Friday, June 28, 2013

Calabasas Malibu 2013

The Seventh Annual Calabasas Malibu Wine & Food Festival was a happening not to be missed.  We attended on Saturday with the VIPs, celebs, and invited guests.  The weather was nice on top of the Calabasas Mercedes Benz building--sunny and breezy.

We started off with a nice sparking brut from Moreno BHLV in a Natural Leopard Print bottle. It not only looked good, it tasted great as well!

Everyone was a VIP in front of the CMWF red carpet backdrop.

Applying some Calabasas style before the photography session.

Alan Semsar puts this event together every year--and looks good doing it.

Emily and Debra of Veedercrest Wine poured us the 2010 Chardonnay, Yountville - Napa Valley, Ruhl Vineyard.  Fermented and aged in stainless steel, without malolactic fermentation or oak barrel aging, this chardonnay had clean and crisp flavors without overpowering vanilla or buttery characteristics.
They also poured 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville - Napa Valley, Villa Mille Rose Vineyard and a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

The Naked Grape - California & Argentine Red and White Table Wine (Grape Valley Wine Company, Modesto, CA) poured five wines.  We tried the un-oaked NV California Chardonnay.  It's also available in a 3 liter box.

Eric, who's at every LA wine festival, poured some 2010 Columbia Crest, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley for me. and Devon tasted the 2010 Columbia Crest, Charddonay.

Marc Spellman of Spellman Family Vineyard/Bridle Trail Wines poured his  2009 CabIn Cabernet Sauvignon produced on his single estate in Hidden Hills on Bridal Trail Road. It was very good!
And as usual, there was "NO WHINING" at this booth, just wining.

Thomas Booth does wine consultation and sales with his Southern California Vineyards business. It is an organic grapevine installation company for homeowners.  What a great idea! I'm seeing more and more vines showing up along hillsides in Westlake Village. And just to illustrate he knows what he's doing, Tom poured his 2011 backyard Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Calabasas. No labels were on the bottles, but it was excellent! 

Natasha Swords poured Gauchezco Wine from Argentina with  Premier Cru Wine Cellars. We tasted the 2010 Malbec Rosé and the 2009 Malbec Clásico (both made with 100% Malbec). They were also pouring the 2010 Malbec Reserva.

Mike Stan, owner of Ritual Wine Company, poured his 2009 Viognier for us--very nice! I also tasted the Ritual 2009 and 2008 GSMs and they were both very good too.  The 2009 had 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Mourvèdre and the 2008 had equal amounts of each.

Four Sisters Ranch, Serena's Vineyard poured their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah.

Magnavino Cellars kept cool and poured their fine red wines - my favorite is the Syrah.

Bill Candela from Wades Wines pours a 2008 Mulholland Highway, Califonia  Sundowner (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel).

Dan Bock, of Benchmark Wine Group, poured a very nice Super Tuscan--the 2004 Torrione Tenuta di Petrolo.

Ahnfeldt Wines poured some special 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain District, their 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, and a 2010 Provocative Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. All were very good!  Consulting Winemaker Paul Hobbs, Winemaker Julian Gonzalez, and Crossbarn Operations Director Jason Valenti produce Ahnfeldt's premium wines.

Pomar Junction poured their wines at the Celebrity Cruises booth. I tasted my favorite again--the 2010 Train Wreck (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvèdre).

Stanger Vineyards poured a 2009 Tempranillo Reserve and a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon and it was very good.

Teri Love, owner of Gioia Wines, poured a taste for Paul, the Wine Snobs Meetup coordinator.
The Gioia 2009 DAX Ryder Red, a Sangiovese and Petite Sirah blend, was very good.

The Goodie Girls handing out over 1600 cupcakes--there goes number 956.

We tasted a tiny sample of Elderberry and Lavender Vanilla at the Marco Paolo Chocolates table. Not being a Lavender fan normally, I was a little skeptical, but they were good.  Devon bought the "Siesta" 4-pack of their regular-sized chocolates. We'll have to figure out which wines to pair with Mango Chili Geles & Dark Lime, Tamarind Tea with Green Cardamom, Pineapple & Burnt Caramel, and Coconut Cilantro with Dark Lime.

Gladstones Chef Dean Grill's King Crab and Beet Carpaccio with orange, green beans on red & yellow beet slices with micro greens and creme fraiche was very tasty!

Maria's Italian Kitchen served Bruschetta (Crostini) with fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil & sliced garlic with grilled garlic herb bread. The Bruschetta tasted very good. Did I say garlic?

Pacific Dining Car with a repeat performance of last year--lamb burger sliders.  They are great every year!

Fresh Brothers served some spicy pepperoni pizza on thin crust--I could have had several of them, but settled for one. Call me traditional, but I like an Italian red wine with this sort of pizza. 

Pink's was very popular and they served their cosmic famous chili dogs. It was a complete dinner on a bun and required a fork and several napkins to eat it.  I didn't try any pink wine with it.

Sweet Dreamery Desserts SweetBites makes Cake Pops. They are bite-sized cake balls hand dipped in white or milk chocolate or peanut butter candy coating. YUM!

