Sunday, September 27, 2009

South Coast Winery Restaurant

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Went with friends to this restaurant in Costa Mesa. I did not know it existed. They are members of South Coast's wine club and had been to this restaurant before. Right now they have a 4 course dinner with 4 wines for $35 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. In today's climate that's a bargain. Of course they are pouring their own wines with this dinner. At least South Coast wines are drinkable. Most of Temecula's wines are "suspect".

First course was "Corn Bisque" , garnished with sauteed Maitake mushrooms, smoked bacon, basil and paired with a South Coast 2007 Reserve Chardonnay. The Chardonnay was oaky but did go well with the the creamy, sweet taste of the bisque. They two countered each other a made for a good pairing

Second course was "Goncchi di Patate", fluffy potato gnocchi sauteed with forest mushrooms, sweet corn, baby tomatoes, sage butter and paired with South Coast 2005 Collaboration. I did like this wine and it paired beautifully with the dish. The vegetables were still very crisp and slightly warm. I felt this was the best wine of the night.

Main course was "Rack of Lamb", two ribs of lamb with warm Farro salad, scallion, pomegranate seeds, Italian Saba and served with South Coast 2005 Wild Horse Peak-4 Block Cabernet Sauvignon. The lamb was cooked the way I liked it. (just this side of dead) and the Farro (Italian grain) was very good. This wine was the weakest of the evening. I did not finish my glass. It had a very weak back finish. Fell off so you could not remember what you were just drinking.

Dessert was "Coconut Flan" with Muscat braised Vanilla Apricots, fresh berries and paired with a South Coast 2008 Muscat Canelli. This was a good pairing.

The food was good and the wines were decent. It was well worth the $35. I looked at their regular menu and the prices seemed reasonable and their wine list was extensive. Mainly California wines but the prices were in line. Not over the hill like a lot of restaurants. Service was good. Did have a small problem with the glasses. After we drank the Chardonnay the serves was going to pour the red wine into the same glass. We had a problem with that and asked for clean red wine glasses. We were told that because the dinner was so inexpensive that he was told to use the same glasses for every wine. This was a management decision not the servers. We did protest and he brought a large red wine glass and did bring a small glass for the Muscat Cannelli. I could handle the 2 reds using the same glass but not a red into white wine residue. I think that management needs to be woken up a bit. This was not their best idea.

If I am in the area I would go back to this restaurant.

Free Wine

It seems that a high end restaurant has a "clean out" sale a couple of times a year. You get to taste 30 wines "free" and then have the option of buying off a list which included the wines available for tasting along with many others not being opened.

I would have liked to taste the 1982 Chateau Petrus, Pomerol but somehow they deemed this wine worthy of selling but not a "free" taste. Retail was $11,500 and sale price was $5,750. If I had not bought so much "Monday Night Football" wines in Paso Robles I may have opted for a case of this jewel.

Of course they had a few lower end specimen's. Like a 2005 Marquis Phillips Merlot at $11.The 2006 Caymus SS Cabernet Sauvignon was going for $80, the NV Krug Reims Champagne was $90, the 2006 Arcadian SLH Pinot Noir was $19 and the 1996 Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Montrachet was going for a mere $3,750, Lot's of bargains for every price range.

All wines are 50% off their retail price. Of course the retail price is on the high side but factoring in 50% discount then the wines become a bargain.

This sale is apparently the biggest secret in town and I intend to keep it that way.

It was nice to have a tasting where the crowd at the tables wasn't 5 people deep. Of course dealing with the"beautiful" people is another thing. They all feel that the tasting is strictly for them and they hog the table pretending to know a lot about wine while talking with the wine rep's. They are in their own little "bubble world". I have always wondered why so many people that think they are "wine savey" hold their glasses by the bowl and warm the wine they are drinking.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Peirano Wine Tasting

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Delius Restaurant hosted a wine tasting this evening. I had never heard of this winery (there are lots of them that I have not heard of). They have been in the Lodi area for over a hundred years. 1,000 acres but with 500 planted in grape vines. 8 wines were tasted. All estate grown. ""

2007 Chardonnay - see's french oak - a clean wine
2007 Viognier - not overly floral
2006 The Other White - Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc & Viognier. You really get the Viognier at the back palate.
2006 Malbec - not your Argentinian Malbec - more European in structure
2006 Melot - 6 clones - for a Merlot a nice wine
2006 Petit Syrah - nice and inky
2004 Barbera - sure beats Orv's Barbera
2007 The Other Red - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah - the Merlot softens the Cab and the Syrah is predominate on the back palate.

