Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival – Don’t Forget About the Wine!

Everyone knows the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival features some of the greatest chefs from LA and beyond.  So much fanfare surrounds chefs like Michael Voltaggio, Nancy Silverton, and Sang Yoon but few media outlets highlight the fantastic wineries pouring at the event.

I had the opportunity to attend the Lexus Grand Tasting and it was a fantastic experience.  The event featured over 300 wines from producers ranging from those who make around 1500 cases to internationally distributed, household names.  I did some research on the wineries before I arrived to make sure I didn’t miss a great tasting opportunity.  I had the chance to stop by about 20 of the different winery booths and found some amazing wines.

One of my first stops was Wind Gap Wines out of Sebastopol.  I tasted their Rosé, Trousseau, and Syrah.  The 2013 Wind Gap North Coast Rosé ended up being my favorite Rosé of the event.  Bright tastes of red fruit along with white pepper, minerals, and healthy acidity left a lasting impression.  

Wind Gap
Wind Gap

After visiting Wind Gap, I headed over to Red Car Wine.  The entire lineup was well-made and their 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot and 2012 Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir were outstanding.  Red Car’s wines are graceful, bright, and delicious.

The lineup from Red Car
The lineup from Red Car

One of the most unique wineries pouring at the Lexus Grand Tasting was Movia out of Slovenia.  I had only tried wines from Slovenia one time before and, to be honest, what I tried wasn’t very good.  Movia opened my eyes to the potential of wines from the region.  I really enjoyed the Modri Pinot Noir…light, vibrant, and balanced.

Movia Modri Pinot Noir
Movia Modri Pinot Noir

Lots of other great wineries were present at the event including Baker & Brain, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Tablas Creek, and Skylark Wine Company.  There were also plenty of nationally known wineries pouring as well.

While the food and chefs definitely (and deservedly) get a lot of attention at the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, don’t forget about the wine.  This is one of the best annual wine events in Southern California!

*Hosted event

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#Winechat – The Diversity of Riesling

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to join in with other wine writers and wine lovers to taste Riesling from three different regions.  We sampled Riesling from Alsace (France), Rheingau (Germany), and Kamptal (Austria).  Each wine was completely different from the others, showing the vast diversity of the Riesling grape.  Here are my tasting notes from the #Winechat Twitter event!

Three very diverse Rieslings
Three very diverse Rieslings

Alsace – Paul Blanck & Fils Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2010 

This Riesling opens with abundant citrus aromas.  The bright, balanced palate offers citrus and tropical fruit flavors and there is healthy acidity that gives the wine a nice lift through the tart, lengthy finish.  Full of character yet elegant! ($13% alcohol, $35)

Rheingau – Schloss Schönborn Riesling Kabinett Erbacher Macrobrunn 2011

Enticing aromas of green apples and tropical fruit jump out of the glass.  The palate is slightly sweet with tastes of green apples, pineapple, lime, and a touch of honey.  There is ample acidity present to balance the sweetness.  If you think you don’t like sweet Riesling, I am pretty sure this wine will change your mind! (9.5% alcohol, $24)

Kamptal – Brandl Riesling 2011 from the Heilingenstein 

This is the biggest and boldest Riesling of the lineup.  The wine begins with aromas of minerals and citrus.  The mineral-driven palate offers tastes of stone fruit, citrus, and ginger.  The palate also is a bit thicker than the other two wines of the evening.  I think this wine destroys any argument that Riesling is meek and mild.  (14% alcohol, $34)

*Media Samples

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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