Archive for February, 2019

Feb
16

Wine Speak 2019 Part Two

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Wine Speak 2019 included 4 days of vineyard tours, wine & hospitality seminars, a wine & food pairing lunch & evening “walk around” events. 

“Talk Story–wine from a different perspective–seeing wonderment on the audience’s faces in 2018, inspired this seminar.  Headed by Wine Speak co-founder/Ancient Peaks VP Amanda Wittstrom Higgins, this incredible thought provoking, inspiring panel featured Meredith May (owner/publisher of The SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel & The Clever Root publications); Jordan Fiorentini (VP of Winemaking at Epoch, Paso Robles)’ Helen Keplinger (winemaking consultant & owner/winemaker of Keplinger wines, Napa Valley) & Shelley Lindgren (owner/wine director of A16 & SPQR restaurants in San Francisco).  They received a standing ovation for their incredible words, thoughts & sharing of their experiences.  Thank you ladies.

Grenache & Mourvedre Panels–this was actually two different sets of speakers, one set for each grape.  Grenache-featured Richard Betts MS (Sucette wines from Vine Vale, Australia) & Justin Smith (Saxum, Paso Robles, California).   The 2 Grenache based red wines served were the 2015 Sucette Grenache (produced from own rooted wines planted in 1860 & 1880 in the predominately sand soils of Vine Vale, Australia (an enclave of the Barossa Valley) & the 2013 Saxum “Rocket Block” (predominately Grenache from the Rocket Block of the iconic James Berry Vineyard of westside Paso Robles, which is produced in only certain vintages).  The Mourvedre panel featured Cris Cherry (Villa Creek, Paso Robles, California) & Brandon Moss (Gramercy Cellars, Washington state).  The 2 wines poured were the 2013 Villa Creek “Damas Noir” (100% Mourvedre from the revered Luna Matta vineyard, done with 100% whole clusters) & the 2014 Gramercy Cellars “L’Idiot du Village” (Mourvedre from the revered Olsen & Alder Vineyards of Washington state, done with 58% whole cluster).  As Justin Smith asked me, after last year’s event, “when will we start delving into how the soil/climate/terroir affects a wine rather than just the grape variety?”  Each pair of winemakers therefore offered very different perspectives accordingly, as we tasted through the wines.  This certainly inspired all kinds of questions & thoughts.  Thank you guys.

“Paso Wine Paired Lunch”–Amanda’s brainchild.  She wanted to include some kind of wine & food pairing event for participants to experience, so she solicited the help of Chef Cheyne Jackson of The Range restaurant in the town of Santa Margarita.  She then asked long time wine guru, Randy Caparoso to help flesh out interesting & thought provoking pairings with Chef Jackson.  Randy had a long, illustrious career running the very progressive wine (& wine & food pairing) programs for the highly innovative Roy’s Restaurant group, when he was a founding managing partner.  In addition, as a current Editor at Large for The SOMM Journal, his presence & awareness of what’s happening in the field keeps him still on the edge.  Randy would drive down from his home in Lodi up further north & meet & taste with Amanda & Chef Jackson just to make sure they would hit the mark.

First CourseDiver Sea Scallop, crispy pork belly, criollo hollandaise, black cherry reduction & watercress (2016 Daou Cabernet Sauvignon “Paso Robles”–yes, you read that right!)

 

Second CourseSalad of Smoked Duck Breast, baby greens, fennel, toasted hazelnuts, Chioggia beets, pomegranate seeds, Farmgirl Creamery chevre & plum vinaigrette (2015 L’Aventure “Optimus”.  Yes, you read that right!).

EntréeVeal Stroganoff, Etto organic reginette, confit of wild mushroom & smoked grana parmesan (2017 Epoch “Estate” White–yes, you read that right!).

DessertGrenache Decadence Cake, cactus fruit reduction & Champurrado crème chantilly (2016 Tablas Creek Grenache “Paso Robles”–yes, you read that right!). 

