sauce and cinnamon Chantilly cream and pumpkin pie.

By the time we were finished - 2 hours later - I couldn't breathe. So much wonderful food! Friendly service, warm and comfy environs. We really like Bistro Provence. An excellent choice - one for which we were very thankful!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random thoughts as Thanksgiving approaches...

Yep, it's that time of year again. Everyone's writing articles about what wine to pair with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. I have drunk everything from Champagne to the deepest, darkest Zinfandel with Thanksgiving dinner, and I have never found anything that doesn't work. So drink what you like!

JD and I are starting the holiday season at Ian Blackburn's 13th annual Night Before Thanksgiving Dinner. This year it will be at Mo-Chica, a new Peruvian restaurant in LA. Ricardo Zarate and Mario Orellana, both formerly of Zu Robata and various other high-end dining establishments, have created authentic Peruvian cuisine. There will be a blog about the evening later in the week.

This year, JD and I decided to go out for dinner for Thanksgiving. We're going to Bistro Provence, a lovely little French restaurant in a shopping center. Next to Starbucks. Chef-owner Miki Zivkovic, previously the chef at Pinot Bistro, is behind this inviting California bistro. With its mustard-yellow walls, dark wood paneling and linen-covered tables, it's a warm, homey environment in which to enjoy some amazing food. The front of the restaurant is so low-key, you can pass it by, but once you go inside, there is no sense that you're anywhere but home. If your home is in France.

Miki also owns Lucas Trattoria (in the same shopping center) and Third and Olive. We've eaten at Bistro Provence and Lucas Trattoria a few times, and we are big fans! One of these days, we'll get to Third and Olive. In the meantime, we're looking forward to the prix fixe meal offered, and thinking about what wines to bring.

Saturday and Sunday, my little theatre - The Eclectic Company Theatre - is hosting an arts and crafts festival to help folks beat the Black Friday/mall shopping blues. Come on down and check out some original art. I'll be pouring wines on Sunday the 29th, so don't be shy!

Wishing all my readers, friends and family a happy, healthy and fun Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A WineShop at Home tasting...

Did a WineShop at Home tasting last Saturday. Drove south to Buena Park in Saturday afternoon rush hour traffic using Google Maps instructions. Got a bit lost. The map left out an important left turn. This is the second time Google's done that to me. Not amused.

Got to my hostess's home. She was partially set up, so we worked together. I asked what was the final count for the tasting. She said there would be 8. It got to the hour of the tasting. No one had arrived...sigh...

Now this is not unusual these days. It's odd to me because I was raised to believe that on time was late - you were supposed to be a bit early for an appointment. But these days, the response to the question, "Where is everybody?" is always, "Oh, you know, it's L.A.," as if this excuses the inconsiderateness. This excuse refers to the supposedly laid-back, everyone waiting for a better offer, flakiness of those who live here in SoCal. And it definitely exists. I just think it's not just confined to California these days.

Anyway, eventually guests started to arrive. And arrive. And arrive. We started almost an hour late, and more people arrived. I think the final count - of drinking guests - was 12. There were at least 5 other adults plus several kids (who went into another room).

We went around the table and introduced ourselves. Everybody talked about how much they loved sweet wines. Of course, I didn't have any in the sampler, but we went forward. I didn't have JD with me to pour (he was off running 2 shows at The Eclectic Company), so my hostess did the honors - and very well, I should add.

