End of the World Ventura County Wine Events + A Twitter Tasting!

December kicks off with a bang in Ventura County with the Third Annual Winter Wine Walk in downtown Ventura. The rainy night and a friend’s party kept me away this year, but you can read my thoughts about the 2011 and the 2010 Winter Wine Walks. I know one friend who had his car hit by a drunk driver tonight; I hope the damage this year is minimal because I like the idea of the event and I’d like to see it be successful. Until someone pays for a stronger enforcement present like that required at the beer festival, I fear that people will continue to take advantage of the “wild west” atmosphere that prevails and drink to excess.

Both Saturday Dec. 1 and Sunday Dec. 2 join a Holiday Open House from noon – 5:00 p.m. at the Camarillo Custom Crush Winery
300 South Lewis, Unit C. For a cost of  $20, you can get a taste of what Ventura County winemakers are up as winemakers will pour their juice. Check out the local wine gifts for the holidays, too.

You can also help celebrate the holidays at Vino V‘s Annual Open House Continue reading

4/18 Anniversary Celebration & Chateau Ste Michelle Twitter Tasting

Tonight I’m celebrating my wedding anniversary AND participating in the TGTaste on Wednesday, April 18 at 5 pm PST  with Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Winemaker, Wendy Stuckey and head Thirsty Girl, Leslie Sbrocco.
The wines we’ll be tasting are:

I’m also bringing a bottle of their 2005 Luxxe sparkling wine for our anniversary celebration! Continue reading

Eroica & more delights at CSM in Woodinville

Somehow I did it. After a two hour nap, I jumped in the car at 4am Wednesday and drove to LAX where I made my flight, connected with my friend the painter Fred Betz, and we found our way from the airport to Chateaus Ste. Michel in Woodinville and caught up catch up with the other wine bloggers on the WBC-or-Bust bus just in time for a lesson in food and wine pairing. Pictured at right is the way the sunlight pours into the room leaving a pattern on the concrete floor.

Needless to say, all of the food and all of the wines were fabulous.We started with four different reislings paired with Asian inspired cuisine, then four merlots with some manchego cheese and tender duck breast, and finishing with a late harvest riesling infected by the “noble rot” paired with a simple cookie and fresh raspberries.

For more details about what I learned, and to see more iPhone photos, keep reading!

Continue reading

Chateau Ste Michelle 2005 Columbia Valley Merlot takes the prize

I bet you’re dying to know what I drank the other night with my New York Strip steak–which wine took the prize so to speak. Let me give you a hint:

Day 2 Itinerary: Food & Wine Pairing at Ste. Michelle–The first stop of the day will take place at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington’s original Chateau and founding winery. Following a guided tour, our guest bloggers will enjoy an informative food and wine pairing experience.

Yes, you guessed it, I went with the wine selection from Washington State to add to my collection of posts about Washington State wines to compete in the WBC-or-Bust contest. And like I said in the previous post, it’s the one Washington State merlot the grocery store had–a 2005 Chateau St. Michelle. Makes sense for my first WA wine to write about it the first stop on the bus, yes? Maybe this will be a trend–or a direction on where to go with this series of posts!

The 2005 Chateau St. Michelle merlot is soft, supple, smooth and easy to drink; in fact I drank most of the bottle last night save one large glass to enjoy today as I write this post! The alcohol is a reasonable 13.5 so it didn’t knock off my socks (or any other clothing items!)

The color of the merlot is a deep concentrated plummy red while the nose is cherry and cola with some berry, plum, and licorice: typical, not surprising. It’s got lots of nice friendly fruit flavor, mostly cherry and other dark fruits; again, to be expected. At first I thought it too flabby, lacking structure, but the wine grew on me and it nicely complemented my steak with stilton crumbled on top. It did NOT go with the leftover potatoes from Wednesdays corned beef (ohh, but with the black and tan I enjoyed on Wednesday they were scrumptiously delectably matched!)

According to the Chateau St. Michelle website, food styles that match well with Merlot include

Mild to Intensely Flavored: Grilled salmon, roasted lamb, wild game, and balsamic or tomato-based sauces work well with the jammy flavors of Merlot.

Chinese: Merlot has a softer taste that lends itself to the flavors of Chinese food. Peking duck, mu shu pork, braised soy pork.

I can totally see this pairing nicely with the plum sauce and flavors in mu shu whether it be chicken, pork, duck, tofu or beef! They of course suggest one of their cabs to go with the steak!

The following day I had it with some crackers and cheeses included aged gouda and an aged goat cheese gouda. The merlot paired well with both and was a terrific way to celebrate what my grandma Gwenn called “Wine-Thirty.”

Overall, while merlot isn’t my favorite varietal, I’m not one to turn up my nose just because it’s merlot; I’m willing to give it a go and I’ve had some good ones. This 2005 Chateau St. Michelle is a great value on sale at $10. Bring it to a party and everyone will enjoy it. It’s a terrific, mild, juicy red wine for the white wine drinker.

Now to find another Washington Merlot to taste by Thursday! And guess what we’ll be having for dinner? That’s right–I’m going for Chinese take-out of Mu shu pork!

(This post clocks in at over 550 words–nearly 4 posts for the price of wine! Ummn, one! I’m thinking instead of number of posts, the contest should go with number of words!)