A Winemaker Lunch at Opera Tavern
Antonelli San Marco
Filippo Antonelli, the owner
of Antonelli San Marco, hosted a lunch at Opera Tavern on Sunday 21st
May. The event was a seven course feast, each course had a carefully selected
wine paired with it with Filippo talking about his wines and the history and
philosophy of the estate. Also Filippo has kindly brought two old vintages from
his own cellar to share with guests.
Food and wine
with peas, summer truffle and Norcia ham
Wine: 2011 Grechetto dei Colli Martani DOC
fava beans and fresh basil puree, crispy free-range egg yolk
Wine: 2010 Trebbiano
Spoletino Umbria IGT
Baked fresh water
trout with spiced Umbrian lentils, cime de rapa and almond praline
Wine: 2008 Montefalco
pasta/gnocci with summer truffles
Wine: 2008 Contrario
with catellucio spiced lentils, vin santo, slow cooked fennel and morels
Wine: 2006 Sagrantino de Montefalco & 2005 Chiusa Di
Grilled lamb neck
with braised tongue, farro, artichokes and sheep’s curd
Wine: 1999 Sagrantino de Montefalco & 1988 Sagrantino
Hazelnut cake with extra virgin olive oil ice cream
Wine: Passito de
The estate is mentioned in
several medieval documents, in which San Marco de Corticellis is described as a
Longobard cohort and one of the territories most suited for the cultivation of
vines and olives.
From the 13th to
the 19th century the property belonged to the bishopric of Spoleto.
In fact the current boundaries are practically the same as those described in a
13th century document currently preserved in the Bishop’s Archive.
In 1881 it was bought by Francesco Antonelli, a lawyer from Spoleto.
The Estate, Organic farming
The property extends over an
entire 170 hectare portion of land located in the centre of the Montefalco DOCG
region. Surrounded by woodlands, the hilly area is an ideal microclimate for
vineyards and olive groves. The cellar is located in the heart of the estate,
below the manor house. The wines are made exclusively from the estate’s
organically grown grapes in order to offer a product whose potential,
characteristics and quality can be controlled and evaluated at every phase of
The estate also offers a
cooking school Cucina in Cantina, courses in Umbrian cuisine, masterclasses
with known Italian chefs, wine tasting and guided tours of the historic estate.
I'm happy to be working with Peter Mitchell MW, Business Delopment Director who has been helping me with my Diploma and my personal devolopment within the company.
Having started training as an accountant, Peter very sensibly dropped that when he discovered wine. Starting in the trade in 1994, he has been with Laytons since 2001 and became an MW in 2007.
I was asked the other day to recommend a wine for someone's 40th birthday and this got me thinking about birth year wines. If you are as unfortunate as I am (1972 since you ask), then the choices are limited, although DRC made passable burgundies and Tokaji was superb. For my father's 70th and 80th, I was fortunate to be able to raid 1929, arguably the finest Bordeaux vintage of the 20th century and still drinking well, as I can testify!
2011 is quite a good year to have a notable birthday, as long as you are not over 50. For those who are 21, 1990 was one of the planet's best vintages and is superb almost everywhere. If you are 30, the options are less good, but 1981 made for good Bordeaux (especially Pomerol), splendid Alsace wines, a good Rioja vintage and fine Tokaji. 40 years old and in 1971 you have one of Germany's greatest ever vintages, with fantastic late harvest rieslings, or for those who prefer muscle, Piedmont produced legendary Barolos and Barbarescos, whilst Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie are superb. 1961 offers a truly masterful Bordeaux vintage and a great one in the Northern Rhône and Barolo, though little elsewhere.
Sadly, if you are looking for a 60th or 70th present, I would suggest a single vintage whisky, as 1951 produced appalling wines everywhere (with the exception of very rarely seen California Cabernet) - possibly the 20th century's worst vintage, whilst the wartime vintage of 1941 was not much better. 1931 was mostly rubbish also, with one exception, Noval port (the only shipper who declared 1931), which Michael Broadbent describes as the Everest of Ports!
Always remember though, there are no old great wines, just great bottles of old wine. How well it has been stored and the health of the cork are paramount.
Also, a salient lesson in vintage generalisations. One of the finest burgundies I have ever drunk was 1946 Bonnes Mares from Roumier, drunk at 50 years old. This is not a vintage of great repute, but it was a truly great wine!
For those of you interested in what to buy for someone special, or what to squirrel away from your birth year, see below for some suggestions!
