Friday, July 26, 2013

California Wine Festival 2013

California Wine Festival
at Chase Palm Park in Santa Barbara
The festival began with nice logo/sponsor glasses that were handed out along with a handy napkin and some important marketing material.

Randy & Julie of Ahnfeldt Winery poured their fine red wines. I enjoyed an excellent 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot).
At B&E Vineyards I tasted their 2008 Red Rhythm and a 2009 Reserve Cabernet.
Byron Wines poured two very nice 2011 Pinot Noir wines, one from Santa Barbara County and one from Santa Maria Valley.
Calcareous wines included a 2012 Lily Blanc (46% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 24% Marsanne), 2010 Tres Violet (48% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache) and a 2010 Moose (Estate Syrah blended with Petit Verdot).  The Lily Blanc was excellent and the Tres Violet and Moose were very good too.
 Cannonball Wine Company poured a nice 2010 Chardonnay.
Cass Winery poured an excellent estate-grown 2012 Viognier, Paso Robles.

Chateau Margene poured a very nice 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot).
Cline Cellars poured a 2012 Cashmere (Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Syrah), a 2011 Cool Climate Pinot Noir, and a 2012 Ancient Vines Zinfandel.
I tasted the Farmer's Fury Winery 2011 Chardonnay (un-oaked) and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (80% Cabernet, 20% Ruby Cabernet). Both were good.
Fontes & Phillips Wines poured a 2009 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County.
Harmony Cellars poured a 2011 Chardonnay (above) and their newly released 2009 Reserve Aria (72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot,  12% Merlot, 4% Malbec).
I thought the 2009 Reserve Aria was excellent!  
Hearst Ranch Winery poured their 2011 Three Sisters Cuvee and a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; both are very good.

The Justin Vineyards table was swamped with fans who were enjoying the wines and permanently parked.  After waiting a while I managed to edge in and get a taste of the 2010 Justification (64% Cabernet Franc, 36% Merlot).  
The only picture I could take in this crowd was of the assault on the very busy wine pourer. This wine is worth waiting for and is always excellent, but there are only so many hours in a wine festival, so I moved on, elbowing my way through the inside of the crowded "Paso Robles CAB Collective" tent.
I'm sure the idea of having all of the Paso Cab wines poured inside the tent, instead of outside where there was much more queuing space, was to create an exclusive wine tasting area with shade; good ideas. Unfortunately, I think it turned out to be a totally inefficient way to cater to the many wine tasters who wanted the good stuff!
Lots of room outside; not so much inside!

Kenneth Volk Vineyards poured a 2010 Touriga Nacional, Pomar Junction Vineyard, Paso Robles. Touriga Nacional is a red grape traditionally grown in Portugal's Douro and Dao winegrowing regions.
Klinker Brick Winery from Lodi poured an excellent 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel and a 2010 Lodi Farrah Syrah. So what's with the name? Klinker bricks were chosen by craftsmen architects in the 1920s for their distinctive qualities, including unique shapes and dark, rich color; these bricks are heavier than regular bricks. And when you bang them together they make a "klink" sound. The Klinker Brick Winery used this name because, like the old klinker bricks, they see the same distinctive qualities in their old vine Zinfandel--rich, deep in color, enormous density, unique and distinctive.
Laetitia Vineyards & Winery poured a very nice 2011 Estate Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley. A blend of 10 different Pinot Noir clones on the Laetitia property were used: Dijon 113, 115, 459, 667, 777, 828, Pommard 5 and Wadensville 2A as well as the Martini 13 and Mt. Eden selections.
LeVigne Winery poured their Super Tuscan--a 2007 Le Vigne di Domenico Cabernet Franc and a sneak preview of their 2009 Le Vigne di Domenico Cabernet Franc (with a new label). I thought both were excellent! I recommend buying the 2007 to drink now and buying the 2009 to add to a wine cellar.
Lone Madrone's 2008 The Will (37% Petite Sirah, 35% Grenache Noire, 28% Zinfandel) is a dark, inky purple wine that WILL stain your teeth. That's a risk I'm willing to take, because this wine is my favorite red from Lone Madrone.  It is excellent!
McCay Cellars from Lodi poured three fantastic Zins: 2009 Jupiter Zinfandel, 2010 Equity Zinfandel, and 2010 Contention Zinfandel. 

I enjoyed the 2007 Estate Syrah from Nevarez Winery, Paso Robles. They also poured their 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Estate Roussanne.  I liked the teamwork here--one pours while the other tucks my business card in.  :-)

Nicora poured a 2009 Buxom Syrah (95% Syrah, 5% Grenache), and the opposite blend, a 2010 Euphoric Grenache (95% Grenache, 5% Syrah) and a 2010 GSM (44% Grenache, 44% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre).  All of these wines are winners in my opinion; including grapes for the GSM for the Alta Colina Vineyard probably helps.
Oak Ridge Winery poured their 2012 OZV (Old Zin Vin), 2010 Moss Roxx, Lodi Ancient Vine Zinfandel, and 2011 Oak Ridge Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi. The ORW Zins are among my favorites and the Cab was excellent!

I tasted the newly released 2011 Meritage, Paso Robles at Robert Hall Winery inside the "Paso Robles CAB Collective" tent.  It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and
Petite Verdot.

The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc was nicely chilled and made a cool splash in the glass. The 2010 Merlot is behind the glass.
Rugg Family Wines poured their 2010 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Napa Sauvignon Blanc, and 2012 Napa Rosé.  I enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Steven Kent Winery from Livermore Valley poured their 2012 Lola (Sauvignon Blanc & Semillion), 2009 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Sauvignon were excellent!
Summerland Winery poured a nice 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Barbara County.

