The limousine pulled up to the Double Tree Hotel in Santa Monica it was a sight to behold a long white stretch Excursion Limousine that normally seats up to 22 people for our group of 6 plus myself. We transferred the lunch supplies for the day and I went in to find our guests from Ireland. Dorothy and Catherine, two sisters from Dublin on holiday here in Los Angeles.
We loaded into the limo and took off up the coast. Toward Malibu Canyon. It was a beautiful day, the heat wave had broken from the previous week and I was elated. We came to our first stop Wish vineyards a wonderful boutique winery in Hidden Hills that specializes in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
We were met by the owner who is also a sommelier and has a degree in the culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu. She took us for a tour of her vineyard explaining how she came to choose the grape varietals to plant that are based on the micro climate which has hot days and gets some of the cool ocean breeze coming through the canyon at night.She brought back barrel samples from her wine maker from her 09, 08 & 07 vintages and that gave us the opportunity to sample the progression of the wine making process. It’s interesting to see how much it changes with the barrel aging and then further in the bottle.
We also tasted the Cabernet and Merlot grapes where we could taste the basis from which each wine develops. Once we got done with the barrel samples we tasted their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and their new cab merlot blend which were all wonderful. The Merlot went well with our lunch.
Next we made the trek to Malibu Solstice a vineyard at 2100′, high up in the Santa Monica mountain range. This wonderful vineyard has a 360º view that is breathtaking. His vines are divided up with a northern and southern exposure. His only varietal is Cabernet Sauvignon and he’s been making wine since 2001.
He has an interesting philosophy about his wines which is to let mother nature make the wine. Each of his vintages are very unique. Yes they are all cabs but unlike most wineries he doesn’t do any blending to even out the taste from one year to the next.
So in this case he allows nature intent to dictate what his wine will taste like with each vintage and the result is quite remarkable. We tasted his 2004 first then the 2005 both of which were very similar then the 2006 had a bit more spice and pepper to the finish. The terroir came through in the wine which added to the pleasure.
The 2008 although young, for a Cab offered a completely different take more fruit forward. The 2002 was a the last one that we had and that was such a nice was to end the tasting.
A well balanced Cab that was difficult to put down. Unfortunately we had to leave this wonderful environment to get on to the second half of our experience. Since we experienced 2 estates we next went on to experience some of the tasting rooms.
Our first stop was to visit Cielo which makes both estate grown wines as well as wines using grapes from both the central coast and Napa/Sonoma. There is a very distinct difference between the estate wines and the others.
Cielo has a it’s woodstock series of wines that are all named after songs from the concert. These wines are easy to drink with or without food. Some of them are very fruit forward with many hints of dark berries flavors.
Their Estate grown wines have a bit more of a spicy finish. Again you can taste the distinct flavor of the Terroir, which is mostly chaparral, on the finish. Andrew began our tasting. We tasted about 6 or 8 wines having our first whites of the day. The environment at Cielo is very relaxed. There was live music while we were there.
We were also fortunate to have Bill Hirsh also pour for us which made the experience that much more enjoyable. Next we descended upon the Cornell Winery to end our tasting extravaganza. We were treated to a private tasting in their special back room which has a wonderful long wooden table that seats about 20 people with chandeliers has such a warm inviting feeling to it.
We tasted a selection of other local wines Surfrider Sauvignon blanc, Malibu Sanity Chardonnay, Cielo Misty Roses, Mandolina Sangiovese Blend, Cantara Old vine Zin, Bodega Bomez de Malibu 2007 Cab, Malibu Valley Syrah and Anglim Grenache.
The one that truly stood out for me was the Malibu Sanity Chardonnay. We were also treated to a meat and cheese platter composed of 3 cheeses, baguette and an assortment of charcuterie which was very welcome after a day of tasting and also went well with the wines.
Once we were finished with our tasting we went into the private room at The Old Place, which is the former post office for the town of Cornell.
We were treated to some wonderful locally raised sirloin steak, white fish and chicken along with desserts which were out of this world. The nice thing about the cooking at
The Old Place is that their meats are all cooked over a hardwood grill which imparts a smokey flavor that is the perfect compliment to the atmosphere that surrounds you there.
The day was full of fantastic experiences, socializing with wonderful people, great wines and fantastic food. The other nice thing is the luxurious transportation and the fact that you are taken around in the lap of luxury for the entire day. What’s not to like!
A quote from Bella Shaw, one of the people on the tour – “It was a fantastic experience because it wasn’t “commercial.” Not like a Napa wine tour at all, and Rico was the perfect host. Wish I still had my travel show on CNN. This exclusive excursion would definitely be featured.”
For more information on how you can come with us on one of these tours visit – https://www.fineculinaryexperience.com/malibuwine.html