Saturday, March 7, 2015

Wining by Proxy...First meeting of the L.A.Wine Writers...

Hotel Angeleno
The First Acolyte to the Goddess of Wine reports on the first meeting of the L.A. Wine Writers at the Hotel Angeleno, 1/29/15, featuring Artisan Uprising wines.

As the name indicates, L.A. Wine Writers is a group of writers mostly based in the Los Angeles area who are primarily concerned with wine. The Hotel Angeleno is a familiar landmark alongside the 405 freeway that has been through several incarnations over the years. I don’t know what it is like to stay there but the food currently being served is delicious. We got to sample several dishes paired with wines from Artisan Uprising, a new-ish winery inspired by a family tradition. These dishes were all from the restaurant’s menu, no specials just for this tasting. Anyone could order these enjoyable treats.

The Brothers V.
Brothers William and David Vondrasek are inspired by their Italian grandfather’s winemaking from Prohibition times and after. They started out as hobbyists just making a little for the family, discovered they enjoyed it and were making more wine than the family could drink. William went to UC Davis, worked for Gallo Sonoma for a year and is now in Paso Robles at a custom crush facility where their wine is made. David is still based in Los Angeles. The beautiful artwork on the wine label was created by their oldest sister.
Beautiful label

Artisan Uprising's Merlot grapes are sourced from the west side of Paso. All the others from the Estrella region to the northeast. All wines are mainly single varietal with only touches of other grapes blended in, inoculated with selected yeasts for fermentation, stainless steel aged and with oak stave additions as wanted. This allows for control and reduces costs. Barrels are expensive and the brothers are a small but passionate operation. Bill and Dave are very “hands-on” doing all the work themselves.

Seared Scallop
At this tasting they poured selections from their first two commercial vintages, 2012 and 2013 but led off with a really deliciously bright 2014 Rosé of Merlot. Fairly high in alcohol, though so well balanced you would not know by taste. Low priced, only 24 cases made and going quickly. This was both a (very) welcome wine and accompanied the first course by Chef Laura Scollan: seared scallop with cider glaze on parsnip puree with roasted tricolor cauliflower.

The 2012 Merlot with a touch of Petite Sirah had cocoa and light pepper notes. This was well paired with chicken stuffed with wild mushroom mousse and prosciutto on a bed of sweet potato puree.

The richly dark 2012 Malbec with leather, sea and dark red fruit notes went quite well with the Chinese five-spice duck on soba noodles accompanied by a duck confit in thin rice wrapper.

The final pairing was of 2012 Petite Sirah (opaque with dark spicy fruit) and braised short ribs. The boneless short ribs were on purple Okinawan mashed sweet potatoes topped with a “micro carrot”.

David says he likes dark, intense wines and most of their lineup qualifies enjoyably.
5-Spice Duck & Confit

We were also able to sample Artisan Uprising’s 2013 vintage. I think they were a little sharper than the 2012’s and if they age at least as well should be tasty delights too.

All wines available through Artisan Uprising’s website: The Rosé is going fast.

The tasting was in a banquet/meeting room on the sixteenth floor with views of both the 405 freeway (easily check the traffic flow) and the other way one could see the ocean in the distance. We were invited after the wine tasting to come up to the seventeenth floor to the restaurant/bar for a “palate-cleansing” beer tasting and see the real view. This level has an unrestricted view of about 270 degrees instead of the smaller slice from the meeting room. It goes from the Hollywood Hills across the city to the ocean. Beautiful on a regular day and from this level would be astounding on one of those very clear days after a rain.

Short rib w/micro-carrot

Tasty wine from a small and growing winery with a particular vision paired with delicious food while gazing upon a stunning view from on high. Yes, the day was decent.

No comments: