Sunday, November 15, 2009

November's Wine & Dine

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tonite the "Wine & Dine" group met at my favorite Chinese restaurant - Doung Son in "Little Saigon". 16 of us attended this dinner.

Since CJ keeps a list of the wines brought, I just list the food. I did bring a 2005 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir. I just grabbed a bottle off the rack and did not notice that is was the "VS" which is more expensive that the Estate. The wine was really a treat even though it was a mistake on my part and those of us that got to taste it were glad. The wine did not make it to the other table, That is their loss.

For some reason tonight there was an over abundance of white wines. Seems people think that whites go better with Chinese food but in the case of Doung Son it is just the opposite with most of the food dishes. The whites were fine with the lobster and the sea bass but so were the Pinots.

First up was a plate of freshly made "Shrimp Chips". The Chinese potato chip.

Roasted duck Cantonese style was served. The first time we have had it this was. Very good. Nice "jus" with it.

Lobster was put on the table. They take the whole lobster and hack it up into many pieces and stir fry it in a wok with scallions and ginger. It makes it's own sauce. They served it with the soft noddles that the lobster had been sitting on and the juices saturate the noddles.

Pea Shoots were served. We had this a few months back and they are becoming a favorite.

At this point I am starting to get full but I know there are a few more things to go.

Spicy green beans with white sea bass was set down. Then came Beef Tendon with Daikon radishes. Next was the Pork ribs - there have a sauce on them that is strangely like maple syrup. Crispy and very good.

A new dish appeared. Eggplant with chicken. I did not eat any of this as I had reached the saturation point and I just am not an eggplant fan.

Last up was the fried tofu with vegetable sauce. For some reason the tofu was not as good as it usually is. It did not seem as creamy. I ate 1 small piece. A bit disappointing.

Dessert was melon with leeche nut and grapes.

Sta Rita Hills Wine Tasting

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wine Country,, is Signal Hill, hosted at "Sta Rita Hills" tasting tonight. The place was a sell out but I was happy to say that my name was the first on the list for this event.

Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe and Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines were in attendance. Both were extremely informative and we learned a lot about the Sta Rita Hills area and how it was formed millions of years ago. This makes it ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. The knowledge that these two people had made for a really enjoyable evening and along with the great wines we tasted it was a not to be missed event.

Not all the wines were from these 2 wineries. There were 4 other wineries represented and it really showed the difference in wine making styles.

First we had a 2008 Clos Pepe Chardonnay and a 2005 Ken Brown "Sanford & Benedict" Chardonnay. Even though they were not the same vintages I gave the edge to the Clos Pepe. It was very Chablis in style. 2008 was a hard year because of the frosts. A very limited production of this wine. Only 75 cases made. The Ken Brown was a more fuller mouth feel with a slight buttery taste. Great wine but I did personally prefer the Clos Pepe.

Next two was the Ken Brown Sta Rita Hills Pinot, a blend of Rio Vista, Sanford & Benedict and Clos Pepe and the 2007 Alma Rosa Sta Rita Hills Pinot. This time I gave the nod to the Ken Brown. It just suited my palate.

Along came the 2006 Ken Brown "Cargassacchi Vineyards" Pinot Noir with the 2006 Longoria "Fe Ciega Vineyard" Pinot. The Ken Brown took this one hands down. I did not care for the Longoria at all and ended up dumping it. I've always been a fan of the "Cargassacchi" grapes.

Next pairing was the 2005 Clos Pepe and the 2007 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir. Very interesting comparison. I have always been a fan of the 2005 vintage. And still am. Both wines will cellar.

Last was the 2008 Axis Mundi Syrah and the 2007 Samsara Melville Vineyard Syrah. The Axis Mundi is Wes Hagen's new baby. With the 2008 low yields he was looking for something to make along with the "very limited" production of his Pinot's & Chardonnays. Axis Mundi was born. Its a really dark almost brooding Syrah. I think he has a real winner here and I did prefer it over the Samsara.

Great evening with great wines. Doesn't get better than this.

November's Gathering of The Flock

Saturday, November 7, 2009

This month's theme was "9 Year Vertical of McKeon-Phillips BPR Cabernet Sauvignon" . Terry & Cora hosted this event using my residence. It was truly a unique experience and one of the best "gathering" in the 10 years we have been doing them.

All the food that was brought was great. People went out of their way to elevate their "offerings".

I did not keep notes on the wines but I do remember being very impressed with the 1999 and the 2005. These are not what you would call high end wines. Upon release they are in the $35 to $40 range. But they are very enjoyable food friendly wines and this tasting showed how well they cellar.

