Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is Happening This Week!

Looking for something to do this weekend?  If you are anywhere close to LA, you need to check out the 4th annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival.  The event takes place in several locations across LA and features a lineup that includes some of the most talented chefs (think Nancy Silverton and Michael Chiarello) and sommeliers in the world.  There are also tons of featured wineries, breweries, and restaurants hosting tastings and events throughout the festival.  I am particularly excited about the wineries in attendance this year.  Some of the standouts include Wind Gap, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, and Red Car.


A few of the events not to be missed include:

Lunch at Osteria Mozza w/ Nancy Silverton and Jonathan Waxman

The SOMM Epiphany Wine and Food Pairing hosted by Anthony Giglio

Lexus Grand Tasting

This is going to be the biggest and best year yet so definitely make plans to attend.  For tickets and more info, visit Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival.


Wine and Oysters – Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie

One of my favorite ways to kick off the weekend is with a couple dozen oysters and a bottle of great wine.  There are plenty of delicious wines to pair with oysters, but one of my all-time favorite pairings that gives a lot of bang for your buck is Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie.   Imported by Kermit Lynch, this refreshing wine is generally priced under $15.  It is the perfect complement to oysters, whether they are raw, steamed, or even fried.

Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie

Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie

Technical Stuff

Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie is naturally fermented with indigenous yeasts and is unfiltered.  11.5% alcohol with a retail price of around $14/bottle.  For more info, visit Kermit Lynch.

Tasting Notes

This wine is golden in color with noticeable hues of green.  The nose is floral with hints of pineapple and lemon.  A first sip, your mouth will be met with tons of vibrant citrus flavors.  With zippy acidity and a clean finish, this wine was made to pair with oysters.  So, what are you waiting for?  Uncork a bottle, shuck some oysters, and enjoy!

Don’t Miss Rhone Rangers Los Angeles 2014!

Heads up to all my LA friends…Rhone Rangers is coming to LA on September 9th! This is my favorite annual wine event in all of Southern California.

Rhone Rangers is a non-profit organization dedicated to “advancing the knowledge and enjoyment of Rhone wines produced in America” and they do a fantastic job.  Their event in Los Angeles showcases some of the best Rhone winemakers outside of France (think Bonny Doon, Two Shepherds, and Tablas Creek).

Last year's event held at the Vibiana...a beautiful setting and even better wine!

Last year’s event held at the Vibiana…a beautiful setting and even better wine!

This year’s event will be held at the Vibiana in Downtown LA.  The Vibiana is a breathtaking location (it was held there last year as well) and the list of participating wineries seems to get better every year.  Check out Rhone Rangers for more info.  This event is not to be missed!

2012 Broc Cellars Carignan – Bright and Beautiful

Ever have one of those nights where you are lucky enough to have a whole bottle of wine to yourself that you just can’t pull away from?  This was the case for me last weekend when I opened up a bottle of 2012 Broc Cellars Carignan.  I am a big fan of Broc Cellars and ran across the newly released Carignan at a local wine store in LA.  I grabbed a bottled, poured a glass when I got home, and then soon after poured another one!

2012 Broc Cellars Carignan

2012 Broc Cellars Carignan

Technical Stuff

100% Carignan from Alexander Valley in Sonoma.  Partial carbonic maceration.  Native yeast fermentation.  12.8% alcohol with a retail price of around $22.

Tasting Notes

The aromas of this Carignan are really enticing.  There are bright notes of sweet cranberries and raspberries surrounded with floral elements.  The palate instantly won be over with fresh, vivid flavors of strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries  There are also hints of white pepper and a bit of earthiness.  This is everything I am looking for in a Carignan.  Pure, lively, and really hard to stop sipping!

For more info, visit Broc Cellars.

A Great Everyday Bordeaux – 2011 Chateau La Rame Bordeaux Rouge

It is inevitable that I will have a glass of wine or two with dinner during the week.  It’s really nice when my mid-week wine is delicious, food-friendly, and priced under $15.  This is exactly the case with 2011 Chateau La Rame Bordeaux.  Chateau La Rame is among the oldest and most renowned properties in the Sainte Croix du Mont appellation of Bordeaux.  The vineyards for this bottle are at the base of the hillside vineyards and are composed of sand, limestone, and clay.

