Showing posts with label Westwood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Westwood. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Peggy Evans

The recent Wine event, "Unexpected Grapes From Unexpected Places," gave a throng of wine industry and media types a chance to sample the wares of some grape growing regions in California that are considered "off the beaten path," at least for the average wine consumer. 

Temecula may be off the path, but they are quickly blazing one of their own just east of the I-15 Freeway.  After exiting the freeway, you may feel the urge to stop and gamble at the casino.  Continue east, though, and in just a few miles it's a sure bet you'll find some wines you like.  You won't get those kind of odds at the casino.

I was a little disappointed at first that Hart Winery, a favorite of mine in the Temecula Valley, was not represented at the tasting table.  Even without Hart, an admirable array of very good wines were assembled and it seemed to me visitors to the table were leaving happy, and maybe a little surprised.

Peggy Evans, Director of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, was kind enough to pour some very good wines for me while singing the praises of the grapes and wines of Temecula.

Baily Winery Dry Riesling 2008 - made to commemorate 150 years of Temecula - crisp, with pears and floral notes

Palumbo Rosato Secco - 100% Sangiovese rose - dry, with cherry and a flinty edge and good acidity

Miramonte Grenache Rosé 2009 - a little residual sugar - pink and sweet

Danza del Sol Tempranillo 2009 - smokey, brambly nose - very earthy and delicious

Wilson Creek Mourvèdre 2006 - not very dark and kinda bright - "mourvèdre lite" - fruity, tasty, dry

Cougar Montepulciano 2006 - "Full Monte" - funky nose, brambly palate, dry

Robert Renzoni Vecchio Fratte "Old Friar" 2007 - 90% Lagrein, 10% Merlot - big, rich, 21 months in French Oak - very dry with full mouthfeel - deep, expressive nose - coffee notes

Leonesse "Melange de Reves" 2007 - Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Grenache - smells and tastes darker than it looks - full of fruit

Stuart Cellars White Port NV - late harvest Muscat and Chardonnay - reminds me of vermouth - herbal and spicy - quite good

Tomorrow we head into Ventura County.

Monday, September 27, 2010


San Luis Obispo

The celebration of California Wine Month, "Unexpected Grapes From Unexpected Places," was a Southern California tasting event designed to shed some light on grapes and wine regions in the Golden State that typically don't get a fair shake.  San Luis Obispo County may not be as well known as Napa or Sonoma, but to those of us who have experienced their wares, SLO wine is not a well-kept secret.

The reds of Paso Robles and the whites of Edna Valley are favorites of mine, but the wealth of wine in the San Luis Obispo area goes further than that.  Santa Margarita, Cambria, Arroyo Grande and Avila Beach all have a lot to offer a wine lover.  The area is particularly beautiful, too.

Becky Gray, Executive Director of the SLO Vintners Association, poured the wines at the SLO table for me.  Here are my tasting notes:

Tolosa Viognier 2009 - very rich nose, melon rind and citrus dominate flavors - tons of minerals, as expected from Edna Valley (Edna Ranch Vineyard)

Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc 2009
 - Paso Robles fruit - grassy nose, fresh lemon taste, good acidity

Tangent Albariño 2009 - tropical nose, nuts and orange peel on the palate, lots of minerals (Edna Valley Paragon Vineyard)

Claiborne and Churchill Vintners Gewürztraminer 2007 - dry Alsatian style - tropical and grapefruit on nose and palate, good acidity

Zocker Wines Grüner Veltliner 2009 - (Paragon Vineyard) - minerals apparent, hint of pepper

Salisbury Vineyards Syrah 2007 - (Avila Vineyard) big, rich cherry and blueberry nose with a fruity, peppery taste

Tolosa "Salaal" - 90% Syrah, 10% Viognier fermented together - (Edna Ranch) - big berries and pepper, great finish

Trenza Tinto 2008 - Grenache and Mourvèdre from Paso Robles, Syrah from Edna Valley and Tempranillo from Arroyo Grande Valley - lovely floral aspect with blueberries and lots of earth

Tomorrow I'll take a look at Temecula's table.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Setup for a blind wine tasting event

California Wine Month was celebrated in Westwood this week with an extraordinary presentation called "Unexpected Grapes From Unexpected Places."  There will be more on this blog over the next few days about some of the more unexpected grapes and places in California.  Today, the seminar hosted by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein is our subject matter.

Goldstein hosts videos and stages seminars like this one for Full Circle Wine Solutions.  He is not only a Master Sommelier, but also a master at this format.  The wine guru runs his show with the expertise and flair of an infomercial host.  Utilizing a big screen PowerPoint presentation as a visual accompaniment to his energetic stage presence, Goldstein keeps his audience attentive and involved in the information he's shooting out at breakneck speed.

The seminar was held in a semi-dark room - Goldstein referred to it as mood lighting - with six long tables set for eight people per row.  At each setting was an array of twelve wine glasses, each about half full of wine.  This was for the blind tasting portion of the program, which I'll reluctantly address later.  (I didn't fare too well in the friendly competition.)

First, Goldstein breezed through a wealth of information about California's wine industry and the grapes grown for it, some of which may surprise you.
Wine consumption in the US has been increasing for sixteen consecutive years, even during our current economic downturn.  Goldstein said at the present rate, the US is expected to pass France as the world's largest wine consumer by 2014.

48 of California's 58 counties produce wine and only 10% of that wine comes from the two most well known areas, Napa Valley and Sonoma County.  "That means the other 90%," Goldstein quipped, "comes from somewhere else."

The purpose of the seminar - and the Grand Tasting event - was to shed some light on those "somewhere elses" and on the huge quantity of different grape varietals grown in the Golden State.  He took a moment to point out that there are 4,600 grape growers and 2,972 bonded wineries in California - most of them family-owned enterprises.

After getting the facts and figures out of the way, Goldstein got started on what was really on everyone's mind - the wines in front of us.

The object of the blind tasting was to use our senses of sight, smell and taste along with our "vast knowledge of wine" to determine the grape varietal and location of origin for each of the samples provided.  It sounded so easy!  But Goldstein wasn't throwing any softball pitches.

When the sipping was over, he revealed that Napa was represented by a Riesling and a Sangiovese, not a Cab or Chardonnay.  The Russian River Valley entry was not a Pinot Noir, but a Pinot Gris.  One Pinot Noir came from Mendocino and another from Monterey County.  A Paso Robles Vermentino was thrown in while the Syrah hailed from the Santa Cruz Mountains.  There was a Cabernet Sauvigon to be identified, but it was a product of Livermore.

Goldstein's purpose in mixing it up the way he did was to show just how varied the wines of California can be.  There's a lot more out there than just Cabernet and Chardonnay, and the grapes of one area don't always taste like the same grapes from a different area.  The seminar illustrated those points perfectly.  At the end of the presentation, he had everyone stand up, then asked for those who got six or fewer of the twelve wines correct to sit down.  Suffice it to say, I sat down, along with about half the crowd.  I did see one excellent taster still standing at the end, indicating that he correctly identified eleven or twelve of the wines.  My hat's off to him, and to Goldstein for the challenging test.  I hope the next time I have the opportunity, I'll make a better showing!

Tomorrow we'll taste a few Santa Barbara County wines.