Big Sur Food and Wine Festival Nov. 2-5 2017: The Best Of

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George Chadwick
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Big Sur Food and Wine Festival Nov. 2-5 2017: The Best Of

#1 Post by George Chadwick » November 7th, 2017, 7:40 pm

Here are my emotion-based awards for the four day event (I will add pictures later when I switch to my phone). I tasted maybe 100 California wines, all very good, but that's not what I care about:

Best Timing of an Infrastructure Project

After many months of the heart of Big Sur being cut off in both directions, the Pfeiffer Bridge connecting all of the events to the north was finished ahead of schedule a couple of weeks before the Festival. On the South end a mudslide still blocks all traffic. If the Bridge had had any delays, no Festival, and Big Sur desperately needed the people, support, optimism, money from the Festival. That little bridge was an emoticon of joy. Amazing.

Best Winery News

Birichino, whose wines and winemakers were at Opening Night, is opening a tasting room in a couple of weeks in Santa Cruz, not far from my home. There is a God. Do not pass from this Earth without trying their wines.

Best Winemaker Discovery

I ran into Byron Kosuge a couple of times this weekend. He makes perfectly balanced wines with perfect acidity. I mentioned to him that his wines reminded me of the acidity of older Ridges. He said that's where he took some wine lovers from Europe. I tried his Chardonnay, Gamay, his Pinot "lesser" blend, his Hirsch pinot (great wine), all perfect acidity.

Best Self-Validation

Last year and this year I never actually ordered wine from a winery while I was still at the Festival, it's neither expected nor practical. Except this year at the Pinot Walkabout. One wine took my fancy. Never heard of the winery. The winemaker is about fifteen years old. He presented two pinots. One of them was light and pretty and real, among 70 wines poured I went back to it three times to validate my palate because it was exactly in my wheelhouse, and I bought six bottles at $60 per, which is not what the festival is about but I very rarely have these epiphanies with a new winery. I was certain it is for me. Certain. Knowing nothing about it.

I return to the Bay Area and there is one bottle of it on Winebid. 96 points Vinous! I am vindicated! Lutum Santa Rita Hills. Gentle perfect wine well worth $60.

Best Not-Ready Wines

2014 Calera Jensen Pinot
[vintage?] Kosuge Hirsch Pinot
Non vintage Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne, this might be my favorite Champagne house just because of my two years at Big Sur Festival (but I acknowledge that Taittinger Comte is the greatest high-end bargain in the world. I guess I have two favorites).

Best Event

Hiking With Stemware. This was on the Chappellet property Rancho Rico. It was a full and complete event with a mystical violinist on a mountain and Kosuge wines and on an ocean precipice. Done, right?
Not done.
Then there was the massive blowout-yet-dignified gourmet lunch in their home with musical interludes.
And that was before the wine auction in the barn.
All infected with the spirit of three Chappellet family members.

Most Pleasantly Surprising Event

Opening Night at Ventana. I'm not a Ventana (nor Highlands Inn) fan. Too corporate and obscenely expensive. But this event was a blowout of beauty indoors and out, great wineries around every corner, and the food purveyors were as good as it gets.

Best Place to Stay if Someone Else Drives

Instead of Big Sur, stay in Carmel at a B and B. Beautiful inns at a low price. But you have to drive 26 winding miles after a day at the Festival.

Best Serendipity Appearance (tie)

Naima Nascimento, a Chappellet granddaughter. First appearance at Pinot Walkabout. Second unexpected appearance was at the Rancho Rico lunch.
Edwin Huizenga, violinist. First appearance was on a hillside as we rounded the corner on a hike. Second unexpected appearance was at the Deetjens dinner.
Pix forthcoming.

Best Wine I Brought (for private restaurant dinners when both evenings' Henry Miller Library events were cancelled because of possible rain)

1996 Vogue Amoureuses. Perfect complete and years at this plateau left to go. 1996 is a very unpredictable Burgundy year right now, acidity tannin earth dark fruit. This was thrilling. More luck than anything.
Other wines brought:
The 2003 Vogue Amoureuses after being bursting with red on release has gone into a slightly dark young shell. Wait.
1997 Togni surprisingly showed too young. Only a little bit herbal. 97 points. Bottle variation, each variation great.
2002 Bryant was a powerful Cabernet, not quite touching secondary, 95 tonight with upside.
2001 de Fargues, a great wine: a little sugary and outclassed tonight. 375 ml.


