Archive for the 'Winery' Category

Route des Grands Crus – Burgundy

Route des Grands Crus - Burgundy

Following our thoroughly Burgundian lunch at Les Terrasses de Corton, The Astronomer, Mom, and I visited a few tasting rooms along the Route des Grands Crus. The roughly 40 mile route stretches from Dijon in the north to Santenay in the south.

Burgundy, France Collages

Burgundy is truly breathtaking with its rolling hills and sprawling vineyards. The terrain was wonderfully lush and green for as far as the eye could see. The Astronomer remarked that the grapes here were allowed to grow in free form, unlike their staked, split, and tortured cousins in California’s Central Coast and Napa Valley. The difference in methodology was quite striking.

Burgundy, France Collages

The first vineyard that we randomly stepped into was Château Corton-Andre, which is located at the bottom of the Corton Hill, the most important Grand Crus area in Burgundy. Grand Cru is the highest level in the vineyard classification of Burgundy.

The wines that we sipped here were quite young and thus acidic and assertive. We purchased a bottle to take home; it will be aging in our “cellar” for the next five years. Hopefully its flavors will be nice and round by the time we pop the cork.

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Epicurean Epicenter at Bellagio Featuring Pinot Noirs from Pisoni, Siduri, & ROAR Wineries

Epicurean Epicenter at Bellagio Featuring Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, Siduri Wines and ROAR Wines

For our second evening in fabulous Las Vegas, The Astronomer and I attended a wine dinner in Bellagio‘s Tuscany Kitchen as part of the Epicurean Epicenter series. This event featured a parade of California pinot noirs from producers Pisoni, Siduri, and ROAR and a four-course menu designed by Sensi Executive Chef Royden Ellamar.

Epicurean Epicenter at Bellagio Featuring Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, Siduri Wines and ROAR Wines

Jason Smith, master sommelier and Bellagio’s Director of Wine, not only selected the participating wineries and orchestrated the pairings, but he also served as our host this evening. Also on hand were all three winemakers. Each one was invited to speak at various points during the event to provide insights into the wine making and wine drinking process.

Epicurean Epicenter at Bellagio Featuring Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, Siduri Wines and ROAR Wines

What made this event stand out from other wine dinners I’ve attended was the interactive live cooking component. Attendees were encouraged to ask Chef Ellamar questions about everything from ingredients to technique. The Astronomer was tempted to ask Chef why he was cooking with Malibu. I had to keep my tipsy guest in check.

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Saarloos & Sons – Los Olivos

Saarloos & Sons - Los Olivos

Following a morning of split pea soup, Danish pancakes, and famished ostriches, The Astronomer and I made one final stop at Saarloos & Sons before departing home. While I love wine tasting, my tolerance is low for vineyards with snooty and intimidating atmospheres. I knew that Saarloos & Sons wouldn’t give me any trouble on that front because they’re well known for their hospitality and warmth, along with their exceptional wines. Plus, I’d heard that cupcake pairings were available with every wine flight. Clearly, this was my kind of tasting room.

Saarloos & Sons - Los Olivos

Saarloos & Sons is a family-run winery four generations in the making. The tasting room, which is located in a beautifully refurbished home in downtown Los Olivos, had a relaxed and airy feel to it. The lineup for the day included five different pours:

  • Mother – Grenache Blanc
  • Father – 100% Estate 2008 Syrah
  • 194VII – 100% Estate Cab/Syrah
  • Family – 2007 Bordeaux Style
  • Extended Family – Pinot, Santa Maria Valley

All of Saarloos & Sons’ wines are produced in small batches, with usually less than 400 cases of each. Every wine is given a name befitting its character and reflective of Saarloos family history. Much to our disappointment, the tasting did not include “In-Law” (Whole Cluster Pinot).

