Wine, Song, Summer: How to Celebrate with #GetRhone and #StarsofPinot


Hard to believe but here we are, halfway through July! But there’s still plenty of time and lots to do this summer! This week, I’m heading to LA for several wine and music events, and enjoying some good times around Ventura too.

As I wrote about over on Art Predator, this weekend is Ventura’s 9th annual Surf Rodeo held right on the beach where Seaward Ave. hits the sea.

You can bring a picnic and they have a wine and beer garden. We’ll be there on Sunday to hear headliners the English Beat plus the R & B Bombers, Ska Daddy, and the band of our former neighbor, The Pullman; they will probably even play a song that is written about our laundry! Tonight, however, we’re headed to LA to  hear Baaba Maal at the Annenberg Space for Photography, where they have a beer and wine garden and you’re not allowed to bring in outside alcohol which is too bad because I have some great bottles waiting for a picnic in a park!

If I could, I’d bring Cusumano’s $15 Nero D’Avola 2014.

This medium bodied fruit forward red from Siciliy is very food friendly for picnic fare.  Sue and I tasted it the other night at a dinner at Sotto in LA with one of the two brothers who are spearheading this winery using family owned vineyards managed by their father and with the assistance of winemaker Mario Ronco. About 120,000 cases are produced by Cusumano with 20,000 cases of this wine so you should be able to find it in the US if you look for it.

And look for Cusumano’s Nero D’Avola you should!

We loved the fresh fruit aromas of red and black berries and bright fruit flavors including strawberry and cherry. While fruit forward, the wine has excellent structure. This wine pairs well with everything from salads with bitter greens like a caprese, gourmet pizzas, charcuterie, pate, and more. If you’re not familiar with this grape, I’d think about it as a grenache crossed with a pinot noir. It’s unoaked with ML fermentation for in stainless steel and had lees contact for five months which contributes to its fresh bright notes.

Nothing is masked by oak in this delicious red wine! And it’s super pretty in the glass.

For a picnic you will also love the unique glass closure! Yes you can turn it upside down and it won’t leak! Super easy to open, and then to recap so you don’t spill a precious drop!

And Sue swears it goes with everything! Well, almost…

You might also look for this Rhone rose beauty with a stelvin twist-off closure:

Chateau de l’Ermitage – 2015 – Costieres de Nimes Rose “Victor” – 14.5% alcohol – $11

50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre: these three grapes dance so well together whether in a red wine or a rose!

In color, the wine is more pink than the traditional salmon of a rose. It is really pretty. It is like the pantone pink which is the color of the year. Pale and pretty pink!

On the nose, lots of minerals,  you can smell the river rocks with floral and berry as well. It has a very nice clean nose, however with a sweet, almost Jolly Rancher apple and watermelon at the top of the nose, crab apple, citric acid.

On the palette, there’s watermelon and strawberry,  but what’s remarkable is the lusciousness that envelopes the tongue and the palette leaving you with a tangy persistant finish. It is not viscous, but it is a very pleasant wine on the tongue. It has a really nice mouthfeel.

We enjoyed this wine with a traditional Rhone meal (more on that in a blog post soon!) and we planned on hainv it with our cheese and salad courses but we tried it with our plum tart which was so tart that the rose mellowed the tartness from this dessert.

This rose went so well with everything on the menu –making it a great selection to take to a concert or other gathering.

Want to taste this rose? Want to learn more about Rhone Wine?


Then you’ll want to head to LA Wednesday for #GetRhone! It’s going to be quite a party!


On July 20th, Wanderlust Hollywood transforms into a celebratory wine and performing arts festival, replete with live music, remarkable performances, and a lush spread of tempting bites. A master sommelier and a complimentary tasting book to guide you on your journey, sample a decadent farm-to-table feast prepared by celebrated chef Seamus Mullen’s Wanderlust Cafe. Throughout the night, soulful serenades by award-winning headliner Honey Larochelle and her band will woo the crowd. In addition, watch for special guest artist interludes, featuring opera for a new age, fire-dancing, a beatboxing jazz cellist, and neo-vaudeville.

  • Indulgent samples of red, white and rosé wines presented by wine producers personally from the Rhône Valley, spread across four beautifully decorated stations.
  • Intimate conversations with seasoned California wine educators, on-hand to answer your pressing questions.
  • Soulful serenades by Honey Larochelle (winner of the “Best New Artist” Award).
  • Diverting cameo performances by local artists, including:
    Anthony Greenz, a dapper gent who dances with fire blazing on his shoes.
    Sarah Llewellyn, a lovely prima donna out to bring opera to the 21st century.
    Roger Fojas, a vaudeville triple threat with a contemporary soundtrack.
    Cello Joe, a beat-boxing cellist who’s redefining the medium of jazz.
  • A farm-to-table feast of canapés, specifically designed to complement the array of wines.
  • Charming mementos of your “trip” from our roaming sketch artist and Polaroid photographer.
  • The evening features a leisurely walk-around wine tasting from 16 of the best wine producers Rhône Valley Wines has to offer.

Tickets $60 all included or use the code BASTILLEDAY for 50% off your ticket – that’s $30 for a night of endless wine sampling, delicious food pairing, and unique performances you won’t forget! Doors open at 7pm. What a deal!


More of a PinotPhile than someone who wants to #GetRhone?

Then you’ll want to be at Stars of Pinot Noir, also Weds. evening July 20! STARS of Pinot will delight us with 60 of the world’s top producers pouring over 240 Pinot Noir wines! Hosted by wineLA, the event will be held at the luxurious Sofitel Los Angeles, 8555 Beverly Blvd, Beverly Hills. All guests enjoy unlimited wine tasting, tray passed hors d’oeuvres, and an assortment of breads, cheeses and chocolate. VIP guests ($200) are invited to attend a VIP Pinot Noir Panel Discussion and Tasting, enjoy a delicious VIP Buffet, and receive a VIP Gift Bag packed with fabulous items to take home. Purchase your tickets HERE from $100.  Enter DOLINFAMILY50 at checkout and  for a $50 discount –and at the event, ask them what they may have for you under the table!

I’ll be primed for this event following attending the AOC Burgundy Seminar Los Angeles hosted but the NORTH AMERICAN SOMMELIER ASSOCIATION Monday, July 18, 2016 from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM!

And this leaves us free to go hear Thao and the Get Down Stay Down at the Skirball on Thursday! 



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