Wednesday, June 13, 2012

7th Annual LA Wine Fest

SUPERIMPOSE: 7th Annual LA Wine Fest at Raleigh Studios, Hollywood, CA
SCRATCHED UP, SILENT FILM ROLLS WITH SEPIA PICTURES,VOICEOVER:  Raleigh Studios has played a central role in the entertainment industry since 1915 with films ranging from Mary Pickford in the silent days to Douglas Fairbanks, Bette Davis, and Jim Henson. The studio was converted to television in the 1950s and became a popular venue for some of televisions'  famous shows that included Superman, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason.

ANGLE:  Sienna in charge of admission, giving me a wristband to the event.
CLOSE: Logo wine glasses on table.

What an interesting location for wine tasting - a movie studio! And how could you go wrong with over 500 wines, spirits and brews, plus lifestyle exhibits, cool music and gourmet food trucks?  Even educational seminars were available for the serious wine students.
First, the rules - never taste wine any faster than 5 MPH, you could spill some! And with people frequently checking their phones for updates from their agent, there's bound to be a collision.

The album rock played by THE SOUND 100.3 FM added a lively  background around most of the Wine Fest area.  

At the main stage I heard the live music played by Jane Fuller and Mike Gallegos.  It was great to watch the rhythm and lead guitar duo and listen to Jane singing.
As I entered through the VIP gate one of the first tables I came to was offering scotch and flavored bourbon samples.  Well just a few wee sips of the Smokehead (peaty) and Isle of Skye 12 scotches followed by a bottle of Icelandic Glacial water didn't ruin my taste buds completely.
JVS Imports
Icelandic Glacial
The Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup were colorful, but I skipped them to visit the Superfruit Stand with Veev Açaí Lemonade with raspberries.
VeeV Açaí Spirit
Palate cleared and on to wine tasting...
SLO Down Wines
SLO Down Wines from San Francisco was pouring Sexual Chocolate wine - a blend of old vine zinfandel from Howell Mountain in Napa and warm climate Santa Barbara syrah.  A blend of zin and syrah is a good thing!

Reyes Winery grows Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat and Chardonnay on their 16-acre vineyard in Agua Dulce, CA.
Reyes Winery
The 2009 Syrah (being poured above) and the 2009 Merlot were my favorites.  The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was also good.  I missed tasting the White Delight (white port) blend of Chardonnay and Muscat Blanc that they were pouring. 
Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association
The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association poured:
Callaway Vineyards & Winery 2009 Winemaker's Reserve Chardonnay
Europa Village 2007 Syrah
Falkner Winery 2011 Riesling
Hart Winery 2010 Zinfandel
Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery 2010 "Buon Vicino Vineyard" Viognier
Miramonte Winery 2007 Sangiovese
I skipped tasting the Riesling and tasted the rest, they were all pretty good.  My favorite though was the Viognier from Palumbo Family.

After tasting all of these wines from Temecula it was time for a quick lunch.  Lobster sliders were suggested by Brad DeHore from the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.  The Lobster Sliders came from Slammin' Sliders and they were great with the Palumbo Viognier still in my glass (I know, I was tasting out of order.)

Lobster Sliders from Slammin' Sliders
A lot of other good looking food trucks scattered around the studio lots.  I took these pictures before they were swarming with hungry customers.
After lunch I stopped at the Wilson Creek Winery table, a Temecula winery that I'd been meaning to visit for years.  They were featuring their Almond Champagne, Peach Bellini Champagne, and Orange Mimosa Champagne.  I tried the Almond Champagne and liked the first few sips.  I might add regular champagne to it if I drank a whole glass, as the almond flavor got a little intense for me.
Wilson Creek Winery
Another wine that Wilson Creek poured was a 2009 Mouvedre. On their website they call mouvedre the "Southern California Pinot Noir."  It was good with the Ferrero Rocher® chocolates at the Wine table next to Wilson Creek.  Ferrero Rocher recommends pairing their chocolate with Pinot Noir, so it makes sense!
Wine (soon to launch their website) poured an interesting variety of 2009 Ricci Vineyards Tre Ricci Chardonnay, 2007 Verge Dry Creek Valley Syrah, and a 2006 Mansfield Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  All were very good and I enjoyed a chocolate-dipped strawberry with the cab.

Derby Wine Estates grows their grapes in three vineyards - Derbyshire Vineyard in San Simeon, Derby Vineyard in west Paso Robles, and Laura's Vineyard in east Paso Robles.  They poured 2009 Pinot Gris,  2009 "FIFTEEN 10" White Rhône,  2009 Pinot Noir, and a 2007 "IMPLICO" Bordeaux Blend - a blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 17% Petit Verdot.  All three were very good! 
Michelle McCue representing the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley

Wines from Dry Creek Valley
The Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley had a very interesting selection of wines:  2008 Rockpile Petite Sirah, 2007 Del Carlo Old Vine Zinfandel, 2005 Rued Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Mauritson Zinfandel, and 2008 Kokomo Pinot Noir.  Each one was very good. I especially liked tasting the zins and contrasting the regular zin with the  old vines zin.
W.J. Deutsch & Sons and W.J. Deutsch Spirits
W.J. Deutsch & Sons' Flirt wine, a blend of Syrah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel, gets the clever tagline award with"Cheat on Your Wine," "Your other wine will never know," and "Drink Responsibly, Flirt Freely."
W.J. Deutsch Spirits
The W.J. Deutsch Spirits table was attracting a steady stream of sippers with cocktails made with LICOR 43, a Spanish vanilla citrus liqueur, and Villa Massa Limoncello.

The Ventura County Winery Association poured red wines from five of my favorite wineries - Cantara Cellars, Bella Victlorian Vineyard, Four Brix Winery, Magnavino Cellars, and San Vicente Cellars.  Four Brix Winery poured a 2009 Temptress and San Vicente Cellars poured a 2009 Tannat.
San Vicente 2009 Tannat goes bottoms-up through an aerator
Roxo Port Cellars
Jeff Steele, winemaker from Roxo, poured their great ports: Magia Preta (Black Magic), Paso Melange (Paso Blend), and Ruby Tradicional.  I enjoyed tasting these a few weeks ago at the Conejo Wine & Jazz Fest.
LA Wine Fest Raffle
Hilton LA/Universal City Café Sierra Soft Shell Crab Tempura

Lots of lifestyle exhibitors and gourmet food were available throughout the festival.

Frank Family Vineyards wines are always outstanding.  They poured their 2010 Napa Chardonnay, 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir, 2009 Napa Cabernet, 2009 Napa Zinfandel.

Rosenthal, the Malibu Estate, was pouring their 2008 Rosenthal Estate Merlot and 2006 Rosenthal Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were excellent!  And they used the ubiquitous aerator.
Rosenthal, the Malibu Estate
The Pour

Modus Operandi Cellars - Looks more like a wine audit than a wine tasting!

The last winery I visited was Modus Operandi Cellars.  They poured a 2010 Modus Operandi Sauvignon Blanc, a 2009 Vicarious Red, and a 2009 Modus Operandi Cabernet Sauvignon. I liked the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Petite Sirah in the Vicarious Red the best.

As usual, there were too many wines and too little time to taste all.  I had to leave before the Wine Fest ended, so I only managed to taste at one spirits table and ten wine tables.  Wine festivals are fun; everyone brings their best wine and I didn't have one bad wine.  If you can make it to the Raleigh Studios for the 8th LA Wine Fest in 2013 I highly recommend it!