Archive for Food and Wine

Fred Scherrer Wine Dinner
Tuesday June 4th, 2019 @ 6:00 p.m.

 

APPETIZER
GRILLED LEMON & OREGANO
JUMBO PRAWNS
roasted fennel potato hash,  chive truffle butter

2015 Chardonnay “Scherrer Vineyard”

 

 

 

SECOND TASTE

OVEN ROASTED KUROBUTA PORK BELLY
polenta, haricot verts,
Gouveia’s Portuguese sausage, thyme jus

2017 Scherrer Dry Rosé

 

 

 

 

SALAD COURSE
THYME SCENTED HUDSON VALLEY DUCK BREAST
Mari’s Garden arugula, currant tomatoes, Hamakua Ali’i mushrooms sautéed with pancetta, red wine vinaigrette and
local OK Farms sunny side up egg

2014 Scherrer Pinot Noir “Sonoma County”

 

 

 

 

ENTRÉE
15-DAY, DRY-AGED NATURE’S NATURAL STRIPLOIN STEAK
(All natural without hormones, antibiotics, or steroids)
roasted root vegetables, foie gras peppercorn demi-glaze, fingerling potatoes

2015 Scherrer Cabernet Sauvignon “Alexander Valley”

 

 

 

 

DESSERT CREATED BY PASTRY CHEF
CHERIE PASCUA
BANANAS FOSTER “CHEESECAKE”
vanilla cheesecake with Graham cracker crust, “Bananas Foster” topping, almond pralines, candied citrus zest and house made white chocolate ice cream

Kudos to Ivy Nagayama & her team at DK Steakhouse.  What a great showing!  And, thank you to Fred Scherrer for coming to share your wines & your expertise.

 

May
19

A Taste of Piemonte

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The region of Piemonte in northwest Italy is the home to Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s most prestigious red wines and is also the home to one of the world’s finest truffles. No other region provides similar characteristics for red wines or truffles. I often ask myself what makes the soil so special and where does that intriguing pungency and savoriness come from? While the Nebbiolo grape variety produces red wine royalty, there are other indigenous grapes which can produce something unique and special too. Perhaps not as grand, but certainly still worth experiencing. We asked VINO Chef Keith Endo to create Piemontese inspired foods to work with some of our most unique and interesting red Piemontese “country” wines.  Each is from small, family owned estates, who produce classically styled wines in homage to what their forefathers produced.  Wines like this are getting harder and harder to come by.

 

WINE: Cantine Valpane “Rosa Ruske”Cantine Valpane was founded in 1899. The estate is located in a more remote niche of Monferrato where untamed forest and fields play a imporatnt role is producing a very unique set of wines. The Rosa Ruske bottling is their most unique red , one produced from the nearly forgotten ruché grape variety. (Today, I am told it is the moscatellina grape variety).  In either case, this wildly rustic, very aromatic red wine combines the pungent, savory core of what Piemonte is about with floral/wild rose aromatics of the ruché grape variety.

Homemade Tajarin Pastabraised oxtail, grilled Ali’i mushrooms, Swiss chard & mudica bread crumbs

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WINE: Tenuta La Pergola “Il Goccetto”“The little nip” is a country-styled Piemontese red, meant for immediate consumption with regional foods. This family has been producing their own estate wines since 1903.  In this particular vintage, “Il Goccetto” is 100% Brachetto, a grape variety rarely produced on its own as a stand alone red wine. We absolutely love its wild, exotic fragrance of rose petals and wild strawberries, with a pungent, musk scented, savory core. These aromatic red wines create such a different dynamic with foods like this.

Risotto alla Piemontesecarnaroli rice , grilled baby portabella mushrooms, red wine & truffle

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WINE: Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato “Rosso Pietro”We are continually amazed with each taste of this wine as we don’t run into old style Barbera like this stylistically too often. It might be because in many cases, Barbera is more often grown where and when Nebbiolo cannot ripen to perfection, kind of like an after thought. Valpane produces meaty, masculine, musk scented, savory Barbera, which still has very lively, stony fruit in a delicious, provocative style. What a real treat!

Red Wine Braised Veal Cheekscreamy polenta, roasted root vegetables & espelette pepper

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DESSERT

WINE: Filippo Gallino “Birbet”Where the top Piemontese red wines have a strongly pungent, savory, musk scented core at its best, this 100% Bracchetto produced in the Roero region innately offers a slightly sparkling red wine, which is instead so remarkably light, fruity, ethereal & wonderfully refreshing & delicious.  Having this wine at the end of meal is like having a sorbet to finish–completely upbeat & uplifting.

