Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wine Trivia

One Bottle Of Wine Contains:
2.4 pounds of grapes (39 oz)
25.6 ounces of wine
4 glasses of wine

One Case Of Wine Contains:
30 pounds of grapes (468 oz)
307.2 ounces of wine
12 bottles of wine
48 glasses of wine

One Barrel Of Wine Contains:
985 pounds of grapes (59 gallons)
24.6 cases of wine
295 bottles of wine
1,180 glasses of wine

Century Club Submittal

Monday, June 25, 2007

Today I faxed my application to the Century Club. http://www.winecentury.com/. I had a grand total of 111 varietals that I have tasted . (yes the can be in blends). This was strictly a personal quest that has been a lot of fun. And I will continue to look for little known varietals to add to the list.

I wonder if anyone has actually tasted all the varietals on the list. It would be interesting to find out.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Premier & Grand Cru's

Sunday, June 24, 2007

This was the monthly gathering of the "winos". Today's theme was Premier Cru's and Grand Cru's. Several people were out of town so we ended up with a small group, which worked out well. We got to taste the wines a second time and some a third time. This is always good especially when the caliber of the wines were on the higher side. (one of the attendees laughed and said that these high end tasting weeds out the people who bring "inexpensive" wines).

We had wines from 1990 to 2005 vintages. Lynch Bages, Chambertin, Montrachet.

I got to bed at 1:00 am and left Buellton at 6:10 am this morning so needless to say I was dragging, but it not stop me from enjoying the great selection of wines we had today. Its a dirty job but someone has to sacrifice themselves to do it

Dinner at Clos Pepe

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I have been waiting for this dinner since I attended the one in 2006. I was really stoked about getting one of the 18 seats available to the "common folk". There were 79 people in attendance. Should have been 80 but David Chan didn't make it. So I guess this year there will be no pictures of the dinner posted to his blog.

When I arrived about half of the people were there already. Three tables were set up in the courtyard area. One for each of the winemakers to show their 2006 barrel samples of Pinot Noir, all sourced from Clos Pepe. Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company, http://www.loringwinecompany.com/, Andrew Vingiello of A.P. Vin wines, http://www.apvin.com/, and Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe, http://www.clospepe.com/. There was also a new wine sitting there a Pinot sourced from Clos Pepe. Roessler was the name. http://www.roesslercellars.com/, Roger Roessler was there. He is from Sonoma . This is a new one for me. (but then again almost every week I hear about a new winery - they are like rabbits ). Clos Pepe has an outstanding reputation for the quality of their grapes. They sell most of their grapes off to other winemakers and just bottle a small amount themselves. Their allocation list is closed but you can get on the list to get onto the allocation list.

Gourmet pizzas were served as an appetizer. They have a wood burning pizza over built into the wall in the courtyard. We had "Albino King Salmon with Mascarpone & Basil", "Venison Sausage with Pear & Brie" and "Carmelized Onions,Duck Prosciutto with Blue Cheese & Arugula". It's hard to pick a favorite. They were all great.

We cleansed our palates with a "Miniature Pomegrante Popsicle". Beautiful deep ruby red color and fantastic taste.

When it was time to seated at the dining tables inside the house, I again sat at Brian Lorings table. Which proved that my luck was still holding. (more on my luck at the end).

First Course: Tower of lump crabmeat w/avocado, papaya & lemon, along with a Kumamoto oyster and Clos Pepe olive oil - this was served with the 05 Roessler Chardonnay and the 05 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay. Beautiful pairing and the dish was right on.

Second Course: Crisp confit of duckling w/savory red cabbage & wild boar bacon - paired with 05 A.P. Vin Clos Pepe Vineyards Pinot Noir - doesn't get much better than this.

Third Course: Pinot braised beef short ribs with pearl onions & marrow bone - paired with 05 Loring Wine Company Clos Pepe Vineyards, Pinot Noir. My father and I used to fight to see who got the bones with the marrow in it when I was growing up. Needless to say, I was one happy camper.