Some of the "flock" could take a lesson from this tasting and elevate their theme's a little. Not everyone can offer a large vertical like this but they could really use some help in the imagination part when they pick their themes.

No "gathering in December but next January we are on to Pinot Noir's, Oregon vs Sta Rita Hills.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Friday, October 30, 2009

Met Terry & Cora at Buhkara tonight for a quick dinner. I have had a hankering for Lamb Saag for awhile and tonight would take care of this. We all ordered lamb dishes, just different sauces. They brought an excellent Syrah and I brought a 2005 Sinor-LaValle, Talley-Rincon, Pinot Noir. The wine opened up very well towards the end of the meal. This wine can take a few more years of cellaring. I have bought wines for Sinor-LaValle for several years but had not had the opportunity to taste them until my September trip to Paso Robles. I got to meet Mike Sinor and he opened several bottles of his wine for me to try. Now I know to leave his wines alone for at least 4 years before opening.

Four Vines Wine Dinner

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Delius Restaurant hosted a Four Vines wine dinner this evening. in conjunction with Wine Getaways. I had not seen Peter and Bart in since the old restaurant. I was surprised that they remembered me. We also had Bill Grant, one of the owners at Four Vines at our table. Quite a character. Gave very good presentations of the wines being poured and a lot of the history of the old families of the Paso Robles area.

First Course: Crispy Pork Cheeks with baby watercress, black radish and pear sorbet. This paired with a 2008 Naked Chardonnay. No oak. Excellent pairing. I would not have thought to pair pork with chardonnay but this was a real surprise.

Second Course: Duo of Duck - Duck terrine with toasted brioche and caramelized onion compote. Also Roasted Duck Breast with confit of potato, micro arugula and spiced duck "jus". Paired with 2007 Biker Zinfandel and a 2007 J.Dusi, Dante Dusi Vineyards Zinfandel. Interesting to compare the two different winemakers approach to the grapes from the same vineyard. I would say the J. Dusi was a little bit more European in style. I think that was the consensus of most people at our table. But it was split on which wine they preferred. Again a very good food and wine pairing.

Third Course: Lamb Cassoulet - grilled lamb loin with white beans, dried blueberries and baby carrots. I will say that this particular dish was my favorite of the evening. It had such good earthy flavor. This was paired with 2006 Killer Canyon Syrah.

Fourth Course: Braised Short Rib, red wine cherry glaze, polenta puree and crispy shallots. The wine with this dish was a 2007 Heretic Petite Syrah. Again another very good pairing and good food. The short rib had excellent flavor and was very tender

Dessert: Frozen Raspberry Mousse, chocolate granache and caramel tuile. Served with a 2005 Zinfandel Port. The dessert was just the right "lightness" to end a heavy meal and take care of your sweet tooth.

Again another excellent dinner at Delius. These dinners are never the cheapest around but the quality of the food surpasses everyone else in the area. They use the best ingredients which shows up on your plate.

October Gathering of The Wino's

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This month's gathering of the wino's theme was "Wines From Navarra & La Mancha, Spain"

The host's went all out and made Paella for the crowd. It was excellent and not much was left. Everyone seemed to enjoy this food dish. Remy really went out and cooked an excellent main dish. The appetizers and desserts were good also. People seemed to make a little bit more effort to bring food that had a Spanish influence to them.

There were 32 bottles of wine on the table. A few duplicates but I was surprised that the "wino's" on the most part went out of their way to get wines from these districts. I would say 95% of the wines were good. A few clunkers.

A good time was had by all, good food, good wine and good friends. It doesn't get better than that.

Looking forward to next months gathering. A 9 year vertical of McKeon-Phillips BVP Cabernet.

Delius' Passport Tasting

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Every year (2nd Sunday of October), Delius Restaurant in Signal Hill hosts their annual "Passport Tasting". For $50 you get access to a minimum of 36 wines and a light buffet along with passed appetizers. It was a sellout this year so next year they plan on closing the restaurant and using all the dining areas for the tasting including the Prix Fixe room. That will spread the wine and the people out and it will be easier to deal with the crowd. They do limit the number of people attending but with Delius keeping the bar open and the prix fixe dining area open for reservations it shoved a lot of people into a smaller area

I usually take advantage of the discount prices of the wines being offered but this year I have glut of wines and I am trying to pare down to a comfortable number.

The food was good and the wines were good. Most of the wine vendors bring decent wines to this event. At some events the wine rep's bring the low end wines but not at Delius. Which is to everyone's benefit.