1941 - Nothing worth bothering with now...Red Bordeaux is your best bet.
1942 - Not much better than '41. Cote de Nuits can still be good, as is Vega
1943 - Good for red Bordeaux, but very tired now.
1944 - Sauternes is your only hope.
1945 - Magnificent for all Bordeaux - even the dry whites can still be excellent.
Superb in Burgundy and the Rhône. Sweet Loire and Alsace still great, as
are the (very rare) Germans. Barolo is great, as is Port.
1946 - If you must, red Bordeaux is your only hope.
1947 - Legendary Bordeaux vintage, very fine in Burgundy and the Rhone. The
greatest in living memory for sweet Loire. Sweet Alsace and Germany still
fine, Tokaji legendary. Outstanding Chianti.
1948 - Top Bordeaux can still be good, but your best bet is Rioja Gran Reserva or
1949 - Marvellous for all Bordeaux, Sauternes still at their peak. Very fine in
Burgundy. Outstanding in the Rhône and Germany. Sweet Alsace and
Loire still fine.
1950 - Sauternes is the only hope, but these are very tired now.
1951 - Terrible across all of Europe (except, by repute, La Tache). California
Cabernet was very fine and the best might still be drinking.
1952 - Probably best to steer clear of Bordeaux (although some are still going).
Red Burgundy can be ok. Hermitage and Châteauneuf are great, as are
Tokaji, Barolo and Rioja.
1953 - Bordeaux was great and they still are (especially Sauternes). Burgundy
great, but mostly past it now. Cote Rotie, Richer German styles and Vega
Sicilia all superb.
1954 - The only hope is Port, of which only 3 shippers declared.
1955 - Charming Bordeaux, but only the best survive. Sauternes are magical.
Great Rioja vintage. Burgundy and the Rhône were good, a bit risky now.
Port was superb, though now quite spirity.
1956 - Like '51, California Cabernet is your only hope.
1957 - Tokaji and Vega Sicilia magnificent. Sauternes and red Burgundy, whilst
never great, can offer surprises.
1958 - Barolo, California Cabernet.
1959 - As good in Bordeaux as the '61s and often cheaper. Still magnificent.
Sauternes are great, as are Burgundies. Top class Rhône, Loire and Alsace
and one of Germany's finest ever vintages. Perfection in Tokaji and in
1960 - Dismal everywhere, with the exception of Port and Vega Sicilia, which are
still drinking well.
1961 - Rightly famous for Bordeaux. Along with '29 and '45 the best of the
century. Not great for Sauternes or Burgundy. One of the top 2 or 3
vintages for the Northern Rhone and still magnificent. Fine in Alsace and
1962 - Very good for Bordeaux red and white and overshadowed by '61.
Burgundy still fine as can be Rioja.
1963 - A really splendid vintage for Port and for Tokaji. Utterly forgettable
1964 - Red Bordeaux and red Burgundy still very good. Rhône superb still. Sweet
Loire and Alsace fine. Barolo, Brunello and Chianti all great, as was Rioja.
1965 - Dreadful throughout Europe. A top class vintage for California Cabernet.
1966 - Fine red Bordeaux. Excellent Burgundy. Top class Rhône and Vega Sicilia.
A great Port vintage, delicious now. Top Australian Shiraz still fine.
1967 - Legendary Sauternes, especially Suduiraut and Yquem. Fine Châteauneuf
and sweet Alsace. Also Brunello and Chianti.
1968 - Tokaji, Chianti, Rioja, California Cabernet.
1969 - Red Burgundy are some of the best. Côte Rôtie also majestic.
1970 - Fine but massively constituted red Bordeaux. Excellent in the Rhône
(especially Châteauneuf). Barolo. Torres Gran Coronas. Port
1971 - Germany. Otherwise, Barolo, Hermitage or Côte Rôtie. Pomerol and
St. Emilion can still be good.
1972 - Tokaji. Red Burgundy from DRC.
1973 - A dismal year. Best bet is California Cabernet or the best German Eiswein.
1974 - Nearly as bad as '73. Saved by California's (arguably) greatest ever
vintage. Barolo still good.
1975 - Once believed to be great for Bordeaux, the best are excellent, but most
are tannic shells. A brilliant Sauternes vintage. Excellent Rioja, still going
strong. Great in Australia. Good Ports.
1976 - Red and sweet Loire. Splendid in Alsace and Germany.
1977 - A legend in Port. Utterly forgettable everywhere else.