Best White Wine

Maybe not "best,", but Chappellet's Sangiacomo Vineyard Chard bridged the gap between my palate in the 1990's and my palate now, and with air it got really good. To me it was the best dry white wine of the weekend.

Best Cameo

Bedrock!

Best Food

The smoked black cod at the Pinot Walkabout was the best food item at that event along with the chorizo-wrapped almost-rare rabbit. But the food at the Ventana Opening Night Event was mindblowing. Little bites but as many as you wanted. My fave was a tie between something from Home Restaurant in Santa Cruz, I don't even remember, versus a New York Strip with Sweetbreads and Mushrooms thing from somewhere that had BBQ in its name. Really hard to make food this good.

Most Dangerous Station

Cocktail Mezcal thing Opening Night. Do not have one of these when you have had wine. Picture forthcoming.

Most Romance

Deetjens on the final night. I just wanted to go there, and I did not know that half the restaurant was set aside for a Festival Tablas Creek dinner so I saw many people I had met before, and Edwin and Rick were there to serenade that dinner but spent half the time in the main dining room serenading my table. Deetjens was actually physically hit by the mudslide in addition to being cut off from the world for eight months.

Why
When you attend multiple events at this Festival (you pay only for the events you attend), several things happen to you besides the admiring of the outpouring of creativity. Eventually:

You understand how hard it is to live in Big Sur.

You start to see the same people again and again and they become friends.

The unique beauty suffuses your soul. It isn't unique at first, just pretty. But it becomes unique. There is no place like it.

**************

If this intrigues you check out the Foraging Festival in January. I know little about it.
Better still, attend at least two Big Sur Food and Wine events next November (and stay in a Carmel B and B). See you there!

Wines tasted at home while writing this post

2007 Calera Mills pinot noir, open over a week but kept in a fridge each night
Started out a little old, After a week it was structured and earthy and not old.

1997 Dominique Laurent Vosne Romanee Les Beaumonts
The first rule of Laurent Beaumonts is, do not talk about Laurent Beaumonts.

1992 Domaine Moillard Chambertin
Back when they owned it. Great wine? No. Good auction purchase for one bottle? Yes. History value? Yes. Fine tannins coat the gums. Fruit brown but not old. Day Two is tomorrow.
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Big Sur Food and Wine Festival Nov. 2-5 2017: The Best Of

#2 Post by David Glasser » November 7th, 2017, 8:28 pm

Sounds wonderful, will put this on the to-do list.

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Big Sur Food and Wine Festival Nov. 2-5 2017: The Best Of

#3 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » November 7th, 2017, 8:50 pm

How am I going to get some Birichino? It's all I am hearing about.
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#4 Post by George Chadwick » November 7th, 2017, 8:53 pm

Glenn L e v i n e wrote:How am I going to get some Birichino? It's all I am hearing about.
i'm sorry to tell you this Doc. You can't.

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#5 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » November 7th, 2017, 9:04 pm

I am a have not.
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#6 Post by ERPark » November 7th, 2017, 9:06 pm

Sounds like you had a swell time, GC!
GEN3

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#7 Post by George Chadwick » November 7th, 2017, 9:11 pm

I just ordered a case of mixed Birichino online very easy, Doc.

Best wine from multiple tastings is the Grenache.

Others say the Chenin is killer.

I could not resist ordering the Muscat.

My least favorite is the Zin. The pinots are a mystery, I've had them but never focused on them. This time I shall.
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#8 Post by George Chadwick » November 7th, 2017, 9:41 pm

The first stop in Big Sur, always
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Nepenthe

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#9 Post by George Chadwick » November 7th, 2017, 9:48 pm

Pinot Walkabout at Post Ranch Inn with Naima
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#10 Post by R_Gilbane » November 8th, 2017, 3:38 am

Sounds like a killer time. Based on the photos it looks like there are wandering minstrels all over the place...can be a good or a bad thing depending on your grasp of Shakespearean English.
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Very Interesting...

