The Club Culinaire of French Cuisine [http://www.clubculinaire.us] is a non-profit organization of chefs, wine purveyors and other hospitality professionals. The Club organizes events to support the Concern Foundation, the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Hope Program and the M.E.G. Foundation in India. One of the annual events is the Picnic Des Chefs which brings together various Los Angeles area chefs, along with wineries, to showcase their wares at Vasa Park in Agoura Hills.
As it was a pretty warm day, and we were outside, I focused a lot on white and rosé wines for most of the time we were there. Some of the standouts for me were:
Cielo [www.cielofarms.com] is based in Malibu, and under its Estate Collection label it highlights the grapes grown on the property. But they also source grapes from Northern California and these grapes go into their Woodstock Collection. The 2009 Woodstock Honey Pie blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat was delicious.
Clos Clementine [www.closclementine.com] Cotes de Provence Rosé 2010 and 2011 vintages poured. Steve Veytia, who was raised in St. Helena and resides in France, created this wine with his two partners due to his own frustration over not being able to find affordable roses when he visited the US. So, now he imports his own blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren, and Syrah.
Reyes Winery [www.reyeswinery.com]: A shame that I had to go all the way to Agoura to finally discover this tasty Chardonnay made in our own neck of the woods by Reyes Winery up on Sierra Highway.
Wine broker Hollywood & Wine [www.hollywoodandwine.net] was pouring samples from some of the wineries they represent. I really enjoyed the Cass Estate Viognier 2011 and the Cordon Kick-On Ranch Chardonnay 2009.
But of course, I couldn’t stay away from the red wines, and of the ones I tasted, I enjoyed these the most:
Cielo [www.cielofarms.com] makes excellent reds, some of which I had the pleasure of tasting when up in Napa. Winemaker Jason Moore did an especially great job with the Woodstock Black Widow [85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petite Sirah] and the Woodstock Purple Haze [90% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon].
Reyes Winery [www.reyeswinery.com]: I already mentioned the Chardonnay, but I would be remiss not to point out that Reyes also makes a full lineup of red wines. For me, the highlights here were the Syrah and the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Also made at Reyes are the wines of Stephen Hemmert and Juan Alonso. Stephen’s Grenache and the Juan’s Red blend were my favorites at this table.
The wines from Reyes, Hemmert and Alonso are all made from grapes grown in our area, in the Sierra Pelona Valley Viticultural Area, and hint at the promise of good things to come right in the backyard of our own Santa Clarita Valley.
But, this was a chefs picnic after all, and regardless of the fact that I focus primarily on wines, I would be woefully remiss if I did not mention the fantastic food that was being served. The lines were long, but moved quickly. All the food was great, but the highlights for me were the:
Assorted Pates (Sebastien Espinasse, Fabrique Delices)
Quiche Lorraine (Josie LeBalch, Josie Restaurant)
Pissaladiere (Agnes Martinez, French Market Café)
Smoked Salmon (Michel Blanchet, Michel Cordon Bleu)
Salade Nicoise with Fresh Seared Ahi Tuna (Keizo Ishiba, K-Zo Restaurant, Corinne Lizares, Cimple Café)
Endive Salad with Bleu Cheese and Pine Nuts (Florent Marneau, Marché Moderne)
A fun event, with delicious wine and food, in a beautiful setting, for great causes. It doesn’t get any better.
Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.