Fourth Course: Epoisses & Robiolina ( very soft cheeses) with aged fig vincotto & pea shoot salad - paired with 05 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir . They could have kept the pea shoots but I suppose I do have to have something green. ( I have to set an example for Barbara). The fig vincotto (sauce/puree) was really wonderful with the cheeses.

Dessert: Tart of roasted pear & fourme d'ambert (cheese) with honey butter - paired with 01 Clos Pepe Sweet Farewell (chardonnay). Again a really great pairing.

I hope I get invited to next years dinner. This could get to be a fantastic habit. Now for "My Luck Holding Out".

Last year there was a gentleman and his wife sitting at the table I was at and after dinner he produced 2 bottles of Y'Quem Sauterne for whom ever was left at the table to drink. This year as my good luck was, we again sat at the same table. Just like last year, after dinner and most of the guests had departed, he again brought out from under the table several bottles of wine to share with the "chosen few". I have never tasted a 100 point wine before, but tonight I had a golden opportunity. A 1995 Cuvee Madame Monbazillac. It looked like a 500ml bottle. This was the 100 pointer. He also put on the table a 1970 Chateau Filmot and a 1989 Y'quem. These were both 750ml bottles as was the Maderia. Wes Hagen added a 1922 D'Olveiras Boal Maderia and Brian Loring came back with 2004 Jorge Ordonez #1, & # 2 Moscatel. At that point there was close to a $1,000 in wine sitting in front of me. Now is my luck still with me ? I think so.

Some of the other diners that hadn't left yet came to join us. Among them was the "Pinot Report" author/editor/publisher along with Kimberly Loring, Brians sister and his mother also. Wes Hagen and his wife Chandra had departed to go to bed along with Steve and Cathy Pepe. There were about 12 or so sitting there tasting these incredible wines. It just doesn't get any better than this. Kimberly started laughing and said if it was her house we wouldn't be sitting there after our hosts had retired for the night. If it was my house, we wouldn't be there also. The Hagens and the Pepe's were the ultimate hosts and I sure hope we didn't disturb them. Of course the house is so huge I doubt if they could hear any noise from the other side.

A fabulous dinner, great wines and good company. A perfect end to a day that did not start well. The gods were looking after me again. Why can't other restaurants (ie: Park Avenue) produce food and wine pairings reasonably close to dinners of this type. There was only $20 difference in price and look what I got.

I will be back up at Clos Pepe in August when they host their "futures" get together in the afternoon and then I will be attending the "Stolpman Dinner in The Vineyard" in the evening.

Prelude to Dinner

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I naively thought that by leaving by 10:00 am I would be in Buellton at approximately 1:00 pm. Normally the trip takes me 2-1/4 hours to 2-1/2 hours to drive. Seeing as I would be starting a little later I thought perhaps the traffic might be a little heavier and gave myself an extra 1/2 hour to get there. Apparently someone didn't tell all the other cars on the road of my plan because it took a dive just after hitting LAX. From that point on until after Santa Barbara it was heavy stop and go all the way. 4-1/2 hours later I arrived in Buellton.

Dinner at Clos Pepe Vineyards, http://www.clospepe.com/ , was not until 7:00pm. I have been wanting to go by the Palmina Tasting room so I took 246 out of Buellton and headed for Lompoc. I found the tasting room in the "wine ghetto". Palmini, http://www.palminiwines.com/, specializes in Italian varietals and I was looking to pick up a bottle of Tocai Friulano. I wanted to add that grape varietal to my list for "The Century Club". I recommend a stop at Palmini if you are in the area. Really nice wines and very friendly people. Steve Clifton, the owner is the Clifton part of "Brewer-Clifton".

Once I had that stop out of the way I went back towards Buellton (passing Clos Pepe both ways) and headed on to Solvang. Luck was turning my way. I found a parking spot right in front of Stolpman Vineyards tasting room, http://www.stolpmanvineyards.com/,. Went in and tasted the new wines that they were pouring that day and picked up a few bottles (like I don't have enough).

