Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hall and Walt Wine Dinner at Chianina

Wednesday. March 22, 2017

Packed house tonight at Chianina in Naples. www.chianina.com,  Kathryn Hall was in attendance with a selection of her wines.  Apparently a lot of investors in her winery were here also.  Winery is located in Napa. www.hallwines.com, www.waltwines.com

We started out with a trio of "Amuse Bouches" . A Green Garlic Arancini, Scallop Tartare and Foie Gras Terrine on Toast with Rhubarb.  Bite size and all were good but the Scallop was the best of the trio. But I would eat a plate of each one they were so good.  A 2016 Hall Sauvignon Blanc. Nice grapefruit flavor, not too acidic. Retail price tag of $28.

Second course served was  Scottish Salmon, Spring Peas. Morel Mushrooms and Puffed Rice. Great flavors and the salmon was so silky in texture. A beautiful piece of fish. Paired with a 2015 Walt Chardonnay.  Stainless steel fermented. I was not impressed with this wine. Retail price of $44.

Next we had a Nettle Chitarra Pasta. Chitarra means guitar and the pasta is square instead of round. Rabbit Sugo, Blistered Spring Onions and Tarragon. Excellent flavors but I will say it did have a strange look to it. A green pea foamy concoction with these squiggly pieces of pasta on top. Not for the people who have overactive imaginations.  The wine was a 2014Walt Pinot Noir. Grapes were sourced from Clos Pepe vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills.  Hall has leased the vineyards for 15 years starting in 2015. This was by far the best wine of the night but the pairing was off as were most of the pairings for the evening.  A price tag of $81 is so out of line. Twice as much as Clos Pepe gets.

Fourth course is a Lamb Ribeye, Charred Eggplant Puree, Fava Bean Fritter and Greek Yogurt.  At this point I am getting stuffed. Had one bite of the lamb which was cooked perfectly and had them save it for me to be boxed with the next course. Otherwise no dessert.  Wine was a 2013 Hall Merlot. Took a few sips and sent the wine away. Priced at $44.

Fifth course was outstanding. A Prime Beef Striploin with Asparagus, Roasted New Potatoes and Mustard Moussaline with aus jus. A 2013 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon was the wine choice. Not impressed. Not much going for it. Pruiced at $44.

Sixth course was Humboldt Fog Cheese, Compressed Beets and Walnuts. Beets are sweet so they really added a nice touch to the cheese.  A 2013 Kathryrn  Hall  Caberent Sauvignon was the selection to pair with this course. Big, overly fruity wine. At $175 . I have had so many other cabs at less money that I enjoyed more.

The food was excellent. The wines mediocre and the pairings were off.  Yes, I did has stuffed sinuses tonight but the others at my table agreed.  Hall wines have a big following but I am not overly impressed especially with the pricing for what you get. But a very enjoyable evening and we did make reservations for the next wine dinner in April at Chianina..

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dinner at Aroma

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Margie's monthly dinner was held at Aroma's Ristorante in La Palma. www.aromalapalma.com.

18 people in attendance and 22 wines. Impossible to taste them all. As usual I kept my tasting down to a  minimum. Large menu to select from and I ended up with the Veal Chop. Very large chop, nice madeira sauce . Tender and flavorful. Good selection of mixed vegetables and potatoes in the plate.
Opted for the salted caramel gelato for dessert. That's was very good and a nice end to a heavy meal.

We had a very large table with 2 people seated at each end  and 7 people on each side.  Conversation was limited to those on each side of you. Made it nice for all the wine bottles and glasses but conversation  got lost.

I brought a 2012 Clos Pepe HTC (Homage to Chablis) Chardonnay which was showing very well.

Other wines were:

2012 Cinquain Cellars Cab/Syrah blend - did not taste
2013 Tobin James Fat Boy Zinfandel -  big and sweet
2011 Clayhouse Temp/Cab/Syrah blend - did not taste
2014 Cowhorn, Marsanne/Rousanne - did not taste
LeCuvier Red Bat Cuvier - did not taste
2011 Tobin James Silver Reserve, Syrah - did not taste
Tobin James, Liquid Love - did not taste, I have had these wine numerous times before
2013 Gattauercchi, Vino di Montepuliciano - did not taste
2-11 Castello D'Alboila, Chiantio Classico - did not taste
2015 Seal Beach Winery, Sangiovese - did not taste
2011 Kuleto, Sangiovese - did not taste
2012 Grassini, Equipo, red blend- nice wine
Domaine Chandon Etoile - always a good sparkling
2014 Amici, Chardonnay - did not taste
2013 J.Christopher Pinot Noir - did not taste
Herzog, Rose Brut sparking - clean with a slight strawberry taste
2014 Ferrari-Carano  Pinot Grigio - I do not do Pinot Grigio's
2014 Abacela Fiesta. Albarino  - nice clean, well balanced
Mumm Napa - always a good sparkling
2008 Artiste, Meritage  - this wine was very good, old enough to be soft and silky


Sunday, March 12, 2017

J. Wilkes Wines at Barbianca Restaurant

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An hour and a half to get to Marina Del Rey and 35 minutes to return. The 405 freeway was a parking lot going over. Felt like it was a Monday morning work commute. Then as I turned onto the 90 the fog rolled in Can't wait to get parked and get inside for a nice glass of wine.

