From the GrapeVine: International Food and Wine Festival

Dr. Joel M. Fisher

Dr. Joel M. Fisher Ph.D 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 the International Food and Wine Festival:

Every year I look forward to receiving my invitation to the International Food and Wine Festival at Herzog Cellars in Oxnard, CA.  Early this spring was no exception.  I knew the event was coming and anticipated tasting something new to me: the most recent  Kosher wines from throughout Europe and Israel.

The date came, the day was windy, and I drove north to arrive for the trade section of this tasting. I also freely admit to looking forward to the brilliant (you read that right) food prepared by Chef Todd Aarons at his Tierra Sur Restaurant.  I once asked him, since he lived in my part of the valley if he was interested in opening up a restaurant in my area.  Nope, he was committed to Herzog.  And, the food really is as good as I am making it sound, if not better.

So, in good spirits I walked in to see winemaker Joe Hurliman about to be interviewed on camera, and Jeff Morgan, a longtime Napa friend and winemaker of Rosso, a rose Kosher wine from Sonoma, as well as winemaker and vintner with Leslie Rudd for their Covenant and C from Napa Valley.

I strolled up to the bar/counter to get a glass of water (truly) and began a conversation with the pourer, who turned out to be Herzog Cellar Master Josh Goodman.  I had seen him before, but never chatted like we did that night. In a few minutes he set up a long list of bottles in front of me:  the entire Herzog line, or close to it.

I began with the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Chalk Hill Vineyard in Alexander Valley.  What a way to start!  This was a really good wine!  Herbaceous in nature, but not obnoxious,  and with 14% alcohol.  Not too big, this would be a pleasure to match with cheese and crackers.  I thought this very nicely balanced, fruit forward, and equally well rounded.  A smooth wine to enjoy and sip slowly.  Price is roughly $50, I thought that a good value.

I moved on to the 2007  Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was another wine with herbaceous quality, along with light pepper.  The wine had some bitterness,  and was another smooth tasting , with a good finish, but almost edgy product. Also priced at $50

Josh then led into the 2009 Petite Syrah, from Lodi.  This was the third herbaceous wine in a row, as well as a good food wine, balanced and smoothing out as I revisited it.

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, from Napa, was a real crowd pleaser.  I liked the eucalyptus and green pepper elements, rounded and balanced as well. With good fruit and something attractive that stuck to my palate. A  good buy at $25.

Then we jumped to the 2008 clone 6 Cabernet from Alexander Valley.  This was another one of those wines which was really good.  A lovely full bodied red with a good finish.  Save it for a special anniversary or birthday.  Better yet, have Chef Todd do a birthday celebration for you at the restaurant.  Oh yes, this lovely is available for $146 a bottle.

So, note the prices now range from the $20 range to nearly $200.

The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Tokalon Vineyard in the Oakville district is a pugnaceous, bit spicy, big wine.  Robert Parker ranked it in the high 90’s.  This one you can have for $180.  And, fans are buying it.

I went on, determined to do the Cellar Master justice.  He poured the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, also from Chalk Hill in Sonoma.  The wine seizes your attention with its load of fruit.  I liked the finish, already long, and thought it balanced, well rounded, and for what I like, equally smooth to the best of the selection.  This is available for merely $120.00.

Considering I completed my task without much interruption, except for water to avoid dehydration, I limped off to enjoy some of the food our Chef was laying out on tables.  No coffee, but I was in good shape, so pointed myself to the car and then drove home.  You will note from this I missed the international selections entirely…..  Next year.

To read more exclusive wine columns from Dr. Joel M. Fisher’s From the GrapeVine

Visit LA Winefest taking place June 11-12