Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Twin Pomegranate Killing

Without a doubt, Ojai is one of the most idyllic towns I have ever visited, and my first visit to its annual wine festival was a memorable one.
One of my most unusual finds came at the end of my visit there, and it was one I almost walked right by, literally. Brian and Nick Davis, two brothers known as the "Twin Poms," have crafted three Pomegranate wines, of all things, from their small production wine company in Fresno. The bottles carry a disclaimer that "Consuming One Glass May Promote Smiling."
I know..the jokes could be endless...should be twice as good, right? Or maybe double the flavor? etc...predictably, I could go on and on... but I won't...because I must say...as I sipped their light and slightly floral table wine (they also make a sparkling wine and a white blend), I imagined myself sitting on a small fishing boat out on the lake we were facing, a plateful of steamed Old Bay shrimp on my lap.


The fact that these guys are really cool and pretty cute doesn't hurt either...but seriously, try their wine...and find a serene body of water and some shellfish worthy enough to share it with.
For more information go to:

Follow me on Twitter at Vinochick75.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Palm Springs Bistro Puts a Flavorful Twist on Farm to Table Pairings

The above picture speaks volumes about Twisted Bistro, arguably the most enjoyable new restaurant to hit Palm Springs in a while.
Executive Chef Michelle Heinrich and her talented team are culinary artisans, culling the best produce and freshest ingredients from local sources, and bringing them to your Twisted table.
Dishes like Northwest King Salmon with avocado butter atop fava beans with pesto, grilled fennel, and squash.

Of course, all of this is essential to the wine (dish pictured above served with Primitivo) that I enjoyed in one wonderful, sensory-overloading six-hour marathon evening there. Heinrich describes her list as "frivolous, intense, sexy, dirty, crisp, full-bodied, light-bodied, fruity, earthy, cherry, blackberry, grapefruit, apple, dry, and oaky."
I must agree on all fronts, and this Napa and Lodi-dominant list, peppered with a few Oregonian and Italian offerings, is a good one...just as good food and wine don't lie:

Just when I thought I was full from the salmon, Heinrich whipped up what I am certain is one of the best things I have ever tasted. Tender, flavorful crabcakes filled with, of all things, sweet potatoes and beets.
In case you're wondering...yes, it works...boy does it work, especially when paired with a crisp 2009 California Viognier from Miner Family Vineyards.
Other standout pairings include Twisted's thin crust pizza. I enjoyed a slice topped with oyster mushrooms and feta (and gluten free, which I didn't know til I had already wolfed it down), also paired with the Viognier.
Since I'm always crushing hard on red (get it? Crushing...grapes...I know, dumb), my favorite wine of the night was the '09 Felino Vina Cobos Malbec, which has a ton of chocolate, dark berry, and more velvet than Lou Reed and his Underground.

Since I was way too full for dessert, I grabbed a handful of the cocoa-dusted almonds that double as bar nuts there. No surprise here...even they went fast.
Special thanks to Michelle Heinrich and the staff at Twisted Bistro Palm Springs:
1775 E Palm Canyon Dr # 220
Palm Springs, CA 92264-1646
(760) 325-8180

Follow me on Twitter @vinochick75.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ojai Wine Fest Offers a Taste for Every Palate

It stands to reason that when you find yourself drinking wine along a beautiful waterway, not much can go wrong.
I discovered this on my first ever visit to the unbearably gorgeous Ojai, California.
The 25th Annual Ojai Wine Festival, held on the serene Lake Casitas, drew thousands of people and more than 60 wineries in celebration of adult grape juice.
The very first sip I took was a jammy and yummy Carignane from Toucan Wines, a family owned micro-winery in the Arroyo Grande Valley...this was a wine with character...

One of the more interesting finds was a Rose of Tempranillo from Vines on the Marycrest, a small boutique winery out of Paso Robles. The winemaker's descripton of his creation was intriguing and slightly offbeat:

I had the pleasure of tasting some killer reds from Michael David in Lodi. Offerings like Lust, a blueberry-inflected Zin that makes you wanna hurt someone.
My wine loving friends know that I will do just about anything for some of their Petite Petit, a dreamy blend of Petite Syrah and Petit Verdot. I was lucky enough to learn a bit more about these wines from the folks in the trenches:

One vintner had a novel approach to marketing his 'not yet ready for prime time' wines, conducting an on site barrel tasting to take the pulse of future customers:

At least one winemaker offered samples of an earth-friendly grape growing philosophy...the big and bold Petite Sirah from Green Truck (Red Truck is the more familiar label) would be perfect with any mole dish.
After a delicious meal with new friends at the iconic Boccali's Restaurant...
it was time to hit the road for the journey home...
After enjoying such fabulous views and wines, something tells me I won't be leaving Ojai in my rear view mirror for very long.
Vino Chick would like to thank Angela May and the folks at the Ojai Wine Festival for their gracious hospitality:

 Follow me on Twitter@vinochick75