Meringatahazelnut meringue, warm caramel sauce, macerated fruits, whipped cream and chocolate gelato

 

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May
12

Foie Gras & Wine

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Foie Gras (fattened duck or goose liver) is a French delicacy.  Its decadent richness, bordering buttery is world renown & has become an iconic luxury dining offering.  The leading purveyor in the U.S. is Hudson Valley.  Historically, sommeliers & gourmets paired foie gras specialties with top end Sauternes, mano e mano.  True decadence.  The richness, unctuality & visceral mouthfeel of the wine could keep up with the foie gras & the wine’s innate sweetness would freshen & refresh the palate between bites.

At VINO, we chose to do something different on this night just to shake the bushes some.

Foie Gras Torchonserved with crostini, caramelized pineapple, garnished with apples bits

 wine pairing:  2013 Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes de Venise–a very iconic, standout late harvest, fortified white wine, grown France’s southern Rhone Valley.  “The domaine and its vineyards sit atop a picturesque plateau in the Vaucluse, sheltered by the Dentelles de Montmirail, just above of the village of Beaumes-de-Venise. The scenic views put one at pause considering the timelessness—wine has been a part of the culture here for millennia”.  The higher altitude, the plentitude of sun exposure, the constant pounding mistral winds & the clay-limestone strewn hillsides create a very unique niche for producing this sweet, though brilliantly fresh vin doux naturale, which is quite a revelation for the appellation & its wines.  “The Leydiers are particularly proud of their Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise as they are among the last to craft it in the traditional style. Leydier’s old-fashioned vinification keeps the spirits as low as possible, so that they may hold on to the bright freshness in the grapes. One can find more powerful Muscats, but none as tasty and fine”.  The youthful 2013 still has the hutzpah & decadence for the torchon, but still with enough zest & nerve for the pineapple & apple garnishes.  (Sweet wines like this can lose their apparent sweetness with considerable bottle age, as it transforms into a more tactile, visceral feel).  Definitely an interesting pairing.

 

Pan Seared “A” Grade Foie GrasPort wine reduction, quail egg & duck prosciutto

 wine pairing:  2016 Domaine La Tour Vieille Banyuls “Rimage”–Banyuls is a wine appellation in southern France, right on the Mediterranean, 2 miles from the Spanish border.  The impossibly steep, daunting, sun baked, wind pounded hillsides of schist have to be terraced to help keep the soil in place & also make the slopes workable.  The Banyuls wines are fortified vin doux naturale.  While some renditions can be very rustic, rugged, bordering coarse, we have taken quite a liking to the more civil, wine-like bottlings from Domaine La Tour Vieille.  Their “Rimage” bottling is old vine Grenache with a dollop of Carignane.  While Grenache can typically offer wonderfully ripe, lush, round fruit, this estate’s Grenache terroir also innately adds an intriguing, very savory, masculinity to its core, which I am sure is at least partially from the challenging schist driven hillsides.  The wine is then buttressed with roughly 10% Carignane which helps with savoriness, structure & frame.  The best way to sum up describing this wine…..”A delicious, savory Mediterranean red wine, which happens to be fortified“.   We typically enjoy this wine well chilled.  It certainly proved to be an interesting pairing to say the least.

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Helen Keplinger

Thursday, April 18, 2019

There is no doubt that Helen Keplinger is one of the New Age winemaking stars of the California wine scene.  Besides consulting for a portfolio of various wine projects, she & her husband DJ have their own label, Keplinger, which is garnering big scores & praise from the media, including a “Winemaker of the Year” recognition from Food & Wine Magazine.  She is making her first trip to Hawaii & doing a special dinner with Ivy Nagayama, Managing Partner/Corporate Director of Operations of DK restaurants & the culinary team of DK Steakhouse.

Here was the menu for the night.

