Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pebble Beach Food & Wine { Part 2: The Wine }

Look – Swirl – Sniff - Taste….these four words are integral to having the perfect wine experience. Using all of your senses to really encapsulate the essence of wine is key to pure enjoyment.

First you want to visually analyze the color of the wine. If it is a rich cabernet sauvignon – does is represent a dark ruby color? Next you want to aerate the wine by swirling it in the glass. It will open up the flavors to more exhilarating experience. Third the inhalation of aromas will rush to your brain and different scents will surface. You may smell cedar where your friend picks up tobacco. Last but certainly not least is the actual taste. Are there tannins or a sense of richness to the wine?

Over time and trying different wines, you will develop your palate for what you like. Perhaps you steer towards California red wines, next time try a Rhone varietals from France. You will be surprised how your knowledge and admiration for a variety of unique wines will widen.

The Pebble Beach Food & Wine was full of wonderful wineries. Over two hundred were represented at the event. Wine definitely out weighed the food. Everything from large, small, boutique and new comers were being poured and tasted by many. Many of my favorites participated including: Far Niente, Heitz, Nickel & Nickel, Staglin Family Vineyards, Stag’s Leap, Twomey Cellars, Barnett Vineyards, Frank Family Vineyards, Grgich Hills, Newton, Round Pond Estate, Sequoia Grove Winery, Spring Mountain Vineyard and Plumpjack Winery.

Sequoia Grove became a favorite last Friday when some friends brought it over to our house. When we stumbled upon the wine at the event, I pleasantly surprised. It was founded in 1980 by Jim Allen. It is an elegant little winery in beautiful Napa Valley’s Rutherford region which produces superb Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes are harvested from estate vineyards in Rutherford and enhanced with just the right balance of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The color is rich, dark and a true teeth staining wine. That is a good thing. Intense aromas of blackberry, dark cherry and currants along with burnt toast, cedar and tobacco can be picked up in just a few sniffs. It is a smooth wine with ripe raspberry tones on the palate. The overall experience is a well balanced wine with a smooth finish. You will want to purchase multiple bottles to enjoy.

Located in the celebrated Rutherford region of Napa Valley, California, Round Pond is a family-owned and operated estate designed around the world-class vineyards, gardens, and orchards. This family estate produces artisan olive oils and limited-production Cabernet Sauvignon. Round Pond offers both reserve and estate wines. These are must taste wines!

I smiled from ear to ear when I saw that Staglin Family Vineyards was pouring at the event. This is one of the premier wineries in Rutherford. With intense fruit and subtle tannins and pure decadence, this is one wine not to be missed. We tasted the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and were delighted with the lushness of this magnificent wine. Thom Elkjer, The San Francisco Chronicle, writes: "Staglin Family Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon-- The vineyard that yields this plush, juicy Cab was once part of the estate that produced Beaulieu Vineyards' historic George de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon--arguably the greatest Cab of the previous century. The Staglins are giving it the treatment it deserves, and it shows in the wine."

The last winery I am going to highlight is also located in Rutherford – I guess it is my favorite region. Nickel & Nickel was founded in 1997 by the partners of Far Niente. They produce single vineyard wines and are highly coveted in the valley. Nickel & Nickel currently produces cabernet, chardonnay, merlot, syrah and zinfandel from six sub appellations including Oakville, St. Helena, Howell Mountain, Rutherford, Stags Leap and Yountville.

Overall, the Pebble Beach Food & Wine event was an extraordinary experience. It was great times hanging out for the day with my foodie friends Jean and Liren. An added bonus was meeting Sara and Gina in person. I was disappointed I missed seeing Trish and meeting Azmina in person. I would like to thank Liren for inviting me and Foodbuzz for the opportunity to attend this terrific event.


  1. You should DEFINITELY drive up to Rutherford and spend an afternoon at Round Pond. Their olive oil tasting is on the best foodie experiences I've ever had. And the wine tasting pavillion across the street is just lovely. I'd love to go back and try their food/wine pairings.

  2. Nice wine picks, I'm going to add a couple of those to my must try list. I would have loved to try more, but I was being careful since I was the driver. It was great meeting you, hope you have a great weekend, let's not wait so long next time.

  3. Wonderful job highlighting those amazing wines! I, too, want to go visit Round Pond one day - it was just lovely and the estate sounds gorgeous :) Lisa, SO glad we got to enjoy this together!

  4. I would have loved the chance to be around all those wines!

  5. Looks like you had a great wine tasting experience and you've done a beautiful job showing off the event. I'm glad you spent some time focusing on the wines, looks like many exceptional wineries were represented. Maybe we will check it out next year and play some golf, I've heard they have some nice courses on the Monterey Peninsula, just kidding;-). Ps. Healdsburg Creamery & Bakery made our daughter's wedding cake, they did a beautiful job, they are one of my favorite bakeries.


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