Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wine, Family, Wine, Friends, Wine, Networking, Wine, Wine, Wine...

Quite a weekend. Friday night was opening of The Jamb by J. Stephen Brantley at ECT. Really liked it much more than I thought I would, although it did tend to slip into soap opera at times. Beautiful performances by Brad Wilcox and Garrett Liggett, and solid showings by Kerr Seth Lordygan and Kenlyn Kenouse (whose part was underwritten). We poured inexpensive wines purchased at Trader Joe’s, paired with cheese and munchies. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, up early for breakfast with the gang. Then briefly home and on to Phyl and Ron’s to spend the day and evening with Steven and Judy (in from Seattle) and Mark and Shannon and Blake and Tori and Andi and Mike and the dog. Everyone was on pretty good behavior, Phyl brought in food from Brent’s Deli, we drank a lot of BV Coastal Estates Merlot, although JD finally opened a bottle of WSAH Talmage Merlot, which rocked. The decibel level started to get too loud, and JD was bored and sleepy, so we went home around 9 p.m.

Up early on Sunday, around the block to the Coral Café for a solid breakfast, and then down to the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport for Pinot Days, a huge event with over 75 wineries all pouring Pinot Noir (and the occasional bottle of Chardonnay pulled out from under the table). A lot of my colleagues have already posted their observations about the event, and I got more feedback the next day from Eve Bushman about the public portion. I was grateful that JD and I got into the Trade portion of the day. The basic setup of the event was just fine, although there was some initial confusion about where the actual entrance was going to be. Once that got sorted out, we walked around the hangar, scoping out the wineries we wanted to taste – there were so many that we didn’t want to go to wineries we knew (although we did check in with our friend, Josh Klapper, at La Fenêtre for his lovely Pinot). There were a few standouts:

Domaine Chandon - Yes, pouring still Pinot Noir! 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir with aromas of dried cherries, cedar and traces of dried tobacco; 2006 Chandon Reserve L'Argile Carneros Reserve Pinot Noir has layers of sage, dried berries. Rich flavors of blackberry, dried strawberry, cardamom and cedar and a bit of orange zest in the finish. And as a special treat, they poured a 2007 Carneros Pinot Meunier. Delicious!

Three Sticks - We weren't familiar with Three Sticks, but we really liked the wines and the ladies behind the table, who were properly respectful of the Goddess of Wine! 2006 Durell Vineyard Pinot Noir (WS90) - just a lovely, lovely wine. It has a wonderful nose, fruit in the mid palette and a smooth, integrated finish. The 2007 was also just wonderful.

Sand Hill - These wines are from the other side of the Durell Vineyard! They also poured a 2006 and 2007. Gorgeous wines; completely different from the Three Sticks wines, despite the fact they share the same winemaker, Don Van Staaveren! I love this biz!

Morgan - We've been fans of Morgan for a while. Dan Morgan Lee, who grows the grapes, and Gianni Abate, the winemaker, combine to make some amazing Pinots from the Santa Lucia Highlands. 2007 Twelve Clones Pinot Noir - Leather, toast, and vanilla, with cherry, rose petal, herbs, and some spicy/earthy notes. I love this wine - it's already in my cellar!

Inman Family Wines - Finally got to meet Kathleen Inman, a dynamo of a winemaker, wine grower, all-round one-woman show. All the wines she poured were unique and tasty, but I especially liked the 2006 Olivet Grange Vineyard (OGV) Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.

Merry Edwards - Wasn't familiar with this winery, but Travis said I had to taste it, so I did. 2007 Pinot Noir, Klopp Ranch, Russian River Valley. This is a BIG Pinot! Highly extracted fruit, somewhat surprising for a Pinot. This wine needs to be served with steak and rich sauces. A bit big for my taste, but well-made, and obviously an event favorite, based on the crowd around the table.

The most amazing thing is how many folks we ran into, starting with sommelier Debra Belcastro, sommelier Jared Hooper, Julie Brosterman of Women and Wine (one of the sponsors of the event), Brandon Beeson of Color and Aroma Magazine, blogger Erin McGrath and her fiancé, Russell (she’s posted an interesting take on the day on her blog, Vintwined), wine consultant Tom Stangl (whom we know from many events at LAW), the gorgeous JJ Rodgers and her newlywed husband, Travis Brazil, the Wine Director at Inn of the Seventh Ray, blogger Eve Bushman and her hub, Eddie, new friends Xochitl Maiman and her husband, and Barbara Cohen and her husband (all from ‘I’ll Drink to That’ a wonderful networking group), various others we see at LAW events and Duke of Bourbon events all the time, Michelle McCue, whom we met thru LAW, and now has her own PR and Marketing firm, Lucien Fick (another LAW friend and wine buyer for Whole Foods), and others I’m sure I’ve just forgotten because of too much wine and the passing of a few days. It just seemed as if every time we turned around someone called my name, so we actually spent a whole lot of time talking and catching up, and not quite as much time tasting as we had hoped.

