For a third annual event, the LA Winefest boasted a pretty impressive list of wineries and other vendors, and seeing its very sweet price-tag of $35 (via goldstar), I took advantage of the not-too-hot weekend to check out this festival and brush up on my tasting palate.
1) Delayed ice trucks held up in our fine LA traffic, which meant white wines weren't properly chilled (NOT good on a fairly warm summer day), and I daresay even some reds could've used some cooling down that day.
2) No fans, misters or other outdoor cooling apparatuses -- making it a bit uncomfortable for folks to linger about enjoy their alchy - especially tough for those liking full-bodied reds.
3) Lack of a readily accessible cheese/bread table, the few scattered at the event were always surrounded by mobs of people (there are a few food boothes you can buy edibles from, but not very convenient for grabbing a nibble between tastings, and, of course, it ain't free).
Despite these minor peevey annoyances, I think the winefest went well and I definitely learned a little more about wines while chatting with the growers/winemakers/distributors and through tastings. Definitely a lot of tasty stuff, but the ones that stood out for me are:
Tablas Creek Espirt de Beaucastel Blacn 2006: a Southern Rhone style white made of Roussanne (65%), Grenache Blanc (30%) and Picpoul Blan (5%) grapes, it had a rich pear scent and a refreshing mineral-crispness on the tongue with just a hint of acid. Very easy to drink and appreciate.
7 Deadly Zins from Michael David in Lodi: Probably liking this because it was an easier, lighter red perfect for summer - soft tannins, berry jam aromas and pretty smooth finish, the complementary 7 Heavenly Chards ain't bad either for a California chardonnay, which I generally shy away from since they have tendency to be over-oaked and super toasty, but this one got that under control and at just the right level for me.
2005 Emperor's Delight Rose from China Silk: Only noteworthy because who'd thunk China of all places can make decent wines, but this one is actually not bad. Made from Syrah grapes, it has a nice strawberry nose with floral hints and slightly sweet taste (but not 'White Zinfandel' sweet, yikes!) This could have potential as the next Chile, Argentina or South Africa in terms of good-value wines.
Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss: Yes, I also had beer -- who can resist a COLD, frothy cup on day like this? This one particularly stood out because of its robust, malted flavor and smooth finish. Too bad they weren't also serving up their hefeweizen at this event.
And also, some **amazing** chianti jelly that was awesome on slices of parmigiano-reggiano cheese (being prepped in photo above) -- a pity that I forgot the brand of the jelly, but I do remembered it being imported from Italy.
But the highlight of the whole day was definitely the wine + cheese tasting class held early in the afternoon by Frey Vineyards and the Cheese Impresario herself, Barrie Lynn . . .
. . . both of them were absolutely delightful as they gave an introductory course on how to pair cheeses and wines. My most useful takeawy is the "cheese / wine highway" technique of simultaneously tasting both together to get the biggest bang from the combo!
And of course, I can't complain about the samplings at this lesson . . .
which included generous portions of artisanal cheeses (including insanely intense and delish 10-year-old Hook's cheddar that I absolutely love), BRIX chocolates, fig, seeds and nuts. Definitely fond tasty memories, at least until next year . . .