Drove a few more blocks and found the tasting room for Huber wines, http://www.hubercellars.com/,. Luck was still with me as I parked right in front again. The tasting room is next to Paula's Pancake House. Its at the Olde Mission Wine Company.

I had tasted a Huber Dornfelder a few weeks ago and was really taken with it. I haven't seen a Dornfelder in many years. They were tasting the 05 Huber Chardonnay. Santa Rita Hills fruit. Everyone knows how I dislike California Chardonnays. This one I bought. It sees French Oak and it was a really nice full bodied wine. I did buy the Dornfelder, the Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir from Huber also. Again Santa Rita Hills fruit. The winemaker for Huber is Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars.

It was getting about time for me to check into my motel room and get ready for go back down 246 to Clos Pepe for dinner. I wanted a parking spot close to the house. I was wearing open toed shoes and the driveway is gravel. (all women can relate)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Second Harvest Food Bank Fundraiser

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Met up with friends at the Crystal Court at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. The Second Harvest Food Bank has a fundraiser twice a year at this location. This is the 7th year I have attended. For $40 you get to taste beer, wine and food from from the local restaurants with the proceeds going to charity.

You sign in on the main floor and the vendors are set up on the 2nd & 3rd floors. They were some of the old locals but a few of the regulars from the past were absent. And of course some new restaurants were providing food. Morton's, The Carvery, Khyber Pass, Antonellos, had some of the better food. There was a restaurant that will be opening on the 3rd floor that had Sushi, along with Sake and Sparkling Sake. I do not remember the name of the establishment, but I did manage to get two pieces of Sushi which was excellent. It was either Ahi or Toro. The sparkling Sake was quite unique and I really liked it. I will have to look for someplace that carries it. It was clean and refreshing.

One of the "rep's" was a female that I had seen at the fundraiser for diabetes at Newport Beach a few months ago. At Newport, she came in considerably late, looked very bored and left early. At Thursday's event the table with the winery's name on it was empty for close to an hour after opening time. When she did arrive she put her items on the wrong table, wrote a note that she would be back shortly because the wines needed time to chill. When she did show up to pour, I went and got her name sign and brought it to her. She was there for an hour and then left. I wonder if the winery she rep's knows how inefficient she is. Of course maybe they don't care since she is young, cute, nice bod and blond.

McKeon-Phillips Winery was pouring a nice selection of their wines along with a barrel sample of the 06 Baileys Private Reserve Cabernet. I had a barrel sample of the wine in February. I will say it has evolved very nicely since then. The fruit is really starting to show well. I did have some concerns but that has gone away after tasting it again on Thursday. I bought a case of this wine on futures before I tasted it in February. At $18 a bottle against the $42 when it is released next year, it is a bargain.

There was a new winery pouring. "Ovene". The owners live in Orange County and have a place in Santa Maria where they make their wines. This is their second bottling. I did taste their Syrah and the Sta.Rita Hills Pinot. I asked what vineyards the grapes were sourced from but both of the vineyards I was unfamiliar with. The Pinot was light, a nice wine but not worth the $42 price tag. I will try and look them up the 23rd when I'm in the area and see what else I can find out about the winery. Maybe I will get a better feel for their wines, if I can get more than a 1/2 ounce pour.

This was a nice mid week break and I'm looking forward to the next one in October which will feature more micro-breweries than wineries.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

11 Terrific Turleys

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Had to attend a "Turley" Zinfandel tasting today. (a dirty job but some one has to do it). 11 wines with two 4 bottle verticals.

2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003 Duarte
2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003 Old Vine
2000 & 2002 Juvenile
2003 Dusi

I had my 2-1/2 ounce pour of each wine in an individual glass, marked so I would know what I was tasting. It is always interesting to do verticals and let them sit for a period of time between tasting. Wines change so much over an hour. Ones that I thought I liked at the beginning came to be my least favorite at the end.

