Happy 3 Year Anniversary to Wine and Good Food!

I really can’t believe it has been 3 years since I wrote my first post!   The journey has been awesome…I have met some amazing people, tasted stunning wine, and eaten incredible food along the way.  I have also grown so much since I first started blogging.  My palate has evolved, I have learned a ton about wine and wine making (still such an amateur though!), and, just recently, started to dig into the LA restaurant scene.

I am super excited about entering my 4th year of blogging.  So much is on the horizon (including my first trip to the Wine Bloggers Conference in July) and I have so much more to taste and learn.  Here is to many more years following my passions of wine and good food!

Cheers,

Bella

Enter to Win a “Winecation” Vacation to Sonoma!

Are you dreaming of taking a vacation to wine country?  If so, we have a great giveaway to bring you today from our friends at Underground Cellar!

Sonoma vacation giveaway

Here is what you and 3 friends will get to experience if you are the winner:

GRAND PRIZE DETAILS
- Stay at the luxurious Villa Terra Nova located in the heart of Sonoma wine country
- Behind-the-scenes private tour of Iron Horse Vineyards, by winemaker David Munskgard
- VIP chef’s dinner at award-winning “the girl and the fig” restaurant
- Roundtrip airfare, luxury transportation, and many other surprises!

For more information and to enter, visit: https://www.undergroundcellar.com/landing/6/0/ExclusiveWinecation.

*Sponsored post

Broc Cellars 2012 “Vine Starr” Sonoma County Zinfandel

I started to convince myself that I really did not like Zinfandel.  Every time I uncorked a bottle, the only adjectives that came to mind were big, jammy, fruit bomb, or overpowering (most of the time, all of the above). Thankfully, as with most things in life, there are exceptions to every rule.  This time, the exception comes from Broc Cellars.

Technical Stuff

100% Zinfandel from Sonoma County.  Naturally made with 12.7% alcohol.  Retails for $26.99.

Tasting Notes

Broc Cellars 2012 "Vine Starr" Sonoma County Zinfandel

Broc Cellars 2012 “Vine Starr” Sonoma County Zinfandel

Broc Cellars 2012 “Vine Starr” Zinfandel opens with aromas of black cherry,  earth, and black pepper.  The palate is elegant and vibrant with fresh flavors of dark fruit, anise, black tea, lavender, and spice.  Flavorful, refined, and compelling.  Throw everything your taste buds know about Zinfandel out the window…this stuff is awesome!

Broc Cellars

La Dolce Vita Celebrates the Beverly Hills Centennial

Last night, I had the chance to visit La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills and check out their cocktail menu.  The new menu includes “The 100″, a cocktail that commemorates the Beverly Hills Centennial.  This classic, Italian restaurant has quite a rich history in Beverly Hills.  Frank Sinatra was a regular along with President Ronald Reagan and Sammy Davis Jr.  It only seems fitting that they would partake in the city’s milestone celebration!

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“The 100″ is a cocktail mixing Stolichnaya 100 Proof Vodka, lemon juice, and Prosecco.  The fresh flavors make it a great way to start a meal, especially during the warm months ahead.  A nice way to commemorate such an occasion for Beverly Hills.

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In addition the “The 100″, there were also a couple of other standouts on the cocktail list.  ”The Rouge” features 1800 Silver Tequila, grapefruit, lime juice and Serrano pepper.  The spice from the Serrano is addicting and will keep you reaching for another sip.

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I also really enjoyed “The Paper Lion”.  Hendricks Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and fresh basil comprise this satisfying cocktail.

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If you want to join in on the centennial celebration for Beverly Hills, I would definitely stop into La Dolce Vita and check out “The 100″ along with the rest of their cocktail creations and Italian cuisine.  A quintessential restaurant that has definitely made its mark on the rich history of Beverly Hills.

