Sunday, August 23, 2009

August Gathering of The Flock

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our monthly gathering of the wino's took place today (Saturday). Normally we have these events on Sunday but for some odd reason some people seem to think that Saturday works best. I disagree as it should be evident by the number of people in attendance. Sunday's group is always larger. People have to many other things going on on a Saturday and since these gatherings are usually started at 2:00 or 3:00 it really take a big bite out of other chores and events that seem to be prevalent on that day.

There were 21 wines on the table. But that reflects the number of outside guests that the host invited. It was more of a open party.

Today's wine theme was Zinfandels and Pinot Noir based Sparkling, Champagnes and Roses. I was really happy to wake up to a very cool and overcast day. Normally I cannot drink these heavy red wines in the heat and since this event is always held outside on a hot day you can be miserable. Today was Zinfandel tasting weather. I concentrated on the Sparklings and Champagnes more but did taste a few Zin's. Unfortunately the table with the wines was very small and in a small corner which made it difficult to get to. People have a tendancy to hang around the wine table. Its part of the game. After I made the list out of what wines that were brought, I saw several I would have liked to try but really did not see them on the table as everything was crammed into a very small area

The wines were good and the appetizers were great. We had fresh strawberries, which were excellent and brownies for dessert. A nice way to end a day.

Next month I will be on vacation at the time of the next "gathering of the flock" and the next "wine and dine" so I will have no comments on those events. But you will hear about my vacation. A lot of wine tasting is on the agenda.

Wine Mixer at Antonello's

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Antonello's Restaurant in Costa Mesa, near South Coast Plaza held a wine mixer this evening. Featured wines were from Nickel & Nickel and Far Nienete. Price was $25 and you got to taste 8 wines along with assorted cheeses, meats , breads , etc. They passed some appetizers around which was a nice touch. The event was held outside the restaurant and the evening was very pleasant. Antonello's was offering a special dinner afterwards for $40 which I did not stay for. It was a nice event and I would attend another.

I was a little disappointed in the wines. As I have had wines from this producer before I was expecting something that did not get delivered. Wines were discounted tonight but at $65 and $75 for Cabernet Sauvignon I felt they fell off the mark.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

August Wine & Dine

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tonight 17 of us gathered for the monthly "Wine & Dine" dinner. We have been to Belacan Mayalsian restaurant in Redondo Beach several times and the food is always good. A lot of sparkling wines were brought tonight, mainly because of the spiciness of the food.

We started out with 3 appetizers. Malaysian Curry Puffs (pastry stuffed with potato chicken curry (similar to Indian Samosas), Malaysian chicken wings (deep fried wings with turmeric & curry) and Crab Rangoon (crispy wonton pockets filled with crab salad).

The curry puffs were spicy but went well with the Rieslings. The wings went well with the Zinfandels and the crab wontons were mild enough to go with the sparkling wines.

Entrees were served along with coconut rice.

"Char Kway Teow" Malaysian stir-fried flat rice noodles with chicken, shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts and chives in a dark spicy soy sauce. This dish was so spicy that it left a burn on you tongue and lips for a long time. It ruined your palate for the wines.

"Vegetable Delight Curry" - vegetables and tofu simmered in a rich coconut milk curry gravy. I did not have any of this dish. It did not look appetizing and by time it arrived I was full.

"Grilled Tamarind Shrimp" - Shell on charcoal grilled jumbo shrimp seasoned with tamarind juice. We have had this dish before and the flavors are very good. My objection is the shell on the shrimp and the mess it makes eating it. Your wine glasses suffer. But the flavor is wonderful.

"Daging Kicap Manis ( soy glazed beef, tender cuts of beef sauteed with onions and spices in a sweet thick soy glaze) This was actually served right after the "Char Kway Teow". My palate was still stinging from the dish before so I really could not enjoy the beef.

The "Char Kway Teow" which was served first overwhelmed the last dishes and really took away from the enjoyment of the rest of the meal.

This should have been a really good dinner but unfortunately my palate left me half way through the meal and did not return until close to the end.

I took a NV Santa Julia Sparkling Pinot Rose and a 2004 Rotta "Giubbini" vineyard Zindandel. Rotta is just up the road from Turley Vineyards in Paso Robles. Different style of zin and personaly I prefer it over Turley. Much more food friendly wine. It went very well with the wings and The Santa Julia sparkling which was on the dry side went very well with the Curry Puffs.

We all had a good time and this restaurant is worth visiting.

Next month the group is off to Fritto Misto in Redondo Beach. I will be on vacation at Avila Beach so I will miss Septembers dinner. October is Ante's in San Pedro.

