Hall Wines Cabernet Cookoff tastes great, gives help

11855799_868280449915926_2336774847356483997_nWe’re a little late on our coverage of this fine event, but we did want to send out hearty Vinopanion props to Hall Wines (WL, FB, Tw, IG, YT) and their highly enjoyable 6th Annual Cabernet Cookoff charity #foodie and #wine event this past April. Fifteen Napa Valley and San Francisco based chef teams competed to see which one could most favorably pair their small bite with the 2012 Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvigon and the 2012 Hall Napa County Coeur Cabernet Sauvignon red wines.  To whet the almost 700 attendees’ palates, the festivities were kicked off with a glass of the delicious 2012 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  On this particularly hot April day, the SB was quite a treat, with its juicy citrus acidity, rounded out with some tropical fruit and floral notes, and finishing with some zingy minerality.  Following the SB intro, the Lady and I headed into the array of tents to taste through the many culinary delights on prep.

Bunny Foo Foo welcomes the culinary charity masses. (By Lawrence Argent, Hall Wines).

Bunny Foo Foo welcomes the culinary charity masses. (By Lawrence Argent, Hall Wines).

Hall Wines has been producing ultra high end reds and whites in the Napa Valley at their two properties since 2002.  Owners Craig and Kathryn Walt Hall are renowned art collectors and thoughtful curators of their land and ecology with 5 Certified Organic estate vineyards and a Leed Gold Certified new winery at this, their St. Helena location.  We had the lovely opportunity to attend their grand opening of the gorgeous new St. Helena facility earlier in the year, but this was our first opportunity to see it in the daytime. And it was quite an experience! While it was a bit difficult on the hot sunny day to grasp the pairings with the smoky and oaky young Napa Cab, the brighter acidity and less oaked Coeur paired brilliantly with many of the dishes, including our favorite of the day: The Farmers Market Pantry’s Ancho Chili Roasted Mushroom & Squash Blossom Quesadilla. They were sponsoring the Napa Valley Youth Advocacy Center and their alternating savory and lightly spiced quesadilla rocked it with both the sauv blanc and the Coeur cabernet.

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11060935_868285769915394_6407453637873669927_nThe event was a resounding success, raising over $59,000 for the local community and satisfying the thirst and stomach of hundreds of charity-minded patrons that day.  The people’s choice and judge’s choice winners are listed below, along with a link to the fantastic drone video courtesy of Darren Chestnut.

A big thank you to Hall Wines for our attendance that day.  Cheers!

Judges’ Choice 1st Pl: Chef Zack Mutrux, PRESS & Charity, If Given a Chance

Dish: Braised lamb neck with beef fat potatoes and bacon sherry vinaigrette

People’s Choice 1st Pl: Chef Chris Jorosz, Andrea Reiter, Capital Dime & Charity, Food Literacy Center

Dish: Savory wild rice Belgian waffles, crispy duck and fig balsamic wildflower syrup

Drone video of the festivities, courtesy of Darren Chestnut.

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Inaugural TasteLive! Café 140 Broadcast: Winemaker Patrick Krutz

Regular followers of the Vinopanion wine madness know that I regularly partake in the fun online Twitter tastings, brought to us by TasteLive! (Twitter, WineLog).  Many a post has been written and a wine has been reviewed about their solid tastings.  Now the innovative wine minds behind #tl_wine are kicking it up a notch, launching Café 140 as their latest online, and now physical, wine & lifestyle event series.

  Café 140 is a joint venture, physically based at the Heritage Public House at Santa Rosa Vintners’ Square, in partnership with Smiling Tiger Video.  It’s intended to be a monthly series, featuring guests from across the fine beverage, food, and arts lifestyle sphere.  Have no fear, however, they will still be broadcasting live on their great interactive website, per their other projects.  First up on the docket is Patrick Krutz, winemaker for his eponymous Krutz Family Cellars (Facebook, WineLog) as well as the new House Band Wines (Facebook, WineLog), intended to bring wine to the outdoor, music-loving masses.