La Dolce Vita
9785 Santa Monica Boulevard
Beverly Hills, Ca 90210

*Hosted event

“Taste Washington” at Noe in the Omni Los Angeles Hotel

Have you noticed some of the great wines coming out of Washington?  The region is definitely garnering some much-deserved attention lately.  So, when I was invited to try the “Taste Washington” wine and food pairing menu at Noe restaurant in the Omni Los Angeles Hotel, I excitedly accepted the invitation.

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Noe is located in the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, which sits atop beautiful Bunker Hill.  When my husband and I arrived, we were graciously welcomed and seated in their well-appointed dining room.  We started off the evening with a glass of Charles Smith Wines “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling from the Columbia Valley growing region.  A great choice for an aperitif, offering notes of white peach, melon, and citrus with noticeable acidity.

Chef Christopher Tunnell then arrived at our table with a beautiful cheese plate featuring local Washington cheese, fig jam, and honey.  One of the cheeses, “Sleeping Beauty” from Cascadia Creamery, really won me over.  Organic, smooth, creamy, and delicious.  Along with the Riesling, we were served a glass of Canoe Ridge “Expedition” Pinot Gris from the Horse Heaven Hills region.  Both wines paired nicely with the cheese and accompaniments.

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Next to arrive was a “Fennel and Apple Salad” with arugula, spiced pecans, blue cheese, and a cherry dressing. Simple, enjoyable flavors that paired well with the Pinot Gris.

Our third course of the evening was a “Dungeness Crab and Snap Pea Soup.”  The peas are shelled daily and you could really taste the purity of the fresh pea flavor in the soup.  The Dungeness was a delicious touch and this was easily our favorite dish of the evening.  Luckily enough, we were also brought our an alternative preparation of the soup as well.  Our second version was served chilled and it actually brought out the flavors in the soup even more.  I really hope they keep this on their menu for the summer!

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“Dungeness Crab Fritters” was the next plate to grace our table.  Crispy, crab-filled fritters served with a smoked tomato bacon sauce on the side.  I preferred them without the sauce and really enjoyed the fritters with our next wine, The House of Independent Producers Chardonnay.  The wine is unoaked so the authentic flavors of the Chardonnay really came through and elevated the taste of the fritters.

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Our entrée for the evening was “Cider Braised Beef” with celery root slaw, parsnips, and brussels sprouts. This dish fell a little short for me as it seemed to be a bit over-salted.  The beef, however, was tender and cooked well.

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We really enjoyed the thoughtful pairing of Nelms Road Cabernet poured with our entrée.  This sustainably made wine is balanced, fruit forward, and was a nice complement to the braised meat.

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To finish, we were presented a “Granny Apple Crisp” served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.  A simple dish with a straight-forward preparation.  Definitely not innovative but the sweet, Washington apple flavor was a nice note to end on.

Overall, I am impressed with the spotlight that Noe and Omni Hotels & Resorts have put on Washington wine and food.  The “Taste Washington” menu will be featured in Omni Hotel restaurants across the country through May 31st, 2014, so definitely check it out for a taste of what the region has to offer!

Noe Restaurant Downtown Los Angeles - 251 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, (213) 356-4100

Omni “Taste Washington” program

*Hosted meal

Santa Barbara Vintners Festival Grand Tasting!

If you are looking for a fun way to spend a weekend in Santa Barbara Wine Country, you have to check out the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival Grand Tasting on Saturday, April 12th!  Held at the beautiful River View Park in Buellton, this event will feature more than 100 Santa Barbara wineries along with local food and vendors. This event is part of the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend celebration.

I will be attending and look forward to exploring some of Santa Barbara’s best wineries.  Follow the event live on Twitter via #sbvintnersfest!

SB Vintners Spring Weekend Mailer

For more info and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.sbvintnersweekend.com/.

First Annual “Bite at the Beach” in Manhattan Beach

Just a quick note to mention something going on in my backyard…the first annual Bite at the Beach in Manhattan Beach on May 17!  The event benefits the Surfrider Foundation and features some awesome restaurants and breweries.  Among the restaurants in the lineup are Simmzy’s, Pitfire Pizza and MB Post. Breweries include El Segundo Brewing Company, Ballast Point, and Ohana Brewing Company.  Sounds like a great day by the beach to me!