#11 Post by TomHill » November 8th, 2017, 5:07 am

Very interesting notes, George. Unusual way to report on a wine festival but it works for me.
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Very Interesting...

#12 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 8th, 2017, 7:16 am

TomHill wrote:Very interesting notes, George. Unusual way to report on a wine festival but it works for me.
Tom
WHAT/YOUDONOTLIKETHESTYLE/TOOCREATIVE/UNCONVENTIONAL/TOOFUN? [cheers.gif]
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#13 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 7:39 am

Carmel Mission with very few tourists that day. Many issues raised and contemplated about California history.
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#14 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 7:41 am

When cattle die on Rico Ranch the carcass is brought to the cliff''s edge for the condors to eat.
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#15 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 7:44 am

At the Barn.
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#16 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 7:47 am

The evil Cocktail Machine.
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#17 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 7:48 am

Amoureuses and de Fargues.
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#18 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 7:52 am

Lunch after the Mystery Hike.
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#19 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 7:55 am

Byron Kosuge explaining his wines on a cliff.
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#20 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 7:58 am

At Bixby Bridge.
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#21 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 8:00 am

Ventana, site of Opening Night.
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#22 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 8:03 am

Edwin and Rick reappear for the final night at Deetjens.
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Awwright....

#23 Post by TomHill » November 8th, 2017, 8:19 am

Merrill Lindquist wrote:
TomHill wrote:Very interesting notes, George. Unusual way to report on a wine festival but it works for me.
Tom
WHAT/YOUDONOTLIKETHESTYLE/TOOCREATIVE/UNCONVENTIONAL/TOOFUN? [cheers.gif]
Awwright, Merrill....no need to mock me for my TN style. [snort.gif]

I just thought it unusual in that most such reports on such events are simply a collection
of TN's. George's format was like a breath of fresh air and quite creative.

Tom

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Rancho Rico...

#24 Post by TomHill » November 8th, 2017, 8:21 am

Is that Chappellet Ranch Rico property the NapaVlly Chappellets, George?
Tom

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#25 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 8:54 am

Yes. They split time between two very different worlds. At the lunch we had all Chappellet wines including very good Sonoma-Loeb wines with real terroir and a very underpriced Cab Franc. I tried about ten Chappellet wines over the weekend. Although I don't know her personally, Carissa Chappellet, wearing glasses in the pumpkin lunch picture, is one of my all time favorite people.
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#26 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » November 8th, 2017, 8:56 am

My chiropractor wants to know where to send his bill after all the neck craning I'm doing in this thread.
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#27 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 9:02 am

Glenn L e v i n e wrote:My chiropractor wants to know where to send his bill after all the neck craning I'm doing in this thread.
And your proctologist knows where you should put that thought.

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#28 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » November 8th, 2017, 9:10 am

Golf clap!
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#29 Post by Ian Brand » November 8th, 2017, 11:16 am

George,
Thank you for the notes on BSF&W. It's a great event in a great place. One of the best parts about it is the intimacy with producers and landscape it affords, and that it acts as a showpiece for everything that makes Monterey County wonderful, not the least of which is people like Carissa, Aengus, Matt and Matt (event organizers), the Big Sur community and the somm community at large who volunteer their time.
I'm glad you're looking forward to the Birichino tasting room opening, John and Alex have done a great job building and expanding their label. The Besson Grenache is a flagship vineyard (the only other wineries to get it are us and Angela at Tribute to Grace), but they have many interesting old vine sites done in their particular style. The Chenin is on the leaner end of Chenin and in my opinion needs a few years to come around under screw cap, but is clean, balanced and beautiful. Make sure to try out the Lilo Pinot, and look for upcoming bottlings off of the Boer Vineyard in Chalone and the Enz Vineyard in the Lime Kiln Valley.
Gavin Chanin's wines under Lutum and Chanin are great, among the best done in Cali right now. He pursues less press than some of the more active winemakers, but he deserves everything he gets and more.
Best,
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#30 Post by Peter Simpson » November 8th, 2017, 11:48 am

George Chadwick wrote:
Best Self-Validation

Last year and this year I never actually ordered wine from a winery while I was still at the Festival, it's neither expected nor practical. Except this year at the Pinot Walkabout. One wine took my fancy. Never heard of the winery. The winemaker is about fifteen years old. He presented two pinots. One of them was light and pretty and real, among 70 wines poured I went back to it three times to validate my palate because it was exactly in my wheelhouse, and I bought six bottles at $60 per, which is not what the festival is about but I very rarely have these epiphanies with a new winery. I was certain it is for me. Certain. Knowing nothing about it.