2011 Chateau La Rame Bordeaux

2011 Chateau La Rame Bordeaux

Technical Stuff

A blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet from Bordeaux.  13% alcohol and retailing for around $13.  For more info, visit the importer Rosenthal Wine Merchant.

Tasting Notes

Pouring a dark ruby color in the glass, this Bordeaux begins with earthy aromas of red cherries, tobacco, and spice.  The palate is medium-bodied, smooth, and offers straight-forward tastes of red fruit and spice.  An easy drinking, mid-week wine that will definitely help you make it to Friday!

Martian Ranch & Vineyard in Los Alamos

One of the coolest things about living in LA is how close we are to Santa Barbara wine country.  Last weekend, Brandon and I randomly hopped in the car and headed north to Los Alamos.  With no real plan for the day, we ended up at Martian Ranch Vineyard after stopping at a couple of other tasting rooms.  The winery opened their tasting room to the public in October of last year.

The path to Martian Ranch's tasting room.

The path to Martian Ranch’s tasting room

We arrived at the property and crossed a charming bridge to arrive at the tasting room.  The tasting room is open, airy, and the kind of place you want to hang out in for a while.  We were welcomed immediately as we walked in by a tasting room associate named John.  As we worked our way through the first few wines, we were thoroughly impressed with the Albariño and the Grenache Blanc.  Martian Ranch’s 2013 Uforic Albariño ended up being one of our favorite wines of the tasting with its vibrant notes of citrus, minerals and apricot.

Martian Ranch Uforic Grenache Blanc

Martian Ranch Uforic Grenache Blanc

After we finished through the white wines on the list,  John offered to take on a tour of the property.  We hopped on a utility/off-road vehicle and went for a 30 minute scenic tour through the vineyards.  Martian’s property is absolutely gorgeous.  The dirt roads are lined with vineyards and there is even a beautiful pond that wine club members can picnic around.  In the midst of all the beauty, it was hard not to notice the effects of the drought all around us though.  The vines were the only green that stood out in acres of struggling plant life.

Touring the property

Touring the property

The beautiful vineyards

The beautiful vineyards

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

After the tour, we headed back into the tasting room and went through the lineup of red wines.  The newly released 2013 Absolute Magnitude Gamay Noir is outstanding.  Light, bright and really hard to put down.  We wrapped up our tasting with the Gravitas Tempranillo.  The biggest wine of the tasting list yet it is still balanced with lots of dark fruit and licorice.

Martian Ranch Tempranillo

Martian Ranch Gravitas Tempranillo

I have to say that Martian Ranch ranks among one of the best tasting experiences I have had in Santa Barbara wine country.  The wines are well-made and well-priced, the property is beautiful, and the staff was so accommodating.  Definitely put it on the top of your list next time you visit!

For more info, visit Martian Ranch & Vineyard.

2008 Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards

During the Wine Bloggers Conference a couple of weeks ago, our palates were bombarded with 100s of wines.  Over the course of the weekend, a few wines really stood out from the rest; one of them being 2008 Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards.

Thralls Family Cellars is the project of winemaker and owner Ed Thralls.  Ed has a really cool story surrounding his journey to become a winemaker.  After being a bit unfulfilled by a successful career in financial technology, he began pursuing his passion for wine by making it in his garage in Atlanta.  Ed followed his passion cross-country to Sonoma and now produces both Pinot Noir and Syrah for Thralls Family Cellars.

Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards

Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards

Technical Stuff

100% Syrah from Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County.  The wine was aged 19 months in a 50% new/50% 1 year old (Zebra) barrel before bottling in May 2010.  There was minimal intervention in the winemaking process.  13.8% alcohol and a retail price of $34.  

Tasting Notes

Thralls Syrah pours an intense blackish-purple color in the glass.  The nose offers rich, enticing aromas of blackberries, smoke, and lavender.  The palate is smooth and nicely structured with tastes of ripe blackberries, plum, black pepper, and sweet tobacco.  Well-made, sophisticated, and balanced!