We tasted the wines:
Lumiere de Vie 2008 Sauvignon Blanc - North Coast (Sonoma) - Brilliant fruit aromas balanced with a gentle grassiness common to Sauvignon Blanc. The flavor is silky smooth and a wonderful complement to the aroma. I really like this SB. $16.00

Sun Fish 2008 Chardonnay - Mendocino - Fresh ripe aromas of apple and peach with hints of citrus and golden raspberry. Medium acidity, fruity flavors and nice round mouth-feel. The finish is fruity and mellow with hints of acidity. No oak, pristine, elegant. $17.50

Talmage T 2008 Chardonnay - Monterey - Lovely apple and fresh green pear with hints of butter and oak in the nose. Smooth and silky mid-palate with just the right amount of acid. The finish is a medium length mix of fruit and acidity. Folks who didn't like the Sun Fish loved this! $17.50

Pied Violet Reserve 2007 Merlot - Aromas of ripe blackberry and cranberry with hints of toasty oak and cinnamon. This wine is layered with complex flavors. There is just a hint of oak under all of that fruit balanced with pleasing spice. The flavors are big and smooth with a long soft-tannin finish. I LOVE this Merlot! Keep it on its side for another 3 years - it will only get better! $19.50

Sun Fish 2008 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast - Layers of vanilla, raspberry and earth with delicate hints of leather, licorice and spice. The finish is medium in length with the fruit flavors and acidity up front and a soft tannic undertone. This Pinot was a big surprise to me! I really like it and bought a bunch for myself, because I am my own best customer! $21.00

De Beaumont 2007 Red Meritage - Alexander Valley - The nose is full of plum, vanilla, licorice and sandalwood with hints of clove and cinnamon. The flavors are a balanced with a pleasing medium weight mouth-feel. Long finish, a mix of fruit and smooth tannin. Delicious! $23.00

I was gratified that several folks who said they didn't like dry wines really liked what we poured. They were a really fun group of folks - although several of them literally fled before I could even thank them for attending, let alone talk to them about hosting or buying.

So, it's almost Thanksgiving. Several of these wines would pair exceptionally well with roasted turkey, especially the Sun Fish Pinot Noir. I highly recommend it.

Who wants to host a tasting? Great wines abound!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Glimpses into other lives...

Last Saturday I worked a private wine event with Ian Blackburn of As always, the private events hold different challenges - logistics, specific agendas, trying to pour Champagne in large format bottles. You know, the usual.

This event was to support a local school - the organizers and hosts of the event are active in their community, and this is one of their ways of giving back. I'm not going to divulge what community or who the hosts were, because it was a private event, but I will say, the rich are different. Not in a bad way; just working from a different place of reference. This was the home to which they had downsized after their children had left the roost. It was a mere 6,000 square feet, 3 floors. My point of reference is my home in Burbank at 854 square feet. One floor. Their kitchen was larger than my home...sigh...I complimented our hosts on the amazing kitchen and they both said that they really don't cook.

I arrived early with a cooler containing 6 magnums of Champagne and California Sparkling wine and 30 pounds of ice, as well as 3 boxes of LAW wine glasses that JD and I had seriously polished earlier that day - using white vinegar to remove the mineral deposits left by a less than efficient dishwasher, large and heavy ice buckets, and various other supplies. Per Ian's instructions, I set up all the glasses and the ice buckets and waited for him to arrive from his Australian wine event at the Americana in Glendale earlier that day.

He and Dan S. arrived. We opened the first 3 magnums - 2 French and 1 California. Ian did his own blind tasting and made his guesses. The bottles had been previously covered in foil and numbered 1, 2 and 3 so that even he didn't know which wine was which while we were pouring. He and Dan did most of the pouring - those bottles were heavy, and my shoulder is just not right; I handed out the brochures about the blind tasting as the movers and shakers of the community arrived.

After all the guests arrived and had tasted all three wines, we asked them for their guesses, and then unwrapped the bottles. Among the guests, it was evenly divided as to which wine they thought was which. I suspect only a few actually got it right. The wines were:

Delamotte, Brut, Champagne, France NV - 92 points Wine Spectator
Tasting notes: Smells of fresh bread dough intermixed with buttery citrus; light to medium body, lingering effervescence with tiny pinpoint bubbles.

Schramsburg, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Napa Valley 2006 - 92 points Wine Spectator
Tasting notes: Crisp and fruity with pronounced peach, apple and vanilla that taste a bit sweet offset by a very high acidity. Finishes clean and doughy.

