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Pebble Beach Concours Best of Show 2015 PicmonkeyPhoto of winning Isotta Fraschini Cabriolet courtesy of Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

TASTE News Service, August 17, 2015 -- An Italian Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Cabriolet that once turned heads and garnered top prizes in the classic era glided to victory at the 65th Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on Sunday.

The competition drew 219 cars from 16 countries and 29 U.S. states to the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links. It also raised over $1.8 million to help people in need. Through the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, these charitable funds will benefit 100 local charities.

The winning car is built on an extremely long 145-inch 1924 Tipo 8A chassis, which was acquired in the early 1930s by Swiss Carrosserie Worblaufen to be used as the basis for a new sport cabriolet. The finished car was displayed at the 1932 Geneva Auto Show and won the Grand-Prix d'Honneur at Cannes in 1933. After being shown, the car passed through the hands of just three owners prior to being purchased by current owner Jim Patterson of Louisville, Kentucky.

Asked what he loved most about the massive cabriolet, Patterson chose to focus on its small details. "I love the cigarette lighters," he said. "You should see them! I wondered a while ago if they worked, and I've got a blister on my finger to show they do."

The car's win at Pebble Beach marked the second win for Patterson. His 1933 Delahaye D8S De Villars Roadster was named Best of Show in 2010. "I won here in 2010 with an all-white car, and now I've won with an all-black car. I don't know if I've run out of colors or what," he joked.

There were many strong contenders for Best of Show this year, including a 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Kellner Torpedo Phaeton owned by Doug Magee Jr. of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire; a 1937 Delahaye 145 Franay Cabriolet owned by Sam & Emily Mann of Englewood, New Jersey; and a 1953 Abarth 1100 Sport Ghia Coupé owned by Grant Kinzel of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Concours Chairman Sandra Button said the win by the Isotta Fraschini wasn't a surprise given its provenance: "From the moment that Cesare Isotta and the Fraschini brothers founded their company, they were known for building prestigious cars, and this particular car is very stylish and very powerful. Even when resting on the stage, it seems to be in motion, and it is filled with emotion. There is a lot of passion in this car."

Ferraris were featured in great numbers this year, along with classic era duPonts, antique Popes, British prewar sports cars and postwar Cunninghams. Special classes celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Shelby GT350 and the 75th anniversary of the Lincoln Continental, and Mercury Customs were displayed for the first time.

Editor’s note: The complete list or winners is available at www.pebblebeachconcours.net. If you’re thinking of visiting anywhere on the Monterey Peninsula, first check Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of Monterey County Wineries and Craft Beer purveyors.

Ferrari 1949 Touring Barchetta Picmonkey1949 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta. The first Ferrari to race in the Pebble Beach Road Races when it competed in 1951. photo: Steve Burton/Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

TASTE News Service, August 8, 2015 - Ferraris return to compete on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links this August 16 when the marque of the Prancing Horse takes center stage at the 65th annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

"Our plans to feature Ferrari have been many years in the making," said Concours Chairman Sandra Button. "But it seems particularly appropriate to be showcasing this marque now, since a Ferrari earned our top award this past year." That car, Jon Shirley's 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe, was not only the first Ferrari to be named Best of Show at the event, but it was also the first postwar car to win in nearly 50 years.

Some of the special Ferrari classes at the forthcoming event will focus on Preservation Ferraris and Ferraris that Raced in the Pebble Beach Road Races in the 1950s.

Additional Features at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours include the following:

duPont: The duPont family played a major role in establishing General Motors as we now know it, and their chemical company's fast-drying paints paved the way for the use of vivid color schemes on factory-produced cars. The 2015 Concours will focus on the marque that bears the duPont name. Just over 30 of these American classics are known to exist.

Designs by Carrozzeria Touring: This Italian coachbuilder, dating from 1928 to the present, has a reputation for elegance and innovation. It was the chosen carrozzeria for many significant marques and models, including the very collectable Alfa Romeo 8C, Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta and Ferrari 212 Inter/Export.

Pope: At one point, the world's largest bicycle manufacturer, Colonel Albert Augustus Pope built automobiles from 1903 to 1915 in many configurations, including some early electric vehicles. Pope also founded the Good Roads Movement, which paved the way to small towns all over the United States.

