Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Drybar Wardrobe

I bought 5 new yellow items for my Drybar "Sprit Director" wardrobe last night. The guy ringing me up at Target said, "somebody's ready for spring..." and I thought, "that, AND DRYBAR'S OPENING ON FEB. 12TH!"

Friday, January 29, 2010

UGC 2007 Vintage Bordeaux Tasting (hosted by Wally's at The Annex, Los Angeles)

As I sit down to write about this event I think it only appropriate to give you some context:

2009’s UGC 2006 vintage Bordeaux tasting was the first “big city” tasting I didn’t work (and by work I mean pour for free for a producer for a chance to taste some wines at the end). I had just moved to California and bought my ticket online, having no idea what to expect. I drove up to LA…it was my first time on the 405 (scary)…and my first time trying to park there (circled the InterContinental twice before parking in the Century City mall garage). I threw on a dress in the car and proudly fixed my sommelier pin to its collar. I hadn’t started the blog yet, so I guess I was there to improve my palate for Bordeaux wines – and maybe meet a fellow corkdork. Hiking up to the InterContinental from the mall garage, I felt prepared, but still nervous. The night before and that morning, I spent studying the characteristics of the different appellations and the top chateaux, but when it came to navigating a large tasting with strangers, it was best to just try to enjoy those few minutes of anticipation…

Suddenly, the holding room was crowded, I was sweating and casually talking to someone about the turnout. I was really just trying to watch what was about to go down. The receptionists were then given the signal to open the doors and we were off to the races. After checking in, I grabbed my glass, smelled it (because I saw everyone else doing that), and headed to the whites, which were stationed to the front left of the room. I didn’t even see there was a price list. Just went by my study guide and made my way from the whites, to right bank Bordeaux, to left bank, and then to Sauternes (or what was left). I took my time, scribbled notes, spit, ate some bread, used the restroom, and drank lots of water. It was a very modest, educational experience.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this year I will write a different story. Probably because I feel different. My head is in another place - one that has me constantly thinking about my family before myself and trying to make the right decisions about participating in extracurricular activities, like wine tastings.

Sunday night, I buy the ticket at the last minute (secretly hoping the event will sell out so I’m not even tempted to go). I spend every hour before the event working on Drybar tee-shirt designs and Sponsorship Packages. I hail a cab on Santa Monica and call a friend on the walk up to The Annex to meet him in line. I take a look at the price sheet, circle a few chateaux and then ask my friends who they recommend tasting. I swallow and get a little buzz. I’ll give a list below of some flawlessly balanced, fineFINE wines, but no details. I can email them to you, if you like.

The point of this post is that like many physical things in life, my experience with them becomes less about a myopic personal encounter, and more about enjoying the opportunity this thing presents to bring human beings together. Offline.

On Wednesday night, I was in a large, loud room with PEOPLE. Looking into their eyes, backing into them (sorry), feeling their wine spit backsplash in my face, grinning at them with purple teeth, shaking their hands, and giving high fives (like I tend to do after a glass or two).

This made me beyond happy. Yes, the wines were outstanding, but it was also the environment they were tasted in that made me crave awareness for those two hours. Every time I tried to put my head down and take detailed notes, a conversation would start or a friend would say “hi.” This was a time to step away from the minutia and appreciate how fortunate I was to be there.

Thank you to the following chateaux who poured me outstanding wines (I felt bad even putting one and two stars next to some, but had to give them a little credit for somehow standing out among their peers):

Chateau Las Combes**
Chateau Rauzan-Segla

Chateau Clerc Milon*
Chateau Lynch-Bages*
Chateau Pontet-Canet*

P E S S A C - L E O G N A N
Chateau Haut-Bailly**
Chateau Pape Clement (blanc and rouge*)
Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte (blanc and rouge*)
Domaine de Chevalier (blanc* and rouge)

Chateau Clinet*
Chateau Gazin
Chateau La Cabanne
Chateau Conseillante**

Chateau Angelus**
Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeliere
Chateau La Gaffeliere
Chateau Troplong Mondot
Clos Fourtet**

S A I N T - J U L I E N
Chateau Beychevelle*
Chateau Gruaud Larose**
Chateau Talbot*

The Nelsons

My mom's mom's parent's wedding. So sweet!