[winebadge id=”61655″]

Krutz Family Cellars has been kicking out seriously good, fully family-produced fermented grape juice for the last 9 years. Based out of Monterey, I’m a big fan of their Pinot, but they have made a number of solid wines from across the great state of California.  Meanwhile, House Band Wines is a more value-driven brand that utilizes portable packaging so that thirsty wine lovers can have some solid wine everywhere they go, including music events that they will support in the future.

Further adding some excitement to this tasting, at least at Vin0panion HQ, is the knowledge that The Lady will be cooking up a fantastic suite of food to pair with the wines that we’ll be tasting, listed below.  Beth Fontaine is been rocking the food & art blogging on her site, Rollerskating With Scissors, and this TasteLive! Café 140 event will be not be one to miss!  The full details for the event are below and we look forward to seeing you all online.  Cheers!

Café 140 Live with Winemaker Patrick Krutz

Location: Heritage Public House, 1305-A Cleveland Avenue in Santa Rosa, CA

Time: 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM PST

Twitter: #tl_wine

Wines for Cafe1402012Krutz from House Band Wines (Facebook, WineLog) & Krutz Family Cellars (Facebook, WineLog):

[winelist query=”Cafe1402012Krutz” num=”4″]

WBC11 Hits Virginia with Le Wine Buffs in Tow

2011 North American Wine Bloggers' ConferenceAt this point, my regular readers should know quite well about my participation in the cra cra known as the North American Wine Bloggers’ Conferences (Twitter, WineLog).  We’re coming up on the 4th in this great series, after the huge success in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  This year we’re invading Charlottesville, Virginia for our very first time plundering the wine life on the right coast (and East Coast wine bloggers rejoice).  The state of Virginia has been exceptionally supportive and I’m looking forward to learning a ton about 5th largest wine producing state in the Union.  Between the Keynote from Jancis Robinson (Twitter), the Virginia Wine (Twitter) Reception at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for dinner on Friday, another Keynote from Eric Asimov (Twitter) and the annual Vineyard walks in the local wine country, #WBC11 looks to be just as stunning a time as years’ past.

Le Wine Buff - EnjoyBordeaux.comThis year my trip is courtesy of the CIVB’s Enjoy Bordeaux (Twitter, WineLog) campaign, as Le Wine Buff.  We’ll be pouring two phenomenal Bordeaux during my favorite sessions at the conference, the Live Blogging Reds & Whites.  Fellow ‘Buff Erin McGrath (Twitter, WineLog) and I will be pouring the 2009 Château Le Gay Bordeaux Festival Rosé and the 2007 Château Edmus Saint-Émilion Grand Cru (which I adore).  Oh, and we’ll definitely have some more tasty Bordeaux to try during the annual Unconference, of course.

You can find our wines listed again below, as well as a growing list of wines after the Sponsors that I’ve tried at the conference as I get them up there, tagged with “WBC11” so that you can list them in your own WineLog.  So come find us at the event if you’re lucky enough to attend or follow our adventures online as we invade Virginia!

Le Wine Buff wines at WBC11:

2009 Château Le Gay Bordeaux Festival Rosé

Color: Strawberry pink

Nose: Tons of fresh juicy strawberry here with some slight citrus.

Palate: Crisp and easy quaffer, this also has great strawberry and orange peel

on the light to medium palate.

 2007 Château Edmus Saint-Émilion Grand Cru

Color: Darker ruby core, medium ruby edges

Nose: Loam, char and fresh cigar box here with bigger fresh anise and further darker fruits underneath.  Flint on the edges adds to the dried roses. Good.

Palate: Medium to full, with great fresh tobacco and flint to start off, then digs deep into dark fruit and anise to complement the medium fine drier tannins and juicier acidity.  Heads into great earthiness and more tobacco and char towards the long, black, cardamon finish.  Very good: KeeperWK, OldWorldWK.

All wines tasted at WBC11 (growing in real-time):

[winelist query=”WBC11″ num=”150″]

Le Wine Buffs Survive Manhattan (and so does the city)

TechEnology - Snooth, Ziff Davis & Enjoy BordeauxSo as it turns out, New York is a pretty damn cool place!  My first time in NYC was filled with as much sightseeing, vino networking, shopping, eating and drinking as one could possibly fit into 3.5 days.  I was in the city for the first time on another adventure as Le Wine Buff for the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB)’s Enjoy Bordeaux campaign, on a fully paid business trip.  While the point of the trip was to attend the Snooth & Ziff Davis TechEnology event and talk about the full awesomeness of affordable Bordeaux wine alongside my LWB colleagues, I was determined to experience as much NYC as I could handle…and I succeeded.

