My Philosophy is Simple:

1) Drink what you like. 2) Like what you drink. 3) Don’t drink White Zinfandel.

Art Tours, Palm Springs and Wine School

Art Tours, Palm Springs and Wine School

Hwy 62 Art Tours

Hwy 62 Art Tours are amazing. If you live in Southern California, you owe it to yourself to drive out to the Morongo Basin/Joshua Tree Nat’l Park area and see some local art. As the name implies, it is a tour of the area. Spread out among 100+ artists and studios, this is a fun road trip.
IMG-20141026-01372 The art below is from TamiWoodCreations.com  I know I will always have a soft spot for there art. After all, she is my mother. She uses recycled wood and other materials to create beautiful, one-of -a-kind creations. Her fans are a very loyal [and vocal] group!

IMG-20141026-01373 IMG-20141026-01375 IMG-20141026-01371One of my favorite pieces. IMG-20141026-01381 IMG-20141022-01267 Snake Jagger is another artist on the Hwy 62 Art Tours. I love his work. I have a few prints myself. Here is a couple of his creations.
IMG-20141022-01271 And just in time for Dias De Los Muertos:IMG-20141026-01383

Palm Springs Weekend!

Palm Springs is so much fun in the fall. 100 degree days and 40 degree nights are not uncommon during this change of season.
Here are a couple photos I took during my trip.

IMG-20141021-01245IMG-20141021-01246 The view from the room was nice. I do love Palm Springs.IMG-20141021-01248And another reason…IMG-20140619-01060

Wine School!

Scholarly knowledge has its place in the wine world, to be sure. I am studying to become an ‘Italian Wine Specialist’. What a completely wonderful class! The history, cuisine and wine of Italy is so interconnected I feel like I have already been there. The group putting on the class the North American Sommelier Association or NASA. So it kind of has that cosmic feel to it. Anyway, here are a couple of pictures. Not too many, as I don’t want to give away the material. But just enough so you get a glimpse into the world of wine school. Look for more Hard-Core Italian Wine Tasting events this year!

IMG-20141018-01218 All in a day’s schooling. IMG-20141018-01236Oh, how much do you know abut Colli Albani DOC? Not a lot? This will help:
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And let’s finish with wine stuff!

Great Wine Jerk event! Look at all that wine. Whew. It’s a hard job but someone has got to do it. WINE JERK out!

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Wine Tastings, Butter Bells, Santa Barbara and a 1966 Port

Wine Tastings

Are you thinking about hosting a wine event this holiday season? Now is the time to set dates and check the schedule. Lots of opportunity to taste new wines with new and old friends. I will do my best to make your event special, I promise. Let’s talk about your event. Contact me now!
Here are some Event Photos:

IMG-20141005-01205  You could have a huge line-up like this:DSC02725 Or a more focused tasting, like this all-Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon tasting.

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This is a Butter Bell.

BUTTER. BELL. I admit, I scoffed. Now I cannot imagine a sane life without one. I used to be a cold, hard, butter-in-the-fridge kind of guy. Ripper of innumerable bread pieces. Now I drink tea and listen to jazz, all while spreading delicious, room -temperature butter on my scones or croissant of choice. DSC02718Here’s how it works: The butter sits in the bell, which is set upside-down into the holding dish, which has a layer of water in it. Science takes over, the butter and the water do not mix. And your butter is soft and [most importantly] fragrance-free. No more onion, garlic, jam or fridge flavors in your butter. All I can say is wow. Pass the bread please.
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 RANDOM SANTA BARBARA PICTURES

This is a beautiful Santa Barbara building on Chapala St. I just thought it looked so perfect for Dias de la Muerte. So I took some random photos.DSC02745 DSC02744DSC02749 DSC02748

And Santa Barbara Wines…

I don’t wanna seem like a Central Coast homer, but I am going to continue to buy these same Santa Barbara wines until I can’t anymore. Always wonderful, complete wines that stimulate conversation. I know the Aligote is probably done. I left them with one lone bottle. As for Jaffurs, the 2013 Bien Nacido Viognier is a new release of an old favorite. It stills hits all the right notes, with lovely white flowers and honey-suckle on the nose. A WineJerk favorite. Look for it in a tasting near you!DSC02753 DSC02752 DSC02751

Wine of The Week!
1966 Taylor’s Vintage Port

An amazing bottle. Superb color for a wine of this age. Nose of crushed, dried violets with slight baking spice. The taste was full, mouth-filling and the finish was clean and had balanced sugar levels. Very nice. Thank you TC. [Sorry for the fuzzy pic. My bad, WJ]
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Golf Thoughts from Lost Canyons