Good times with the LA Times and their "Think. Talk. Question." button.

El Cortez poured their 12 Year Old Rum.  Described as a golden amber color. Sweet buttered toffee, toasted nut, and sweet tobacco, and spice aromas are appealing. Round and supple entry, dryish medium-full body with toffee, nuts tobacco, brown spice and a touch of cola nut. Finishes with a very peppery wood spice and nut fade. Must be good, it's $94.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Hpnotiq is a blingy liqueur made from fruit juices, vodka and cognac. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur is made with pomegranate juice, vodka and tequila. Both are 34 proof.

The LAB Brewing Company poured their Honey I'm Home Blonde Ale and Bad Influence IPA. My favorite style is IPA, so I had some of the Bad Influence. It's a lighter IPA focused on hops more than malts. Dry hopped with a floral aroma this IPA has a rating of 87 IBUs and an 8.2% ABV.  I thought it was fantastic!

I have heard good things about Ninkasi Brewing, but I guess their beer will remain a mystery to me.  I stood at the table taking a few pictures, with an empty glass, and listened to the Ninkasi guy talk with someone about a distribution deal for about 5 minutes, then I gave up and went back to wine tasting.

DJ Roco kept it hopping all night long.  I think he enjoys his work.

Mount Gay Rum poured their Black Barrel rum and mixed me a Manhattan with it. Black Barrel is a small batch, handcrafted blend made of matured double pot distillates and aged column distillates. In a process called finishing, the blended rum is then matured for a second time in deeply charred Bourbon oak barrels. This unique process releases spicy aromas that are at once balanced, and bold.

The Manhattan recipe is worth mixing again:
2 oz Mount Gay Black Barrel
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
2 - 3 dashes of Angostura BitterS

A maraschino cherry

It was a lighter, but very good version of a Manhattan.

 The VIP area was a mellow place to relax and have a cocktail.

 Rémy Martin was mixing up some interesting drinks.

Some very cool, jazzy artwork was available.

This group of women was having a little too much festival fun.  We all had fun!

This festival always blends the right amount of wine, spirits, beer, food, art, and entertainment together.
It was a super party that ended with a super moon rising over Calabasas.  See you next year!



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Monday, June 24, 2013

Ventura County Wine Trail 2013


Sandra and Michael, local wine fans, greeted Devon and I at the VIP Press check-in and gave us our wrist bands.

Herzog Wine Cellars 2011 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley was my first wine tasting of the evening.  A very good way to start!

At Cantara Cellars Chris Brown poured the 2011 Chardonnay, Ruth's Vineyard for Devon and I had the 2010 Intrepid, a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.  We had both of these at the winery last week and they were very good to sample once again.

Devon had the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc at Casa Baranca Organic Winery and I tasted the 2009 Pinot Noir and the 2011 Syrah.  All very good!
Wine Drone Cam View

Four Brix wines were being poured by local radio personalities Tom Hilton & Sandy Seekins, hosts of Tom & Sandy's 805 radio show on 1590 KVTA. We tasted two of our favorites--the 2011 Smitten (Viognier) and 2009 Temptress (Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and Grenache).

At Herzog Wine Cellars Joe Hurliman poured the 2011 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley and Joseph Herzog poured the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley for us.  They were both excellent and paired well with the Tierra Sur dishes. 
The Chardonnay with the Sea Bass Ceviche and the Cabernet Sauvignon with the Chili Braised Lamb Birria were both fantastic!
 Chili Braised Lamb Birria 
with Corn cake, Pickl'd Onions, Radish & Micro Greens.

The sweets from Tierra Sur included two delicious dishes.
"Niño Envuelto" strawberry & coconut cake
Meyer Lemon Semifreddo

Labyrinth Winery poured their Haka 2010 Chardonnay and a 2010 Petite Sirah, Paso Robles.  I only tasted the Petite Sirah and it was very good.

Robert Wagner of Magnavino Cellars poured us his 2010 Butterfly Chardonnay and I went back for a taste of one of my favorites--the 2010 Syrah.

Michael Meagher of Vino V Wines poured both Old Creek Ranch Winery & Vino V Wines.  The Old Creek Ranch wines included the 2010 Barbera, Santa Ynez Valley, Estelle Vineyard and the 2011 Primitivo, Napa Valley, Branham Obsidian Vineyard. I tasted the Old Creek Ranch 2011 Primitivo and it was very good.  It was interesting to compare it with the Vinemark 2009 Primitivo, Paso Robles. The Vino V Wines included a 2011 Chenin Blanc, Jurrasic Park Vineyard and a 2012 Rosé.  The dry Chenin Blanc from a vineyard of 30 year old vines sounds interesting and I'll have to try it next time.

David Panaro of Pananaro Brothers Winery poured us a 2011 Syrah Rosé, a 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, and a 2009 Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir was good.
Marlow and Janis Barger of Plan B Wine Cellars poured their 2012 Rosé of Grenache for us.
I also tasted their 2010 Story Lines Shiraz, Santa Ynez Valley--very good.

