From the GrapeVine: Cielo Winery and Vineyard

Dr. Joel M. Fisher

Joel M. Fisher PhD is a renowned wine enthusiast, educator and columnist.  He also leads Los Angeles’ biggest and most prestigious wine, brew and spirits festival WineFest LA.  This week Dr. Fisher tells us about his recent visit to Malibu’s Cielo Winery and Vineyard.

Not too long ago I marched 10 of my wine class students from Cordon Bleu in Pasadena through a wine crush facility in Camarillo CA to taste wines from the local area.  As we made our way through, we all tasted, I commented, any questions were asked, and we moved on.

Half way around the room was a table, manned by two similar looking gentlemen, although one had much longer hair.  I tasted their wines, and immediately fell in love with one — a Bordeaux blend called Malibu Rouge. I praised the wine, questioned the two men, and said they could call me as they seemed to wish to do. Almost a week later I received that phone call, and went up to their winery off of Mulholland and Kanan Rd., in Malibu.  That began my involvement with Cielo Winery and Vineyard.

On a recent Saturday I visited their tasting room, Cielo Sip, located not far from the winery, and was surprised to see that they had enlarged the facility and added to its character with their new Woodstock Lounge, complete with sofas, seats, and a long table perfect for tasting groups.

I sat at the table and tasted, beginning with their 2007 Blanc De Noir, a bubbly (or sparkling) wine, which was clear, sharp and threw a long finish.  Retail was $39. In warm weather this will serve the winery well.

We continued on to their new Pinot Noir, from Monterey’s Santa Lucia Vineyard and a big wine.  Retailing for $39, this is a bottle which will go well with food.  Then I was introduced to another of their new products — the 2010 Rose, “Misty Roses” Dry in the mid palate, and finishing well, this is a food wine, with a bubble gum nose.  The wine retails for $34.

On we went to the 2009 Wildberry (a blend of cabernet,  Petite Verdot,  Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. At 14.7% alcohol,this wine is a bargain at $29.  It has lots of fruit, is rounded with a medium finish and fairly smooth.  I thought it good, but not as good as many of its relatives.

The 2009  Black Widow, for $75, is as big as its price, with about 15.2% alcohol.  The wine, part of the newer Woodstock Collection is food friendly, full bodied with a medium-long finish and is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah.

The 2009 Purple Haze, $60, showed lots of fruit, and was well rounded and very smooth.  This is a delicious wine!  Even at this price, its good value.

Another from the Woodstock Collection, the 2008 Purple Mountain Reserve, 100% cabernet, sells for $175, but its smooth, balanced, rounded, medium to long finish and a good food wine.

Finally, back to Malibu, and the 2008 Malibu Rouge, $95 and a long way from the first time I experienced it.  80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, its smooth, great with food, and very much like the first one I remember from a few years back in time.  Still close to my favorite of all the wines so far.

This thorough review will end with the Purple Mountain Cabernet, retailing at $35.   The wine drinks well, is as food friendly as its earlier versions, is rounded, smooth, mild bodied,with a good finish.  Its still one of my favorites.

Visit the expanded Cielo Sip on Kanan Rd, in Agoura, and taste the wines including two more I’ll get to in a later report.

Learn more about LA Winefest June 11-12.

More with Wine enthusiast Joel M. Fisher next week!