This week I had the pleasure of playing Lost Canyons Golf Club in Simi Valley. Amazing! Coming from the Palm Springs area, I have seen my share of beautiful courses. This is easily among the most beautiful courses I have ever seen, let alone played. I only wish that my game was as nice as the views. I shot poorly but I had a good time. That’s about all for now. I really just wanted to share these awesome pics. DSC02701 DSC02690 DSC02688

The Clubhouse. This course was designed by Pete Dye and Fred Couples. I am standing on the elevated 18th teebox. What a view!DSC02699 DSC02698 DSC02682 DSC02694 DSC02691

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September 2014

So, this week I took a little trip to Hollywood. A couple trips, actually. I usually stop into K&L [1400 Vine St, Hollywood, CA 90028] and pick up some goodies. Their selection of half-bottles is outstanding. Always fun and delicious wines. This week I picked up a few Rex Hill Pinot Noir 375ml. Also, they have a huge selection of world-class wines and spirits. Definitely a Wine Jerk favorite.

AMOEBA MUSIC

A couple of blocks down Sunset Boulevard is AMOEBA MUSIC, one of the best reasons to live in LA. Any Album, CD, poster or band sticker you want, I am pretty sure they have it. Plan on spending a while in here. Plenty of parking and be prepared to check your bag at the front door.DSC02669

Lots of parking!DSC02668Across the street is the CNN Building. Great murals on the parking garages next door.

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TOMATO REPORT

Heirloom Tomatoes are always so fun. Friend of The Wine Jerk GB grows a lot of tomatoes. I mean, a whole lot. I just love this picture. All the hard work and commitment that goes into growing these little guys. Great effect on this photo from an unknown app. [I’ll tell you when I know!]
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Actual Wine News

Milbrandt Vineyards are a family-owned and operated winery in Washington State. They produce some wonderful wines. Viognier and Merlot are particularly special to me. I ran into Kelly Milbrandt at a Industry Tasting a few months ago. I snapped a couple of quick photos and tasted some wonderful wines. Good stuff! Order direct from their website [http://www.milbrandtvineyards.com]IMG-20140520-00989 IMG-20140520-00990

The other wine that I am loving right now is Robert Craig Affinity 2011. A Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley this wine is almost perfect. Lush, ripe fruit flavor bursting from the nose. A velvety mouth-feel that is superb. And a finish of cool eucalyptus and pine box. I decanted mine for about an hour. This feels like a wine for grownups. I recommend saving this wine until 2020.
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Thought of the day:

This is a menu for an upscale Denny’s in NYC. Watch out PF Chang’s! Another bad idea is here to usurp you.
dennys-menu

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August 2014

Greetings! The Wine Jerk is committed to blogging. At least once a month, that is. This will be a monthly look at Wine, through a slightly distorted lens.

My Philosophy is simple:

1) Drink what you like. 2) Like what you drink. 3) Don’t drink White Zinfandel.

 

We opened up a bottle of 2012 Caymus Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 40th Anniversary at a tasting. 2012 40th Anniv 750mlLovely stuff. A little young but not bad. I know that Caymus has a corporate stigma that occasionally is justified, but like I always say ‘It’s never the wine’s fault‘. And this wine has few faults, indeed. This is a rich, syrupy Napa Cab. It will age gracefully for 20+ years, I’m sure. A large portion of stores in town have it priced around $55-60.

SIDURI and burgers?

Hamburgers, topped with a fried egg, hash browns, sharp cheddar and bacon. I don’t know why I love breakfast at night so much. Breakfast At Night. Sounds like an awesome band. Tonight! Live from Red Rocks…BREAKFAST AT NIGHT!! with SIDURI.  I like it. Rock ‘n Roll wine tasting. IMG-20140331-00905 Only one Pinot Noir was daring enough to stand up to the BOLD flavors. IMG-20140331-00906 2012 Siduri Sonoma County Pinot Noir. A damn fine Pinot for under $25. Spicy, lingering flavors with enough body to deal with a meal. Siduri.com

WINE JERK EVENTS for Aug 2014

Aug 10 – Upstairs with The Wine Jerk, Studio City
Aug 23 – Wine Event, TBA, Studio City
Aug 24 – Wine Event, TBA, Studio City

 

OUT AND ABOUT IN L.A.