Postwar Cunninghams: Briggs Cunningham, who served among honorary judges at the Concours, was an American sportsman who won the America's Cup and built race cars in an attempt to win at Le Mans. In addition to his rare race cars, examples of his exceptional Vignale-built C3 sports cars will be exhibited.

Historic Mercury Customs: Mercury was the marque most popular for customizing from the late 1940s to early 1950s. It is considered by many to be the definitive custom car.

Japanese Motorcycles: Introduced to a global audience in the 1950s, Japanese motorcycles gained prominence in the 1960s and dominance in the 1970s. Now they move to the fore at the Pebble Beach Concours.

British Prewar Sports Cars, the 75th anniversary of the Lincoln Continental and the 50th anniversary of the Shelby GT350 Mustang will also be featured.

Editor's note:  For more information about the Concours and related automotive events visit www.pebblebeachconcours.net. If you're planning a trip to this beautiful part of California first visit the Resource Directory of Taste California Travel. In the Monterey County section within the Central Coast listings you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to area Wineries.

Sunday, 22 March 2015 20:47

March 20, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week

JLohr 2013 Riverstone Chard

2013 Rivestone Chardonnay



Arroyo Seco/Monterey Co.

Alcohol: 13.88%

Suggested Retail: $14


“Sourced from grapes grown in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County, renown for its Chardonnay. Aromas and tastes of tropical fruits (pineapple, mangos, papaya), pears and peaches. Soma vanilla and buttered toast aspects. Substantial feeling in the mouth and a long finish. Creamy and substantial, this is a good example of the lusher style of California Chardonnay at a bargain price.”

Food Affinity:  “Veal medallions in a sage cream sauce. Sliced Portabella mushrooms sautéed in butter and parsley."

Friday, 27 June 2014 10:05

June 27, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Wente Riva Ranch bottle Picmonkey

2012 Riva Ranch Chardonnay


Wente Vineards

Arroyo Seco/Monterey County

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $22


“Wente really pioneered this variety in California. The family first planted it early in the 20th Century and brought out the first varietally-labeled bottle of Chardonnay in 1936. Since the 1960s this Livermore-based winery has also been developing vineyards in Monterey County.

“Riva Ranch is located in Monterey County's Arroyo Seco appellation and is the source for this wine—one of four different bottlings of Chardonnay from Wente. The color is golden and aromas tend to be floral and just a little bit spicy. There is a base of apple and pear flavors, but layered on top of that are definite tropical fruit aspects—papayas and mangoes, mostly. The 2012 Riva Ranch shows a creamy richness which is offset by some bracing lemony acidity. A bit of vanilla character from the oak shows through, but we don't find it excessive. Earlier this week the 2012 Riva Ranch was awarded a Gold Medal at the State Fair judging. Its appealing style will please many. ”

Food Affinity: “Traditional lobster with drawn butter and other rich shellfish dishes. We enjoyed it with garlic-marinated chicken, served with grilled spears of fresh pineapple.”

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 19:52

Barnstorming the Back Country

Mark Curtsinger and Range Rover PicmonkeyMark will guide us through the woods

by Dan Clarke

We meet Mark Curtsinger in front of a restaurant on Dolores Street in Carmel. He will be driving us to our Land Rover Experience, where he will also be our instructor.

His first request is that we sign papers releasing his company from liability if something bad happens to us. I've just finished a nice lunch in the sunny courtyard of Le St. Tropez and am feeling quite relaxed . . . right up to this moment at least. Driving on cliffside roads in California and on the Amalfi Coast has caused me some trepidation in the past. The release is just a formality, Mark assures us and, as it turns out, we'll pursuing an inland course.

The press trip agenda has offered our group a choice this afternoon. We can visit a spa or opt for something called the Land Rover Experience. Just two of us intrepid souls take the latter route. Janet Fullwood, a freelance travel writer, will be joining me.

Mark drives us over to the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, which is home to the Land Rover facility. We're in a 2014 Range Rover Sport, which will be the vehicle we use for our introduction to off-roading. It has a 340 horsepower six-cylinder engine, which is sufficient to propel it from 0 to 60 in just under seven seconds—very quick for a vehicle this size. But as we get into the hilly roads just south of the Lodge, it's apparent that speed isn't the game here.