1978 - One of THE great vintages for Burgundy (red & white and the best still
superb) and for the Rhône. Chave Hermitage is barely ready yet and will
last another 20 years or more. Barolo and Brunello both at their peak.
1979 - Not a great vintage anywhere. Northern Rhône can still be good. Top
The 1980's (& 1990/1)
1980 - Disastrous in Europe. California and S. Australia Cabernet were fine. Good
1981 - Sauternes and Pomerols good and holding on. Alsace sweet wines. Great
vintage in Navarra.
1982 - Legendary Red Bordeaux. Very fine Rhône. Barolo and Barbaresco still
developing. Brilliant across Spain (top Riojas are still developing). A
legend in all of Australia. Top Cabernets barely at their peak. The best
Champagnes are perfect now.
1983 - Good Bordeaux now fading (with the exception of the best of Margaux).
Great Sauternes with life ahead. Great Rhône, especially Châteauneuf.
Alsace and Germany both very fine, Tokaji brilliant. Chianti and S. African
Cabernet both still drinking well. Some excellent Port.
1984 - Poor the world over. The only hope are the better Australian reds.
1985 - What choice! Beautiful Bordeaux vintage that will keep. Great Red Rhône,
also for long life. Some fine Burgundies. Sweet Loire and Alsace still
improving. Fabulous throughout Italy. One of California's greatest years.
Top class Champagne. Really fine Port.
1986 - Very long lived Bordeaux, but only go for top growths. Very good red and
excellent white Burgundy. One of the great Australian vintages.
1987 - Rioja. Reds from Penedes. Australian Cabernet and Shiraz.
1988 - Good Bordeaux vintage that is mostly still not ready. Fine Sauternes.
Excellent red Burgundy. Rhône and Loire reds fine and perfect now. Alsace
and Germany both made fine sweeter styles. Champagne was superb.
1989 - Take your pick in France. Everywhere excellent. Great German wines.
Barolo and Barbaresco fine.
1990 - Universally the best vintage on record. Take your pick, every wine region
enjoyed this year.
1991 - Rioja good. Western Australia and Victoria are superb. A legendary Port
Simone Sylvestre, a member of the Laytons sales team was delighted to attend the recent ‘Fine Wine v Beer’ dinner event at the White Swan in Chancery Lane, hosted by Paulo Brammer, ETM Group’s Head Sommelier.
All guests were served a delicious five course menu, with a glass of fine wine, specially selected by Simone, plus a beer chosen by Ben McFarland, beer connoisseur and co-owner of Dwink.
The night was fun and made people think and question ‘Does beer match food as well as wine?’
Over recent decades, wine has been considered the drink of choice, and many of us automatically reach for a bottle of wine when dining, rather than exploring other avenues. However, increasingly, brewers and beer writers are recommending beer as an accompaniment to food, and, it is starting to find a place at restaurant tables, as people discover what a delicious, and versatile, partner it is. The variety of flavours derived from different hop strains and ingredients are able to contrast and complement a range of tastes and dishes.
The results from the tasting are below, and at the end of the evening a winner was announced!
Menu and scores
Grilled English asparagus, duck egg, keta and lardo
Blue Moon Wheat, USA (YES)
N.V Dominio De La Vega, Cava Brut, Utiel-Requena (NO)
Seared scallops, smoked aubergine, preserved lemon and coriander
Samuel Smith, Organic Lager, North Yorkshire, England (NO)
Terradora di Paolo, Grecco di Tufo Loggia, della Serra 2009 (YES)
Roast English veal rump and sweetbread, dandelion, basil and olives
Oakham Citra Pale Ale, Peterborough, England (YES)
Amy's, Moss Woods, Margaret River, Australia 2008 (NO)
Montgomery, rhubarb chutney, buttermilk crackers
BrewDog, 5am Saint Amber Ale, Scotland (NO)
Quinta das Cerejeiras, Lisboa 2008 (YES)
Bitter chocolate tart, star anise ice cream
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil, Ochil Hills, Scotland (NO)
Pedro Ximenez, La Gitana (YES)
The winner was: WINE!
During the tasting it was clear that wine was a better match with food, but everybody agreed that beer was good as an aperitif and digestive.
As stockists of both the 2005 Classic Cuvée and 2001 Premiere Cuvée, Blanc de Blancs, the Laytons sales team were pleased to accept an invitation to visit the prestigious Nyetimber Estate for a tour of the vineyards and wine tasting.
