Enjoying Delightful Favorites and Finding Surprising New Wineries
Learn About Wine is a great organization to help anyone learn more about … you guessed it … wine! Ian Blackburn heads it up and runs over 100 events every year on the subject – everything from “Intro to Wine” (So Cal’s #1 wine class) to an upcoming, I’m sure to-die-for, Domaine Romanee Conti (DRC) and Grand Cru’s of Burgundy Tasting at Melisse. Oh, how I want to go to that! Although the price is a bit steep for me, I’m sure it’s a phenomenal value … oh, and, did I mention I’ll blog/work for DRC?
Oh, sorry, I digress … back to my post.
Recently, I attended the Learn About Wine “Stars of Cabernet” Event held at the Peninsula Beverly Hills. One of the highlights was being able to talk with Justin Baldwin, Founder of one of my favorite wineries, JUSTIN. I’ve been a fan of his wines for a long time and this past Summer I was excited to see him at – an event moderated by Ian Blackburn.
There were other big name Cabernet stars there who never disappoint as well … Grgich for one (though I still struggle to pronounce their name) …
And Duckhorn …
The wine they sampled was almost 100% Cabernet with the winemaker notes giving hints as to why I typically enjoy their wines so much:
There’s a beautiful balance between depth and brightness, with oak-inspired layers of caramel [DeathbedFood!], chestnut and hazelnut complementing mouthwatering flavors of dark cherry, raspberry, red currant and strawberry.
But, I think the real joy was discovering some new wineries that I want to learn more about going forward.
Patland Estates was one of those surprises. I love their story. 25 years ago, Henry and Olga Patland (whom I met at this event) visited Napa for the first time and fell in love with the area visiting it often over the years until, in 2007, they purchased their vineyard property there. Though they are a newer winery, they’ve brought on big talent including Winemaker Jason Buoncristiani (formerly with Hess Collection) and wine grower Javier Renteria (formerly with Sterling Vineyards).
They had three wines to taste (’08 Red Blend, ’08 Cab, ’07 Cab) – all three were lovely. But what really struck me about their story was “The Coin” – nicely outlined on their website. One of the reasons the Patlands fell in love with their property was the plethora of pomegranate trees there as pomegranates in many cultures represent Good Luck. They then decided to integrate the pomegranate fruit into their wine label. Meantime, while traveling in Jerusalem in 2007, Henry found an antique coin with a representation of a pomegranate on it that was about 2,000 years old! They decided to buy the coin as a memento of that trip and emboss an image of the coin onto their wine label – thus tying their family history to the winery’s.
Cliff Lede – I love the fact that they have a “Poetry” Vineyard and that their signature wine is called “Poetry”. Located in the Stags Leap District of Napa, they have a solid terroir to start with. They sampled their 2008 Poetry Cabernet, with the tasting notes almost as enjoyable to read as the wine was to try:
Seductive aromas of raspberry mousse, violets, allspice and graphite emanate from the glass. The palate is a combination of power and finesse … While the wine offers pleasures now, patient cellaring will reveal even greater elegance.
In other words, there is no free lunch … good things come to those who wait!
Va Piano Vineyards – OK, I’m partial to the name as I’ve played the piano most of my life. I like how this Walla Walla, WA husband and wife team adopted an Italian saying from their time in Tuscany to become their approach to winemaking:
Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano (which means: He who goes slowly, goes safely and goes far)
For a comprehensive event review of all the wineries there, I like Randy Fuller’s Now and Zin recap the best … wow, he tasted a lot 🙂
Overall, I enjoyed the event a lot. Perhaps the one thing I’d modify would be to add food to the tasting. Cabs can have a very heavy, tanniny feel and are generally best when paired with food. That said, I enjoyed seeing old favorites and finding new wineries to follow so I’m looking forward to my next Learn About Wine event hopefully sometime soon (Mmmmelisse? Mmmmmaybe?)