From the Grapevine: Father’s Day Edition

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 LA WineFest.  This week Dr. Fisher tells us about the his birthday party / Father’s Day party, including delicious brut’s and a visit from Porto’s Bakery.

I  am one of those whose birthdays fall precariously close to another holiday — Fathers Day.  My son and my daughter, and now their spouses, intelligently chose to merge the two occasions into one, and take Dad off to a world class celebration.

Last year, Peter Birmingham hosted us for a very special dinner at Hatfields.  I’ve written about that, but the memory lives fresh in my mind and palate.

This year, so we could be joined by my two baby grandsons, we dined in the beautiful back yard of my daughter’s home. She, and her brother,  were co-hosts, and I added in two special guests.  The children cooked dinner, rented china, bought flowers, and the entire event sprang to life last Saturday in the early evening.

There is nothing like relaxing, with close family and friends, tasting a special bubbly, and watching Granpa’s favorites busy playing with toys and “mowing” the lawn.

We jumped into the cheese selection, enjoying particularly a French goat cheese, and enjoying an unusual bubbly —  a lovely Cremant de Chanceny from the Loire Valley selected by son Matt.  This Cremant de Loire Brut is rounded and delicate with a fine, edgy, complex nose and  some of the freshness of Chenin Blanc, floral Chardonnay and fruity Cabernet Franc, from 20- to 30-year-old vines. The wine  generously fills the mouth, as it evolves gracefully across the palate with flavorful aromatics and some  lingering notes of fresh peaches and pear.

Truly this was a summer delight to enjoy and begin the evening. The cremant was perfect  with the cheeses and then Porto’s (of Glendale, Ca) famous potato balls.  Believe me, we did generously consume both.  I tasted more  wine than usual at this early stage of a dinner.What the hell, it was my fathersday/birthday, wasn’t it??

Next, we enjoyed, really enjoyed, a Chilled Gaspacho, from a recipe by my son-in-law, Scott, which was not too spicy for me, but was very flavorful, with a south of the border tang to it.  This went well with the second wine of the evening,  Anglim Cameo, a 2006 blend of Marsanne, Viognier and Rousanne.  The Cameo was just right to continue with the cheese, and the potato balls, as well as for moving into the gaspacho.    I am a great fan of this winery, and their leaner, almost Burgundian approach to wine making, which was still true with this Rhone blend.

Sara,my daughter, grilled a Swordfish with Mint-Cucumber Salsa for our entree, accompanied by two salads Matt prepared.  One was corn with lime, butter and cilantro and the other a quinoa, with baby spinach,  heirloom tomatoes,  and feta, with a sherry vinegar and smoked paprika dressing.  The combined trio was just terrific. The swordfish was the best tasting I’ve ever eaten, and melted in my mouth. Thank goodness my two progeny like to cook special meals like this.  It’s a lot of work and I know it to be just that.  All I can say is its been appreciated all of their lives, because they were cooking for the house when much younger.

The final wine, as it turned out, was a huge bottle bought at one of Kay’s event auctions, a Cantara Cellars 2008 Zinfandel from Lodi.  I missed part of the description when she called from the auction and asked if she should buy the wine.  Racing to the computer, I looked up the wines from the names she mentioned — which were the two vineyards of origin.  I knew one of the names, and figured it was a reasonable thing to try.  She surprised me by bringing the wine to dinner.  I enjoyed seeing that the wine was a Mike Brown product, and I am a fan of Cantara Cellars and their selections (the winery is in nearby Camarillo).

Lots of black cherry and black licorice appear in this wine.  It is light bodied on the palate as it opens up, possesses a decent structure, with a medium to medium-long finish. A comment I later saw after dinner described this wine as more like a northwestern pinot noir than zin.  Some truth to that.  It drank perfectly with all of the food described above.

My birthday cake was also from Porto’s, their milk and berries cake, a tres leche product with fresh berries.  This is my favorite cake. I really like it, and I finished my take home piece over two sittings on Sunday!  A very special day.

We will get back to LAWineFest2012 soon, but I may begin with the selection of the Fest Hostess.

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