The Old Vines were all heavy fruit forward but seem to lack the complexity of the Duartes. The Juveniles seem to be a little awkward.

There wasn't a dog on the bunch but my favorite wine of the evening was the 2003 Dusi. I felt it had the most going for it. Good fruit, good balance and nice complexity

Really looking forward to the next gathering of the "Turleys".

Friday, June 8, 2007

Disaster at Park Ave

Friday, June 8, 2007

This was a "wine & food" dinner at Park Ave restaurant in Stanton. The wines being poured were from King Wine Co. , in Los Alamitos. I have tasted these wines before and was interested in seeing how they paired with food. There were 7 of us at our table for dinner tonight

Dinner was scheduled for 7:00 pm. We were seated at 7:10. Had to wait for at least 10 minutes before the Hor's D'oeuvres portion of the meal was served. Crudites (celery,carrots and radishes) are not what I would pair with a Chardonnay or any other wine. They did have a nice bread basket with and herb butter, but for a table of 7 they had one portion of herb butter that was about 1 tablespoon in volume. They did bring additional when asked but it seems that with a large table they should have had at least two plates with the butter on it. Around 7:30 the Oysters Rockefeller & the stuffed mushrooms were served. The oysters were ok and the mushrooms mediocre. The 05 King Chardonany went well with the food.

Next course came at 8:00 - smoked salmon with capers on thin sourdough . There is not much you can do to this dish to make it bad, but it also was not anything to write home about. They served this with a 06 Viognier which absolutely overwhelmed it with its sweetness. The Chardonnay turned out to be a much better pairing.

At 8:40 we got our Caesar salad. No anchovies so it was not a true Caesar. This for some insane reason they paired it with the 04 Cabernet Savignon. I have no other comment.

The main course was "surf & turf". Filet with lobster tail. OK ,what can you do to this to screw it up ? Filet was tender, tail was cooked well. Served with Bernaise & butter sauce. But for another insane idea this was served with a 04 Petite Syrah. The Cabernet might have paired with it because it was lighter, but the petite was so big that the beef & lobster were lost. I had a hard time believing that anyone could such a poor job of wine pairing.

The "creme de la creme" was the dessert. Strawberries Romanoff (vanilla ice cream, strawberries and some kind of sauce in it) paired with a chocolate port. Absolute disaster. A hunk of chocolate or a blue cheese with nuts, almost anything except what we got.

Consensus: Wines were not paired well with food to show off the quality of the wines. The food was mediocre. Service from the kitchen was unbearably slow. The acoustics were ear deafening. They had some type of live entertainment but the noise level was high that you just wished that the singer would shut up. His singing was lost in the constant unrelenting noise. The air-conditioning was finally turned on after a couple of hours. People were going outside between courses for fresh air. (you had a lot of time to do this). The wait staff was very friendly and accommodating. They were generous with the wine pours

The chef came out and worked the room. When he came to our table I asked who did the pairing and he replied that he (the chef) did. When we started to talk about the pairings it was obvious that I did not agree (and the rest of the table also) with his choices. He then left our table never to return. I cannot believe that he tasted the food with the wine before he paired them.

The wine dinner was held in a back room of the restaurant, not the main dining area (which did look nice). Perhaps they were overwhelmed with having to cover both areas, but that is their business to be able to do this. If they cannot , then they should not overbook themselves.

I doubt that I would ever return to this establishment. Mediocre food. Very unorganized. Slow, Slow, Slow. Overpriced for what you got. And the noise level was stomach churning. I usually give an establishment a couple of tries before I write them off but I'm not sure if I would do that here. I might have been able to handle the slow pace of food service if I wasn't so anxious to get myself removed from the deafening noise.

I had heard that this place had good food. My question is "by who's standards". There are too many good restaurants around to have to put up with "ordinary at high prices".

