Sunday, August 21, 2011

August Gathering of The Flock

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Our monthly meeting the "winos" was held today. Normally it would be on a Sunday but a few people like to host on Saturdays. Their choice but the attendance is usually down on Saturdays.

The host made a brisket and grilled corn on the cob. Corn was good. Barbara brought baked beans which were excellent. Need to get the recipe for those. Henry brought a Tofu, Tomato and pork dish which was quite good.

Today's theme was Zinfandels and Pinot based Rose's Sparklings and Champagnes. The weather today was mild for August. Usually I roast at Doug's but today was quite pleasant and I did taste all the wines. I do not do well in hot weather with heavy red wines.

A couple of the wines I really enjoyed were the 2010 Domaine Phillippe Gilbert, Monetou-Salon from the Loire. and the 2007 Gambia Old Vines, Russian River Valley Zinfandel.

On to next months gathering.

Weekend in the Sta Rita Hills - Futures Tasting at The Clos

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Today was the futures tasting and release party at Clos Pepe. Bash started at 11:00 so we had "Breakfast" pizzas from the wood burning oven, along with fresh fruit and homemade cookies. Tasted the "Library" wines from 1999 on up and all the 2010 barrel tastings. Looks like another great year for Clos Pepe.  Picked up my wines I ordered last year. Placed my order for the 2010 and ate and drank again. What a weekend.

Jan & Bob had to leave early so they could not attend. Clyde & Libby went as my guests. CJ & John came up this morning for the event.

Left the Clos and went into Santa Ynez to pick up wine at Stolpman Vineyards. They produce excellent Rhone varietals along with Sangiovese. One of my favorite wineries.  Tasted at Tecero  and bough a few wines there.  On the way out I stopped at Buttonwood but they were completely sold out of their peaches. They have some of the best peaches I have ever tasted.

I was supposed to go to dinner with CJ & John at AJ Spurs but by time I got back to my room in Lompoc I was to tired to dive back 20 plus miles to Buellton to eat dinner.  Wish we could have stopped on the way out of the area for dinner. It would have worked better for me. Clyde & Libby and I want back to the Jalama restaurant and had dinner. By this time I was so wined out I had a Blue Moon beer instead.

Need to get some rest as I will be getting up early on Monday and driving back. Bringing back 11 cases of wine. Glad to say 7 of them are for other people. 4 cases is bad enough and I have absolutely no room for storing them now.

Great weekend. A lot of fun. Very tiring but I would do it again

Weekend In The Sta Rita Hills - Wine & Fire

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hit the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc before heading over to the La Purisima Mission for the big wine bash this afternoon. This is put on by the Sta Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.  Tasted at several tastings rooms (free tastings if you had the passport).  Lots of good wine being made in the area. Worth a look at. Closer to home than Napa and Sonoma.  Went to lunch with friends in Lompoc and then headed out to the Mission for more food and wine. All the Pinot producers in the area were there. Even a few from the Santa Ynez area who buy Pinot grapes from the Sta Rita Hills producers.

Ran into several people I knew. Everyone loves to come out to this event. It did not disappoint . Food was abundant. Great barbecue. Whole roasted pig, great ribs, beautiful beef sliders  shrimp tacos. roasted duck.  Lots and lots of wine. 30 Wineries pouring their juice.

They had a silent auction which it seemed most people did not know about. I bid and won 4 items.

This has been a long day. Great but tiring.

Weekend in the Sta Rita Hills -Dinner at The Clos

Friday, August 12, 2011

Looking forward to this big, busy weekend. Dinner at the Clos at 6:00 on Friday. Glad I left work at 11:00am. It took me 4 and half hours to make the drive to Buellton. 3 accidents and 3 road closures. I had planed on making a couple of stops on my way into Lompoc but those would have to wait. Had enough time to check in and get ready to leave for dinner.

Clos Pepe has not had a dinner in a few years so I was really looking forward to this one and it did not disappoint.  We started out with appetizers pizzas in the courtyard (most people would say patio but not at the size of this one). They have a woodburning pizza over built in and those pizzas were really flying out. New West Catering was again in charge and they are really good. And these pizzas are not ordinary. Epoisses (cheese) with Summer Truffle. (lets hope Frankie got her fill of truffles).  Dandelion, Pancetta & Quail Egg. Carmelized Onion, Gorgonzola Dolce and Arugula. Sheep's Milk Ricotta with La Quercia Prociutto and  Bone Marrow, Rapini with Fontina. These were all washed down with the 2009 Clos Pepe Rose of Pinot Noir.

Just before we entered the house for dinner they passed around a Roasted Peach - Chardonnay popsicle to cleanse the palate. This was Divine. Apparently very easy to make. Roasted peaches, chardonnay wine and some sugar - cook to reduce and freeze.

As in years passed the house was filled with tables in different rooms. I sat at a table set up on Cathy Pepe's office. Cathy and her son Rob were seated there also. The hosts all  sit at different tables so to mingle with their guests.  The table in the office was set for 10 people. 60 wines glass were on the table also. It really sparkled and glimmered when you went in. Very festive.  If you figure 50 people in attendance that would be 300 glasses on the tables that night.