Saarloos & Sons - Los Olivos

Truth be told, I was a teensy bit more excited about the cupcake lineup by Enjoy Cupcakes. Baker and owner Amber Joy Vander Vliet changes the flight every week depending on the wines on offer. This afternoon’s selection included:

  • Chocolate Blackberry Syrah (Signature Treat) – Chocolate syrah cake, filled with dark chocolate fudge, topped with blackberry frosting and a syrah soaked blackberry that’s rolled in sugar
  • Meyer Lemon Chardonnay – Chardonnay cake, filled with meyer lemon curd, topped with lemon frosting and sugared lemon zest
  • Banana Churro – Vanilla cake, with a fried banana filling, topped with cinnamon frosting & homemade churro chip
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Honey – Chocolate cake, filled with honey mousse, topped with peanut butter frosting & creamed honey
  • Mud Pie – A buttery chocolate cookie crust under a chocolate cake, filled with whipped chocolate mousse, topped with vanilla Kahlua frosting & chocolate sauce
  • White Chocolate Macadamia Nut – Vanilla cake, filled with white chocolate mousse, topped with vanilla frosting, white chocolate & chopped macadamia nuts

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San Antonio Winery: Taste of the Americas

During a brief respite from traveling this September, The Gastronomer and I made our third visit to San Antonio Winery in downtown Los Angeles. Attending the winery’s events is becoming a monthly tradition for us, and it’s also becoming a tradition that I give The Gastronomer a rest by handling the blogging duties. She’s written enough about Mexican food in the past couple of months to last a lifetime.

September’s event at the winery was the “Taste of the Americas” wine and food festival. The setup was similar to Boutique Beer Tasting—the large crowd strolled through the main room sampling food and drinks from several buffet tables and wine stations and then retreated to tables set up throughout the expansive complex to relax and enjoy their selections.

The food offerings were similar to the last event—a bit too similar, I thought, although there were some interesting new choices. I liked the Argentinean empanadas, and The Gastronomer thought the Chilean baked clams and Paraguayan seven meat stew were excellent. The foamy papaya mousse from Chile made me feel like I’d taken a brief detour to a modern fine dining restaurant, although the flavor wasn’t particularly groundbreaking.

Perhaps the strangest dish of the afternoon was the Brazilian vatapa, prawns served in an intensely peanut-y coconut milk sauce. Although she generally gobbles up peanut butter cups and the like, The Gastronomer was really turned off by this particular combination of flavors.

My favorite dish was the Nicaraguan chicken fried rice. It looked unspectacular, but the flavors were really excellent. As with The Gastronomer’s own fried rice recipe, the crucial ingredient was the sausages. I was also excited for the chance to try chicharron (fried pork rinds). They were tasty, but so thick and hard that we could barely bite through them.

After witnessing the rapid depletion of the dessert table at the last San Antonio Winery event, The Gastronomer made sure to make it her first stop this time. She gave rave reviews to the Alfajores De Maicena (short bread and dulce de leche sandwich cookies). After a couple of trips through the entrée lines, I didn’t have much room left for dessert (I’ve always been more of a savories guy), but I did enjoy a chocolate covered strawberry and a couple of little cream-filled fruit tarts.

As I worked my way through the food options, I also began sampling the nine wines on offer, starting with the La Linda Torrontes (Torrontes are an Argentinean grape). I also tried a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a Mexican Chardonnay, but I was feeling rather uninspired to drink more—the nature of the food and the rambunctious environment made me yearn for a beer instead. Despite what Joshua Wesson tried to teach me with his peanut butter, I still only feel the urge to pair wines with certain foods, and the unrefined South and Central American dishes didn’t do it for me. Fortunately, none of the other attendees seemed to mind—booze was flowing freely, and two hours into the event our neighbors showed no sign of losing steam. The Gastronomer and I also sampled the homemade white and red sangria, both of which were delicious.

We hung around long enough to catch a musical performance and meet a kind fellow dressed in traditional Peruvian garb. He promised us a dance, but alas, we had to head out before it materialized. I’m sure those who stuck around were in for a treat.

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