Valor Winery, which is Veteran owned and operated, poured their 2010 Zinfandel,  Livermore Valley and 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa.
At Vinemark Cellars I tasted their 2011 Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, 2010 Cabernet Franc, Monterey County,  2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, 2009 Primitivo, Paso Robles, and 2011 Petite Sirah.  They were all very good wines from this new winery. 

I only managed to taste one beer and it was from The Brewhouse Santa Barbara.  The West Beach IPA was a very good, unfiltered and dry hopped, American style India Pale Ale. 

The first booth at the entry to the festival offered water and bread from San Pellegrino and Our Daily Bread.  The basics were covered and others offered with cheese, fruit, more cheese, fish, ceviche and a variety of sweets. 
Casa Blanca served Salmon Ceviche and a Black Bean Pico de Gallo with a chip. I think the chip was really the tool to scoop out the food, so if you ate your chip on the fist bite you were out of luck, or trying to drink your food like a shooter.
What? More Ceviche? Brophy Bros. Restaurant served a very nice one with white fish. Good to start with Calcareous' Lily Blanc and follow up with Summerland's Sauvignon Blanc.
Cabot Creamery served very nice cheeses: a hot pepper, a Horseradish Cheddar, and an Extra Sharp Cheddar.  I liked them all, but I see buying some of the Horseradish Cheddar in the very near future! You might find this at the Santa Barbara Costco, but I didn't see it in the Westlake Village store recently.
The Food Bank of Santa Barbara County served an interesting green-powered fruit blended concoction. I bet if you made one of these every morning you wouldn't gain any weight. Especially if you only had a small shot like they were serving. They were tasty and entertaining!  Watch the video on YouTube.
Kerrygold had a very nice display of cheeses and they were all tasty!
My favorite Kerrygold Dubliner made with Stout beer!  It was an awesome flavor and melted in your mouth.
GG's Gourmet Toffee had some fantastic toffee samples--Macadamia Masterpiece with Coconut, Dark Chocolate Almond, Milk Chocolate Almond (I think I grabbed that last one on the platter), and a Pistachio Mole that was spicy.  The Dark Chocolate Almond is probably my favorite for pairing with red wines, but you can't go wrong with Macadamia and Coconut, and a spicy Pistachio Mole is fun too!
So the secret is out, I think Cynthia Paez (on left) told me that "GG" was short for Great Grandma, although her website says it's for Grandma Garnet. Well, either way, there's some Grandma in there and she passed along some good information!
SLO Condiment Company, or "SLOConCo" for short, makes delicious and healthy Dressings/Marinades/Dipping Oils under the "CARMEN'S" label. My favorite was the Habitual Habañero, of course! It's made with habañero chilies, extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar plus other spices and has a good amount of heat.
Wait a minute, gunpowder oil and gunpowder? The Other Brother Company has an interesting sign. Apparently "gunpowder" olive oil is made with spicy ingredients including California grown peppers and Gilroy garlic to name a few, the rest are a secret.
Grace & I sells handcrafted Fruit+Nut Presses.  Devon sampled some and bought the Choco' Berry Press. It has intense berry flavors with a thin layer of white chocolate and can be paired with a variety of wines and cheeses, or served as part of a charcuterie plate. 
The Choco' Berry Press has strawberries, unsweetened coconut, and raspberries on top, plus almonds, apples, agave nectar and white chocolate in the middle, and a low calorie piece of wood on the bottom (that's because you don't eat the wood part).  Serving directions recommend a very sharp knife, but you only have to cut down to the wood and not through it.  :-)

The Paso Robles CAB Collective wasn't too crowded during the VIP advance hour.  Why didn't I go in then?  It was wall-to-wall people and wine later on.

Glass engraving added a nice touch and made it harder to lose your glass!

I didn't hear a thing at this auction. Cool stuff!

Upstream Music  played some lively reggae and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.  Watch a couple of minutes of Upstream playing on YouTube.

The Taste N Trip collaborators and support staff enjoying their work--Richard, Leslie, Devon & Gary.

I didn't sample very many white wines at the beginning of the festival.  I generally focused on red wines instead, so that's why I have a lot of red wines on the favorites list below.

Winery Vintage - Wine
Calcareous 2012 Lily Blanc (46% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 24% Marsanne)
Cass Winery 2012 Viognier, Paso Robles
Harmony Cellars 2009 Reserve Aria (72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot, 12% Merlot, 4% Malbec)
Klinker Brick Winery 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel
LeVigne Winery 2007 Le Vigne di Domenico Cabernet Franc
LeVigne Winery 2009 Le Vigne di Domenico Cabernet Franc
Lone Madrone 2008 The Will (37% Petite Sirah, 35% Grenache Noire, 28% Zinfandel)
McCay Cellars 2009 Jupiter Zinfandel
McCay Cellars 2010 Equity Zinfandel
McCay Cellars 2010 Contention Zinfandel
Nicora 2010 GSM (44% Grenache, 44% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre)
Oak Ridge Winery 2011 Oak Ridge Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi
Steven Kent Winery 2009 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Steven Kent Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
It was a good opportunity to discover new wineries that I hadn't visited before--Cannonball Wine Company, Farmer's Fury Winery, Klinker Brick Winery, McCay Cellars, Nevarez Winery and Rugg Family Wines.  Always a fun festival with great wines, food, and music at the beach in Santa Barbara!



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  1. Great photos. I'm really becoming a fan of Calcareous. Love the Lily Blanc.

    1. Thanks for your comment - yes, Calcareous Wine is very nice!