Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wining...well...Judging Wine in Camarillo...

A couple of months ago, the Goddess of Wine and JD were having a quiet glass of wine at the madport wine lounge (yes, all lower case), and found ourselves in conversation with winemaker Dave Lustig and his wife Nancy. One thing led to another, we exchanged cards and promises to stay in touch. Dave is a prime mover in the Cellarmasters of Los Angeles, a group of passionate home winemakers founded in 1973, who are are dedicated to promoting the culture and hobby of amateur winemaking along with the safe enjoyment of wine [from their website].

Some weeks later, I received an email asking if I would be interested in judging at the 40th Annual US Amateur Wine Competition to be held on November 23rd. If so, would I attend the free clinics on Sensory Evaluation and Wine Judging prior to the event? Of course! The classes proved to be interesting and helpful, and a great introduction to Cellarmasters. Slight disclaimer: I was already familiar with the group, as JD had been a member and purchases most of his winemaking supplies at the Home Wine, Beer and Cheesemaking Shop in Woodland Hills. The shop is owned by John Daume, who also operates Camarillo Custom Crush, where the competition was to take place.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wineaux of the Goddess November - Meeting - Toro!

The Goddess of Wine and her merry band of wine aficionados met to taste the wines of Toro, Spain. As it turned out, almost all the Wineaux brought samples of the noble Spanish grape, Tempranillo, known in Toro as Tinto de Toro. And there was an interesting and unexpected lesson at this tasting.

Some background on Toro mainly from Wikipedia: Toro is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) in the province of Zamora, northwest of Castile and Léon (Spain). The area covered by the DO is in the southeastern corner of Zamora province. Wine has been made in Toro since the end of the 1st century BC, when the ancient Greeks taught the local Celtic tribes. In the Early Middle Ages, the wines from Toro were the first to be traded in the region of the River Duero.

King Alfonso IX granted lands to several religious orders with the understanding that they would plant vines, and many of the existing churches in Toro today were built thanks to the wealth generated by the wine trade. The reputation of the wines from Toro grew and it was sold further afield in cities such as Seville and Palencia. At this time the wine producers built underground wineries (bodegas) in order to obtain better quality wines and to have more effective temperature control. At the end of the 19th century, wine were exported to France during the phylloxera crisis, which did not affect the local vines as they were protected by the sandy soil. The vines of other regions of Spain were replaced by vines from Toro as well. Toro still has a number of very old vineyards with pre-phylloxera Tinta de Toro, which in recent years have been used to source grapes for special cuvées.

Wining in a 'Simply Italian' fashion...

The Goddess of Wine is still catching up on her October events...sigh... On Wednesday, October 30th, JD and I braved the morning traffic over the canyons to reach the Mr. C hotel in Beverly Hills in order to learn about and taste some Italian wines presented by Simply Italian. These intrepid folks had flown in the night before from a similar event in Chicago and, despite their pleasant demeanor, we could see how tired they were.

The first seminar Regulating Italian Wines in Today’s Market presented by Federdoc featuring Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, President, and Paul Wagner, Instructor for Napa Valley College’s Viticulture and Enology department, started late and ran into the set up for the next seminar. The information presented was a brief recap of some of the legislative changes that have taken place regarding the DO/DOCG system in the Mediterranean region. The system protects trademarks and appellations - not just wine, but all foods that are specific to an area. The presentation was somewhat marred by an attendee who obviously needed to let everyone know how much he knew about the regions and the subject, as he continually interrupted and derailed the presentation, not just in the first seminar, but all through the morning, adding to an already problematic day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wineaux of the Goddess - October Meeting - Anderson Valley Edition...

The Wineaux of the Goddess came together for their monthly blind tasting to sample the wines of the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. Long known for their gorgeous white wines, the Goddess threw a monkey wrench in the works and specified red wines only.

Some background on this cool climate AVA (from Wikipedia): The name Anderson Valley applies to the region from Yorkville (located in a highland meadow straddling the upper Rancheria Creek and upper Dry Creek watersheds) through Boonville (located on Anderson Creek) and Philo (located on Indian Creek) to Navarro (located on Soda Creek). Rancheria, Anderson, Indian and Soda creeks are tributaries to the Navarro River, which flows north and west through the coastal range to the Pacific Ocean; Dry Creek flows south into the Russian River watershed in Sonoma County. The climate is tempered by cool marine air. Steep hills and mountains surround rolling to nearly level alluvial terraces. Elevation ranges from sea level to 2,500 feet. Annual rainfall ranges from 35 to 80 inches, and the average annual temperature is about 53°F. Towards the coast the summers are cool and moist with frequent fog, while the interior Anderson Valley proper features a warm to hot summer climate similar to nearby interior regions, with daytime highs occasionally in excess of 100 °F (38 °C).