For more info, visit Thralls Family Cellars.

A Fantastic Rosé – Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris

It has been really warm in SoCal over the last few weeks and I have been constantly sipping Rosé.  I recently picked up a bottle of 2013 Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris from a local wine shop and was blown away by what I tasted.  This is my favorite Rosé of the season for under $20 by a landslide!

Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris

Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris

Technical Stuff

A blend of 70% Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir; 10% Mourvèdre; 10% Carignan; 10% Cinsault from Corbieres.  This wine undergoes no malolactic fermentation and is made with minimal intervention in the winemaking process.  12.5% alcohol and a retail price of around $14.

Tasting Notes

The beautiful salmon color of Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris is really striking.  The nose has fresh aromas of watermelon, raspberries, and strawberries  The palate is lively and refreshing.  There are tastes of red cherries and strawberries along with hints of citrus.  The finish is crisp and will keep you reaching for more.  A fantastic tasting and well-made wine at a great price!

For more info, visit Domaine de Fontsainte.

Congrats to the 2014 Wine Blog Award Winners

When it comes to wine blogs, there are so many amazing blogs to read and follow.  With that being said, the 2014 Wine Blog Awards winners were just announced!  Here is the list of the winners…check out the sites as these blogs are worth reading!


Best Blog Post of the Year

Lauren Mowery - Turkish Wines: Vinkara Winery Working to Preserve Indigenous Varieties with Delicious 

Best Original Photography or Video on a Wine Blog

The Journey of Jordan Winery

Best Industry/Business Wine Blog

Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog

Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog

Wine School of Philadelphia

Best Single Subject Wine Blog

Washington Wine Report

Best Winery Blog

The Lynmar Life

Best Writing On a Wine Blog

HoseMaster of Wine

Best New Wine Blog

Girl and the Grape

Best Overall Wine Blog

Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog

2014 Wine Bloggers Conference – The New Wines of Greece

During the course of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference, we had the chance to attend several break-out tasting sessions.  For one of the tasting sessions, I chose “The New Wines of Greece”, and it ended up being my favorite tasting event of the conference.  I have tasted some of the more popular wines coming out of Greece in the past but never really had the chance to dig in to some of Greece’s more unique wines and regions.

During the session, we tasted through six difference Greek wines from six grapes and wine regions.  Here are some of my tasting notes.  Please note, we weren’t provided with brands for most of the wines as they varied from blogger to blogger (think Greek recession and limited wine supply).

New Wines of Greece Tasting

New Wines of Greece Tasting

Robola of Cephalonia 2013

This dry white wine comes from the Island of Cephalonia.  Robola generally makes a bright, refreshing wine and what we tasted fit the bill.  Lots of citrus on the nose along with a palate filled with crisp fruit flavors and vibrant acidity.  Very enjoyable.

Mantinia 2013

The grape variety Moschofilero we tasted came from the Mantinia/Peloponnese region of Greece.  The wine featured lots of floral aromas that carried through into the palate.  There were also tastes of citrus and stone fruit followed by a dry, refreshing finish.

Malagousia 2013

This was the most interesting wine of the tasting for me.  The Malagousia grape we tasted from the Epanomi/Macedonia region produced an intriguing wine that really stood out from the rest. Apricots, peaches, and herbs with incredible texture.  Definitely complex and something I want to drink again!

Santorini 2013

Wines from Santorini are probably some of the better known Greek wines in the US.  We had Assyrtiko from Estate Argyros, which was the same wine poured for every blogger at the event.  Fresh tastes of citrus and minerals with racy acidity.  A really nice wine!

Nemea 2008

We broke into reds with Agiorgtiko from the Nemea/Peloponnese regions in Greece.  The wine we tried was dry and medium-bodied with notes of herbs and red fruit.  There were lingering tastes of sweet raisins on the finish.  Worth uncorking again!

Naoussa 2011

Our final wine was Xinomavro from Naoussa/Macedonia.  A super unique, dry red wine with structured tannins and notes of pepper, herbs, and dried fruit.  Fairly elegant and best served a bit chilled!  This grape variety generally has a lot of aging potential.