APPETIZER

FENNEL POLLEN SEARED BRISTOL BAY SCALLOPS–with herbed cauliflower puree, confit of Hamakua King Oyster mushrooms, roasted fennel butter

2014 KEPLINGER ELDORADO WHITE–(Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne)

 

 

INTERMEZZO

TRUFFLED AHI WITH JALAPEÑO AND MICRO CILANTRO

 

 

DEMI ENTREE

KIAWE SMOKED “TAJIMA” AUSTRALIAN WAGYU SHORT RIBS–with roasted kohlrabi, twice cooked fingerling potatoes, thyme jus, and crispy shallots

 2013 KEPLINGER “SUMO” RED–(Petite Sirah, Syrah & Viognier)

 

 

INTERMEZZO

LA GELATERIA LEMONGRASS SORBET WITH MARI’S GARDEN MICRO MINT

 

 

MAIN ENTRÉE

21-DAY DRY AGED KING NATURAL STRIP LOIN–with summer truffle and gruyere cheese gratin, red wine peppercorn jus, bay leaf gremolata, shaved asparagus

 2015 KEPLINGER CALDERA RED–(Mourvedre, Grenache & Counoise)

 

 

DESSERT CREATED BY PASTRY CHEF CHERIE PASCUA

DECADENT CHOCOLATE S’MORES BAR–with layers of graham crackers, brownies, chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow & strawberry ice cream

Apr
18

Sparkling Wine & VINO Food

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Most people think of sparkling wines when it is time to celebrate festive times. Furthermore, we also find them to be quite amazing with foods. We have asked VINO Chef Keith Endo to pair foods to a quartet of our favorite non-Champagne bubblies. Yes, this will be–pure enjoyment–on an early Sunday night, so one can go home and sleep early. Let’s get together and hang out.

 

WINE: Flor ProseccoItalian Prosecco has grown to be one of the top wine imports into the U.S.. sadly, that means there is a growing number of mediocre renditions coming in. here is one whose intent is to be delicious, light, crisp, flirtatious & completely refreshing. It comes from the iconic restaurant family of Bastianich. We wanted to show how food friendly good ones can also be.

Charred Cabbage–braised vegetable/chicken jus

 

 

WINE: Breton Vouvray Brut “Dilettante”Vouvray is located in France’s Loire Valley and is the home to the world’s finest Chenin Blanc based wines. The best are wonderfully alive, exciting and a burst of synergy between the Chenin Blanc grape variety and limestone soils it is grown in. Catherine Breton takes this wine to another level through the “traditional” (Champagne) method, adding fine bubbles and much more excitement and pizazz to an already bright eyed and bushy tailed wine. There really is no wine like it. While we think Vouvray and shellfish are made for each other, this wine takes that idea to another level.

Seafood Sausageroasted, fresh herbed fingerling potato bits, braised leeks, corn relish & truffle butter

 

 

WINE: Scammacca del Murgo Brut RoséThe wines of Mt Etna, down in Sicily are exploding in popularity among the sommelier community, both in the U.S. and across the world. There really is magic created between the native Nerello Mascalese grape variety and the volcanic soils of Etna. The Scammacca family have been toiling their vineyards in the shadow of this active volcano for well over 100 years. Their masculine, stony bubbly is 100% Nerello Mascalese, aged for three years on the fine lees, ala metodo classico. What a real treat!  Nerello Mascalese is  a grape variety typically used to produce hearty, masculine, savory red wines.  In this case, however, it is used to produce this very refined, yeasty, completely refreshing sparkling pink wine.  In short, masculine, savory, crisp & completely refreshing….is why we paired this wine with this dish.

Braised Spanish Octopussquid ink linguine tossed with braised celery, onions and fennel with espelette pepper

 

 

WINE: Elvio Tintero Moscato d’Asti “Sori Gramella”Moscato d’Asti is a very special, unique wine, which has a razor edged tetter totter between sweet & sour, in a very uplifting, airy manner. At its best, there is really no other wine like it. This is one of our absolute favorites!

Pineapple Panna Cottamango sorbet & grilled Moroccan spiced apple bits

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Mar
20

A Dinner with Fred Scherrer

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We are so excited and honored Fred is coming to VINO! He is one of our absolute favorite winemakers out of California and is essentially a one man show, a true artisan.  Fred is a true vigneron! NO foo-foo, bells and whistles or fanfare from him or his wines!   His wines are always so elegant, refined, classy, well-balanced and without a doubt, some of our favorite. This is your chance to taste his wines and to meet him in person. Although it is well known that Scherrer excels at masterfully crafting some of the very best Zinfandel, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir out of California.  (At one of the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival events, I remember tasting his 2002 Chardonnay “Scherrer Vineyard”, which at that point was 10 years old.  It was the finest, most memorable Chardonnay I had had.  On the same day, we later tried his 1999 Pinot Noir “Hirsch Vineyard” & it was the finest California Pinot Noir I had had.  BOTH in one day! I could also tell many stories about my encounters with his Zinfandel “Old & Mature” bottlings over the years too).  Having said that, I feel his best kept secrets are his undeniable mastery with Syrah & dry rosé.  So on this night we decided to show a whole different “look” to Scherrer wines—featuring THREE—most fans, even the most avid, might not be familiar with! This will reinterate what a real winemaking master he truly is!) PLUS, they work better with our style of cooking.