We're at one of four venues in North America that host the Land Rover Experience. In Quebec, there is the Fairmont Le Château Montebello. In Manchester Village, Vermont, it's the Equinox Resort and in Asheville, North Carolina the site is the Biltmore Estate. The Quail Lodge is well known for its restaurant and golf course and the atmosphere is a sort of laid-back elegance. Right next to this gentility is some rugged back country.

We climb into the hills just south of the Quail Lodge parking lot and after driving about 10 minutes Mark finds a fairly level place to stop. We get out and familiarize ourselves with our vehicle from the outside while he explains our pending adventure. There are some similarities between downhill skiing and what we're about to do, he explains. I wonder if taking a sports car quickly down a winding road is also similar. Apparently it is. Mark has made analogies that his tyros understand. But knowing a little theory doesn't assure success, I think as I slide behind the wheel for my part of the driving experience.

Range Rover coming down hill PicmonkeySome of our wheels were touching the ground

Our instructor explains each section of the course as we approach it. The roads, if you can call them that, are dirt. They wind. They go up and down. The surfaces are extremely uneven. There are dips and holes. Little rocks and big rocks. And trees. I'm no longer worried about plunging off a cliff and into the Pacific, but I am thinking that I don't want to damage this expensive carriage. Mark has the poise of a good leader or a good teacher. His instructions come across as suggestions, rather than commands. He obviously knows what he's talking about and doesn't seem at all stressed. At least a little of his confidence rubs off on me.

The Range Rover offers tools both mechanical and electronic to help us deal with the terrain. Braking and accelerating are aided by multiple options of our automatic transmission. A screen on our dashboard gives graphic information about things like whether all our wheels are in contact with the ground. This seems like wonderful technology that must make operating a vehicle in these circumstances much easier—for someone who's had more time to familiarize himself with it. I'm experiencing some sensory overload and decide to rely on a combination of natural intuition and Mark's good advice.

Range Rover dash display PicmonkeyDash display gives visual clues

While we never attain much speed, power is important. There are sections of our path filled with potential hazards. Once we decide on the line we want to take to deal with them, the judicious application of power and braking seems to be the key. There are no four-wheel drifts to get quickly through a corner on pavement, but even going very slowly our big and solid vehicle will slide a bit on these roads that seem to slant in all directions.

I've been reasonably successful in negotiating some of these obstacles without getting us stuck or damaging the Range Rover, so Mark poses another challenge. A recent group of drivers has participated in a team-building exercise which left residual slalom gates. Competing teams had points taken away when they failed to negotiate these gates flawlessly. Can I drive between the poles without touching them? Well, the road here slopes gently downward and it doesn't look too tough. However, as we get closer the gate seems only a few inches wider than we are, so it's going to be tight. I get the front end past these two poles unscathed, but we touch one of them before we've passed entirely though. How did that happen? Since it doesn't seem likely that the back half of the Range Rover is wider than its front, I figure that our road slanted in ways I hadn't realized and that we drifted just a bit on the loose road surface as we were passing though the gate. A few more of these slalom gates appear before I relinquish the the reins to my colleague, Janet. I get through one or two ok, but not all of them. No formal scorekeeping is taking place, but it's obvious this exercise could get intense in a competition.

Range Rover drivers view PicmonkeyDon't clip that tree while focusing on the gate

We haven't seen all of the property, Mark tells us as we are concluding our visit. Today the weather has been pleasant and we've had a fairly dry track. On another occasion it might be different. Rain could mean slippery conditions necessitating our choosing different routes through these hills.

All my prior experiences in four wheel drive vehicles were a while ago and none was in a Land Rover. Most of the time back roads meant back aches. Not so today, as our ride has been cushy on both paved and very unpaved roads. I've had fun and I've learned lessons about driving in rugged conditions that would apply to any vehicle.

Editor's note: The Land Rover Experience at Quail Lodge accommodates both individual participants and corporate groups. Further information can be found at www.quaillodge.com. This is the third in a series of articles on Carmel. If you're planning a visit, you should check out the Monterey County listings in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of wineries and craft beer specialists in the area.   

