Thursday, April 1, 2010

Where the Catwalk Meets the Vineyard: Some Grapes Really Do Know How to Strut Their Stuff

The world famous El Paseo shopping district is known for its trendy sense of style, but Rodeo Drive East, as it is referred to in some circles, was known for something entirely different on a recent excursion-its exquisite taste in food and wine.
The Fashion Food & Wine Festival provided a myriad of culinary and vino-related delights, some of which I am still trying to process! Starting with a Chardonnay from vaunted Sonoma-Cutrer and wrapping up with a rose of Malbec that made a recent Oprah Winfrey "O" List, there was something for every oenophile in attendance.
As I made my way through the fluffy white tent, I indulged in a juicy '07 Cab from Napa Cellars, a ripe and jammy Petite Syrah courtesy of Girard Winery and one of the afternoon's biggest and best surprises-a Vino Rosso from Pininfarina. For those of you who know your Italian coachbuilders, this company was responsible for the body design of the Cadillac Allante, a memorable luxury roadster, in the 1980's (I trained for my learner's permit with the cherry red version!). Well, they produce a pretty damn good wine too, folks. The '05 has ripe and sweet tannins with huge, dark blueberry and black currant on the front end-enough to make me wanna call in the fruit bomb squad to diffuse it. Had me dreaming of duck with a leather bucket seat reduction...
I also had the pleasure of chatting up master sommelier and talented winemaker Emmanuel Kemiji. Raised in Europe and educated in California, this dashing vintner recently started his own label, Miura Vineyards. As we talked, he poured me an exquisite '07 Pinot called AQUA, a full bodied wine with notes of fig, black cherry and subtle herbs on the finish. Kemiji's wines are just as elegant and classy as he is, and I am already mapping out a visit to his vineyard to see the winemaking magic firsthand.
Some of the other exciting new wines I tasted came from Napa-based JAQK Cellars. This boutique winery offers a series of delicious wines with card game-themed names. Along those I tried were a smooth and creamy '08 Chardonnay referred to as Her Majesty, and the '07 Soldiers of Fortune, a bold and intensely fruity Syrah. David Dees is JAQK's superstar rep, and his love for these wines is supremely evident. I'm really taking a liking to them myself.
For this lover of all things Rhone, one of the true highlights was sampling the wines of Gerard Betrand. This master of the Languedoc produces some of the highest quality vino this up-and-coming region has ever seen. My favorites were the juicy and velvelty Corbieres, a one-two punch of Syrah and Mourvedre, and a sweet yet spicy beauty blend of Syrah and Carignan called Minervois. Both wines are what I would pour in my bathtub if it wasn't such wasteful spending.
I have to say, should this Festival become an annual event it will be one of the most highly anticipated outings of the year for this wine lover and my dear friends who are also so inclined. I'm already dreaming about what Emmanuel Kemiji will be pouring...

To read about the delectable food featured at the Fashion Food & Wine Festival, visit Kimberly Nichols' blog at

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you're enjoying our wines! Thanks for your support!