Taittinger, Brut, La Francaise, Champagne, France NV - 92 points Wine Spectator
Tasting notes: Fruit and toast aromas; delicate structure on the palate with some small minerality, fruit and a nice clean finish.

One interesting note about the guests and the wines: Several guests were kind of snooty about French versus California wines, but the overwhelming favorite of the night was - to everyone's surprise - the Schramsburg. Yay, CA!!

At this point the guests exited to the venue where dinner was being served. Ian and his hosts had put together another amazing round of wines to go with the gourmet dinner, but I was not a participant and can only dream about the wines and foods the group enjoyed that evening. Dan and I cleaned up the tasting stuff; repacked the glasses, put away the hors d'oeuvres that the hosts had just left out, put the remaining magnums in the fridge, packed up Ian's car, and went to our respective homes.

I sat down with glass of red wine, some cheese and crackers, and reflected on the evening and what it would be like to be able to host such an event. Maybe someday.


Monday, November 9, 2009

San Antonio Winery

Took a vacation day from the earth job on Friday, and headed downtown to the San Antonio Winery for lunch and wine tasting. The San Antonio Winery is the oldest winery in the greater Los Angeles area - established 1917, and the only one actually making wine in the heart of the city.

As the wine industry of California moved from Southern to Central and Northern California in the mid 1900’s, founder Santo Riboli and his nephew Stefano Riboli had no intention of leaving their home in LA. While Santo and Stefano lived and developed their business in Los Angeles, they kept their focus on the burgeoning wine regions in the North and over time acquired vineyard properties in some of the most prestigious areas.

We had a pleasant lunch in the Maddalena Restaurant - a kind of cafeteria, but with food made fresh. John had spaghetti with Italian sausage; I had penne and chicken Alfredo. Both lunches came with fresh green salad and Italian bread, and we shared an appetizer plate of artichoke hearts, dry salami chunks, marinated mushrooms, mozzarella cheese. We paired the meal with a bottle of Maddalena Cabernet Sauvignon ($18), and sat without being rushed while listening to a solo saxophonist play to a karaoke soundtrack. The food was hearty, if uninspired, and certainly filled us up.

We took the short walk to the tasting room/wine store, and serendipity occurred. In the middle of a very busy Friday, our barista turned out to be Santo Riboli, the 3rd generation owner/winery manager of San Antonio Winery! He is the son of Maddalena Riboli, who is still serving wine in her namesake restaurant at age 83 (I think he said 83)! We started chatting with Santo, pulled out my business card, and found ourselves in the middle of a private tour of the winery, getting the history of the Riboli family - their trials and tribulations of immigrating to a new country, starting a winery, dealing with Prohibition (sacramental wines saved them), and moving along with technology. Santo graciously allowed me to take photos as we walked thru the winery, and I'll have them on my Facebook page later today.

Back to the tasting room, where we tasted the following wines made by winemakers Anthony Riboli (family!) and Armand Debons:

2007 Maddalena Pinot Grigio - Monterey. Very clear, bright, straw-colored. The nose was faintly floral. In the mouth, very tart and acidic, but the finish was smooth with a lemony finish.

2008 San Antonio Heritage White - Santa Lucia Highlands/Monterey. A very interesting blend of Viognier, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. Pretty pale gold color, not much nose, but very fruity and nicely balanced acidity. No wood, all stainless steel aging. A bit spicy on the end. We bought a bottle. $18.95

2006 Windbreak Chardonnay - Santa Lucia Highlands. A very oaky nose, nice mouth feel, but as I continued to sip (while we walked thru the winery), the oak really got to be too much for my taste. If you like oak, this is your Chardonnay. $18.95

2007 Windbreak Pinot Noir - Santa Lucia Highlands. Deep red with a clear edge. The nose was surprisingly Burgundian - mushrooms, earth. Tasted of black fruit. Really tannic - good structure for aging. I'd leave it in the bottle for another 3 - 5 years. $29.95

2006 Heritage Rhone Blend - Paso Robles Estate. Syrah, Petit Sirah, Mourvedre, Grenache come together for a deep red blend. $24.95

Santo then poured a dessert wine for us - Moscato D'Asti - Il Duca Imperiale. A very extravagant name for a pale gold honeyed wine that retails for $8.35. They make 30,000 cases/year. Delicious!