TechEnology - Courtesy of Enjoy Bordeaux & CreativeFeedHeld at the new digital & design campus General Assembly, we walked to the space in Union Square from our hotel, the Martinique.  Rob Moshein, Erin McGrath (Twitter) and I hoofed it pretty quickly actually, as we were running a little late to scope out the wines and discuss them with the servers.  Once there we met up with our fellow LWB in arms, Mollie Battenhouse (Twitter), Rebecca Chapa (Twitter) and Megan Wiig.

The event was just an awesome mob of mainly younger wine and tek-oriented vino enthusiasts, with a distinct flair for networking.  I was hoping to spend more time sipping the wines as they got more air, but I was all wrapped up in interesting discussions about fascinating new intersections between wine and technology.  Indeed, the only people missing were the minds behind that digital wine ingenues at VinTank.

Tweetelier - CreativeFeedHighlights from the event for me included meeting Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, a luminary in viticulture and enology research at my alma mater, UC Dvais.  He is one of the pioneers for research around resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in wine and the subject of one of my articles for Mutineer Magazine.  Another biggie was the newly invented Tweetelier (Twitter) for that particular event, in fact!  Created by members of CreativeFeed, the creative minds behind Enjoy Bordeaux.  You attach the little transmitter to a bottle and setup the radio receiver along with the software and then BLAMMO, a unique tweet each time a bottle is poured during your event.  Simple, yet awesome.  Shopping in the Garment DistrictThe last highlight was the afterparty dinner at craft, Tom Colicchio‘s flagship restaurant, he of Top Chef fame.  It was another epic, 3+ hour long dinner, quite reminiscent of our meals while together in Bordeaux last summer. It was a tremendous meal and completely lived up to the hype. Yum!

The rest of my time in the big city was spent tearing around trying to see and taste as much of Manhattan as possible and to find the appropriate gift for the Lady.  This involved lots of coffee in small places, beautiful silence at the Public Library, oysters and bubbly with Rob at Grand Central Station, drinks in a oversized library and green-lit escalator and drizzly rain with mind-blowing lighting effects in Times Square.  Very good times and I left with a deep appreciation of the subway and taxi system of the Big Apple.

Very good times and I can’t wait to go back to judge the 2011 Today’s Bordeaux competition and select the new Top 100 Affordable Bordeaux in June.  Cheers!

Hudson New York Times Square

As Le Wine Buff for EnjoyBordeaux.com, I am paid a nominal fee for most of my participation.  I also receive free wine samples and my participation on this trip is courtesy of the CIVB.

Le Wine Buffs Take Manhattan

Le Wine Buff - Enjoy BordeauxEnjoy Bordeaux‘s Le Wine Buffs are back and we’re thirsty.

This time we’re taking on New York City and Manhattan is gonna stumble down in a vinous frenzy of affordable Bordeaux wine!  We’re the wine sponsor for this year’s TechEnology wine event held by Enjoy Bordeaux partner Snooth and tech media publishing titan Ziff Davis.  Held at the newly renovated General Assembly, the event will mix some of the icons of tech, publishing and the wine biz and look to do some serious vino mind melding.

I’m excited to be pouring and talking about these wines at the event because I think Bordeaux is coming into another renaissance of exposure for it’s thousands of high quality, affordable wines and their Chateaux, all across the greater appellation.  Much of this belief was built during our visit to Bordeaux last summer.  This event promises to be “a private, networking event recognizing the wine world’s most technologically forward people, business and practices”…and these are the peeps that need to know Bordeaux!

See you on the Right Coast vinopanions, and cheers!

As Le Wine Buff for EnjoyBordeaux.com, I am paid a nominal fee for most of my participation.  I also receive free wine samples and my participation on this trip is courtesy of the CIVB.