Horse Thief BBQ

Grand Central Market Downtown Los Angeles 324 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 625-0341
Holy smokes, you have NOT been here? Well, you are missing out, my friend. And now they have Beer and Wine. So it makes for a nice trip downtown. #DTLA is back, apparently. Anyway, I love these guys. I could list all the things they do right but you should just go [to the website, if your that kind: http://www.horsethiefbbq.com ]. IMG-20140710-01099

The Grilled Cheese Truck

The Grilled Cheese Truck is always worth the effort. MMMM What wine to pair with that? Well, I suppose it depends on the tomato soup [or lack thereof]. On a hot day, it is always easy to pair lunchtime treats with a nice dry Rosé. Or Vino Verde from Portugal. Or a cold beer. I just love the grab and go possibilities that go along with the Food Truck.* Grilled_Cheese_Truck

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

One of the most iconic settings in all of music and performance arts. I really enjoy this place. What I enjoy most is that I can bring my own wine and food and enjoy it in a variety of settings. There are 11 or so official picnic areas and numerous other places to get your meal on. And as the photos show, there are no bad seats. Only bad wines. I usually host [unofficial] tastings at one of the picnic areas about 2 hours before showtime. It is always a good chance to sip some fun wines with like-minded individuals. Watch my Twitter feed for more info. IMG-20140727-01107 Above, LA Phil. Below, Hall & OatesIMG-20130616-00392

WINE REGION YOU SHOULD KNOW: Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino is a red Italian wine produced in the vineyards surrounding the town of Montalcino located about 120 km south of Florence in the Tuscany wine region. In Montalcino the name Brunello evolved into the designation of the wine produced with 100% Sangiovese. It is aged for three or more years. About one-third of all Brunello is sold in America, so you know it has a reason to be enjoyed. AND this place is right out of a storybook: Brunello

That is all for now. Let me know if you drink anything worth mentioning.

I hope we can share a glass of wine together soon. I have some public tastings in the works, and I want you to be there!

Remember to sip with an open mind. Sometimes all we need is a different perspective: map-of-world-upside-down   * Also, see the film CHEF. Well-made ode to Food Trucks and the LA food scene 

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Wine Tasting Report: The Good Stuff

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Wine Tasting Report: “TheGood Stuff”

First off, that is a terrible name for a tasting. What was I thinking? I was hurried and simply wanted to convey that we would be drinking some…good stuff. However, that does not do this line-up justice. This tasting was a wonderful selection of domestic wines; one white and five red. We started off with 2010 Le Pich Sauvignon Blanc, a second label from Purlieu Winery in the Coombsville AVA of Napa Valley. This is such a fine Sauvignon Blanc. An adult wine, to be sure. I served it at cellar temp [55 or so] and it was a perfect opener. We moved into a Pinot Noir phase with 2010 Suacci-Carciere Pinot Noir, a small, family-owned winery in the Russian River Valley AVA. This wine is made by Ryan Zepaltas [Zepaltas, Siduri] and I chose it because it is [in my mind] the epitome of RRV Pinot Noir: Clean, fresh and bursting with fruit and spice. Our second Pinot Noir is made of grapes from the gem of Santa Barbara County, the now-famous Bien Nacido Vineyard. But this is no ordinary Pinot. The 2004 Whitcraft Winery Bien Nacido Q Block is unfined and unfiltered. It has 16% alcohol! I used the Coravin to decant about half the bottle. I had to save some of this for later. I took a sip of this and the lights went fuzzy. Hot? Nope. Clean? Forget it. This was a heavy, dirt-in-the-bottle, heavenly, true expression of Pinot Noir. Yummy, indeed! Time to lighten things up with a little Merlot. Wait, Merlot?! The bane of Miles’ existence? Oh yes, dear friends, Merlot. Do not, I repeat, do not believe the hype. The 2009 Leonetti Cellars Walla Walla Valley Merlot is a thing of beauty. The Cellars of Leonetti are also impressive, as seen in this photo from GB.Leonetti Cellar
Next we return to California with an iconic brand, Silver Oak. The 2005 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley was drinking beautifully on this day. Rich, full of Cassis and pine-box on the nose. What a well-made wine. We finished the tasting with a personal bottle. The 2005 Madrigal Petite Sirah was given to me by Chris Madrigal, the owner. He signed it “Thanks for my first Black Sabbath wine tasting” So you can imagine what that was like. This wine is so dense is refracts light. Purple teeth and smiles seem to go hand in hand with this monster of a wine. Blueberry on the nose and so soft going down. DSC02629
Mmm. I thought I might never open this particular bottle, but the Coravin allowed me to share it without pulling the cork. Nice. Oh, hold on a minute. We have a BONUS WINE! Thank you Terrence, who brought out this beautiful 1964 Calon-Segur from his personal cellar. Calon-Segur has a long and rich history. It is a classified Third-growth and the most popular Bordeaux on Valentine’s Day, due to its heart-shaped label. This one still had something to give.