This dinner tonight was hosted by Gourmet Wine Getaways. Always interesting dinners and priced reasonably and inclusive. Held at the Barbianca Local Kitchen in the Hotel MDR. Second time I have been to this dining establishment.

Wines tonight are from J. Wilkes in the Santa Maria area.  www.jwilkes.com,       

  Wes Hagen is the winemaker and brand ambassador now. He was named  one of the top 100 winemakers in the United States This is a new foray for Wes after being with Clos Pepe for 23 years. Clos had Chardonnay and Pinot grapes. J. Wilkes brings a larger variety into play.  The  J.Wilkes wines with Wes onboard have now been served at the White House.

It was great see Chanda, Wes's wife who very rarely attends these dinners. She and her service dog Peregrine were there celebrating  her birthday.  Peregrine will be getting a new friend soon to help out with his duties.

We stared out with several pours of the 2013 Chardonnay. Clean, no oak or vanilla undertones which made me like it more. They passed three types of Hors d' Oeuvre's.  A Foie Gras with Mushrooms on Crostini, a Corn Meal round with Beets and Cheese. The third was a Lobster Soup but why did they serve in a small bowl for a passed appetizer ?  A shot glass would have been better. Standing in the middle of a room with your wine glass, purse and people milling around then you have to balance  small bowl and use a spoon.  Not the best selection of serving dishes.

First dish was a Grilled Spanish Octopus with Arugula, Cucumbers,  Fennel,  Roasted Tomato Compote ands Garlic Lemon-Herb Dressing.  This dish fell flat for me. The Octopus was fairly tender but I have had so much better. It was chewy and peppery. The cucumbers ?  I have never met a cucumber that paired with wine.  Wine was great,  a 2014 Pinot Blanc. Nice dry, clean and paired well.

A 2013 Pinot Noir was paired with the main dish. Organically Fed Colorado Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Wild Mushroom Rataouille, Blue Cheese Au Gratin Potatoes, Fresh Spring Vegetables and Rosemary Au Jus. Lamb was chewy which was expected from grass fed and Colorado lamb. Potatoes and Rataouille was good. But overall for me  a lack luster dish.  I can get a better rack of lamb at  Trader Joes. Wine was excellent and a very good pairing.

Next  we had a selection of cheeses with various fruits. Can't go too wrong with this. A 2014 Paso Robles Highlands District Cabernet Sauvignon was paired and went surprisingly well with the cheeses. This was a very nice drinking wine. Very light tannins on the back palate. Wes seemed to think that the tannins will be more predominate as it ages. Says it has a lot of "baby fat" right now. Whatever it is it us a nice wine especially for the price.

Dessert was very good. Untraditional Apple Strudel, Ricotta and Passion Fruit Quenelle, Calvados Creme Anglaise. The wine was perfect with this dish. A 2012 Late Harvest Pinot Blanc. Slightly sweet but not overly and very light. I think a good wine to cellar for a few years to see what it evolves to.

 It was great to see Wes again. Had some good long discussions with him tonight. Told him I still had in my cellar a 2007 Clos Pepe Pinot , 2007 AP Vin Clos Pepe Pinot and a 2007 Loring Clos Pepe Pinot along with a 2009 Clos Pepe Sparkling Rose. Wes suggested  a "play date" soon with Wes and a few very select people.

Vignamaggio Wine and Delius Restaurant

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Every few years Delius, www.deliusrestaurant.com.. hosts an Italian wine dinner with Mike Levine the distributor. This year they featured Vignamaggio wines. The Italian rep was present and for the life of me I cannot remember her name but she was very knowledgeable and with her accent brought a flair if Italy with her.

We started out with a Borgo  Magredo Prosecco. Not one of their wines because they only produce reds. It gets the palate woke up and a nice start to the evening. There were six of us at the table and a lively group it was.  I had already been to District Wine in downtown Long Beach for a tasting of Tercero wines before coming to dinner.

First course served was a Bacon Bundled Country Pate with Porcini Vinaigrette  dressed Frisee. We all know how I feel above Frisee. Leave it off my plate, The flavor of the pate was good but I felt  it was over cooked. The bacon wrapping was very crisp and to get that you have to really cook it longer than necessary. Wine paired was a 2014 Chianto Classico "Prenzano". Pleasant wine and went well with the pate.

Up next we were served a White Bean Gremolata Cassoulet with Andouille Sausage. To me this was the best dish of the evening. Good flavor. Paired with a 2013 Chianti Classico Riserva "Gherardino" which actually had 15% Merlot in it.

A 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva "Mona Lisa" was our next wine and it was paired with a Conchiglioni Pasta, Crimini Mushrooms, Wilted Arugula and Crispy Sweet Breads.  Excellent flavor and my second best dish of the night.

