Taste of Wine and Food officially kicked off their 2019 Paso Robles Press Tour at Allegretto Vineyard Resort tasting room conveniently where we are staying. Tasting Room server Carly Johnson was kind enough to take us through the line up of their Estate White Wines including the Brut Sparkling, Viognier, and Rose Tannat. Especially interesting was the Rose Tannat, very unique seeing a Rose made from this structured grape. Added great body and boldness to a Rose-nicely done!
Next we moved onto the Red Wines and an extra. These included the Double Gold SF Chronicle Tannat known for tannins and structure. It is blended with 10% Cab Sauv to soften this dry, earthy medium bodied beauty. Allegretto makes a 2nd Tannat with juice from Bella Colina. Being just 5 miles west, it is softer based on the micro climate in it’s terroir that sees some marine layer being closer to the ocean, over 11 microclimates in Paso we learned from Carly and over 40 grape varietals. Next we enjoyed the sole year 2013 Zin, then 2014 Willow Creek Estate Cab Sauv from Mr. Doug Ayers (owner) house vineyard, fruit forward with blackberries and some peppercorn in this first vintage Bordeaux blend. Next we had the library 2010 Cab Sauv from Sharps Hill vineyard with nose of black tea, tobacco, and spice and dark fruit flavor. The tannins were able to soften to a velvet smooth finish on this 2010. Carly also let us taste the soon to be released 2015 Malbec (in July) that flanks the entrance to the resort. Good reason why all other vintages 2014 and earlier are all sold out.
Thank you Allegretto and Carly for a great kick off for our Paso tour!
An EXCECPTIONAL PAON Carlsbad Paul Hobbs Wine Dinner with speaker Matt Hobbs, Paul’s brother, narrating the evening beginning with a 2016 Crossbarn Chardonnay and tray passed Amuse Bouche (salmon, tuna, puff pastry, and cucumber mini delicacies). Dinner started with Potato Leek Vichyssoise paired with a 2015 Richard Vineyard Chardonnay. Compared to Crossbarn’s crisp taste from stainless steel aging with malolactic fermentation, the Richard Chardonnay had more depth based on French Oak aging. A great contrast with both being perfect for their courses. The second course featured a Pan Roasted Sea Bass with organic vegetables, roasted fingerling potatoes, and a red wine reduction sauce complemented with a 2016 Estate Grown Russian River Pinot Noir with cherry and blackberry notes, firm tannins, and cola hints as well as a 2016 Pinot Noir sourced from Hyde Vineyard. This second Pinot had a bit more depth with black fruits and cherry, perfect as we got further into the meal. The third course was a mouth-watering, on-the-bone New Zealand Venison shank with roasted turnips, rhubarb compote, and Spatzele paired with a third Pinot Noir, a 2013 Paul Hobbs Lindsay Vineyard with 3 years more age promoting extra depth and silky smoothness with cherry, mocha, earth and baking spices features. This was followed with a 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with depth and complexity featuring cassis balanced with boysenberry notes. Desert was an Arborio Rice Pudding with fruits and raspberry coulis and a marriage proposal that contributed to the EXCEPTIONAL evening - Congrats to Glenn Zacher and Tricia Hopper. Following the PAON Carlsbad Paul Hobbs Wine Dinner festivities, Senior Editor Frank and Tech Director Rico were introduced to Paul Hobbs Armenian wines. Was great learning about the history of their effort from Matt Hobbs as he explained that Armenia is where wine was thought to have originated from over 6,000 years ago. Paul Hobbs’ passion and curiosity lead to the initial Paul Hobbs-Yacoubian family journey effort that began several years ago with a goal of creating a compelling niche wine. We sampled the 2015 Yacoubian-Hobbs Dry Areni and 2015 Yacoubian- Hobbs Sarpina both with notes of red cherries, raspberries, red currants, and dried fruits, the former having stronger structure and tannins and Sarpina having softer tannins with hints of chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. Was exciting to enjoy wines from the genesis of wine makers over 6,000 years ago! From the Paul Hobbs Winery website – “With their local team, Paul and the Yacoubians are growing and crafting wines that confirm Armenia’s part not only in the ancient history of winemaking, but in its very relevant present and future amongst the great wine regions of the world.”