We finished the tasting with the Stella Rose Il Conte D'Alba from Asti. It's a pretty pink, smells and tastes of fresh raspberry. It's partially fermented grape must. A very big seller for San Antonio for very little money - $8.35

San Antonio makes a lot of different wines, some local to California, some from the old homestead in Italy. They also have a large selection of wines and spirits from all over the world, as well as gift baskets, and special events at the winery.

We made our goodbyes to Santo, carrying out a few bottles of the wines we liked best. It was wonderful spending time in one of LA's true historic spaces, and we will definitely go back!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

STARS of Cabernet

Last Thursday, JD and I were privileged to attend LearnAboutWine's seventh annual STARS of Cabernet event at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. We were joined by our friend, Debra B., which whom we had dined at Palate a couple of weeks ago. Ian assembled a truckload of some of the most interesting producers in California. We did our best, but I'm pretty sure we weren't able to taste half of the wines there. We did, however, taste some GREAT Cabernets and blends, and got the chance to refresh or develop relationships with some terrific wine folks.

On the way in, we somehow skipped the first table and went directly to A. Rafanelli, where Patti and Stacey Rafanelli were pouring the 2006 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A perfect way to start the evening. We perused the program, deciding to narrow the choices down to specific wineries we either had never tasted, or loved so much, we needed to taste more.

Highlights of the evening:

2006 Continuum, Proprietary Blend, Oakville. Continuum is Robert Mondavi's grandson, Carlo, who was good enough to take off his knitted hat for a picture. I tasted this wine last year, and blown away by it. I was again bowled over by the wine. Complex, delicious. And Carlo was so pleased that his wine was being received well. It's important to him to continue his grandfather's work. This wine is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 16% Petit Verdot.

We spent way too much time talking to Clay Mauritson about his Loam Single-Soil Wines, a relatively new labor of love from a winemaker already known for his Mauritson Wines in Healdsburg. Clay spoke eloquently about what he calls the geologic legacy, revealing the exemplary characteristics of each of particular soil series. Fascinating! And the wines, each named for the specific soil in which the vines are grown, are delicious and complex - and very different from each other despite the fact they are all the same clone. Terroir, indeed! Check the website -

Another discovery was Palmaz Vineyards, a state-of-the-art endeavor by the family of the doctor who developed the surgical stent. The wines were outstanding - Christian and Jessica Palmaz are justifiably proud of their amazing Cabs.

Other favorites of the evening:
Poem Cellars - You might say this is the love child of Joey Wolosz and Jeff Durham, whose wines are named Marriage, Elope and Tastevin. I liked Marriage best - a big Cab with an amazingly floral nose. I wanted to wear it as perfume!

Peju Winery, of course. Fun folks, delicious wines.

Lancaster Estate - one of our favorites for many years. Deb couldn't get over the nose and the outright deliciousness of the Alexander Valley meritage. We were happy just to taste an old friend. So to speak.

Had a lovely visit with Dan Stotesbery of Ladera Vineyards. The Stotesberys bought the vineyard in 2000, keeping the history of the winery intact - it's haunted, by the way - but creating a state-of-the-art winemaking facility.

I just looked at the program again. Out of 39 tables we tasted at 15 and ran out of time. It was a terrific evening, benefiting the TJ Martell Foundation and Cancer Research at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. I wish we had had time to taste more! Maybe next year. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wines, wines, wines...

Here is the list of wines poured at the very secret tasting I attended on Sunday. Talk about a 'host with the most'! I was amazed at how few of these wines I actually drank that day, but I did leave early to meet JD for dinner.