Customer Appreciation Night

Friday, August 14, 2009

Utopia restaurant in downtown Long Beach had their 10th Anniversary party this evening. Amir put out a nice spread of food and nibblies. A fairly large crowd attended coming in and out all evening. Live entertainment. Made a real nice Friday evening Happy Hour and the price was right.

German Wine Dinner

Wednesday, August 12, 2009.

Delius Restaurant hosted a German Wine dinner this evening. They had a large private party using the prixe fixe room so the restaurant was closed to the public dinner trade. We took over the al la carte room which was nicely done with white tablecloths and the line up of wine glasses and silverware that make fine dining pleasurable.

I will say this dinner and the wines were so superior to the German wine dinner at D'Vinci's several months ago. Same importer but much better wines. And the quality of the food was superior. Yes it was a few more dollars but worth every bit it.

First course was "Pickled Sardine with Braised Red Cabbage and Pickled Baby Carrots". Served with a Wegeler NV Riesling Sekt Brut, Rheingau.

Second course was "Hot Smoked Trout, White Asaparagus and Meyer Lemon Confit". Wine was a 2007 Schnaitmann Rose "Evoel", Wurttemberg. I loved this dish and thought the pairing was excellent. Dave Solzman, the owner felt the lemon confit was a little to acid for the wine. Different strokes.

Third course - "Pork Sous Vide with Roasted Cipollini Onion, Dried Apricot, Spaetzel and Pork Jus. The wine poured was a 2007 Gunderloch Rielsing Spatlese "Diva", Rheinhessen. Pork was cooked to perfection.

Fourth course was "Marinated Flat Iron Steak with Lentil Puree and Shitake Mushroom Butter"
Paired with a 2005 Dr. Heger Pinot Noir "MIMUS", Baden. Excellent dish and excellent pairing. The Shitake Mushroom Butter was to die for.

Dessert was an "International Cheese & Fruit Selection". Served with a 2004 Pfeffingen Scheurebe Spatlese, Pfalz.

I picked up 2 new grape varietals for my quest. I have passed the 200 mark and my next goal will be 250 varietals tasted.

This was a great dinner, food was excellent and the wine pairings were very good. My type of dinner and evening.

Private Tasting

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Myself along with a few others were invited to a private tasting. There was a group of about 20 in attendance. Among the wines which I liked best were the 1991 Diamond Creek Gravely Meadow Cabernet and the 1991 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Cabernet. There also was a 1999 & 2000 Testarossa Sleepy Hollow Pinot that were quite good. Small group, good wines and food.

Pizza & Wine

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wine Country in Long Beach had a "Pizza & Wine" seminar tonight. I have attended many of these in the past but this definitely will be my last one. They had 4 different kinds of pizza to serve with the different wines. Instead of slices which we have had in the past they cut the pizza into small squares and triangles. You got 2 small (very) pieces of each type. No extras were passed around like in the past. 12 wines were poured. About 1-1/2 ounces each pour. No extras like in the past . The host told us which wines we were drinking and basically asked what we thought of them with the pizza. That was it. No more explanation than that. I could have gone to a pizzeria with 10 friends. Got 3 pizzas and ordered the same quality of wines and been ahead of the game. At $40 I felt it was a rip off. $25 to $30 would have been more tolerable. I was not alone in my reaction to this night. I have talked with people that were there at at least 8 of us think the same way. It wasn't fun like it was in the past. So we will not be back.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Clos Pepe Release Party

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Today 4 of us headed up to the Sta. Rita Hills to attend Clos Pepe Vineyards annual release party. This was a great day for me as I did not have to drive. Interesting to be able to see the landscape from another view besides the middle of the road.

Since we were a little early we headed to Los Olivos to check out Stolpman's new tasting room and visit a few others

About 1:00 we headed back down the highway to Clos Pepe Vineyards. Again luck was with me as we were motioned to head to up to the big house to park. That means we didn't have to climb the driveway and walk thru the dust with open toed shoes.

The party was in full swing. The numbers were smaller than last year because the invites were not given to everyone. New West Catering was busy making specialty pizzas in the wood fired pizza oven Skewers of beef and shrimp were being grilled. Platters of cheese and roasted vegetables were in the main house along with the BYOB themed bottles. This year it was Italian. There had to close to 100 bottles of wine on that table.

Tasted the new releases. The 2008 Pinot Noir, VS Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay. Wes was also pouring the new sparkling pinot that was released earlier this year along with the new 2008 Rose of Pinot Noir. The new label Axis Mundi was being poured. The 2008 Syrah is really good.

The 2008 Pinot Noir is very burgundian in style. Wes said that this was the first really burgundian pinot he has made. I thought it was outstanding. As always the Chardonnay was really showing well.