Bite at the Beach flyer

For ticket info, visit the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce!

 

Sebastien Riffault “Les Quarterons” 2011 Sancerre

I want to mention one more wine from the Return to Terroir tasting because it also landed at the top of my list.  Sebastien Riffault “Les Quarterons” 2011 Sancerre reminds me of why I really enjoy drinking Sancerre. Here are a few of my notes from the tasting:

Technical Stuff

100% Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre.  Certified biodynamic, unfined, and unfiltered.  13% alcohol.  Retails for $25.

Tasting Notes

Sebastien Riffault "Les Quarterons" 2011 Sancerre

Sebastien Riffault “Les Quarterons” 2011 Sancerre

Sebastien Riffault “Les Quarterons” 2011 Sancerre opens with lovely floral aromas.  The mineral-driven palate is beautifully balanced with notes of lemon, grapefruit, tart green apples, and lemongrass.  Zippy acidity and a refreshing finish.  This wine is so delicious, you will not want to set your glass down!

Sebastien Riffault ”Les Quarterons” 2011 Sancerre

*Media Sample

 

Chateau Tire Pe “Diem” 2012 Bordeaux

On my way home from last week’s Return to Terroir tasting, I stopped into one of my favorite wine shops and spotted a great value I sipped at the event.  Chateau Tire Pe “Diem” Bordeaux is a wine that definitely made a lasting impression on me during the tasting due to its incredible QPR.  Here is a little more about this tasty Bordeaux…

Technical Stuff

100% Merlot from Bordeaux.  Organic with native yeasts and minimal sulfur added.  12.5% alcohol.  Retail price of around $12.

Tasting Notes

Chateau Tire Pe "Diem" 2012 Bordeaux

Chateau Tire Pe “Diem” 2012 Bordeaux

Chateau Tire Pe “Diem” Bordeaux opens with intriguing aromas of musty blackberries and spice.  The palate has rich tastes of blackberries, black cherries, tobacco, and earth  It’s juicy, easy to sip, and a great value. Definitely a great burger pairing!

Return to Terroir

A Few Highlights From the Return to Terroir LA Tasting!

Yesterday, I attended the Return to Terroir Annual Portfolio Tasting at Republique in Los Angeles.  The tasting featured wines from Return to Terroir’s producers in France, Italy, and the US.  Overall, I thought the tasting was pretty impressive.  The wines were unique, terroir-driven, and largely naturally produced.  Here are a few of my favorite bottles from the tasting:

Charles Dufour Bulle de Comptoir #2 Champagne Extra Brut NV

Charles Dufour "Bulle de Comptoir #2" Champagne Extra Brut  NV

Charles Dufour “Bulle de Comptoir #2″ Champagne Extra Brut NV

Clean flavors of apple and pear with hints of yeast and minerals.  Bright acidity and fine bubbles made this one of the best bottles of the day.  If only I had a dozen oysters to pair with it!

55% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Blanc. Sulfur-free. $45

Sebastien Riffault 2009 Sancerre Blanc “Akmenine”

Sebastien Riffault 2009 Sancerre Blanc "Akmenine"

Sebastien Riffault 2009 Sancerre Blanc “Akmenine”

Sancerre with a little age on it…I was all over it and it was so darn good!  Citrus, apples, golden raisins, and pears with herbs and minerals woven in between.  Rich yet still lively!  The tasting was self-serve so I just may have gone back for seconds (and perhaps thirds).

100% Sauvignon Blanc. Organic. $35

Domaine de la Bonne Tonne 2011 Morgon “Les Charmes”

Domaine de Bonne Tonne 2011 Morgon "Les Charmes"

Domaine de Bonne Tonne 2011 Morgon “Les Charmes”

This bottle showed well at a price point of under $20.  A bright, earthy palate with smooth tastes of cherries and spice.  Straight-forward and very enjoyable!

100% Gamay. Organic. $17

 *Media Samples

Return to Terroir