Nyetimber is now the largest vineyard in the UK with 438 acres under vine, and, is the only producer to solely make premium sparkling wine exclusively from estate grown fruit, thus ensuring complete control at every stage of the process. Located in the south of England, in the picturesque village of Pulborough, it shares similar geology and soils to the Champagne region, and the classic Champagne varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are ideally suited to chalk terroir.
After a short train journey from Waterloo, the team arrived at Pulborough station, and were welcomed by Dave Roles, Sales Director at Nyetimber. The tour then commenced, with David providing some very interesting facts about the viticulture, with an opportunity to visit the main vineyard and see the vines and terroir. It was a rare treat to be in the heart of the Sussex countryside visiting vineyards, yet only 1 hour away from London!
Having spent some time in Champagne, Michael Robins observed that these beautifully managed vineyards were very similar in appearance to those in the French region, with the only difference being the obvious English accent!
The team were impressed by the very ambitious plans for Nyetimber, and how the estate perceives itself in the UK market. It was refreshing to see such drive from a UK winery. This was reinforced with the news of the technological leap in equipment that has recently been purchased for the new winery in Crawley that has even had the champenois beating the path to the door of winemaker Cherie Spriggs.
The tasting took place in the old winery, an impressive building site due to the careful and considerate renovation work that owner Eric Heerema has been undertaking for several years on the main original Tudor house, to restore the buildings and lakes to their magnificent past glories.
The team finally indulged in a tasting of the current vintage of the Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, plus a host of other cuvées and vintages, finishing with a real treat in the original and famed 1992 vintage.
It was a great tasting which showed exceptional breadth and ability of the wines to remain vital and exciting. These are the very best of what this country can produce and a contender to be the finest sparkling wine in the world.
Maceration by human foot brings out the full concentration of flavour from the grape skin, from which it draws a deeper colour. Port production, unlike table wine, has only a three day production cycle, giving little time to extract the maximum colour and flavour!
Vinitur is a pioneer and expert in wine & food travel in Portugal. I have been invited by Joao Marinho Falcao who is the Director of Vinitur to visit Porto, Douro and Vinho Verde.
I have spent 4 days .... all organised by Vinitur. Established in 1998, is a DMC/Incoming Tour Operator specializing in a full range of superior quality programs for corporate events, wine & food travel.
If you wish to visit Portugal one day please contact Vinitur, they will book visits, travels and dinners....It was a unforgettable experience for me!
My first visit was to the Port and Douro Wines Institute (IVDP) where I have been hosted by Paulo Pinto.
Their mission is guarantee an image of international prestige for the Port and Douro Appellations of Origin (AO)
After my visit to the Institute I have met Joao Marinho Falcao (Vinitur) for a dinner at Foz Velha Restaurant, owned by Chef Marco Gomes www.fozvelha.com
I had a delicious meal ... Chef Marco was present in each course that I have had, explaining the flavours and origem from each dish....AMAZING!
Joao M. Falcao & Chef Marco
Visit to the Symington Group - Graham's Caves, hosted by Joao Vasconcelos.
The history of W & J Graham's spans three centuries and throughout that time this acclaimed Port producer has remained an independent family business. The story of Graham's is the story of two families, both of Scottish origin - the Grahams and the Symingtons - whose commitment to the making of exceptional wines has earned for Graham's a reputation as a leader in the production of the finest Vintage Ports.
Visit to Taylor's Group, Fonseca Caves, hosted by Chris Forbes.
Taylor's is now over three hundred years old. It remains a family firm, owned still by relations of the original partners.
Chris also gave a book: Port & Cigar Guide (I loved it.... you must try it
After the two visits in Vila Nova de Gaia, I got the train to Pinhao where I have visited Quinta do Portal
QUINTA DO PORTAL..... MY FAVORITE PLACE INDEED....
I have arrived at Pinhao station at 5.50pm. Manuel Ferreira who is the Manager of Turism for the Quinta do Portal was waiting for me at the station... from there we went to Quinta do Portal where I had a appoitment with the winemaker Paulo Coutinho.
After a quick tour to the Quinta ... the tasting started .... had a pleasure to have a tasting together and discuss about each wine and winemaking.
Manuel Ferreira and Paulo Coutinho
After our wine tasting we had dinner (Food & Wine Matching) where I have the opportunity to see Paulo's passion for food, he gives the necessary importance for the flavours and textures of food, he listened my opinions .... at the end we ended up trying more wines that we expected hahahaha!