I return to the Bay Area and there is one bottle of it on Winebid. 96 points Vinous! I am vindicated! Lutum Santa Rita Hills. Gentle perfect wine well worth $60.
We met the very welcoming Gavin Chanin at the Lutum winery in Lompoc about a month ago. IIRC he told us he had spent ten years with Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist at the Bien Nacido winery of Au Bon Climat and Qupe. No doubt he learned a lot from those two masters, and I think that puts him a little older than fifteen. [basic-smile.gif]

He also runs his own Chanin Wines brand out of the same winery. We purchased 2015 Lutum and Chanin Pinots but he also had some 2013 Chanin Zotovich in stock, so we bought a couple of those too. Drank one last weekend and yes, these are very special wines.
Cheers, Peter

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#31 Post by George Chadwick » November 8th, 2017, 1:44 pm

Me fake interviewing a patient Josh Jensen about his great wines and great life story. Wine bottle as microphone prop. Yes this was late in the evening.
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#32 Post by lleichtman » November 9th, 2017, 2:50 pm

Glenn L e v i n e wrote:Golf clap!
neener Or rim shot
Lawrence G. Leichtman

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#33 Post by ERPark » November 9th, 2017, 7:34 pm

lleichtman wrote:
Glenn L e v i n e wrote:Golf clap!
neener Or rim shot
Better than a slam dunk!!!

[pwn.gif]
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#34 Post by Drew Goin » November 23rd, 2017, 6:41 am

Ian Brand wrote:Make sure to try out the Lilo Pinot, and look for upcoming bottlings off of the Boer Vineyard in Chalone and the Enz Vineyard in the Lime Kiln Valley.

Best,
Ian
Ian,

Can you please provide me with a little bit of detail on the Boer Vineyard? I don't believe I know anything about it. Thanks!

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#35 Post by Craig G » November 23rd, 2017, 6:52 am

George Chadwick wrote:Me fake interviewing a patient Josh Jensen about his great wines and great life story. Wine bottle as microphone prop. Yes this was late in the evening.
Josh has that "late evening with George" look on his face.
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#36 Post by Chris Seiber » November 23rd, 2017, 7:26 am

Glenn L e v i n e wrote:My chiropractor wants to know where to send his bill after all the neck craning I'm doing in this thread.
If you’re posting the photos from an iPhone, try this trick - edit the photo in any way at all (lighter or darker, anything, no matter how little). I think once you do that, then they appear oriented correctly on WB.

Great post. Thanks for taking the time. Are Kosuge’s wines just labeled under his name?

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#37 Post by George Chadwick » November 25th, 2017, 6:02 pm

Yes. He was the Saintsbury winemaker years ago.

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#38 Post by M. Dildine » November 26th, 2017, 5:47 am

Never been, although a local. I'll need to rectify that. Thanks George!
Cheers,

Mike

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#39 Post by Ian Brand » November 27th, 2017, 9:30 am

Drew,
The Boer vineyard is the small home vineyard of Richard Boer, who has managed the Chalone property for over 30 years. It is, in the opinion of Hector Bravo, who has worked under Richard for about as long, the best of the vineyards in the appellation. Ed Kurtzman, who knows his way around the bench as well as anyone, seems to concur. I believe its the only Pinot he continues to make from up there, though I could be wrong. Flywheel gets the Grenache off the property. I think the vineyard is like 5-6 acres in total, pretty varied in terms of aspect and slope. The oldest vines date back to the early 80s I think, but the Grenache is newer.
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#40 Post by George Chadwick » November 27th, 2017, 4:10 pm

M. Dildine wrote:Never been, although a local. I'll need to rectify that. Thanks George!
You might want to attend just one event to start.

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#41 Post by Drew Goin » November 27th, 2017, 4:19 pm

Thanks for the OP, George!

Thanks for the info on the Beer Vineyard, Ian!

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