Dec 5, 2018

Spain's Great Match

On November 8th, once again I attended the annual event focusing on the Wines, Food and Culture of Spain. This year it was venued again at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The usual stellar Titans in the Spanish wine hierarchy were present in all of their Bacchanalian glory,  Bodegas Montecillo, Marqués de Cáceres, Bodegas Faustino, etc. It is always a thrill to uncover "new" treasures to this scene and expand wine horizons with unparalleled values.

The event was enhanced by the offerings of Spain's ubiquitous national pride, its tapas and pintxos in the form of cheeses, charcuterie and more! Free flowing pata negra, manchego, idiazabal, marconas, croquetas, aceitunas and delectable other treats provided by none other than one of Spain's own culinary sons, José Andrés, friend and colleague of the late Anthony Bourdain, here at his Bazaar restaurant on the same premises. Many other purveyors of Spanish gourmets added to the palatable experience. A newcomer to this scene was a Syrah offering from Costa Azul, for those who wonder what Spain is doing with this Rhone Valley varietal.

It was surreal to be once again reunited with old friends and colleagues, a mix & match of members of the press, importers, distributors, restauranteurs and more, sharing our love of this fine
representation of Spain's world class wine values. Pictured are some "newcomers' to this Los Angeles
scene in hopes that they will become available to the wine loving masses.

 I was able to meet up again with Antonio Martinez of Antalva Spanish Wine Imports, who is spearheading the introduction of his amazing portfolio of wines to the U.S. and California in particular. Another gem bringing the food wonders of  Spain to California that i was happy to "reunite" with were Doña Juana & my friends at La Española Imports in Harbor City who make any Spanish "expatriate" dreams come true with provisions from La 'Plus Ultra". I embraced another old friend, Michael Miller of Golden State WIne Company in Van Nuys, whom I have had the pleasure of working with sharing his portfolio to a number of events in Thousand Oaks.     

On another note, it was a challenge to make it to and from the event as the 101 was overwhelmed by traffic anomalies due to the procession of one of Ventura County's Finest, fallen deputy Ron Helus from the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting and then the latest fire disasters hitting California. My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families.                                                 

Yes, it was a bittersweet time but i hope to share more great wine values coming your way in the immediate future. Remember the words of the late Robert Mondavi;
"Wine to me is Passion. It is family and friends. Its warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. Its culture. Its the essence of civilization and the art of living.     

Nov 7, 2016

Herzog Wine Cellars

We paid a visit to some "old friends" yesterday here in Ventura county not far from home down in sunny Oxnard, YES, sunny Oxnard! The fog of yesteryear has become only an occasional memory now that everything seems like a perennial summer these days. I have been following Herzog Wine ever since reading about them in Wine Enthusiast some years ago. They had just broken ground on their new, state of the art 77,000 sqaure foot facility here in Oxnard. Located less than a mile off the Rice ave off ramp from the 101, is one of the biggest wineries in CA if not the country! 

HERZOG wine cellars was brought to California by a wine making family hailing from early 19th century Slovenia honing their skills for 8 generations. With master wine maker, Joe Hurliman on board, they are KOSHER wine making "mavens" who have raised the "bar- mitzvah" for kosher wines without peer particularly since coming to the U.S. in 1948. Now you may be thinking, "but this is kosher wine"? Let me tell you in my "perfect grammatical Yiddish,.. this ain't your grand abbes Manischewitz"! This is high end wine making of the finest, and yes, Herzog answers to a "higher authority" with their cutting edge wine making excellence.

We were warmly greeted by Jennifer, one of the cellar associates and sat down to a flight tasting starting with their Chenin Blanc, and progressed to the red line-up, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah but when they brought out their Petite Verdot, we were impressed! It sung on our nose through our palate all the way down to the glorious finish. Now just when you would think that would be the grand finale, we met Ed Blair, their wine cellar tour guide and educator who broke out an encore piece de resistance; their Malbec from Paso Robles that would make any Argentine from Mendoza green with envy, not the over the top, extreme over concentration some Malbec's display but a fruit forward, approachable, melodious 100% California Malbec you don't have to lay down for further development to enjoy. 

We were taken on a tour of the facility asking Ed many questions and getting not just answers but a wonderful narrative to this award winning operation and its history. Ed then treated us to yet another encore wine after the tour, the 2015  HERZOG Lineage "Camoflage" Red Wine Blend. Now here is where it gets even more interesting, Ed advised us of a characteristic of this mysterious blend, as we swirl the glass before each taste, a different nuance comes out in the wine with each sip, amazing! 

This visit was an afternoon of wine adventure, we had thought of trying to crash the Santa Barbara Opera production of CARMEN in hopes that there might still be some tickets but when meeting Herzog's on site sommelier, Martin Cortez, the time had passed so fast that we realized we made the show at Herzog! We already had lunch so the next time we visit, we hope to take in the Terra Sur Restaurant. This winery is the real deal California Winery experience with the utmost in professional, engaging staff that really know how to focus on the customer and assure them a memorable wine experience.           