Quinta do Portal www.quintadoportal.com has embraced wine & turism. Casa das Pipas (where I stayed for one night) is located at Quinta do Portal on the Pinhao River Valley, surrounded by a famous landscape of vineyards.
Quinta do Portal is a place that I recommend, if you go to Pinhao you MUST VISIT QUINTA DO PORTAL.
Casa das Pipas
Breakfast at Casa das Pipas, Quinta do Portal.
9.00am left Quinta do Portal by taxi and went to Quinta Vale Dona Maria
Quinta Vale Dona Maria is located in the Rio Torto Valley, in the heart of the Douro Demarcated Region, has incredible potential of great wines!
After my visit we went to have lunch in the guest house where I have met the winemarkers and owner...the women leader the house hahahaha
Quinta do Vallado
2.50pm visit to Quinta do Vallado, hosted by Francisco Ferreira. Established in 1716, is one of the oldest and most famous Quintas in the Douro Valley, still belongs to the family descendants.
Quinta do Mourao
5.00pm visit to Quinta do Mourao, hosted by the owner Miguel Braga.
Producer of great Douro red wines and Old Port Tawnies, they have created their own Ports brand and they conserve in cask a valuable stock of rich matured rare wines that Miguel supplies to some of the most renowned commercial brands of Port to be ythe base of blends for 10, 20, 30 and 40 years old tawnies!
Tasting with Bolinho de Bacalhau....delicioussssss!
Quinta do Soalheiro
10.30am visit to Quinta do Soalheiro, located in Melgaco in northen Portugal, just facing the border with Spain. The family started bottling the first Alvarinho, the terroir is perfect for the Alvarinho grape, Soalheiro is one of the top white wines in Portugal.
Today the winery has oenological equipments that allows control of vinification.
Soalheiro has been nominated as Producer of the Year 2009 by Revista dos Vinhos and Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho Primeiras Vinhas 2006 gained 90 points by Robert Parker
THANK YOU VINITUR!!!
France - Burgundy
Vosne-Romanee is a commune rich in grand cru climats, and a village replete with growers of the higfhest quality
The whole of the Burgundy vineyards, producing controlled appellation wines (A.O.C) is officially described as Viticultural Burgundy which was defined by a judgment of the Civil Tribunal of Dijon on the 29th April 1930.
Domaine Anne Gros Vineyards: TERROIRS
Harvesting for Anne Gros....
First Day: Bourgogne Rouge
I cut my finger twice in the first 20 minutes of harvesting.... apart from that ..... it was great, a bit cold in the morning. We have started at 8am, lunch at 12pm for two hours...back at 2pm until 6pm.
Second Day: Clos Vougeot GRAND CRU
It was planted in 1905. In reality, the regularity of replanting makes the average age of the parcel 50 years old.
Photo below: Jean Francois (Belgium) and Cynthia Jenson (English), the kindest people i the crew... we had a great time together.
Cynthia has a blog http://2008harvest.lucinthiadesigns.co.uk/blog where she writes her experience during her travels and harvests...she is wonderful... so much passion and knowledge, treats wine with so much respect, loved it!!
Third Day: Richebourg GRAND CRU
it's a name that evokes richness, even a certain heaviness... which sometimes can be attributed to the confusion some people have.
Dinner at Domaine Anne Gros:
Madame Gros, Cynthia, Patrick and Pascal
Nuits Saint Georges vineyards:
My beautiful and sexy Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir: No other wine conjures up poetic descriptions like pinot noir.... no other wine forges as direct a path to the sou (Drawing by Peter and Maria Hoey) . If a wine could make a person cry, it would have to be a pinot noir. A wine like this is bound to have a pretty big mystique, and pinot noir wears its like a rap star wears gold. It's a femme fatale. It's a temperamental artist. It's very sensitive.
I love Pinot Noir ....the most perfect grape in the world.... elegant and delicate!!!
The PINOT NOIR is tattooed on my arm and also on my SOUL :)
"Wine to me is passion...I know that wine is, above all else, a blessing, a gift of nature, a joy as pure and elemental as the soil and vines and sunshine from which it springs."
Robert Mondavi (born 1913) has brought prestige to American wines and helped to popularize wine drinking across the nation. Since opening his own vineyard in 1966, he has seen California's Napa Valley develop into one of the finest wine-making regions in the world
Robert Mondavi Vineyards.....
Special thank - you for Cakebread Cellars!!!