I was very surprised at how nice these wines were and at the price point of $14 each that was a bargain. I really liked the "The Other Red" and the Barbera. I bought several bottles of these. They will be showing up for Monday Night Football.

As always the appetizers that were passed were very good. Ceviche in little spoons. Poke on thin chips, Lamb on toasted baguette pieces, some little mushroom doodad, some kind of pork , mushroom soup shooters, a pumpkin souffle thing on top of a cake round and small dishes of the Russian Cream.

I did not take notes so everything is from memory. And after 8 very good pours of wine I don't think I did too bad.

Private Tasting

Friday, September 25, 2009

Went to friends house this evening for a private "higher end" tasting. Since I just got back from vacation this afternoon it slipped my mind completely to take notes on what we would be drinking tonight. (remembered the next day) Everyone was to bring a "higher" end wine. I do remember 2 Cing Cepages, different years, a Saxum Bone Rock Syrah. I brought a Lucia Gary's Vineyard Syrah. 11 wines all together. We used the 1-1/2 ounce pourer's for the first pours and discussed the wine. After that the bottles were lined up on the bar in the house. We had a great dinner (everyone brought a dish). Since we were seated outside I did not get up to get some more wine until midway through eating. By then some of the most popular wines were gone so some of us did not get a second taste.

My take on this is, that the bottles should have been on the table for easy access. I somehow felt a little cheated that I only got a 1-1/2 ounce pour of some wines and others took much, much larger pours. They liked, so they drank it profusely. Yes I know I could have gotten up and gone into the house (while eating) to get more but somehow this is not setting right with me. I guess I'm getting more bitchy in my old age. I also felt that 12 people were to many. 8 should have been the max for this type of tasting.

The idea was great but needed to de defined more.

Vacation Time

Friday, September 11, 2009:

After getting a late start ( had new tires put on the car) I finally got on the road to Paso Robles about 11:45. This got me caught up in heavy traffic from Torrance through Los Angeles and into Camarillo. After that it cleared up.

First pit stop was at Huber Cellars in the Sta Rita Hills area near Lompoc. Traudle had left for a doctor's appointment so Norman and I tasted his new releases and a few old ones. His new 2008 Dornfelder Port was at 21% but was absolutely outstanding. Luckily I had some dark chocolate with me so we had a few sips for port and a few bites of chocolate. I had plan on stopping at a few more places on the way but since I was 2 hours off schedule I said goodbye and continued up the road towards Avila Beach.

Made a quick stop at Trader Joes in Arroyo Grande then on the Avila Beach where I was staying. I had originally planned on checking in and then heading over to the Sycamore for their Friday night wine tasting. The Sycamore was so crowded there were no parking spaces available so back to my accommodations to plan my "attack" on the wineries in Paso Robles on Saturday.

Spent Saturday, Sunday, Monday in Paso Robles. Tuesday doing the Foxen Canyon Trail, Wednesday, The Edna Valley and Thursday (which was really hot) back down to Santa Ynez .

The amount of new wineries is over whelming. I do not see how they are all going to make it. Something is going to have to give. I was told by one of the winemakers that I knew that there were a lot of negotiation's going on and some wineries would be going under soon.