We started out with  "Kumamoto Oysters with Avocado, Sea Urchin and Steelhead Roe" (caviar). Wines with this dish were the 2009 and 2005 Clos Pepe Homage to Chablis Chardonnay.

Second course was"Crispy Duroc Pork Belly with Chanterelles and Flageolets" (beans). Served with 2009 Clos Pepe Estate Vigneron Select Pinot Noir and a 2009 Loring Wine Company Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Third course was "Smoke Roasted Wild Antelope with Duck Fat Fries, Blackberries and Thyme". Wines poured were the 2006 Clos Pepe Estate Vigneron Select Pinot Noir and 2005 Loring Wine Company Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Fourth course was a cheese plate. San Andreas, La Tur, & Fourme D'Ambert with Honeycomb, Sweet Butter and baguette. Again more wine. 2008 Axis Mundi Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Syrah and 2008 Loring Wine Company Divergence (Mouvedre/Caberent).

Dessert plate was filled with Brown Butter Peach Ice Cream Sandwich, Lemon Raspberry Tart and Salted Caramel Truffle. This was served with Wes' Home Roasted Coffee - Costa Rica San Martin de Leon Cortes.  The coffee smelled wonderful but I cannot drink it anymore.

Dinner as always was excellent. My only "flaw" would be the pork belly - good but not up to Delius ' pork belly (which is the best I have ever had).

People at the table I sat with were all great. Good conversation. Great food and wine. Beautiful surroundings. Perfect evening.

Another Dinner at The Himilayn

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We started out tonight with an appetizer platter which included Samosas, Vegetable Pokorma, Grilled Lamb and Chicken and a platter of meat momo's. I really have to watch with appetizers as I will eat these only and not really want dinner afterwards. And usually at the start of the meal you are hungry and "pork" out.

We all ordered a separate dish and shared family style. Works better with this type of cuisine.  There were 3 new people to the group tonight.  Nothing new but all good dishes.

Lamb Chau Chau, Mixed Grill, Chicken Tiki Masala, Lentils Dahl, Vegetable Korma and Cheese Paneer.

Usually at these dinners we get a lot of Pinot Noir wines brought. But not tonight. The closest was a 2009 Clos Pepe Rose of Pinot and a Francois Childaine Touraine.  The bubbly which always shows up when Margie is around was a NV Mas Daumas Gassae Rae Frizant.

There was a 2008 Tabalas Creek Roussane but I am not a big fan of Rhone Whites so I did not taste that one.  I brought a 2004 Stolpman La Croce which was showing exceptionally well. The rest of the lineup included  2002 Hunt Ovation Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Lancaster Sophies Hillside Cuvee which was tasting well, 2006 Salvestrin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2005 Primus Sierra Foothill Syrah. All the wines were good.

Interesting evening with the 3 new faces at the table. Excellent food and wine.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birthday Party

Sunday August 7, 2011

Busy day today. Brunch at noon, Birthday party for Dave Solzman, owner of Delius Restaurant in Signal Hill at 3:00.

Party was held at Dave & Louise's home. Approximately 50 people in attendance. Since this was not a restaurant event those in attending were mostly good friends and neighbors.  But then a lot of these people frequent the restaurant so it was a lot of familiar faces.

Lots of wine, beer  and a very good Sangria which I drank. I had enough wine earlier in the day.

Food was abundant. Fabulous grilled shrimp with a spicy garlic sauce. Pulled pork, sausages, grilled chicken, Excellent potato salad. A lot of food on that table.

I have over consumed this day. Left about  6;30 and the party was still in full swing. I have a huge week coming up and leaving Friday for 3 days of dinners and wine tasting in the Sta Rita Hills area

Sunday Brunch at Arte Cafe

Sunday August 7, 2011

Wine Country in Signal Hill hosted a Sunday Brunch at Arte Cafe in Cerritos today. 80 people in attendance. In the past there has been a problem with the service at this establishment but today they seemed to have enough servers to handle the crowd

The wines today were from Francois Chidaine in France. The rep from Beaune Imports was on hand.

They poured freely with the first course of Eggs Benedict with Country Smoked Ham. Small potion which was good. The ham was julienned so it was easy eating. The wine was a NV Montliouis Brut. Dry yet had a light fruitiness to it. I did order 3 bottles of this one. My egg was slightly undercooked but the Hollandaise sauce was good.

Second Course was Dungeness Crab Cakes with Mixed Greens. The crab cake was very good. Not to much binder or filler. Just lots of crab. Served with  2010 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc. Nice pairing.

Next up was Seabass with Saffron Beurre Blanc and Asparagus.  My fish was slightly overcooked. It still had moistness to it but it was headed to  being over cooked in a few more seconds. Flavor was good. Sauce was good. The wine pairing was excellent. 2009 Vouvray Les Argiles.

Main Course was Short Ribs with Thai Barbeque Sauce. Served with mashed potatoes. Good flavor, meat was moist and very tender.  Pulled away from the bone nicely. Paired with a 2009 Touraine Rouge. A blend of Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit d' Aunis. Again a nice pairing.

