Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Loyola Marymount Wine Classic 2011

A suddenly rainy Sunday and a bit of a cool snap provided the perfect backdrop for the 30th Annual Wine Classic at Loyola Marymount University.  The weather may have gotten unexpectedly off track from the early spring which Southern California was enjoying, but January 30, 2011 turned out alright for those in attendance at this event.

The crowd was big - it was big last year, too.  The fundraiser for LMU Student Scholarships does great business each year, and hundreds turned out for the 2011 edition.  Tickets sales account for a portion of the money raised, and a silent auction of large format wines from the participating wineries brings in additional revenue.

Despite the gymnasium surroundings, the event is decidedly elegant.  It’s the only tasting event I’ve been to which has a string quartet playing live.

The String QuartetClose to 50 wineries were pouring their wares and the event was populated primarily with Napa Valley wines from somewhat small producers.  As you may expect, there was a lot to like at the LMU campus.

The Delicious Dozen - My 12 Favorites of the Loyola Marymount Wine Classic 2011:

August Briggs Wines Pinot Noir, Dijon Clone 2008
 - darker and earthier than the Calistoga winery's also wonderful Russian River Pinot.

Fontanella Family Winery Zinfandel 2009 - Napa Zin comes on like a Napa Cabernet, muscular and elegant at once.

Frazier Winery Merlot, Frazier Vineyard 2007 - smokey and dark nose with more of same on palate from this Napa producer.

Judd's Hill Petite Sirah, Old Vine Lodi 2007 - a great, big wine from the Napa winery on the Silverado Trail.

Lasseter Family Winery St. Emilion Style Red Blend, Sonoma Valley 2007 - Glen Ellen producer's blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc is extremely dark and earthy; very dry with great grip.

Martian Ranch and Vineyard Grenache Rosé 2009 - Los Alamos pinkie with great acidity and light cherries forever.

Ortman Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Edna Valley 2008 - Paso Robles' Chuck Ortman utilizes grapes from Edna Valley, one of the best areas in California for white wines.  Slight oak and big fruit.

Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - One of the best bouquets at the event with graphite, dark fruit and wonderful minerality.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards Zinfandel, "Old Vines" Sonoma County 2007 - Santa Rosa winery uses Zin from vines exceeding 100 years old.  Big fruit and tannins to match.

Vinoce Vineyard Proprietary Blend, Mount Veeder 2007 - From one of Napa's premier locations, a mix of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Tons of earth and smoke.

White Rock Vineyards Claret 2006 - A new release from this Napa winery, it spent two years in French Oak and two years in the bottle.

Yates Family Vineyard Cabernet Franc Cheval Vineyard 2007 - Huge fruit in this dark Napa beauty.

The crowd at Loyola Marymount

Also Fabulous:

Trust Your PalateAugust Briggs
 Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Rosso Vineyard 2007 - Briggs said he loves this vineyard. Huge pencil lead edge.

Brookman Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - A deep, rich nose and a long finish.

Foxen Vineyard Chardonnay, Bien Nacido Vineyard 2009 - Lightly oaked and wonderful acidity. Exceptional.

Foxen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley 2007 - Dark and earthy with a very good grip.

The Grade Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - Grassy, tropical and refreshing with nice acidity.

Judd's Hill Pinot Noir, Central Coast 2007 - Restrained, compared to the big reds on hand.

Krupp Brothers Estates Black Bart's Bride White 2007 - Marsanne, Viognier and Chardonnay get nine months French oak, but is not overblown.

Lasseter Family Winery Rosé Blend, Sonoma Valley 2009 - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre; salmon colored and dry.

Martian Ranch & Vineyard Grenache Blanc 2008 - Nutty, tropical and peach with great acidity.

Riverbench Chardonnay 2007 - Oaky, good rich nose.

Riverbench Pinot Noir 2007 - Earth and pepper.

Smith-Madrone Riesling 2009 - Dry style, nice peach flavor with great acidity.

Yates Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Mountain Vineyard 2005 - very reserved and elegant.  This producer has been making wine for the family since the 1950s.  1999 was their first commercial vintage.

ZD Wines Pinot Noir Carneros 2009 - Floral nose with earthy notes accenting.

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