George and Faye Hawes of Rancho Ventavo Cellars poured three reds: a 2007 Merlot, SBC, a 2007 Zinfandel, Lodi, and a 2008 Essa (Cab/Syrah), Central Coast.  I thought the Essa was very good and drank well without food.

Vince Pantess of San Vicente Cellars poured a 2010 Viognier, a 2010 Tannat, Paso Robles, Bella Colina Vineyard, a 2009 Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, Stolpman Vineyard, and the new 2010 Full Circle (65% Syrah, 35% Sangiovese).  The Viognier, Tannat, Syrah, and Full Circle are my favorites--yes, all of them!
Apparently a lot of other people liked San Vicente wines too, because their line was very long every time I looked.

Hey, a new local winery--Vinemark Cellars. Mark Wasserman poured a 2011 Pinot Noir, Napa Valley and a 2009 Primitivo, Paso Robles.  Both were good!

Giessinger Winery was extremely popular and I didn't wait in the very long line.  I was curious about what was being poured from the plastic bag and the other decorative bottles, but I couldn't seem to get a word in to either person pouring.  I hope to have a chance to taste their wines at a future festival.  If anyone has any reviews or comments about Giessinger wines please feel free to comment below.

Panera Bread Co.
We had the fresh Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing served with whole grain and French baguettes.  There were Strawberry Scones available too, but my carb alert started to sound. Their colorful arrangement of strawberries was surrounded by lemons this time.

Kabuki was making 3 rolls:
- California handroll
- Spicy Tuna handroll
- Veggie handroll

Must have been good! Their line was very long all evening and we didn't try any.

Paradise Pantry
Two cheeses were served by the pantry: Pilota (Sheep & Cow, France) and Serefina (Aged Gouda, Holland) along with grapes, almonds and walnutsI like Gouda, whether it's smoked or aged, and the Serfina Cheese was the best I've ever had!

Whole Foods
Pastry trays with brownie bites, chocolate wafer cookies and chocolate chip cookies were looking good at the beginning of the event.  I had to eat a brownie bite that was out of place just to arrange the picture below a little better. They went fast!

Gandolfo's New York Delicatessen
Gandolfo's served some turkey and Italian deli sandwiches.  I ate one of the classic Italian sandwiches. Very good! 

Aloha Steakhouse
Filet Mignon with Sautéed Mushrooms on Jalapeño Crostini with Blue Cheese.
Must have been good! Their line was very long all evening and we didn't try it.

C Street
California halibut ceviche with mango and tequila.  Great tasting and served on a handy spoon.

Hollywood Beach Wine Co.
Lois Ivanoff getting ready to serve some very tasty Pork Belly Bahn Mi.

La Dolce Vita
Mediterranean Pasta with Kalamata Olives, Spinach, and Tomato was delicious! Went well with some Primitivo.

Chef Stroh's Pestos
I enjoyed tasting the Blue Apricot pesto--the Blue Cheese adds a nice zing.  Chef Steven Stroh recommends it with Champagne, Moscato, buttery Chardonnay, or Gewurztraminer.  I wonder if it would go well with the craft beers available at the Kitchen?
The Kitchen
Cathie Moreno was serving Devil’s Food Cupcakes made with Four Brix Temptress and Muscat Canelli Cupcakes made with Giovinazzo Muscat.

The Cave @ Ventura Wine Company
Roasted Cherry Tomato, Black Olive Tapenade & Brie on Garlic Crostini and Cured Salmon with Dill Cream Cheese, Green Tomato, and Quail Egg on Garlic Crostini.

Twenty 88 Restaurant
The Short Rib Crustini with Cambozola & Port Onions was great! And this is not my plate, I only had one!

Coastal Grill at Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay featured Chef Tim Hulbert's BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders with Pineapple Slaw and a nice nautical decoration on the table.  The sliders were very good.

The Ranch House
Devon liked the Salmon Poached in Chablis and Dill, served with Sour Cream, Cucumber, Watercress and Dill Sauce.

The Jolly Oyster
Pacific Oysters with three different sauces were served: Petite Mignonne, Thai Chili, and Ponzu.

Oh, it's not someone parking in the middle of the event, it's the Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours!  Kristine Ellison is all around Ojai with Jeep tours and her new book, Ojai Wines and Vines.  I have my copy...
Photography by Kristine Ellison

The Collection is a brand new shopping destination in Oxnard and it was a nice venue for the annual Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration.

The Grapevine Girls attract a crowd everywhere they go.

The Shoemaker Brothers provided some great music and played a wide range of material.

I finally met up with Paul and Steve of the local "Wine Snobs" Meetup Group. They had some good suggestions on different wines to taste.

And a variety of local media were covering the event: The Wandering Wino (Shawn Burgert), the Wine Predator (Gwendolyn Alley), and the Ventura County Star (Lisa McKinnon).
Lisa McKinnon of the Ventura County Star interviews Michael Meagher of Vino V Wines.

We really enjoyed the Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration this year and look forward to going again next year. The venue worked well and the food and wine tasting was great.  It's great that there are so many fantastic options in the area for wining and dining.