Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wining in Paso Robles with the CAB Collective...Day 1...

As the Goddess of Wine and JD headed north to Paso Robles for the 2nd Annual CABs of DISTINCTION media/trade/sommelier events, it occurred to me that JD and I fell in love with Paso mainly because of the exceptional Bordeaux-style wines we found there over 20 years ago. There were fewer wineries then, and each one seemed to have richly distinctive wines. We belonged to several wine clubs, and were always thrilled to receive boxes full of wonderful wine.

So it's a little odd to hear so many wine pundits touting the wonders of Paso Cabernets as if the region didn't exist before last year when Wine Enthusiast named it Region of the Year. Cabernet is what put Paso on the map, with Rhones and Zinfandel coming close on its heels. Now, as up-and-coming winemakers learn more about Paso and its many microclimates and terroir, more well-made, premium wines are evolving.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wining with the Santa Barbara County Vintners...

The Goddess and JD got to attend the SANTA BARBARA VINTNERS SPRING WEEKEND that took place from April 10 - 13, 2014. We were only there on Saturday, the 12th, but many happy wine lovers were able to attend wine maker lunches and dinners, winery and tasting room open houses, vineyard walks, a golf tournament, a Farm-to-Table picnic and concert event, and the annual Vintners Festival Grand Tasting where over 100 member wineries gathered to present and sell their wines.  

The new location, at Buellton's River View Park, was delightful, and the weather cooperated brilliantly, with a cool, cloudy morning clearing to perfect blue skies and temperatures in the 70's. This event is HUGE. Besides the overwhelming number of wineries and their excellent wines, local restaurants provided delectable offerings of special foods, snacks and confections. Throw in an art show, a sensory demonstration from Allan Hancock College and the Relevé drone flying over the event taking pictures - there was something for everyone!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wining in Solvang with the Garagistes...

The Goddess of Wine was happy to attend the second annual Garagiste Festival's Southern Exposure event in Solvang at the end of March. Was that only 2 weeks ago? An easy drive on a beautiful Saturday morning got me to that charming Danish town early enough to grab some breakfast at a local eatery that shall remain nameless because the food was truly bad. How you can mess up breakfast, I don't know, but...anyway, on to the Garagistes!

As defined by the Garagistes themselves: GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr. – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. Who’s laughing now, Francois? Syn: Rule-breakers, pioneers, renegades, mavericks, driven by passion.

Wineaux of the Goddess - April Meeting - Austria!

The Goddess of Wine and JD hosted the monthly meeting of the Wineaux of the Goddess. Present were Shawn Halahmy, Barbara Barrielle, Michelle McCue, Rico Mandel, JD, and me! This month's subject: the wines of Austria.

In researching Austrian wines, I was fascinated to discover the astonishing history of wine in that region. There is archaeological evidence of wine being made in Austria for over 4000 years. The Romans encouraged viticulture, the Danube became one of the greatest wine trade routes, and things were pretty good for a long time. Then during the 19th century, crop diseases such as powdery mildew and downy mildew and, of course, the deadly phylloxera took their toll on Austrian vineyards. Although the wine producers were hard-pressed to reinvigorate the wine trade, the viticultural disruption allowed lower quality grapes to be replaced with better varieties, particularly Grüner Veltliner. After World War I, Austria was the third biggest wine producer in the world,much being exported in bulk for blending with wine from Germany and other countries.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wining by Proxy...Tasting Terroir at République...

Once again JD fills in for the Goddess of Wine, this time at the Return to Terroir Portfolio tasting at République, the former Campanile.

About this event:
This was stated as “the only comprehensive portfolio tasting of the year to sample producers and regions spanning our entire portfolio.“

About the company:
Return to Terroir, owned by Raphael Knapp

Their Mission:
- To import sustainably produced wines that are the precise expression of their terroir.
- To help preserve the history of native grapes and traditional winemaking regions and methods.
- To educate the trade and consumers by sharing our wines and the stories of our winemakers.

“Raphael visits France and Italy every 3 months in search of wines that are the precise expression of their terroir. Some are organic and/or biodynamic but all are 100% estate produced by (smaller) family-owned wineries. They tend to share similar characteristics: minimal use of oak, a restrained style, and focus on minerality and acidity. We feel lucky to work with all of our producers and to be able to share their hard work, history and traditions with you.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wining in Santa Barbara...World of Pinot Noir...

The Goddess of Wine was very happy to be able to attend the annual World of Pinot Noir, held this year for the first time at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara. WOPN has been considered the crème de la crème of single varietal events for several years, and I have always wanted to go. Some background from the website:

"Our mission is to bring Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education on the shores of California's beautiful Central Coast.

Our annual event takes place at the beginning of March and includes two days of in-depth Tasting seminars and excursions, Grand Tastings, a Burgundy seminar and tasting and gourmet, locally-influenced lunches and dinners. These extraordinary food and wine extravaganzas will be hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding panel of sommeliers from across the U.S.

The World of Pinot Noir was established in 2001 by a small but dedicated group of winemakers from California’s South Central Coast. We are a non-profit 501 (c) (6) trade organization."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - March Meeting - Campania!

The Goddess of Wine and her merry band of Wineaux met to taste the wines of Campania. Tasters included Barbara B., Debra B., Shawn H., Rico M., Marya G., Xochitl M., JD, and me.

Some background from Wine-Searcher.com:
Campania is the ‘shin' of Italy's boot, anchored by its capital, Naples. Its name comes from Campania felix, a Latin phrase roughly meaning 'happy land'. The region has strong historical links to wine and vine, dating back to the 12th century BC, and is one of Italy's very oldest wine regions. The influence of ancient empires, including the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, means some of this area's varieties have historical legends attached. The area is also famous for producing Falerno (Falernum), one of the most ancient wines in Italy. Campania, like many Italian regions, is home to an impressive array of grape varieties, some of which are found almost nowhere else on earth. Its most important variety is arguably Aglianico, the grape behind the region's two most famous and respected red wines: Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno. Aglianico was introduced to the area by the Greeks and later cultivated by the Romans. Also vital to Campania's vineyards are the white-wine varieties Fiano and Greco, which are championed by the region's most respected white wines, Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo.