Again this year, I was invited to the Wine Warehouse LA County Spring Tasting held at LA’s historic Century Plaza Hotel. Wine Warehouse throws this party to enable their retail licensee customers to sample a large percentage of their wares all at once in a “wine festival” type setting. In their markets, this helps to determine the wines that end up at the wine shops, restaurants and grocery stores where you shop. Last year, I described the 2009 tasting and the setting was pretty much the same this year, but with some key differences. As expected, some great new wines were on hand this year, but they also set up most of the sparkling and rosé wines at a row of tables right at the entrance—a great way to start the event.
After sampling a few of the bubblies (my favorite was the Zonin Prosecco NV Veneto and I also enjoyed Zonin‘s Ca’Bolani Prosecco NV Friuli), I lingered awhile at the “Rosé Buffet” tables. If you haven’t tried rosé in awhile, you may not know that rosé has become a serious business and a serious wine, and there were some really good ones on hand. My favorite five (in alphabetical order) were the Ampelos Rosé of Syrah 2009, the Curran Grenache Rosé Santa Ynez Valley 2008, the Domaine Houchart Rosé Cotes de Provence ‘Te 2008, the Miguel Torres Santa Digna Rosé of Cabernet 2008 and the Palmina Botasea–Rosato di Palmina 2009 (a nice blend of Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Barbera). Not at the Rosé Buffet, I also enjoyed the Heitz Grignolino Rosé 2007 (which I’ve liked for decades, back when even Heitz didn’t charge tasting room visitors for a generous pour) and the Costadoro Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2008 from Veneto, the romantic region of Romeo and Giulietta (I plan to describe this wine in detail in an upcoming post).
My time was limited and this event had so many wines to sample, I decided to focus on ones I hadn’t previously tasted (although I couldn’t resist a few favorites). On the domestic front, Brewer–Clifton, named for artisan winemakers Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton, offered a range of 2008 Chardonnays (from the Santa Rita Hills, Mt. Carmel and Sea Smoke vineyards) and 2008 Pinot Noirs (from the Santa Rita Hills, Mt. Carmel and Ampelos vineyards) that were all excellent. Far Niente‘s Chardonnay 2008 Napa Valley has a big, interesting flavor that I liked. Peachy Canyon of Paso Robles poured three very nice Zinfandels (their 2007 Westside, 2006 Snow Vineyard and 2006 Especial).
In terms of enjoyable imports, Heritage of France poured a Chateau Haut Rian Blanc 2009 Bordeaux (mostly Semillon), a Jacques Rouze 2008 Quincy (a bone dry Sauvignon Blanc with great acidity), a Domaine Vessigaud Pouilly Fuisse 2007, a Chateau Guibot 2005 Puisseguin St. Emilion (from the warmest vineyard of their estate), a Chateau Reignac Cuvee Speciale 2005 Bordeaux Superieur, a Chateau Paveil de Luze 2006 Margaux and a Chateau Clos L’Eglise 2005 Cotes de Castillon. I also enjoyed Bodega Benegas‘ Malbec 2006 Estate Mendoza–Maipu. Francoli USA offered some very nice Poggio Basso Chiantis and Torraccia del Piantavigna Nebbiolos (Ghemme, Gattinara and Ramale) as well as an interesting Poggio Basso Primitivo 2008. They also offered a really nice Brachetto d’Acqui from Casa Mareletti of Piemonte, the only one I was able to find at the event.
It was difficult to break away from this event early, but I had to run to catch the Lakers defeat the Suns in Game 1 of the Western Conference Championship. At least, by then, I was in a great mood for the game.
Disclosure: I was granted a complimentary media pass to this event.