I have a very special THANK YOU for Cakebread Team. Cakebread Cellars is a Family Tradition of Premium Napa Valley Wines for more than 30 years.
Dennis Cakebread gave me the oportunity to work at their winery, joy cooking classes and also staying at their guest house for 4 days!
First Day, Saturday 22nd August:
I joyned the cooking class at Cakebread with the Resident Chefs Brian Streeter, Chef Thomas Sixsmith and 18 consumers for the Tomato Cooking Class! The class started at 10am with a comparison tasting of heirloom tomatoes from Dolores ¾ - acre garden and their local farmer’s market. They created a whole menu highlighting this summer favorite in all its seasonal glory.
The Cakebread family has always believed that wine and food belong together. To honour this belief, their resident chefs have designed a schedule of hands-on cooking classes throughout the year which are open to the public.
Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Fennel Marmalade
Vietnamese Shrimp Fritters and Green Zebra Tomatoes with Thai Chili Sauce
Grilled Pizzas with Brandywine Tomatoes, Black Olive Tapenade and Marjoram
Strawberry Gazpacho with Avocado
2008 Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Cakebread Cellars Zinfandel
Lasagne with Summer Squash, Sheep’s Milk Ricotta, Golden Tomato Sauce and Cherry Tomatoes
2007 Cakebread Cellars Anderson Valley Chardonnay
Spanish Chicken with Prawns, Clams and Chorizo
2006 Cakebread Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Tomato Syrup and Honey Madelines
Which group of 3 prepared one dish and I have preapared the dessert . Brian and Thomas have helped me with the whole dish. They were very kindly and wonderful professional Chefs. The whole team have fineshed the menu at the same time. After that we went to the garden for a glass of wine ... beautiful table set up and location was outstanding!!!
We all were very glad of our food. It was a great opportunity ... I have met lovely people.... very friendly, very Californian style...best people in the world!!!
My time is ending up and I really don’t want to go back to London, Napa Valley has the energy and simplicity that I love, it is really amazing the way that you can meet people and don’t be afraid or intimidate... it is a real passion of nature and life!
Second Day, Sunday 23rd August
I have spent my morning visiting wineries in Napa Valley. Dennis Cakebread offered me the Cakebread Tour followed by tastings in the afternoon:
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley $24
2007 Chardonnay, Anderson Valley $37
2006 Chardonnay Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valley $55
2006 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $50
2005 Zinfandel, Red Hills, Lake County $41
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $61
Cakebread Cellars encourages responsible tasting, therefore they serve tasting samples slightly less than one ounce of wine. They applaud the use of a designated driver and they offer alternative beverages too.
Third day, Monday 24th August:
I have met the resindent Chefs at 9.30am. I have helped them with some prep for the Wine & Food Pairing Experience which I joyned too!
Cakebread Cellars is recogized worldwide for its celebrated wines, outstanding culinary experiences and confortable, elegant hospitality. They offer wine and food pairing programes for lunches and dinners.
Pairing Food and Wines:
Vietnamese Shrimp Fritters with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur
2006 Chardonnay Reserve Carneros
Chicken Meatballs with Green Olives and Sherry
2006 Pinot Noir, Carneros
Caramelized Onion and Walnut Biscuits with Blue Cheese Butter
2004 Dancing Bear Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain, Napa Valley $100
Ps. In my opinion it has been one of the best Cabernet Sauvignon I have ever tried... if you have the opportunity please try it
Fourth day, Tuesday 25th August
The best day of my trip indeed!!!
I woke up 6am to be at Cakebread Cellars at 6.30am for a full day working at the winery.
Dennis offered me this great oportunity, meeting and working with their team. I could see a bigger picture about my passion, what really comes before bottling.... from where everything start .... who are behind the label...etc.
It is a wonderful and fascinating “World Wine” where I have learned to respect more people and my profession.
Thank you so much Dennis and Family for this huge kindness, I will never forget it.
Cakebread Cellars location: 8300 St. Helena Highway, CA 94573, Rutherford, Nappa Valley.
Matanzas Creek Winery
Hartford Family Winery
Hartforf Family Winery is a highly acclaimed, family owned artisan winery that was founded in 1994 by Don and lenny Hartford.
The winery is located just fifteen miles from the cooling breezers of the Pacific Ocean in the Russian River Valley Town of Forestville, Sonoma County – one of the premier wine producing regions of the world.