 

 

This proved to be another daring, adventurous, dynamic, completely “out of the box”, truly memorable, standing ovation experience.  AND, done with expertise & substance by two real professionals.  How can we affect change?  Color commentating was done by the key note speaker & legendary wine guru Fred Dame MS.  Such a great time! 

 

 

 

“The State of Zinfandel” Panel–readily hailed as America’s grape, Zinfandel has really evolved over the years, which accounts for the many “takes” on what can be.  We invited two standout Zin makers from 2 very different terroirs–Matt Trevisan (Linne Calodo, Paso Robles) & Fred Scherrer (Scherrer wines, Alexander Valley)–just to come share their insights, thoughts & experiences which would shed some light on what Zinfandel can be.  The wines tasted–the lavish, bold, intriguing, sultry 2014 Linne Calodo “Problem Child” & the elegant, suave, classy 2007 Scherrer Zinfandel “Old & Mature Vines”–seemingly polar opposites stylistically, but BOTH really superb & wonderfully crafted in their own right.  Thanks guys!

 

Casual BYOB Dinner–Yet another opportunity to hang out as a group, share wine, continue to talk story & get to know each other better.  I was amazed at how many hundreds of wines there were to try on this night! In addition to the BYOB wines, we asked a few, select of our wine friends to come share their wines too–Tadeo Borchardt (Neyers/Camino); Jason Drew (Drew wines); Scott Evans (Henry Wine Group–Italian, grower Champagne & Provencal Rose); James Ontiveros (Native9); Eric Railsback (Lieu Dit wines); Matt Reilly (Diamond Wine Importer–Greek wines); Fred Scherrer (Scherrer wines); Adam Tolmach (Ojai).  Just another fabulous night.  Thank you all for sharing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hospitality Day–This was day dedicated to those in the wine/hospitality profession.  The line up again featured speakers whose insights, wisdom & experiences could help others–2 legendary Master Sommeliers–Fred Dame & Nunzio Alioto & their thoughts/insights on tasting wines from 2 very different perspectives; Alisa Onishi (Brand Director, Hawaiian Airlines) & her thoughts/insights into their ALOHA style of service &

Cameron Ingalls (Acacia Productions) & Amber Karson (Karson Butler Events) for their talk on the importance of social media today & how it can make a difference in today’s world.  How can we affect change?  Thank you all.

Feb
16

Wine Speak 2019 Part One

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The second annual Wine Speak event was held on January 7th thru the 10th, 2019.  On behalf of all of the attendees & participants, I want to thank co-founder Amanda Wittstrom Higgins.  She (& her team) is the engine, mojo & the soul of Wine Speak.

As was the case with the 2018 event, Wine Speak was an opportunity to gather New World wine professionals to come share their insights, wisdom & experiences so all participants could learn & better create camaraderie & collaboration moving forward.  “How can we affect change?”

The 2019 list of panelists included (in alphabetical order by last name)–Nunzio Alioto MS; Richard Betts MS (owner/winemaker Scucette wines); Stewart Cameron (winemaker, Ancient Peaks); Randy Caparoso (editor at large, SOMM Journal); Cris Cherry (owner/winemaker Villa Creek); Fred Dame MS (Global Ambassador for Daou); Jason Drew (owner/winemaker Drew Wines); Jordan Fiorentini (winemaker, Epoch); Cameron Ingalls (superstar photographer, Acacia Productions); Eric Jensen (owner/winemaker Booker/My Favorite Neighbor); Amber Karson (Karson Butler Events); Helen Keplinger (owner/winemaker Keplinger); Matt Kettmann (noted wine writer); Shelley Lindgren (co-owner/wine director A16/SPQR restaurants); Bob Lindquist (winemaker Qupe wines); Pax Mahle (owner/winemaker Pax Wines); Meredith May (owner/publisher of The SOMM Journal/The Tasting Panel/Clever Root); Brandon Moss (co-winemaker Gramercy Cellars); Peter Neptune MS; Alisa Onishi (Brand Director, Hawaiian Airlines) Fred Scherrer (owner/winemaker Scherrer wines); Justin Smith (owner/winemaker Saxum wines); Matt Trevisan (owner/winemaker Linne Calodo).