Clos Pepe wines were really showing well this year. Their yield is about half or normal because of the killing frosts early in the season. My allotment was changed also.

Also pouring today was Ken Brown, Roger Roessler and Justin Willtt. All were pouring their Clos Pepe Pinot Noir's & Chardonnays. Very impressive.

Library wines were on the table. Nice to try the wines that I am holding so I know where mine stand.

After loading 5 cases of wine we headed home. A beautiful day, sunshine and a nice breeze to keep things extremely comfortable. Great food, great wines and really good company. Doesn't get any better than this.

MacRostie Wine Dinner

Friday, July 31, 2009

Delius restaurant in Signal Hill,, hosted a MacRostie wine dinner this evening. I had heard of this winery but could remember tasting any of their wines. The wine rep from Arizona was with us tonight. It seems that the owner of MacRostie had some last minute problems and couldn't make it.

The appetizer tonight was "Crispy Shrimp Sushi Roll with Asian Pear Salad, Cilantro and Wasabi Aioli. This was paired with the 2007 Carneros Chardonnay. This wine had a touch of oak on it which disappeared with the sushi roll and spicy taste of the dish.

Salad was "Yellow Watermelon with Fried Goat Cheese. Micro Greens, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette". Wine was a 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir Rose. Nice pairing and the wine was good.

Third course was "Five Spice Pork Tenderloin, Mustard Greens, Cherries, Pan Jus. A 2006 Carneros Pinot Noir was served. It was very interesting to see how well the wine paired with the mustard greens. This was an excellent food & wine pairing.

Main dish was "Chocolate-Coffee Roasted Beef Tenderloin Medallions, New Potato, Pearl Onion Confit and a Red Wine Reduction. I cannot say too much about the spectacular sauce. The meat was cooked to perfection. They made a rub of chocolate & coffee and then roasted the meat. When the sauce was poured over the rub infused itself to the sauce. Similar to a Mole but not as spicy. This dish was the hit of the evening. Served with a 2005 Wildcat Mountain, Sonoma Coast Syrah. A perfect pairing.

Dessert was a "Rhubarb Upside Down Cake with Toasted Almond Gelato" . The cake had to top that was similar to a creme brulee crust. Very tasty, not to sweet and just the right end to a fabulous meal.

MacRostie makes 30,000 cases of wine of which 20,000 are Chardonnay. That is their flagship wine. Wines prices were in the $20 to $35 range. All were good and I especially liked the Rose which was dry but still had a nice fruit taste to it

Domaine Serene & Ketcham Estate Wine Dinner

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sage on The Coast,, hosted a wine dinner this evening. The weather was very pleasant and we sat in the outdoor dining area. I was not familiar with Ketcham Estate wines, . They are in the Russain River area od Sonoma.

Appetizer was "Tempura Prawns with Papaya Mustard, Roasted Figs with Proscuitto". The mustard was great, just a right balance between spicy and sweet. This was paired with the 2007 Domaine Serene Rockblock Viognier.

Next came "Sauteed Soft Shell Crab with Coconut Rice, Mango Salsa and Sirachia Aioli". The wine as a 2007 Ketcham Estate, Sonoma County Viognier. I personally liked this voignier better than the Domaine Serenc.

" Grilled Wild Salmon with Summer Vegetable Risotto and Roasted Tomato Sauce " was served with a 2007 Ketcham Estate Russian River Pinot Noir. This wine really opened up after awhile in the glass. It was still a little tight when first tasted.

Entree was "Roasted Duck Breast and Peaches/Blueberry Compote". A 2006 Domaine Serene Evanstad Reserve, Willamette Pinot Noir was paired with this dish. A good pairing the duck was perfect.

Main course was "Roast Rack of Lamb, Mushroom Potato Gratin and Market Vegetables". The wine paired with the lamb was a 2005 Domiane Serene Rockblock, Seven Hills, Walla Walla, Syrah. A great pairing.

Dessert was "Roasted Apricots and Cream with Burnt Honey and Shortbread.. The wine that was originally listed was substituted with the Tablas Creek dessert wine we had a couple of months ago.

The food was great and all the pairings were good. I did find that I liked the Ketcham Estate Viognier best and I really liked their Pinot after it opened up.

They have just recently retained Mike Browne of Kosta Browne as their winemaker. Ketcham Estate is allocation and the list is still open. Needless to say I added my name If Mike Browne does what he did to the Kosta Browne wines this should be a winery worth looking at.

I was lucky enough to get on Kosta Browne's allocation list before it closed. Steven Rigisch of Ketcham said that there is a waiting list of 12,000 to get on Kosta Browne's list.