Oct 17, 2016


For those of you who missed out on my blog recommendation from last February, here is another chance to score some of this value packed Antaño Rioja Resrva.

 You have got to get as much of this wonderful wine while it is once again available for under $8.00, Wine Spectator rated it 91 points !


Jun 2, 2016

Rioja Wine & Tapas Fedtival L.A.

On May 21st my wife and I attended the Rioja Wine and Tapas Festival in Los Angeles Union Station. What a treat! We got to see old friends and meet up with many of the distinguished winemakers of the Rioja Wine region in Spain's "Napa Valley" although in my mind and heart it far surpasses anything in California, although, "little brother is getting better! Rioja has been at it since before Roman times, so you could say they have been getting a lot of practice.

Anyway, there were enough wine and tapas to attract a crowd of hundreds if not close to a thousand or more wine lovers and foodies and then some. The layout in the old stations ticketing area was just barely large enough to contain all of the wine presenters and tapas stations present. The usual "Titans" were there in all of their "Bacchanalian glory"; Bodegas like; Montecillo, Faustino, Marques de Caceres, Muga, Muriel, Valdemar, Marques de Riscal,  Ramon Bilbao and more.

I was pleased to make acquaintance with some new bodegas to California, although in no way new on the Rioja scene, as a matter of fact, to our great pleasure we met Francisco Javier Martinez Blanco, director of Bodegas Corral with its Don Jacobo line of Rioja whites and reds. This bodega has been making wines since 1898, I hope to visit them on our next trip to Rioja.  Also a pleasure to meet  the folks presenting another new one to California, Pata Negra, These Rioja tempranillos and tempranillo blends are more of the pride of Spain to be experienced.

And speaking of Pata Negra, the Tapas stations were going "full Flamenco"  with cheeses, & charcutrie galore! One of them handing out free flowing Jamon Serrano and Jamon Iberico
like it was going out of style!

There were close to a dozen paellas going on while one was treated to the product of the spit-roasted pig over open coals. We attended the VIP opening session and by the afternoon, it seemed the flood gates just burst open as it then became standing room only.

For those of you who would like to attend next years event and not miss out on this special "Rioja Grand Tour in Los Angeles"  please follow my blog to get the best deals on wine, not miss the latest postings and join in on the "Juerga"!

Apr 11, 2016

Here it is!

So I have been telling you all to watch out for my next posting, I am sorry i didn't get this out sooner. I truly thought that such a powerhouse retailer would have more than an ample supply of this phenom find, but i was wrong. Kirkland got a deal with Bodegas Muriel, Rioja, Spain to dump a sea of this fine, 100% Tempranillo aged in oak barrels for the DOC required 24 months in oak barrels then an additional 12 months in bottle before releasing this 2010 Reserva vintage. This is a real steal @ $6.99
at Costco. Some of my insiders have taken my advice and scored a few cases, but once again, good finds like this last only so long. Most Costco warehouses are sold out. From what I understand, the Westlake and Woodland Hills stores still have a pallet of this on the floor. My advice to you is to make the trip and grab up as much of this Spanish Nectar of the god's while there is still some to be had. It will be more than worth your while, and it comes with my guarantee ; if you don't like it, I'll
pay for it! ( buy it back from you).

Feb 4, 2016

Gains & Loses

 A few months ago, I made a tremendous find in a Costco warehouse, a Rioja Reserva was stacked on a pallet in the "volume" wine section. Upon observing a bottle, I realized that they had carried a Crianza a few years prior. Now, they are selling a reserva. 

Now you must be thinking, Crianza, Reserva, what is this guy talking about?
In Spain, a Crianza wine by law, is a wine that is aged one year in oak barrels then one to two years in bottle before it's released. 

A Reserva, is a wine that is aged two years in oak barrels then another year in bottle minimum before its release. Thus, the consumer is getting a wine that has more maturity and complexity by the time
it makes it into the glass. In other words, 
more BANG for your bucks!

And one who tries such a wine will experience a Bang! on ones palate when
savoring this juice!

I had told many of you to grab as much of this wonderful libation as possible because at $7.99 a bottle, this deal isn't going to last! Since then, people have been telling me; " I bought a case and now I'm down to just 3 bottles! When are they going to get more? "

Sadly, I honestly don't know! But that's the thing with great wine buys, you never know when the next great deal will be!
So for that reason, I recommend you subscribe to my blog because you never know when a deal like Antaño Reserva Rioja is going to present itself again. 

But I can tell you this; Stay Tuned,.. I'm about to go to press with another great wine find and when I post it, be ready to pounce on it! 

Here are two power house wines, one from Spain, a "Righteous Rioja" and a Gold Label Chianti, rich, voluptuous reds that bath the palate in dark red fruit with a rich, pompous finish. Not easy to get either for under $30.00!

See if they still have any o this sacred nectar at Ventura Wine ( & The Cave ) in Ventura on Telephone and McGrath!