Santa Cruz, Bonny Doon Vineyard
Based in Santa Cruz, the heartland of New Age thinking and dreaming, Bonny Doon Vineyards has a not so surprising history of idealism and innovatition. Founded in 1983 by Randall Graham, it is known for original wines made from “lesser” known (though no less noble) grape varaiets.
Originally focus on Pinot Noir, Bonny Doon Vineyard became knowm for its pioneering work with Rhone varieties and innovative production techniques. Since the adoption of biodynamic farming practices in 2004, Bonny Doon Vineyards wines evidence a deeper sense of place, more complex expression of varietal character and a noticeable sense of organization.
Bonny Doon has a Tasting Room, Private Wine Tastings, Private Wine and Food Matching, Cellar Door Cafe and Group Tastings & Events.
328 Ingalls Street, CA 95060 www.bonnydoonvineyard.com
Paso Robles, Villa Creek Cellars
Touted as one of Robert Parker Jr.’s “favorite wineries in Paso Robles”, Villa Creek Cellars produces a complex fruit-driven blend that reflects the region’s unique terroir and micro climates. Open 12 – 4pm. Friday – Sunday and by appointment.
Vulture’s Post 2006 – 80% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah, 5% Grenache
Mouvedre 100% - My Favotite J, unfortunately they haven’t decided the name yet!!!
Badger, Booker Vineyard 2006 -
Avenger, 2006 – 50% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache
Mas de Maha 2007 – 60% Tempranillo, 30% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre
Willow Creek Cuvee 2007 – 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre
Villa Creek Winery
Villa Creek's wines
5995 Peachy Canyon Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446 www.villacreek.com
San Luis Obispo
Santa Maria, Au Bon Climat & Qupe Winery
On Monday 17th August I had my first visit at Au Bon Climat & Qupe.
When I have decided to go to California for a wine trip the first “idol” that came to my mind was Jim Clendenen.
Jim, Au Bon Climat
Jim Clendenen is the winemaker and owner of Au Bon Climat Winery and one of the best winemaker for Pinot Noir!
We had lunch in the winery. Jim cooked for his guests a Germany style food, Sausages (pork/beef), cabbage, potatoes and lettuce salad.
We have tasted about 10 wines with the meal: delicious Roussanne Qupe, Santa Ynez Valley Chardonnay ABC, Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir ABC, Santa Maria Valley Syrah Qupe 05 & 07…etc.
Lunch at Au Bon Climat
Robert N. Lindquist is the winemaker of Qupe Winery founded in 1982.
Qupe Wine Cellars is located on the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria, California. In 1989, Bob joined forces with his mentor and friend, Jim Clendenen, together building a shared winery in the Bien Nacido Vineyard, they have together a production and sales support staff.
After tasting Jim invited me to stay at his Guest house located in Los Alamos and to joy dinner him, his friends and family!
I had a great time, delicious food and an unforgettable experience indeed.
We had dinner (barbecue style) and we have tasted reeeeeally good wines LOLLLLL
Jim opened a few bottles for us:
Vosne- Romanee 1996, Emmanuel Rouget; Gevrey Chambertin 1988, Alain Burguet; Clos Vougeot 2003, Domaine Rene Engre and Volnay 1er Cru 1990, Clos de la Bousse D’Or J
I will definitely keep this time in my mind forever. Jim is definitely a very generous and very knowledgeable human.
Los Angeles, Pasadena
I have arrived to Los Angeles on Friday 14th August for my wine trip.
I have driven to Pasadena where I stayed at Westin Hotels & Resorts for two nights.
On Saturday morning I woke up and went to town for breakfast and spent the rest of the day in wine tastings...
I have met a lot people and I have to say at least 99% of them were very nice, friendly and helpful. I have met the best and warmer people ever!
After my lunch I’ve decided to look for a wine bar in town, everyone would give me the same name ‘Bodegas’ wine bar. In fact I went there but unfortunately did not like that much. I realised that just in front of Bodegas is a bar that calls D’Vine Wines, very interesting and also different, I could find what exactly I was looking for... diversity, variety and outstanding service.
I had a pleasure to meet Carlos Torres who is the Sommelier and also a great and passionate person. Carlos has so much knowledge and amazing humour too, he treats wine in a very professional way and he is very focus and has a great palate.
Carlos Torres, Sommelier
I spent over two hours there tasting and talking, I had a great fun and the time passed fast... Carlos and Hugh Hamberry who is the other Sommelier are very delightful.