Also participating for 2019 were–Tadeo Borchardt (winemaker Neyers/Camino); Scott Evans (Henry Wine Group); James Ontiveros (Native9); Eric Railsback MS (Lieu Dit wines); Matt Reilly (Diamond Wine Importers–Greek wines); Tyler Thomas (winemaker Star Lane/Dierberg–2018 panelist); Adam Tolmach (owner/winemaker Ojai) & a whole slew–36 strong–from the Paso Robles appellation (the list will be shown below).  Yes, it takes an army to make this event happen.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, so here are some highlights–

VENUES–The various seminars, luncheons & gatherings were held at the Carlton Hotel, The Pavillon & the Atascadero City Hall, as the community again welcomed all in their gracious, embracing way.

 

VINEYARDS–There were vineyard tours on the first day to give participants a chance to see various sites up close & first hand.  The list of vineyards included–Bordeaux varietals (left to right–Austin Hope Vineyard, Niner Wine Estate & Daou Mountain);

 

Rhone varietals (right to left–Caliza Winery, Epoch Estate Vineyards & TH Estate Wines). 

 

 

 

 

 

I also ran around separately the day before just to touch bases with some of the 2019 panelists/speakers before the wine seminars began.  (from left to right–James Berry Vineyard, Daou Mountain, Denner Vineyard & Booker Vineyard).

 

 

 

 

 

Inside, Outside–“Different Perspectives on Cabernet Sauvignon” Panel–Wine Speak 2018 featured TWO different panels discussing this noble grape variety–“New World Cabernet Sauvignon”–Serge Carlei (Carlei wines, Australia); Matt Dees (Jonata, Ballard Canyon); Guillaume Fabre (Clos Solène, Paso Robles); Greg Harrington MS, Gramercy Cellars, Washington state); Bruce Neyers (Neyers wines, Napa Valley); Michael Sinor (Ancient Peaks, Paso Robles) & Tyler Thomas (Star Lane, Happy Canyon).  We continue the discussions & add more insight into what Cabernet can be in the New World at Wine Speak 2019 with 4 different perspectives–Fred Dame MS (Daou, Paso Robles); Eric Jensen (Booker/My Favorite Neighbor, Paso Robles); Helen Keplinger (Keplinger/Carte Blanche, Napa Valley) & Fred Scherrer (Scherrer wines, Alexander Valley).  The wines served–2016 Daou “Soul of a Lion”; 2016 My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet Sauvignon; 2014 Carte Blanche Cabernet Sauvignon “Napa Valley” & 2003 Scherrer Cabernet Sauvignon “Scherrer Vineyard”.  What a panel!  Thank you all for sharing!

 

Dream Big Darling–Dream Big Darling was created by founder Amanda Wittstrom Higgins (VP Ancient Peaks), who serves as its President. The mission statement is to “foster the success of women in the wine and spirits industry through mentorship, education, life enhancement and professional retreats.”  Empowered Women, empower women.   It follows along with the Wine Speak thought–“How can we affect change?  For 2019, Dream Big Darling sponsored scholarships to Wine Speak to 8 deserving young women wine professionals from different parts of the country!  Besides attending events, they had their own luncheon, along side top wine professionals , took vineyard tours & alternately worked as event sommeliers. What a real inspiration, to say the least!  BIG kudos!