2007 Yalumba Viognier - Didn't taste it
2007 Four Vines Naked Chardonnay - Didn't taste it on Sunday, but have had it before. I like the temerity of Four Vines!
2007 Burge Family Semillon - Beautiful, soft fruit, creamy finish.
2008 Mollydooker “The Violinist” Verdelho - already raved about this yesterday. Did you know that 'mollydooker' is the Aussie term for a left-handed person? Oh those quaint and colorful Aussies!

2005 Robert Biale Grande Vineyard Zinfandel - Didn't taste it
2005 Robert Biale Party Line Zinfandel - Didn't taste it
2005 Burge Family Clochemerle - Loved this! A nicely balanced GSM, full of dark fruit with a velvety texture. Primary taste is the Syrah - lovely.
2005 Carlisle Dry Creek Valley Syrah - Didn't taste it
2005 Carlisle Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel - Didn't taste it
2005 D’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz - Didn't taste it, but I've had it before. Dee-lish!
2005 Failla Phoenix Ranch Syrah [Turley’s winemaker’s own label] - This is what I liked, but forgot to write down the name.
2005 First Drop “Fat of the Land” Shiraz - Didn't taste it
2005 Glaymond “Distance” Shiraz - Didn't taste it
2005 Maloy O’Neill “Lexicon” - An interesting red blend: 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Pinot Noir, 14% Syrah, 14% Sangiovese, 7% Lagrein - I loved it, and it was a great match to the nicely spiced food offerings.
2005 Outpost Petite Sirah - Didn't taste it
2005 Turley Library Vineyard Petite Syrah [don’t blame me, this is how they spell it] - Lovely. I think I raved about this yesterday, too.
2005 Turley Moore “Earthquake” Vineyard Zinfandel - Didn't taste it
2005 Turley Pesenti Grenache - Didn't taste it
2006 Ancient Peaks Malbec - Didn't taste it

So, I missed a number of wines I would love to taste one of these days. Perhaps the gracious, but mysterious host will invite me back some day!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Midweek meandering...

JD's busy with The Princess Plays at the Eclectic Company Theatre. While running lights and sound, he gets to watch the amazingly talented kids of The Children's Theatre Group of Southern California play princesses and witches and all the elements of various entourages in these charming one-acts. Directed by Jason Alexander's son, Gabe Greenspan, himself a charter member of CTGSC and a talent in his own right, fairy tales spring to life in a most unusual way. You should see it!

So JD's working the show, which did not play on Saturday night, Halloween. We went to a party at our friends' home, an annual event which is always a blast. This year, I got drafted to tell 'fortunes' along with a few other hardy souls who were willing to make up things out of thin air to amuse. As always, great food, lots of inexpensive, but drinkable wine (this year the bargain was CK Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), karaoke, and the most amazing collection of Halloween decorations, memorabilia and downright icky decor. Where they get this stuff, I don't even want to know!

Thought I'd have a lazy Sunday - JD off to the theatre for the matinee - and while chatting online with a friend, I suddenly found myself on a wine tasting adventure. I can't tell you where it was, or who hosted it, but the wines were delicious! A couple that stood out for me:

2008 Mollydooker 'The Violinist' Verdelho - buttery, with nicely balanced fruit, acid and oak. My friend, who shall also remain nameless, tasted green apple. I just enjoyed the heck out of it.

There was also a Syrah by Pailla (I think that was the name on the label), which was just yummy, with smoky dark fruit and big tannins, and a Petit Sirah from Turley that rocked my world. I'll have more info about the wines that were poured later in the week, if my host gets me the list (hint, hint!).

We were lucky enough to have some great food paired with the wines - a modest selection of cheeses, nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, crackers, spicy pasta, Swedish meatballs (yum!), empanadas with aioli sauce to dip in. There may have been more, but I had to tear myself away and go home to meet JD for dinner. Not that I was hungry!

This week, the big event is Thursday night at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. It's Stars of Cabernet, hosted by Ian Blackburn of LearnAboutWine. It will be amazing!