D’Vine Wine Bar is definitely a place where you must go if you have the opportunity. You can make you own wine. They have a fully equipment wine making room and their expert wine makers, you will experience the fun of making your own tasting wine in as little as 6 weeks!
It is so simple, you just have to select your wine type (grape, style), mix your wine, determine your labelling, fermentation process and bottle it
I am so glad I have been there J
Located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, upstairs in Old Town Pasadena’s Paseo Colorado Mall or visit the website on www.pasadenawinery.com
I had the privilege to spend some time with Michael Caines at ABode and Gidleigh Park.
ABode - Manchester
The six month Acorn meeting took place in Manchester where I stayed for one night.
ABode – Exeter
Executive Chef Tom Williams-Hawkes
Tom worked with Michael for eight years at Gidleigh Park, latterly as Sous Chef, before taking up the challenging new post as Executive Chef.
Above: Restaurant Manager Matt and Sommelier James
South Africa wine tasting @ ABode Exeter:
I have attended to the Meinert wine tasting organized by Great Western Wine. Meinert Wines is based in Devon Valley, Stellenbosch, established in 1987 with the purchase of 11,5ha.
Above: Steve Edwards, winemaker Martin Meinert and Patrick Pigny from Great Western Wine.
We have tasted the Meinert La Barry Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Meinert Pinotage2006, Meinert Merlot 2006, Meinert Devon Crest 2004 (blend of Cab. & Merlot) and Meinert Synchronicity 2006 (blend of Cab, Merlot and Pinotage, outstanding!!)
I have spent four nights working at Gidleigh Park.
Gidleigh Park has good food, excellent service and beautiful interiors. It is one of the UK’s finest small country house hotels.
It is a surprise arriving there as you wind your way along a private lane through wild countryside, you emerge in a clearing and suddenly there it is!!!
Michael Caines MBE has held two Michelin stars since 1999 for his modern European cuisine and has been cooking at Gidleigh Park since 1994.
Michael also gave the opportunity to have a tasting menu accompanying with wines in the last day. It is outstanding cuisine and finest wine list in the United Kingdom, the wine cellar houses more than 950 bins (about 8000 bottles) stored optimum conditions. The dream became reality, I have tasted wines that I thought I would never have had one day.....still have all the flavours kept in my mind !!!
I had a big picture of a good business and a excellent business men.
The Restaurant team:
Edouard Oger, head Sommelier
If someone ask me one day… who is the person that inspire me for the future, the answer would be Micheal Caines!!!
I have spent a couple of days in Scotland with Johnny Walker, Director of Wines and Spirits for Malmaison, Hotel Du Vin and De Vere.
Johnny is highly knowledgeable, award winning wine character with more then 30 years experience in the wine and spirit trade. I truly had the best experience of the year so far. Johnny is the most fascinating person that I have ever met. He has passion, energy and happiness all the time.
The first day, in the morning we had coffee at Hotel Du Vin in West End of Glasgow, One Devonshire Gardens before our visits to the Distilleries.
The first distillery visited was Auchentoshan which is a Single Malt Whisky in the west of Scotland www.auchentoshan.co.uk . Auchentoshan practices triple distillation, it gives a final spirit strength bof 83% ABV and a more delicate flavour than many Scotch Whiskies.
Maturation is in ex-bourbon barrels and ex-sherry butts. Special bottlings are released periodically, including the oldest, a 50 year old Auchentoshan distilled in 1957 and released in 2008. The distillery has a visitor centre and conference facilities, both completed in 2005, and is open to the public for tours.
12 years old – aromas of toasted almonds, caramelised toffee, marmalade, dried fruits, citrus and orange peeled, smooth and delicate.
3 years wood – maturated in American bourbon, finished in Spanish Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, aromas of dark fruits, hazelnut with a long and smooth finishing.
18 years old – matured in American oak, aromas of ripe citrus, white pepper, has a full flavour good texture.
The second visited was Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Whisky www.glengoyne.com , situated near Lock Lomond close to Glasgow, where we have spent more time tasting and looking the masterclasses...
17 years old - gold colour, aromas of sherry and Christmas pudding, fruit - raisins, ripe apples. Very rich whisky, slightly nutty, orange peel and oak. Long and rich finishing with spicy oak.We had a great surprise to receive this bottle as a gift with our names printed on the label!
Johnny most likely does not realize but, the experience will remain with me for a very long time. He passed not just knowledge about wine on to me but, wider knowledge about life in general.
Thank you for your time and kindness during the pass couple of day. It was greatly appreciated, cheers!!!
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