If you were fortunate enough to have an industry invite for the Monterey Wine Festival, you were invited to attend a very private event that took place at the Monterey Plaza Hotel on Friday night titled "Jazz and Juice".
This event was different in style and was held for the wine industry. The lovely room at the Monterey Bay Plaza Hotel with the ocean view and doors that opened out to the balcony overlooking waves breaking on the beach was a perfect venue choice. Besides the wines, there was significant presence by spirits producers Johnny Walker, Don Julio, Ketel One and Crown Royal. Belgian beers were Leffe, Hoegarden and Stella Artois.
The music was jazz piano by Bill Spencer who did a good job at keeping the room moving. The food provided by the hotel was top notch – the ahi tuna, salumi, antipasto and a good assortment of fruit and cheeses were of high quality and fresh.
Chappellet "Pritchards Hill" Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ’07 – Not approachable for several years.
Testarosa "Sleepy Hollow" Pinot Noir ’07 – Surprisingly structured with violets on the nose and tight fruit that will develop well.
Thorne Pinot Noir ’07 – Well expressed without over extraction; balanced.
Gridley Family Cellars Cabernet Franc ’05 – Absolutely one of the finest wines I tasted that night if not the best. It was extensive in its structure and complex; plenty of raspberry and spicy cigar box finishing smooth, chocolately and sophisticated.
Avalon Cabernet ’06 was above average especially at the price point.
Guglielmo Sangiovese ’06 – another wine from the local area that represented the varietal well showcasing a fruity wine with balanced acidity.
The Mark West Pinot Noir ’07 had not improved over the last few vintages I’ve tried. Good Pinot on this trip was proving to be elusive.
As I moved on to taste some wines from my local area, I tried the wines from Ribera produced in West Linn, OR. Their Pinot Gris was pretty good but I have to say the Pinot Noir was not exactly the style I tend to appreciate.
The Oh Pinot Noir ’06 from Otter Cove Wines was a refreshing oasis at this point in the evening. While at the Oh table, we engaged in conversation with a gentleman who was pouring his wine as he walked and talked to folks – this is how we came to meet Richard Keenan, a passionate winemaker and kindred spirit – absolutely one of the highlights for the night. His wines express an honesty in their varietal in a refreshing way – that same characteristic that exudes from the man himself – so it is no surprise the wines come off that way. True to the varietal, big in expression but not overstated. Try his wines under the Carica label and look for future reviews of those wines on this site soon – we absolutely love his ’06 Sonoma County Syrah.
The crème burlee and crostini at the Leffe and Stella Artois table were excellent and the Belgian ales were a nice contrast to all the wine. The evening went late into the early morning starting with a great late night dinner at Massaro and Santos restaurant. Check out the full review on Enobytes restaurant
Monterey is not a late night town. We did stumble into Sly McFly’s for some raucous rhythm and blues to help wash down the evenings nightcap but last call at 11PM is lame, especially for a seaside city in California. That was Ok because we had plenty of activities planned for Saturday.
Returning to the hotel I started to think how much I really liked that room, a partial ocean view and a direct line of sight down Cannery Row. We were overlooking one of the liveliest intersections in the city. This location provided a constant but changing street scene highlighted with an ocean background and a gentle breeze that was inspirational in its "Americana". Enjoy! Part 3
the finale will follow soon…