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Favorites from the LA Winefest

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Post by Greg Thompson/Special to LAist

Last Saturday's LA Winefest brought a number of vintners to Raleigh Studios. We have already checked out some of our favorite products from the event. Here are some of our favorite wines.

2004 Cobblestone Napa Cabernet was my first taste chosen among 500 wines, spirits, beers and other beverage offerings. It was a bold garnet Cabernet Sauvignon from a family estate vineyards high atop Atlas Peak. A blend of 2 clones and 6% Cabernet Franc for complexity, aged 18 months in French oak before lengthy bottle aging. Why did I start the tasting with a wine with such concentrated fruit and character?

Well, because Nicole Chamberlain, assured me that after a rinse with their SanTasti palate cleansing beverage my palate would be clear of tannins and I would be able to start a new beginning all over again (apologies to Yogi Berra) with the lightest of white wines. After a quick refreshing slug of the almost tasteless, slightly carbonated soda, I felt eady to challenge a white wine to show me some flavor.

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Derby Wine Estates 2007 Pinot Gris did our test proud. Bright grapefruit and honeysuckle overtones were followed by ripe apricot and lemon lime/citrus flavors. Not a hint of tannic jammy flavor from the cab survived the SanTasti baptism! Next, Derby's 2006 '1510' True to the current fashion especially in Paso Robeles wineries, a trendy blend of Marsanne, Rousanne, and Viogner. Crisp citrus and peach flavors open up into apricot jam, gingerbread and even a hint of Creme brulee from the malolactic fermentation of the Marsanne and Rousanne.

Jazz Cellars 7007 Viognier Catie's Corner Vineyard Russian River Intense fruit due to managed low yield vines. Citrus, melon and apricot give way to a creamy lingering finish thanks to partial Sur lie style aging in oak. Custom farmed using organic viticulture techniques.

Seawind 2007 Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Vineyards Dark Garnet pinot color. Rich, lush cherry, plum and berry flavors. -Oak and spice notes. Intense with ripe tannins, good structure and balance. Good extract, unfined adding to richness and complexity. Rich plummy long, smooth finish.

Seawind 2007 Pinot Noir La Encantada VIneyard Santa Rita Hills Full aroma and flavors of cherries, berries, oak and ripe tannin. Good acidity and balance, long fruit filled finish.

The Girls in the Vineyard 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Hills Lake County AVA. In owner Rob McDonald's native Australia, they lovingly refer to the vines as 'the girls'. These single vineyard girls are sustainably farmed in Amber Knolls vineyard in Lake County's High Country not too far from the Wineries Napa appellation. The wine is well balanced with intense fruit and a rich silky texture.

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GUY 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Where would the girls be without a Guy? Guy Riedel the movie producer (not to be confused with Guy Riedel the Crystal tasting glass creator) also had a passion for wine-making. From 2001 he made 4 successive vintages in the garage, then moved into the commercial world. Together with consulting winemaker Kian Takavoli (from Clos Du Val and Opus) he released a Cabernet blended Bordeaux style with 11% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. We had the good fortune to taste the deliciously silky current release. Deep purple (that's where the band got their name) in color, the wine shows intense aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry, and oak.

Rosenthal Malibu Estate 1400 feet above and 4 miles west of the private beaches and surfers, movie studio owner George Rosenthal first planted grapes in 1987. He had spent 2 years checking the soil and weather to assure planting the right varietals. According to fans in the toniest restaurants in SoCal and here at LA Wine Fest, he got it right. Not to mention the dozen wineries that followed him in Malibu. Malibu Newton Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Deep color, aromas of cherry and oak, berry, mocha, and sage with exotic spices on the long rich finish

Cape Rock Gewurztraminer Special Late Harvest South Africa. Now for dessert, one of the many fine imports also at the Wine Fest. Semi-Sweet. well balanced acidity makes it refreshing, not cloyingly sweet. Rich honey, fruit, and spice flavors. Long lingering dry finish. Looks like the Dutch Boers brought great German wine-making to Robertson, South Africa.