The big highlight of this trip was getting a private tasting at Sinor-LaValle. Tasted 3 Pinots and a Syrah. Mike Sinor was very accommodating. I had not called ahead because I felt with harvest going on it was not the best time. But when I was in the Edna Valley I called him to see what the availability was. He had already harvested and was at the warehouse. Told me to come right on over. I have bought wines from them for several years but had not tasted them yet. I got on their allocation list after reading an article about up and coming winemakers several years ago. Kosta Browne was listed also and I did get on their allocation list at that time. Two winners.

I did go to a few old favorites but kept most of the tasting to new wineries. Austin Hope now has a tasting area in his barrel room. Worth the stop. Among the others that I stopped at were, Caparone, Chateau Margene, Falcon Nest, Four Vines, Kenneth Volk, Lone Madrone, Maloy O"Neill, Pear Valley, Penman Springs, Red Soles, Stanger, Tolosa, Wolff, Zin Alley, Vina Robles, Cambria, River Bench, Rancho Sisquoc, Foxen, Tres Hermanas, Rusak and Stolpman.

I did not hit the wineries as heavy as I have done in the past. I did not seem to have the urge to get there as they opening. Most of the time I waited until 10:30 to leave my accommodations before heading out. I think the time of year had something to do with my attitude. I usually go to Paso Robles late fall. End of October into November. After the harvest and crush and the "madness" is over. Also more people were out and about and it felt more hectic.

Next year ? I'm contemplating on going back to Sonoma. The 9 hour drive is a big detriment. Maybe I will fly and rent a car, then send the wines I buy back through a dealer. I do have a few months to think about it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jason/Stephens Wine Dinner

Friday, August 28, 2009

Delius Restaurant hosted a wine dinner this evening. I was unfamiliar with the winery being featured but I am always on the look out for something new. Jason/Stephens Winery is located in the Santa Clara area.

There were 5 of us singles seated at the rep's table. There are certain advantages to being single when dining at Delius (or Sage).

I was glad to see bread back on the table instead of those crispy rolls that flaked all over when you tore them apart. Now if I could just get them to bring back the shallot bread instead of the rosemary infused bread I would really be happy.

Appetizer was "Veal Sweetbreads with Braised Celery and Celery Root Puree". This was a very good combination and it was served with a "2007 Dorch Vineyard Chardonnay". Excellent pairing.

Second course was "Pan Roasted Duck Breast with Tomato Goat Cheese Tart". I'm glad they brought back the sliced duck breast instead of a hunk of meat. Better presentation and it seems like the duck is cooked to perfection this way. The Tomato Tart had good flavor but with all bread type pieces it got a little soggy and then became a little tough to eat. Fortunately it was small so if you have a "big" mouth like I am, you can discretely shove it into your mouth in one piece. The wine served with this dish was a "2006 Santa Clara Merlot". The wine was ok but I am not a big Merlot dinker so I may be a little biased. It did pair nicely with the food.

Next up was the best dish of the evening and maybe one of the best I have ever had. "Braised Oxtail Ravioli with Smoked Tomato Broth and Baby Vegetables". The raviloi had plenty of meat and was large. The broth was to die for. It was so good. That smoked flavor was subtle yet right in front of your nose. I was so happy that I could have ended the meal with that dish. It was paired with a "2006 Santa Clara Syrah". Excellent pairing.

Main course was "Hazelnut-Cherry Crusted Lamb Chops with Carmelized Onion-Polenta Cake and Mustard Greens". I had a 4 rib chop. I should have boxed it to go but I was a little piggish tonight and ate everything. The mustard greens were cooked correctly and the polenta cake was perfect. This was served with a "2006 Santa Clara Cabernet Sauvignon". Good pairing. Not a Napa Cab but a very food friendly wine.

All the wines seemed to pair well with the food. Sometimes you are surprised at how well a wine will pair when you think because of the taste you had before food was just ok.

Dessert was a "Lemon Custard Tart with Chambord Ice Cream and Raspberry Gelee". Just the right size to top the meal off.

Delius has a new chef de cuisine and it is very apparent he is making a statement. Between Louise and Daniel the food has really been brought up a few more notches. And I always thought it was excellent before. Delius is my benchmark for comparisons on dinners and food.