 

Wine Blending Seminar–Another of Amanda’s brain childs. She & her Ancient Peaks team put together wine samples of different Bordelais grape varieties, each from their Santa Margarita Ranch vineyard.  The panel included Amanda, Matt Kettmann (noted wine writer); Peter Neptune MS & Stewart Cameron (winemaker, Ancient Peaks).  Unfortunately, Michael Sinor (Director of Winemaking Ancient Peaks) had a medical emergency & could not attend.  The seminar was divided into tables of 10, each table included at least 1 winemaker/Master Sommelier.  Their task was to come up with their own blend, which was then bottled, corked & wax dipped for each to take home with them.  It was so wonderfully interactive, inclusive, fun AND was a learning experience from a whole ‘nother slant.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KAWASAKI VINEYARD TOUR of Santa Margarita Ranch–the Santa Margarita Ranch is a remote, 900 acre estate vineyard located at roughly 1000 feet in elevation in southern Paso Robles.  It was great to witness all of the undulations, different soils, nooks & crannies, as the Kawasaki team drove us throughout the site.  Thank you Amanda & Kawasaki for creating yet another magical, memorable experience!

 

“What Syrah Can Be “The Next Chapter”–At Wine Speak 2018, we featured TWO different panels on New World Syrah.  The discussions & tastings were quite insightful, especially since there were 7 championing winemakers of this, up till now, elusive grape variety–Serge Carlei, Australia); Matt Dees (Jonata, Ballard Canyon); Greg Harrington MS (Gramercy Cellars, Washington state); Bruce Neyers (Neyers wines, Napa Valley); Any Peay (Peay, western Sonoma Coast); Justin Smith (Saxum, Paso Robles); Adam Tolmach (Ojai wines, Santa Barbara).  Yes, Wine Speak 2018 was quite a gathering of winemaking talent & knowledge, each who had something profound to share.  For the 2019 Wine Speak event, we continue the discussions & tastings with 3 different speakers/winemakers–Bob Lindquist (Qupe, Santa Maria Valley); Pax Mahle (Pax wines, Sonoma County) & Jason Drew (Drew wines, Mendocino Ridge)–each who also have something profound to share.  The wines tasted–2008 Qupe Syrah “Bien Nacido Estate”; 2017 Pax Syrah “Sonoma Hillsides” & the 2015 Drew Syrah “Valenti Vineyard”.  What a learning opportunity this really turned out to be!  Top quality Syrah from 3 different appellations in California & 3 Syrah maestros.  Thanks guys.

 

A TASTE OF PASO ROBLES–The 36 top Paso Robles wineries came out to showcase their wines, local restaurants their food….AND Adam & Jeremy of “The Krush” radio doing live interviews throughout the event.  What a night!

 

 

 

Feb
16

Wine Speak 2019 Intro

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WELCOME

Dear Friends,

We have so many people to thank for embracing the mission of Wine Speak Paso Robles. This event would not have been possible without the generous support of our speakers, panelists, wineries, sponsors and guests. We also greatly thank the communities of Atascadero and Paso Robles for welcoming us with such open arms, warm hearts and aloha—we are forever grateful.

Wine Speak was created in 2017 as an opportunity to gather some of the most brilliant, savvy and insightful wine minds of the New World. Our mission has stayed true. Speakers, panelists and guests alike are encouraged to share their wisdom and experiences, so that we can learn from one another and help our industry to move forward. We believe that this kind of forum fosters dialogue, sharing, camaraderie and collaboration—all in the name of elevating our wine community.

Most of all, we hope that you make new friends. Our wish is that you leave this experience inspired. Imagine the possibilities when we dream big.

 

Sincerely,

Chuck Furuya, MS DK Restaurants

Amanda Wittstrom Higgins, Ancient Peaks Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Speak 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the proceeds will go to the Dream Big Darling Foundation and the charities that it serves.