 

first course

Nature’s Natural Beef Carpaccio–topped with a savory winter salad

 WINE: 2017 Scherrer Dry Rosé–after years of working with different grape varieties, (including Zinfandel, Pinot Noir & even Pinotage) & combinations of grape varieties, Fred has since the 2011 vintage has really settled in his sweet spot for making pink wine–blending Syrah & Grenache, gently direct pressed, barrel fermented in old oak; on the lees for 5 to 6 months & NO malolactic.  It is without a doubt one of the finest rosé wines out of California today & the 2017 one of his finest ever.   “As a pink wine, Syrah and Grenache are more similar than they are when vinified as red wines. Here, they are James Taylor and Carly Simon in harmony, their vocal range and overtones being rather similar. The grape varieties for this wine divide to conquer. The Syrah provides more plummy tones and texture while the Grenache brings acidic focus and soaring high perfume in the places Syrah does not go naturally. Yet the majority of tones are quite similar and they blend perfectly. This wine is essentially a carbon-copy of the past two vintages, which I consider to be precisely in the pocket of my intentions“.

 

second course

“Coq au Vin Stew”classic red wine braised organic chicken stew with pasta

WINE: 2013 Scherrer “Huntsman”–a whole different side to Fred Scherrer winemaking………blending.  His Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir & Zinfandel are, after all, single varietal.  “Imagine Country singers Johnny Cash and June Carter here as red wine forms of Syrah and Grenache–combining the interplay and harmony are haunting, compelling and undeniably satisfying.  In difficult vintages, they bring complementary strengths where needed most by each other. In very favorable vintages, such as 2013 here, they build strength upon strength without overdoing it in any one spot. What a perfect varietal blend partnership!  This wine is a synthesis of sites where wildlife and viticulture meet at the edge of civilization. From both the far eastern and western edges of Sonoma County, the wine speaks of more of this general wildness than of a specific variety or site.  A red wine that spans much of the breadth and diversity of Sonoma County. It is a great opportunity to have both early and late season varieties become ripe at the same time within a reasonably short distance. This allows the powerful option of co-fermentation: a chance to commingle diverse components as they are extracted, truly stabilizing and creating something that could not otherwise be obtained.  Here is a great example where blending two very different things become intertwined as a balanced, unified entity“.

 

 

entrée

Grilled Marinated Nature’s Natural Steakroasted fennel, charred root vegetables, Provencal potato au gratin and peppercorn demi

WINE: 2009 Scherrer Syrah “Sasha”–With the 2001 vintage, my long time friends Jeff Figone, Nunzio Alioto MS & I purchased some Syrah grapes from the Eaglepoint Ranch.  The vineyard is located at 900 to 1400 feet above the town of Ukiah in Mendocino.  The grapes came from rows between what Wells Gutherie (Copain) & Van Williamson (Edmeades) was getting.  We then asked Fred Scherrer to craft it for us.  It was a dream come true, as the wine far surpassed anyone’s expectations.  In fact, all kidding aside, it was the finest Californian Syrah we had had, up to that point.  (It today, is still glorious at its age).  The best way I could describe it, was a “mountain grown” Syrah, crafted by a Pinot Noir maestro–so elegant, graceful, suave, civil, savory, wonderfully textured & balanced.  It certainly updated my view on what Californian Syrah could be.  I could use similar descriptors to describe this 2009 Syrah “Sasha”, which is why we wanted to showcase it for this dinner.  “I have been working with Syrah since 1992My love of cooler climate Syrah is no secret. I have focused on a couple of sites in the western Sonoma County (most significantly, Calypso) to work with on an ongoing basis. Knowing that some vintages we may receive serious winter storm system before perfect textural ripeness in these vineyards – in 2009 I hedged my bets by contracting for small bit of earlier ripening Russian River Valley Syrah nearby“.

 

Dessert

Strawberry Tiramisuchocolate gelato

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