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Perfect label, nice ullage, and NO FRUIT TO SPEAK OF. Whew! It’s not often you get to drink a 50-year-old bottle of anything.

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What did we like about tonight?
Tonight people came together to drink wine, talk, laugh and learn. We drank wines that people were and were not familiar with. Conversations were started, interrupted and restarted. The price was very fair, the wine was very good. I think people will remember this event. Perhaps it is when they see a now-familiar label or hear a phrase or name they picked up tonight. In my eyes however, it all goes back to the wines. To look around and see people enjoying while they learn. That is what keeps me coming back. Join me next time for wine tasting.
Some extra pics:

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The lineup:
2012 Le Pich Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
2010 Suacci Carciere Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
2004 Whitcraft Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Block Q
2009 Leonetti Merlot, Walla Walla Valley
2005 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
2005 Madrigal Petite Sirah, Napa Valley
1964 Calon-Segur, Bordeaux

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Santa Barbara Field Trip!

Today I am looking at two wineries that own NO vineyards. All the fruit is purchased. These wineries are able to produce high-quality wines every year. Small, thoughtful wineries are going away en másse but these folks continue to blend passion and knowledge into some of my personal favorites.
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Whitcraft Winery

Our first stop is Whitcraft Winery. Superb wines made with minimal intervention. A true tasters paradise awaits those brave enough to go five blocks away from the heart of the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. The styles are so old-school that they may seem revolutionary to the uninitiated. Wine for wine nerds, if I may. The photo above is from Sideways. [Don’t let that stop you from drinking these wines!]
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah are the best-known varietals for this family- owned winery.

From WhitcraftWinery.com:
Chris and Kathleen (Barnato) Whitcraft started Whitcraft Winery in 1985. This was not, however, Chris’ first entry into the wine business, as he had hosted a local wine radio program in Santa Barbara County for more than ten years before that, and had in the process learned from some of the best winemakers in California. They include Joe Heitz (Heitz Cellars), Dick Graff (Founded Chalone and AVA’s), and Burt Williams (Williams & Selyem, and now Morning Dew Ranch) to name a few. What began as a hobby grew into both a passion and a lifestyle, the commitment to which is present to this day in every bottle of our wine.

Whitcraft Tasting
This was the tasting line-up when I was there. Oh so good! Do yourself a favor and try some of these awesome wines today! I try to always a couple bottles on hand. You can contact Whitcraft directly. Tasting room open 11-4. Always call to confirm.
I picked up these goodies last time I visited…
Whitcraft 3-Bottles

Whitcraft Winery
36 A S. Calle Cesar Chavez
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
(805) 730-1680
WhitcraftWinery.com

Jaffurs Syrah & Petite Syrah
Jaffurs Wine Cellars
Just a couple blocks from the ocean is Jaffurs, which sits in a cozy neighborhood. What that means is you can get some awesome beach wines…at the beach. Superb Rhone varietals are all they deal with here. “What about the white wine for mommy at the beach?”…well, Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Viognier…all so good! The single-vineyard wines are truly special. Always worth seeking out, to be sure. And the reds are almost too good; I almost don’t want to say another word about them… Truthfully, I am relieved when I see Jaffurs on a wine list. When I stopped in this was the display available:
Jaffurs Display

I wish I had room in my cellar for two of each! Everything was wonderful and Dave Yates [GM and assistant winemaker] was so knowledgeable and kind. It’s hard to stay excited about anything for after twenty years yet here they are, proudly displaying their wares and know-how in a fun, approachable and delicious way. For the Petite Sirah fans reading this, let me address you directly. CALL/EMAIL THESE GUYS AND ORDER SOME TODAY! Serious tooth-staining juice with the ability to make anyone smile wide. And if you have been good all year, maybe Santa will bring you some of the Upslope Syrah.

Jaffurs Wine Cellars
819 E. Montecito St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
PHONE & FAX (805) 962-7003
JaffursWines.com

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