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Au Bon Climat Winery

Jim Clendenen is, without a doubt, one of the true winemaking icons out of California and has been for over thirty plus years. He was the spotlight champion of bringing the Santa Barbara appellation and its wines to the forefront. His incredible mastery in the vineyards and in the winery is very worldly and done with much more Old World sensibility. His resulting wines are always so elegant, refined, classy, well textured, balanced and some of the very best out of California. NO foo-foo, bells and whistles or fanfare from him or his wines! He is, in fact, very out spoken and quite the character. I seem to learn something new and fascinating from him with every run in. He is a wine “yoda”. We are so honored he is coming to VINO. This is your chance to taste his wines and to meet him in person. This will be a night to remember.

FIRST COURSE

Homemade Seafood Sausagefresh cauliflower puree & fresh dill

WINE: 2016 Au Bon Climat Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc

Au Bon Climat is Jim Clendenen’s label for Burgundian grape varieties, mostly grown & produced in the Santa Maria Valley of California, hence Chardonnay, Pinot Noir AND Pinot Gris & Pinot Blanc.  They are crafted with Old World sensibilities & are therefore much more elegant, minerally, lighter on their feet & generally lower (under 14 degrees) in alcohol.

SECOND COURSE

Shredded Organic Chicken & Mushroom Bruschettacelery, onions, red peppers & light red wine sauce

WINE: 2015 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “La Bauge Au-dessus” AND the 2001 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “La Bauge Au-dessus”

There are many different bottlings of ABC Pinot Noir produced.  We typically start with the “La Bauge Au-dessus” bottling because it is crisp, ethereal, snappy & lively with wonderful transparency & texture.  It was quite the surprise that Clendenen dug some of the 2001 out of his cellar to share & compare to the 2015.  I would say, many of the diners probably would not have thought of age-ability when tasting 2015, because of its sheer elegance & I am quite sure they were therefore quite shocked & mesmerized at how glorious the 2001 really showed.  VINO regulars well know how remarkable the ABC Pinots regularly get with additional bottle age, as we get to thankfully taste them quite frequently at our BYOB get togethers.

ENTRÉE

Seared Fennel Pollen Mahimahifresh linguine, braised fennel, white wine-lemon-clam jus, truffle butter, finished with fresh cracked pepper

WINE: 2014 Au Bon Climat “Hildegard” AND the 2010 Au Bon Climat “Hildegard”

Jim Clendenen is one of those wine minds, myself included, who believe the white Burgundies of old were not produced exclusively from Chardonnay.  I don’t think they kept track of the genetics of grape vines too much back then & I am sure there were therefore some mutations of Pinot Noir intermixed here & there.  So, the “Hildegard” bottling is in homage to that thought–a Grand, very sophisticated white wine produced from Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc (descendants of Pinot Noir) with a dash of Burgundy’s “other” white grape variety–Aligote–featuring the finest grapes, made more in a grand cru like style, which includes 20 months in 100% new oak & 100% malolactic.  (For the sommelier readers, another way to look at the profile of this wine, would be like comparing a classical Champagne grape mix (2/3’s Pinot & 1/3 Chardonnay) versus a Blanc de Blancs produced from 100% Chardonnay).  In any case, this wine is truly a standout, noteworthy, memorable white wine, well worth seeking out!

INTERMEZZO–2005 Clendenen Family Nebbiolo

There was a time with Clendenen was really into growing & producing Italian grape varieties in the Santa Barbara appellation.  (He was really good friends with many Italian winemakers like Elio Altare & Giorgio Rivetti, just to name 2 from Piemonte & quite a slew from Friuli as well).  As I once ran a small family wine distributor back in the late 80’s to the early 2000’s, I had actually FIRST contacted Clendenen to try & get his Italian look-a-like wines, then produced under his Il Podere dell’Olivos label–which included–Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Barbera, Tocai Fiulano & Malvasia.  I was therefore quite anxious to try his 2005 Nebbiolo, now 13 years old.  Thank you Jim for sharing this wine!

DESSERT

Pistacchio Olive Oil Cakewith raspberry sorbet

There is always so much to say about a Clendenen event.  Let’s just say, it was some kind of night!

DK Restaurants