Monday, February 15, 2010

Wine 101 Tasting Seminar, with a Four Course Meal Attached

Back in July I discovered Los Angeles' last remaining winery, San Antonio Winery in downtown LA. Since they now have a wine tasting seminar series, they invited me to check out the first one, Wine 101.

The tasting seminar involves a 4-course luncheon paired with eight different wines.


The seminar is led by Michael Papalia, their wine Store manager. He first went over the basic steps of wine tasting (the look, swirl, sniff, slurp, etc).
The afternoon started out with a plate of Puma goat cheese, orange and roasted eggplant salad (french vanilla glaze, basil oil and microgreens), paired with Champagne Duval-Leroy Brut, a nice champagne for $30 a bottle.
Nice contrast between the citrus and the creaminess of the eggplant and goat cheese. The cheese was not overwhelming either, but the eggplant was a little cold.

Michael Papalia discuss the different grape varieties out there - from the 24,000 names of varieties to the 5,000 truly distinct varieties, to just 150 grown in commer cial quantities. Out of all these, only 9 are considered classic varieties. Oh, the competition ...

The next course was broiled miso Alaskan black cod on potato and chive pancake with miso glaze.
This was a bit tough, a little overcooked, but it had nice flavors. I also liked the pancake quite a bit but the dish overall lacked texture.
This was "paired" with 3 different whites for our comparison. The first two were the Frog's Leap 2008 Sauvignon Blanc(Napa Valley) and San Simeon 2006 Chardonnay(Monterey), a good pick for a Wine 101 course since the attendees can distinguish between the crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc and the buttery Chardonnay.

The third wine was also informatively different with the Maddalena Vineyard 2008 Riesling, Monterey - this was a sweet, almost dessert-wine-like Riesling which I enjoyed in itself though not so much with the cod. I actually saved half of my glass and had it with my dessert later on (a better pairing, IMHO).

For our main entree: Roasted ancho pepper crusted rack of lamb (roasted wild mushroom risotto, pinot noir coriander sauce)
This was very good, the lamb was very tender if a bit fatty and very flavorful. A great dish, one unexpectedly good considering I was just at a wine tasting seminar at a winery. According to San Antonio Winery's owner, they bring in an outside chefs to prepare the food for these special tasting events and they intend to keep doing so for more improvement and to keep it interesting.

The lamb chop was paired with three reds.
The 2005 Maddalena Merlot is a pretty smooth wine for only $14 a bottle
The 2006 Luigi Bosca Malbec was a table favorite, though I think this wine would be better after aging a little longer. It does, however, pair nicely with the lamb chop.
San Antonio “Cask 520″, Paso Robles. This was a pretty good wine, and definitely one of San Antonio's best wines and a good buy at $28.

For dessert, we had some Island mango mousse with candied macadamia nuts and toasted coconut shavings
It was a simple dessert but I liked it a lot, especially with the nice aroma from the toasted coconuts and the texture of the candid macadamia.
The La Quinta Syrah Port that was paired with the dessert was a bit too syrupy and sweet for my taste and I thought the Riesling from earlier was a better pairing.

Papalia of course explained the process of making port, in particular brandy fortified port. If you're a wine newbie you will definitely learn a lot from this seminar, from the difference in the process between white and red wines, why chardonnay tends to be more buttery, and much more. Did you know that an oak barrel is individually hand crafted and runs about $1000 and can only be used for 2, or at most 3 vintages? Of course, you can then use them to age distilled spirits after, but still now I can understand more why wines can be so expensive.


If you're interested in attending a tasting seminar at San Antonio Winery, here's their list of events.
Upcoming Events:
Wine 102: Exploring California's Grape Growing Regions. Sunday, Feb 21 (1-4 pm).
$55, 4 course luncheon included.
Understanding Bordeaux Varieties. Saturday, March 20 (1-4 pm)
$60, 4 course luncheon included.
"A Day in Tuscany": Italian Wine Tasting. Saturday June 12 (1-4 pm)
$60, 4 course luncheon included.

Boutique Wine Tastings:
Artisan Chocolates & California Reds. Saturday, March 6 (1-3 pm)
$24, light appetizers included
Wine & Cheese Pairing
Saturday, April 10 (1-3 pm)

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San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
(323) 223-1401
www.sanantoniowinery.com

2 comments:

Wandering Chopsticks

*Whimper.* I missed out on lambchops and you know how much I love lambchops. Next time!

burumun

See, that's why you should've come accompany me even if you were full and it was super last minute .. :P

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