Looking for dinner after #delmarraces check out #ilfornaiodelmar Campania menu, part of the Festa Regionale, for a taste of Naple’s Almafi coast running 6-19 August. Senior Editor, Frank, and Tech Director, Rico, were able to try much of the menu starting with Pummarole e Capri (Caprese) - chopped heirloom tomatoes and a melt in your mouth creamy buffalo mozzarella paired with a 2016 Falanghina having notes of banana on the front and peaches on the back palate. Next was Gatto alla Napulitana, a 5-star flavor explosion - mashed potato cake binding deli meats and cheeses baked in the oven. MULTI BENE! Paired with an Aglianico-based Rose. Be on the lookout for #tasteofwineandfoodcolumn in the next several weeks featuring Roses. We next shifted over to pasta e risotto starting with Strangularaprievete e Surriento - long gnocchi that was named for causing a priest to chock on the longer shaped pasta size with mozzarella and tomato sauce baked in the oven and Risotto Amalfi, packed with shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari, and roasted peppers. Both were paired with a Fiano-Greco white blend having mineral and full-bodied notes. For secondi, we had Spigula Dinto o Cuoppo (Branzino-sea bass) baked in parchment paper to keep the moistness of the fish and bake in the shrimp, mussel, and clams flavor served with fresh green peas sautéed with pancetta. Really liked the pancetta flavoring in the peas. And the Scalupppine a Salernitana – veal sautéed with San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella con marinated egg plant and roasted Yukon potatoes. This was paired with a 2015 Terredoa di Paolo Aglianico ($14). Great cherry notes on the nose with deep red color along with pepper and cacao on the back palate. Very tasty at $14! We also mustered up enough appetite to have the Delizia al Limone – lemon sponge cake with a light and airy lemon pastry cream. Thank you Asst GM Walter for a great evening and sharing your commentary on the delicious wines and food, Devon for being a great and attentive server, and Tally for a warm hostess welcome. Look forward to coming back to Il Fornaio soon. #ricotowaf#franktowaf#delmar#ilfornaio#ilfornaiodelmar
Maestoso is Pure Food Passion – Co-owners Michelin-trained Executive Chef Marco Maestoso and Director of Business Operations Dalila Ercolani have created a unique Italian food experience in Hillcrest. Maestoso’s features Pinza (Pizza) ($17), La Pasta ($17), and Home Staples ($9-28) and a Passaggi cart pushed around by one of six other chefs as well as an extensive Italian wine list with many by the glass options (Red, White, and Rose). The chef manned Passaggi cart offers small plates (~$7) with ~9 weekly staples and ~5 daily specials in lieu of appetizers. The rotating Passaggi menu items allow the mastermind chefs to keep their creative juices flowing.
One can set at the chef’s bar and watch food come alive. A highlight was watching Chef Marco make a pinza or hand cooking a duck breast with torch. Speaking of pinzas, their dough consists of 17 grains imported from Rome, hand mixed with rice flour and finished in semolina and is leavened for 100 hours resulting in an airy, light, and crunchy crust. The extended leavening prevents bloating after eating pizza.
Frank and Rico enjoyed a La Mortazza pinza featuring mortadella and tomato medley and Melanzana di Casa pinza with eggplant. We then had Tagliatelle with house tomato sauce, sundried tomato emulsion, and cherry tomato tartare and Strozzapreti con braised oxtail, diced mirepoix, wine and confit tomato stock, and bitter cocoa. The handmade pastas perfectly cooked al dente style were just as impressive as the pinzas. Next, the Risotto Milanese with saffron, fork split veal ossobuco, and a red wine demi-glaze and a Passaggi plate of coffee-rubbed beef carpaccio with blue cheese, onions, and capers. Dinner concluded with Pancetta in an Italian meringue hand torched with lemon glaze and Guanciale (pork cheek). It looked like a perfect sunny side up egg with bacon crumbles but instead an amazing pancetta. Our evening was paired with Symphae Monferrato and Pedres Vermentino white wines and Batasiolo Barbera and a Cascina Langhe Nebbiolo red wines. Thank you Chef Marco and Dalila for an amazing evening of passion and excellence. #tasteofwineandfood#franktowaf#ricotowaf#hillcrest#sandiego#maestoso
Jordan 2016 Chardonnay and 2010, 2012, and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignons
Taste of Wine and Food ended our Napa press at Jordan Winery. Lisa Mattson, Director of Marketing and Communications and Claire Smith, Guest Services Manager, greeted us with the 2012 Brut Ar Lenoble. This Brut has only been in production for 2 years. It has soft notes of apple and pear and a hint of citrus. After our bubbles, we met with winemaker, Rob Davis, for a cavier and cheese pairing with the 2016 Chardonnay and 2010, 2012, and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignons. Rob's passion for winemaking was obvious. We love being around passionate winemakers - always a wealth of knowledge. Under his guidance, Jordan produces wines in a burgundy format with lower alcohol at 3 to 4 tons per acre vs many vineyards that shoot for 7 or more tons per acre. This produces minerality without bitterness. All grapes are hand picked at night for best results. The Cabs were all Alexander Valley with blackberry and black cherry notes aged in primarily French Oak for maximum tannin extraction. Rob's favorite was the 2012 and TOWAF agreed. Jordan's goal is soft and silky reds based on 85% of wine being consumed within 2 hours of purchase. Rob was also a big fan of magnums. He said that there can be a large difference in taste based on the different air to wine ratio in the bottle. Additionally the Jordan Magnums are delayed for two years further allowing the wine to soften and use more American oak (about 30%). A great way to end our press tour. Thank you Rob, Lisa, and Claire! #tasteofwineandfood#ricotowaf#franktowaf#jordanwinery#napavalley #alexandervalley