Mian course was a Roasted Peppercorn Braised Tri Tip with Oven Roasted Tomato, Castlevitrano Olive and Black Salisfy Risotto.. Risotto was good . For my taste the tri tip was a bit overcooked and a little dry.  2009 Super Tuscan Cabernet Franc was the wine served. .Light tannins and a little vegetative.

Dessert is a Bing Cherry Tiramisu. OK but.

I found the dinner for my tastes disappointing. To me this was a "rustic" style of cooking Too many misses and the wines were slightly too big for the food.  I am sure others liked it way better than I did. It is all about your personal taste.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Dim Sum with The Boys at The Seafood Palace

Monday, February 27, 2017

It's been at least a month since we have gotten together for Dim Sum. Everyone is so busy it seems to harder to schedule.  So off to the Seafood Palace in Westminister in spite of the raining weather.

Started out with Shrimp Dumplings and then onto the Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage wrapped in Lotus Leaves. A couple of staples for us. Followed by fried calamari

Had the stir fried lobster over fat noodles again.  Lobster season so pricing is good.

Then our complimentary spicy, sour soup. It the spot today with the drizzelerly weather we are having.

Last dish was Beef with Fat Noodles and Bok Choy.

Topped it off with a couple of plates of egg tarts for dessert.

I brought a 2009 L'Adventure Optimus along with what was left in the Torti White Pinot Noir that I brought to dinner last night.

Rounded out with a 2015 Freidrich Becker, Pfalz, Germany, Petit Rose, A blend of Pinot Noir, Portugeser and Dornfelder.  This was a very good Rose.

2010 McKeon Phillips, BPR, Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2012 Kivet Stadt, Sonoma, Father Watch, Red Blend.

Cafe Bizou and the Skirball

Sunday. February 26, 2017

 Met at the Skirball Center for the exhibit of Roy Lichtenstein works. Pop culture artist in the 60's, 70', 80's.  Small exhibit but quite interesting. We had time to take in some of the other gallerys at The Skirball before heading down the freeway to Sherman Oaks for dinner at Cafe Bizou. www.cafebizou.com.

Eight of us for dinner tonight and nice array of wine. Menu heavy on seafood. I had the Parmesan encrusted Alaskan sanddabs for dinner. Good selection for me.

The wines were eclectic . Broad range.
2011 Clos Pepe, Sta. Rita Hills, Pinot Noir, sluty
2009 Clos Pepe, Sta . Rita Hills, Pinot Noir, voluptuous
2008 Cade, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon,  very good, could have gone several more years
1014 Torti White Pinot Noir, excellent with the seafood
2009 Williams Selyem, Rochioli, Pinot Noir, best red of the night
2013 Sanford, Block 5, Pinot Noir, good but young
NV Launois, Quartz, Grand Cru, Brut, outstanding

We were entertained by one of our dining companions,  Rich who is a professional magican. He even got up and did a small performance for the table next to us who were celebrating a birthday.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Wine Dinner at Il Farro

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Susan and Ciro hosted another wine dinner tonight at Il Farro in Newport. www.ilfarro.com.,
 This may be a monthly event.  They have scheduled another one for March. But I have already committed to another wine dinner at that same date .

We started out with the 3 appetizers or amuse bouches - whatever strikes you. Stuffed crab mushrooms, Crostini di Polenta al Goronzola and Calzonico di Mozzarella.  By time I took my picture of them they were getting cold. But an interesting trio of bites. These were paired with a 2016 Col Reale Bianco. Very soft, plush mouth feel and definite flavor of apricot and green apple. Not my style but a nice wine for summer.

Next was the salad. Pesce di Mare in Insalata. salad with octopus, calamari, mussels, scallops and shrimp with lemon and EVOO. I did like this dish. Loads of flavors, fresh greens and a really nice light tartness to it.  The wine was a 2014 Burchino Bianco. Light, crisp, tart. Did pair well with the food.

The Primo Piatto was one of my favorites of the evening. Gnocchetti di barbnabietola ai Porcini.  Handmade beef dumplings with a procini mushroom sauce. Decadent and loads of earthy flavors. Dumplings were very tender. Paired a 2011 Burchino Rosa with it. Good pairing, earthy tones to the wine.

Next up was the Secondo Piatto - Arrostyo di maiale al Vin Santo. Pork roast medallions with a reduction sauce of  Vin Santo dessert wine, Farro and broccoli. My least like dish. I thought the pork was over cooked and a bit on the dry side. A 2008 Catellani Chianti Classico Riserva was poured. Big wine.

Dessert was a disappointment. A Cherry tarte with a caramel reduction. Found the cake was very dry and it just did not have enough sauce on it to make up for it.   The wine also was way to sweet for me. A Sangue Di Giuda.

Dining companions were a unique group of people. An architect who likes the same style that I do. A couple that have 3 homes. Newport, Mammoth and  10,000 square foot house behind gates in Rowland Heights. Interesting conversations tonight. 

A good evening. Did not buy and of the wines on the menu tonight but did strike a deal with the distributor to get a case of the Torti White Pinot Noir that I bought 4 bottles of last month. That wine was so good. Glad I could get some more at the same price.