Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jumping into the new year, wining as we go...

2010 ended with a bang and a whole lotta Champagne. 2011 started quietly while we rehydrated. But JD and I are back in full swing now!

We started at the monthly Monday night meeting of Grape of the Night at the Valencia Wine Company. January's topic was Rhone-variety blends from anywhere. We had a nice crowd including Four Brix owner/winemakers Steve and Lora Simonsgaard. We had met the Simonsgaards a few times before, but this time we got a chance to really visit with them, especially as they poured their 2008 Rhondezvous, a delightful blend of 43% Syrah, 29% Mourvedre, 18% Grenache, 10% Counoise, aged for 16 months in French oak barrels. There were some other interesting blends that night, lots of lively conversation and plans for upcoming events. Another big hit of the night was 2007 Pulchella, another local winery sourcing their grapes from the Paso Robles region.

Tuesday night was the second Goddess of Wine Introduction to Wine class at Total Wine and More in Northridge. The folks there have been tremendously supportive. The class for January was almost double the size of the December class, and the wines we poured were a combination of wines available at the store as well as wines from my own cellar, some of which I felt would best exemplify the varieties I was talking about. As a special treat, my friend Shawn Shai Halahmy brought his very own Shai Cellars Adome blend, and we opened that at the end of the class to much acclaim. Thanks, Shawn!

I've already scheduled the next Goddess of Wine class for Tuesday, February 8th at 7PM. We'll be talking about the wines to pour for a romantic Valentine's Day! Again, only $30 to attend, and if you sign up before February 1st, receive $5 off the price! Join us! The link to purchase tickets is in the upper right corner of this site, or go directly to LocalWineEvents to buy them!

Wednesday night found us trekking down to the Marina del Rey Ritz Carlton for a Riedel stemware meeting. It was actually a meeting for reps and distributors, but our Riedel contact had invited us to come and help pour wine in exchange for some stemware, so we were there with bells on. As it turned out, Louisa had more than enough help, so we didn't actually work, but were invited to stay and sit in on the class. George Riedel and his son Maximilian (who is responsible for the stemless 'O' line) ran the event. It's always fascinating to play with wines and stemware and see the difference the right shape can make in one's enjoyment of a particular grape. In this case, the glass being emphasized (in the center of the pic) was for Syrah/Shiraz and red grapes other than Cabernet Sauvignon or Burgundy. Wonderful! We were given two of these glasses as a gift, and have already enjoyed using them.

We rested on Thursday and Friday nights, and then headed down to the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica for the Second Annual Pinot Days event. Pinot Noir from California, Oregon, Tasmania, etc. So much Pinot! This year's event was much better organized than last year, although as Trade guests, we had to leave when the public event started. That was actually all right with us. We had uncrowded access to winemakers and reps. Finally got to actually meet and chat with Richard Sanford, Wes Hagen and many others. Got to see friends and colleagues. And, of course, got to taste some really wonderful wines.

We left Pinot Days behind and drove slowly - crawled really - through Santa Monica, finally found parking, and headed for Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar. Pourtal employs Enomatic tasting machines, so they can keep wines open and fresh, and customers can buy wines by the taste (1 oz.), or by the glass, or buy the bottle. There's an eclectic food menu as well, and we indulged in a couple of lamb sliders with Tater Tots along with a plate of mini-hotdogs with spicy mustard dipping sauce and dill mini-pickles. We paired this combination with a lovely Mas Grand Plagniol Rose from Costières de Nîmes in the Rhone region of France, and were enjoying winding down. I posted a quick status on Facebook as to where we were, and suddenly, our friend Marya appeared. Turns out she lives about a block away! Spurred by her entrance, we bought a tasting card - for the Enomatic machines - and continued tasting. We were treated to a plate with a yummy soft cheese, Seastack (from Washington cows) paired with crostini and fig compote. Dee-lightful!

Continuing our serendipitous afternoon into evening, we stayed long enough to meet Pourtal owner, Stephen Abronson, as well as the guy with no business card, Steve, who had been at Pinot Days pouring wine for our buddy Josh Klapper of La Fenetre Wines. Small world! We chatted briefly with Stephen before we left, and there may be a possibility of the Goddess doing some classes there. Stay tuned!

So our first week of 2011 has been epic! Next week JD and I will be at LearnAboutWine's STARS of Santa Barbara at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. The public portion of the event is Wednesday night, and you should go! It's a real treat to taste the best of Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Santa Rita Hills and more. I think 2011 is off to a good start!

See you wining around town!


Eve said...

As usual, your dance card is full. I hope to make one of your classes soon Denise - before they quadruple in size and you can't fit me in! See you at GOTN or SCV Wine Fest, whichever comes first...unless...there's time for a Pulchella outing in the meantime?

Goddess of Wine said...

Eve, never fear, there will always be room for you in my classes! I would love to schedule the Pulchella outing. What day or evening do you prefer? Let's get something on the calendar!

Eve said...

1/27, 2/10 or 2/17 should be good if you can do a Thursday night. Please e-mail me if any of these work Goddess.