The winemaker, Gary King, was very accommodating. Pours were generous. We also got to taste 3 additional wines. A Zin, Cab Franc and a Merlot. He did not have any input into the food and wine pairing so this should not reflect on him or his wines. This was strictly a restaurant breakdown

Just think "I could have had a V8" and saved $83.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Update On My Quest For The Century Club

I now have 106 varietals tasted. A few more and I'm going to submit the list for my certificate. When I am in Lompoc on June 23 for the Clos Pepe dinner www.clospepe.com , I plan on stopping at Palminia Wines. www.palminiawines.com He has a couple of Italian white blends made with some obscure grapes.

Chinese Dinner in June

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Eight of us again gathered at Duong Son's in Westminister for an evening of surprises. Henry really came through this time with some dishes we had not been tempted by before. He always has a list of what he is considering ordering (I can't read it because its in Chinese) but leaves it open to change after he talks with the owner about what is especially fresh and best that day.

We sat down and there was a plate of their roasted peanuts along with some very small dried fish that had a crunchy, sweet taste to them. Along came a "shrimpy crispy" thing. Looks like a slightly puffed flat bread made with ground up shrimp. Cora really likes this because it is similar to what she had as a child in the Philippines.

After receiving a "hot, steamy" washcloth to cleanse your hands with the dishes started arriving.

First was "Fried Oysters". I have had these before here but tonight they were especially plump and really outstanding. Served with fresh lime and grey salt.

Then a new dish ( for me) arrived. Whole shrimp (head and all) that were halved and served with garlic and chives. These guys were alive when we arrived so when the hit their demise at our table they were absolutely the freshest you could possibly get. You just picked them up and sucked them down. They were great.

Another old favorite arrived. Garlic green beans with sea bass. This is the only way to get Barbara to eat "green things". I bet her mother would have liked to have known the secret when Barbara was growing up.

Roast Pork - crispy skin and juicy meat. This was another new dish we had not had before. Not sure what part of the pig it came from (Henry explained that the Chinese have certain areas of the pig they are fond of), but I really didn't care because it was so good.

Chinese broccoli with chicken was next. Another old standby but always good. (No, Barbara does not eat broccoli)

A bowl came out with beef tendons and daikon radishes in a gravy. Several people raved about this dish, along with me.

I'm not a big fan of tofu, but every time we have it at Duong Son, I can't believe how good is is. This dish had a twist to it. It was the shrimp stuffed tofu we usually get but this time it was in a sauce with squid, shrimp, chicken, snow peas and carrots.

Then came a big plate of fat noodles, with bean sprouts and calamari in a shrimp paste. This was another twist for us. Great flavor.

Last but always best, was the barbequed ribs. I talked about them in my last post about Duong Son.

Dessert was some "soupy, warmish" liquid . Called "White Fungus with Aprodia Seed". Surprisingly enough it was tasty. Not too sweet or too filling. Then a plate of fresh papaya slices with dumplings filled with egg and coconut.

We had quite the assortment of wines tonight. I did take a list of them because certain people have asked me to list the wines we have at dinner.

2004 Abarbanel, Alsace, Gerwurztraminer
2005 McKeon-Phillips Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Rosenbloom Kathy's Cuvee, Viognier
2000 Beringer, Knights Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon
2000 Fife, Scarlet, blend
2001 Parkfield, Monterey County, Syrah
2003 Loring, Llama Vineyard, Pinot Noir
2005 Fritz, Russian River, Pinot Noir
2005 Alma Rosa, LaEncantada, Pinot Noir

The dinners we have at this restaurant are not for picky eaters. We like to have people at the table that are willing to try something different without turning their noses up at it and not even taking a taste. Those people should be very thankful they did not have me as a mother. They wouldn't have survived their childhood. My motto has always been, take one bite only and then if you do not like it you do not have to eat it. Eventually after "take one bite" several times they start to develop a taste for whatever it is. My granddaughter uses this method on her two children and they are not picky eaters at the ages of 2 and 4. When I come across adults who are "picky eaters", I always wonder why ?