Sunday, December 28, 2008

Vacation Time

I left on Friday, December 9, 2008 for Avila Beach which is close to Pismo Beach and 20 minutes from the Paso Robles wine country. The weather report didn't look great for this week but that's what happens sometimes. It turned out to be rainy, windy, hailed, and cold. I did not accomplish as much as I wanted to but I did get a lot of rest.

I had decided to try and visit some of the new wineries that have popped up in the last 2 years.

Saturday the 13th I hit 7 wineries. All new except Denner. Donati, Booker, Caliza, Brian Benson, Jada and Jack Creek. I found that most of them were priced from $5 to $7 to high for what they were. I did buy a bottle at Donati, an orphans blend which I did like and the price was right. Booker was very good as was Jada but both were priced too high. All the wineries poured good wines. There wasn't a bad one in the bunch.

Sunday the 14th I hit 7 wineries also. Turley was one I visit every time I am in the area. I was picking up a case of wine for friends and naturally I had to taste. Along with their normal "vineyards" they pour at the tasting room they were pouring the "Ubberoth" that day also. Very fine wine but too much money. I always buy the Juvenile and Old Vines. The two least expensive wines and I hold them for a couple of years before opening.

I also visited Venteaux, Rotta, Terry Hoague, Ecluse, Fratelli Peralta and August Ridge. I was on my way out to Chateau Margene when I spotted the sign for August Ridge. Since it was new I turned into the property. Never made it to my original destination as it was starting to get dark and starting to rain. I did have 2 days without rain. I bought a few of bottles at Rotta. Their
Guibinni" Zinfandel which I really liked and a dessert wine made from the Black Monukka table grape. They crush and cold soak the grapes for a few days and then put the barrel out the direct sun to "sun-bake" for 2 years. A very good non-sweet dessert wine with a caramel taste to it.

Monday the 15th I headed over to Edna Valley. I only did 5 wineries that day as the weather wasn't great. Kynsi, Domaine Alfred, Wolf, Saucelito Canyon and Baileyanna. On the way back to Avila Beach I stopped at Steamers for dinner and a martini. The martini did taste real good after 3 days of wine tasting.

Tuesday the 16th I headed over to Cambria. The weather was nasty. Hailed very heavy between Morro Bay and Cambria, but cleared up for a few hours of shopping. On the way back to my hotel I stopped at Sailsbury & Kelsey wineries. I was not impressed with either of them but they were close to where I was staying. In the evening went over to the "Sycamore" for happy hour. Tuesday night appetizers and wine are half price. Had a dish of clams and mussels and a side dish of scallops along with a glass of wine. For $23 and that included tax & tip it was a bargain.

Wednesday I headed over to Solvang and picked up a case of wine at Stolpman's. Visited Addamo's tasting room, stopped at an outlet center in Pismo for shopping and went to Mulligans at the golf course for a beer.

Thursday my last day I went back to Paso and revisited Rotta, a new wine store and a new fish store/restaurant/take out called 46. Also had a great hamburger at Mulligans. Got everything ready for an early departure on Friday and revisited Alapay winery in the town of Avila Beach.

Friday was bitterly cold went I left about 7:00. I stopped in Buellton for breakfast at Ellens and headed home. I needed to go to Trader Joes for a few things and i was home and in my house by 12:30. I was doing a dinner that night with friends at Doung Son and I did manage to get everything out away and cleaned up.

My overall mileage for this trip was good. I averaged 44 mpg going up and 43 mpg coming back. I tend to drive a little faster going home. Overall mileage for my 1,060 mile trip was 40 mpg. Some hybrids don't get that. So I was a happy wino in spite of the nasty weather.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 24, 2008

I was invited by friends to their home for dinner on Christmas Eve. Lots of appetizers and a buffet dinner of ham and turkey with all the trimmings was served.

The real highlight of this evening was the wine that was being poured. They own a winery and all their events are great opportunities for drinking great wine. Since this was a very social event I had no paper or pencil to take notes But I do remember that a 1974 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon was poured and it was unbelievable. Vibrant color, great fruit, soft tannins after all these years and showing very well. It was hard to imagine that this wine was 34 years old. There was several older bottles of wine opened along with some very big named wines. I did not taste a wine that was not "very" good. I took a bottle of 2005 AP Vin Gary's Vineyard Pinot Noir. I assume it was acceptable as the bottle was emptied quickly.

I do not have "great" bottles of wine. I have "good" bottles but nothing on the scale that was being poured tonight.

Since I had an hour drive home and the rain was about to begin I did leave about 10:00. They were still pulling out "special" bottles of wine from the cellar. I was told I could "crash" at their place for the night but seeing as it was Christmas Eve and that would entail me getting up Christmas morning to go home I declined the invitation. If it had been any other day I would have accepted and stayed around to what else would magically appear on the wine table.

Improv Dinner at Duong Son

Friday, December 19, 2008.

A few of us decided to go to Duong Son restaurant in "Little Saigon" for dinner. We went without our usual host Henry who speaks the language and always orders for us. Henry is is China for a month so we decided to wing it.

Our waiter at least knew us and figured out what we wanted. We didn't do too bad for "nubies". We ordered duck 2 ways, salt & pepper calamari, shrimp with garlic green beans and fried beef. We were stuffed at the end of the meal and then they served us 3 desserts. Sliced Asian apples, a mung bean tapioca and sweet buns.

The wines went from ok to very good. We had an enjoyable impromptu evening. We did miss Henry. The food at Doung Son is very good but with Henry it goes up a notch.

South African Wine Dinner

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tonight 6 of us went to dinner at Utopia Restaurant in Long Beach for a South African Wine dinner. This was a good group, 5 women and 1 man. Steve, I think was in heaven. Conversation was interesting and the group meshed well. Some people had never met others but it turned out to be a very stimulating group.

Appetizer was "Grilled calamari with spicy green chili sauce", served with a 2006 Delheim Sauvignon Blanc. The pairing was very good and both the food and wine were good.

The entree was "Grilled lamb chops with tarragon garlic wine sauce, grilled asparagus and grilled tomatoes". This was served with a 2004 Delheim Cabernet Sauvignon. I would say this was the weakest dish and wine of the evening. I felt the wine had no body. The lamb was good but not outstanding.

Next came the main dish "Lobster ravioli & grilled portabella mushroom with sun dried tomato cream sauce". The wine as a 2005 Villiera Pinotage. I'm not a real fan of Pinotage but this wine was excellent. The sauce on the ravioli was really very good. Ono of the highlights of the evening.

Dessert was "Homemade dark chocolate tiramisu " served with a 1999 Welteverde Muscat De Hambourg. Both items were very food but I do not like a dessert wine with dessert. It is too much sweet on sweet. I prefer a cheese plate with maybe some fruit with a dessert wine.

These wine dinners at Utopia are $50 which is a bargain.,

Holiday Brunch

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Today, I hosted my annual Holiday Brunch. Approximately 38 people braved the elements (in California that means before 70 degree temperature) to attend. There was a big mix of people from different areas of my life which I feel makes for a great party.

Served the "traditional" (and easy) holiday ham along with egg casseroles. Everyone filled in with appetizers and desserts.

The bubbly flowed and the wine was abundant. First people arrived at 12:25 and the last one left about 9:00pm. Obviously it was a successful party.

The tree and the house was decorated so it was a very festive day.