Although the Trade portion of the day was relaxed and fun, when the Public was let in at 1 p.m. – all 2200 of them, it seemed – it got very, very, very crowded very, very, very quickly, and suddenly we couldn’t even get close to a table to taste anything. We started to make our way out, which took a while because we were still running into people – in a good way. Even one of the volunteers engaged us in conversation as we were trying to turn in our glasses – which she said we could take with us. We chose not to, as we have enough glasses at home already, and these glasses weren’t that special.

Finally got outside and discovered the rain had started. Made our way back to Northridge to spend some additional time with Steven and Judy. The four of us waited until around 5 p.m. and then headed over to Alessio Restaurant on Reseda Blvd. We brought two Cabernet Sauvignons with us, just because we figured we’d be tired of drinking Pinot Noir – which wasn’t the case. However, we started with a Joseph Phelps 2006 ‘Innisfree’ – lovely, fruit forward, but with enough backbone to handle the heavy Italian food. Finished the Innisfree pretty quickly and opened the WSAH 2007 Pied Violet Reserve Cabernet. Also big, fruity, tannic, delicious. Both wines paired nicely with all the different pastas and sauces, and especially well with the tiramisu we shared at the end of the meal. Back to Phyl and Ron’s, and then home fairly early after bidding S and J farewell, as they were heading North on Monday.

Monday, being a holiday, I got up early and went to Pilates, where TJ was trying to work with her mom, Lois, who was visiting from Florida (I think). Lois was a bit of a Southern belle, and really not into exercising on a machine that resembles a torture device. It was pretty funny, and I got a huge workout, as TJ was concerned that she wasn’t paying enough attention to me, and gave me some additional time and stretching. Two days later I’m still feeling some aches in muscles I didn’t know I had – and I’ve been doing Pilates for close to two years!

Home to shower, and then over to Bistro Provence where we were meeting Eve Bushman for lunch. Bless Eve for driving in from Santa Clarita in torrential rain. It was raining and blowing so hard during lunch that the restaurant door kept blowing open. We brought a bottle of 2006 Midlife Crisis Rooboy Red with us. I had a bowl of perfect lentil soup and BP’s signature roasted chicken with pommes frites, JD got a salmon dish that looked delish, and Eve had a pasta Bolognese. And we dished about the Pinot Days event. Apparently, it got very crazy once the public was allowed in, and a lot of folks weren’t happy. Eve felt that the promoters underestimated the LA audience after they had a less-than-successful event in Chicago, and they oversold the event. Based on Erin McGrath’s blog, apparently a lot of people got drunk and behaved badly, and some of the better wines were not being poured for the public – they had been poured for Trade. People couldn’t get to the food that was being offered, and the cheese and bread that was on tables around the event ran out in record time. We were glad we left when we did, and happy with the wines we sampled.

Eve took off in the driving rain, and we sailed home for a few hours until our next event.

We headed over to the Artisan Cheese Gallery for a meeting of “I’ll Drink to That” a group of business folks interested in networking over cheese and wine. This is Xochitl Maiman and Barbara Cohen’s group. I met Barbara at another networking group, and we clicked. I’m so glad she and Xochitl invited me to IDTT – like-minded folks getting to know each other and discover how we can help each other’s business over great wines and cheeses.

Wines and cheeses paired as follows:

Borgo Magredo Prosecco - 100% Prosecco - paired with Pecorino Ginepro -sheep's milk bathed in balsamic vinegar & juniper berries; aged in oak barrels; Romagna, Italy

Segura Viudas 'Aria' NV Cava from Torrelavit, Spain - 60% Macabeo/20% Parellada/20% Xarel-lo paired with Patacabra - goat's milk with washed rind, aged 45 days from Zaragoza, Spain

Marquis de la Tour Brut Rosé - lovely, dry rosé from the Loire Valley, France, paired with Campo del Montelban - mixed goat, sheep and cow milk from Spain

Laetitia NV Brut Cuveé - Arroyo Grande Valley - Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/Pinot Blanc - paired with Piedmont unpasteurized Friesian sheep's milk from Rapidan, Virginia. Really liked this combo!

Martin & Weyrich 2007 Moscato Allegro dessert wine paired with Stilton from the Colston Bassett Dairy in Nottingham-Lancashire, England

Wonderful pairings! Lovely folks! I’ll be back!



Xochitl said...

Wow, what a weekend you had. Thanks for the shout out. It was great having you at our event!

Unknown said...

The first ever Pinot Days LA was a great success! Great meeting you, Denise, and hope to see you at another event soon! Chris Towt with Sand Hill Wines

Goddess of Wine said...

Xochitl and Chris - Thanks for the kind words. I look forward to sharing some great wine with you all soon!

Wes hagen said...

Sorry if our booth was a bit packed--if I can offer you a private tasting at the Clos sometime, please let me know.

Wes hagen, VM/WM Clos Pepe

Goddess of Wine said...

Wes - Thank you so much! I will definitely take you up on your kind offer! Cheers!

Eve said...

Wow! Goddess! Wonderful comments on a wonderful post! Wish I could have met you later for more wine but, alas, had to brave the rain for wine-ing at home. (But, did you save me some cheese?)

Goddess of Wine said...

There's always cheese and wine for you, Eve!