Grant's 5th Birthday

Silly,'re not supposed to make your own birthday cupcakes! (but go for it - you and Kit look like you're having a lot of fun cooking in the kitchen) :D

Monday, January 25, 2010

Italian Sommeliers Association Grand Tasting

This was a trade tasting put on by the Italian Sommeliers Association at Trastevere in Santa Monica. I had the privilege of being invited to taste and write about the wines I was able to taste. Thanks to the Principe Prosciutto di San Deniele for the melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto and breseaola and Ca’D’Oro olive bread which makes me look forward to working in LA that much more...

G U I D E :
Winery, Appellation, Name, Grape, Vintage

B U B B L E S :

Banear, Prosecco, Prosecco Frizzante, prosecco, NV
- slightly sparkling, uncork with a corkscrew, crisp, refreshing, lower alcohol (harvest earlier at lower sugar levels), pleasant acidity, not cloying whatsoever

Caposaldo, Veneto IGT, N/A, prosecco, NV
- clean, bright, no cider element (which can bug me in some proseccos) and a but more complex, considering ordering for my wedding

W H I T E S :

Vignalta, Colli Euganei, Sirio Muscato, 100% dry muscat (fully fermented), 2007
- gorgeous + inviting nose, nice mouthfeel, complex white, bitter honey finish

Pescaja, Roero Arneis DOCG, N/A, arneis, 2008
- round, floral, wild herbs, more complex than other expressions of the varietal at the tasting
- world cultures nugget: still locally called “nebbiolo bianco” in Piedmonte

Butussi, Colli Orientali del Friuli, N/A, sauvignon blanc, 2007
- lush wine, very different from both Napa and Marlborough, some vanilla but also crisp, melon, fresh pineapple
- my two cents: I’m always impressed by Friulian sauv blancs and whites in general...there should be more on wine lists (and by the glass)

Carraia, N/A, Carraia, fiano di Sicilia, 2008
- rich winter white, honey, anise, minerals, wine with depth, complexity, and crispness...intriguing

R E D S :

Batasiolo, Alba DOC, Sovrana, barbera,2007
- single vineyard barbera, softer, a primary plus young wine
- my two cents: single vineyard well-made barberas like this one are worth the small premium, especially when compared to young, rough nebbiolos (and usually better value than young barolos if you are buying to drink now)

Cavaliere, Puglia, N/A, sangiovese, 2009
- elegant, integrated, full-bodied, young but well-made

Carria, Sicilia, N/A, aglianico, 2008
- pretty, easy drinking young red, gentle tannin, flavors of black fruit, dark chocolate, approachable acidity and minerality
- pronunciation nugget: the indigenous Italian varietal, aglianico, is pronounced ahl-YAHN-eh-koe

Bibi Graetz Soffocone di Vincigliata, Tosacana, N/A, N/A, 2007
- single vineyard, fine tannin, tart red fruits, delicious with the prosciutto and olive bread

Cantine Sant’Agata, Ruche di Castagnole, Na Vota, ruche, 2007
- a new varietal for me, very impressive: complex, distincitive, raspberry, herbs, great value for wine’s substance
- quick question: “Who drinks ruche?!” (LOVE IT!! I’m so excited to have tried this wine)

Michele Chiarlo, Barolo DOCG, Cannubi, nebbiolo, 2004
- lovely, signature barolo notes, one of the few wines I couldn’t bare to spit

Tenuta di Corllosorbo, Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello, sangiovese, 2004
- roses, red berries, nice balance, (relatively) soft tannin, delicate, had to swallow this one too... :)

Batasiolo, Barolo DOCG (Serralunga), Corda Della Briccolina, nebbiolo, 2003
- Stefano Poggi was pouring the 2003 at the tasting and I had the pleasure of enjoying the 2004 last year at a dinner with him and Fiorenzo Dogliani at CarneVino in Las Vegas after wine Spectator’s Grand Tasting. These are excellent wines that will mature gracefully overtime. If I had to compare, I would recommend the ‘04, but it doesn’t take a genius to recommend a stellar vintage...