Tom Walsh, VIP Tour Program Director, explaining Silver Oak's fruit and processes
The last day of our 4 day wine tour, Taste of Wine and Food (TOWAF), was able to visit Silver Oak Napa Valley and were in the great hands of Tom Walsh, VIP Tour Program Manager. Tom is a wealth of knowledge and knows everything about Silver Oak. He mentioned that Silver Oak is special wine for special occasions and I could not agree more. Their Cabernet Sauvignons made them legendary. The 2013 (current) vintage comes from either Alexander Valley or Napa Valley. Both are aged for 2 years in the barrel. Silver Oak is fairly unique in that they blend the wine and then age in American Oak only with pumping every 3 months, whereas, most wineries age in French Oak and then blend. Keep up the great work Nate Weis (the 3rd wine maker in Silver Oak's 42 year history). Their two Cab Savs 2013, Alexander Valley ($75) 15 months in the bottle and Napa Valley ($125) 24 months in the bottle, both benefit from Silver Oak's berry sensory analysis that includes 8 tests - TOWAF sampled both. Of note is Silver Oak's commitment to the environment. They are rated a Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the 1st in the world. Throughout the property one saw solar panels and learned about how they conserve water to be good stewards of the environment. In addition to the 2013 Cab Savs, Tom spoiled us with a library 2007 Napa Valley Cab Sav. Tom noted that Silver Oak's goal is to achieve 14% or less alcohol so that the wines are smooth when released, but equally good if not better when laid down. Great visit and wines!
2008 Caymus Special Collection Cab Sav, 2014 Caymus Special Collection Cab Sav, 2016 Caymus Cab Sav (left to right)
Small Details Make Amazing Wine - Chuck Wagner has been making Caymus wine for over 45 years. Today Caymus is joined by Conundrum, Emmolo, Mer Soleil, and Red Schooner as the Wagner Family of Wines collection. Chuck's children Charlie and Jenny are heavily involved in the family's winemaking. Charlie produces Mer Soleil and is the Director of Winemaking for the Conundrum line that includes Conundrum White, Red, Sparkling and Rosé. He is also the creator of Red Schooner, a rich, dark Malbec made from grapes grown in the Andes Mountains (Argentina), shipped chilled to Napa Valley and produced in the same style as Caymus. Jenny is winemaker for Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot grown in Napa Valley. A highlight of Taste of Wine and Food's visit was us speaking with Jenny Wagner and Susan Orenstein, Head of Communications. I was amazed by Jenny's love, passion, and detail for wine making which included hand brushing the Sauvignon Blanc to decluster for the perfect number and quality for each cluster. IMPRESSIVE and is what makes Wagner Family Wines so exceptional and was reflected in the reserve 2015 "Plumerai" Sauvignon Blanc sampled with notes of melon. Quantity is limited so get it while you can! We also got to sample the 2015 Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay with Santa Barbara grown fruit. Picking based on acid vs sugar levels (BRIX) results in the wine's crispness as well as the 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir sourced at Santa Lucia Highlands known for gradual ripening of the grapes allowing strong structure, amora, and flavors. We ended our visit with Caymus Cabenet Sauvignon that included the 2016 Napa Valley, 2014 Napa Valley Special Collection, and a library 2008 Napa Valley Special Collection. It was a special treat to experience these three exceptional wines and savor the subtle changes from year to year wine making and mellowing of tannins on the 2008. All three had Caymus' signature dark fruit and cocoa influence.
Dario Sattui expanded his European influence when he designed and built Castello di Amarosa almost 20 years ago. Every detail, nook, and cranny benefits from Dario's attention to detail. Michala Jeberg, PR & Marketing manager, provided a tour of the Castello ending at the tasting room where we met with Winemaker, Peter Velleno. Like V Sattui, Castello has a tasty Rose, the 2017 Rosato Morning Dew Ranch, but is made with Pinot Noir vs Sattui's Sangiovese. We also enjoyed the 2016 Chardonnay aged in 100% new French Oak barrel with 43% undergoing malolactic fermentation, the single Voyager Vineyard, 2014 Sangiovese dark in nature with cherry, baking spice, and dark fruit hints and the flagship, limited production 2014 Il Barone Cabernet Sauvignon, mostly sourced from Rutherford along with 7% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot for rich color. The Il Barone is flavorful, structured, and pairs well with grilled red meats. Our tasting finished with the Anderson Valley 2016 Gewurztraminer Late Harvest with notes of clove, rose petal, and honey pairing well with chocolate, baked fruits, and artisanal cheeses. Great tour and wines!