I took most of my seabass and short rib home. A lot of food and wine for $45. A bargain in today's market.

Dessert was fresh diced mangos on top of mango sherbert. A refreshing way to end a meal.

I will say my opinion of Arte Cafe was better today than in the past. Service was good. No long wait for food.  Food and wine paired well. Hope they keep this up.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Justin Wine Dinner at Sebastiani's

Thursday, August 3, 2011

Sebastiani's in Huntington Beach hosted a Justin Wine dinner tonight. They had one last week but it sold out immediately so they decided to add another. This dinner was 90% sold out. Big following for Justin Wines. The dinner was $75 so it was a good but compared to some of the other restaurants that are having a Justin Wine dinner at $125. The food at Sebastiani's is decent and a few times darn good.  But they are not consistent in their quality. I do not frequent them too much because of that.

We walked in and the room was set up with high "bistro" tables with high stools. I found it a big turnoff. I want to dine not nibble in a bar.  This I cannot do and neither could Toby. They did bring in a normal table for us and a few other people.

We started off with a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.  A little to acidic for me. I had to end up taking a Prevacid so I could continue dinner. I found the Duckhorn Sau Blanc last night was far more to my liking. The dish we were served was a Salmon Ripiene. Cooked  Salmon rolls filled with goat cheese, chives and asparagus. Had a Sau Blanc reduction and served on a bed of spinach leaves.This was good. I could have stopped there and had dessert. I will say that the portions here at Sebastiani's are always good size.

Second course was Duck Ravioli with a Porcini mushroom and Pancetta sauce. This was the best dish of the night. Had nice earthy flavors. Sauce was very good. Unfortunately they served it with a 2009 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon. Doesn't anyone ever taste the wine with the food before making a menu ???? It was such a clash. At least in my mind and Toby's. Others in the room were raving. I sometimes wonder if people really know what they are tasting or are so enamored with the wines that they think the winery can do no wrong. I saved my wine and after finishing my Ravioli I drank the wine. The wine was so so to me. I did not feel it was ready to drink. It needed a few more years of aging. It also lacked something in its makeup. I have had so many other Cabs that were far superior to this one and better priced.

Main course was a grilled fillet in a peppercorn sauce.  Not choice meat but you could cut it. It did not have a lot of flavor so the sauce helped a lot. It came with seasoned vegetables. The wine was a 2008 Justin Justification which is mostly Cab Franc. Much more to my liking.

Dessert was Vanilla Bean ice cream with fresh strawberries drizzled with chocolate grenache. A good ending to a meal. The Raviolis and dessert would have been enough for me. A glass of 2008 Justin Obtuse was served. Again I waited until I finished my dessert before having the Obtuse. I just do not care for sweet with sweet. It's overkill.

I took a lot of my steak and vegetables home. Far too much food for me.  The wines were OK. But I am not a cult follower of Justin. They made their mark years ago with the Iccosoles and have been riding those coattails lately. Overpriced for what they are but if you are a big fan of Justin you would have been gushing like the others in the room. To those people that winery can do no wrong.

It took us over 45 minutes to finally get our check. We asked twice for it. We were the last ones to pay up. One person was handling all the transactions. So once in awhile I need to go back to Sebastiani's to remind me of why I do not frequent this establishment to often.  Not overly bad but not the greatest also. Was it worth $75 - NO. They got that price because of the overpriced wines. But is better than paying $125 and getting almost the same quality.

Duckhorn Tasting

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ABC Liquor & Fine Wine in Long Beach hosted a Duckhorn tasting tonight.  I was lucky to find a parking space immediately. This area of Long Beach is almost to Belmont Shore and is notorious for the lack of parking. And I did really want to avoid parking under lamp posts and trees. The birds are notorious here also.

For some reason tonight's tasting seemed in a little bit of insanity. Too much noise, not enough talking from the rep. 

 Imre the wine buyer for ABC was flitting away constantly. It seems several of those in attendance had been on a wine trip with Imre and they visited Duckhorn so the conversations were running that way. The rep from Duckhorn was accommodating but the situation was not in her control.

We started out with a 2010 Duckhorn Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Excellent wine, not to acidic and muted tropical flavors.  Next was a 2009 Migration Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Nice Chard but I have had  many as good and lower priced. It also was on the oaky side. Drinkable for me but I would never buy it.

2008 Migration Anderson Valley Pinot Noir was poured. It had the smokey taste to it. That year there was a large fire in Mendocino County and it affected the flavor of some of the wines. This particular wine showed it.It also was a little one dimensional to me. Weak after finish. Then they poured the 2007 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. What a difference. This wine was complex, lots of layers, well balanced. But it also was $20 more than the Migration.

The 2007 Paraduxx Napa Valley Red Wine was tasted.  I frankly thought this was the best wine of the evening.  A 2008 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot was next. Nice Merlot if that is your wine. Not mine so I won't judge. Those who were Merlot fans really seemed to like it. And of course every time a rep pours a Merlot the movie "Sideways" is always referenced, Its time to that movie a burial.

All in all a good tasting and I did stay for awhile afterwards talking with several people. Enjoyable evening.