Monday, 21 April 2014 11:05

Look All Around in Carmel

Carmel courtyard Look Up Look Down Picmonkey"Look up. Look down. Look all around."

by Dan Clarke

Think you know a lot about Carmel? After a walk with Gael Gallagher, you'll know a whole lot more.

A transplanted Bostonian, she has been leading tours on the Monterey Peninsula since 1984. Tuesdays through Saturdays she meets with visitors in the courtyard of the Pine Inn before leading them on a two-hour tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It's beautiful here. Anybody can see that. But even a frequent visitor will appreciate the area so much more after getting the stories and back stories from Gallagher. Part historical, part architectural, her tour also finds time to discuss the artists and celebrities drawn to the area over the years. The tour is a good stretch of the legs, too.

Ocean Avenue is Carmel's main street. It is avoided when my small group of travel writers accompanies Gael Gallagher on a typical walk through town. Nothing wrong with Ocean, but visitors will find that on their own, she explains. She'll take us to places we might not have seen otherwise. “Look up. Look down. Look all around you,” she tells us. Sometimes she has a story about some little thing we mightn't have noticed. Sometimes not. Maybe there is no story associated with some of what we're seeing, but we writers are having a richer experience after we take our blinders off.

Carmel tile PicmonkeyTile worthy of Spain or Portugal

We find that the Pine Inn, from whose courtyard we embark, was once called the Carmelo Hotel. In itself, this fact is not so surprising, as hotels often change names with different ownerships. However, the Carmelo was located at the corner of Ocean and the street that is now Junipero. Partially dismantled, the main building was rolled on pine logs down the dirt road that was Ocean Ave in 1906 to the corner of Monte Verde. There it became a part of the Pine Inn, several blocks to the west of its original location.

We learn that early residents opted to have all mail deliveries go to the Post Office, rather than to individual addresses. In fact, there really are no street addresses, at least not with traditional numbers. A business or residence, for instance, might be identified as being “on Seventh between Dolores and Lincoln,” sometimes with additional help such as “third house from the corner.” It's a literate little city, too. Over 3,000 of the 3,722 residents possess a library card. They read, but they also visit with their neighbors at the library, too. This sounds much more appealing than meeting your friends at a Starbuck's in the mall (There are no Starbucks or other chains outlets here, by the way, though there are plenty of spots to get a cup of coffee).

There are many art galleries and our tour guide tells that community really does have a history of being a community of artists. There were—and still are—painters, sculptors and writers, too. Jack London and John Steinbeck are just a couple in that latter category who didn't just visit, but lived in the area—at least for a while. We're led into Dawson Cole Fine Art, where we're encouraged to touch the Richard MacDonald sculptures, even spin them around on their swivel bases to appreciate all their angles. Later we visit Lulu's Silk Art Gallery, where we see an exquisite piece of silk embroidered on both sides—apparently, a couple of years work for two artists in China.

Carmel old couple in bronze PicmonkeyAn older couple we met in the park

Currently Clint Eastwood might be the most notable celebrity and Gallagher fills us in on his term as Carmel's Mayor, then walks us by the courtyard of the Hog's Breath Inn, the San Carlos Street restaurant and bar he used to own. Doris Day lives in retirement in nearby Carmel Valley, but is a part owner of the Cypress Inn at Lincoln and Seventh. Though Vincent van Gogh did not live in Carmel, a connection resides here. A table purported to be the one on which he took his meals when painting in Provence is in Casanova Restaurant at Mission and Fifth, one of the many businesses Gallagher introduces us to.

There is so much to see and so many stories to hear. There are times we pause for reflection and maybe an anecdote or two from our leader, but for the most part we are on the go. In two hours time Gael Gallagher relates an amazing amount of Carmel lore. She doesn't lack for energy and generally is in the lead as our little troupe steps briskly from location to location. But it's not just her physical vibrancy that impresses. She has the passion of someone who loves her community and enjoys telling us everything about it. Details about her tours can be found at www.CarmelWalks.com.

Editor's note: This is the second in our April series of Carmel articles. A Visit to Carmel appeared earlier in the month and several other pieces will follow. If you're thinking of visiting the area, you may want to first check out the Monterey County listings in the Central Coast section of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to websites of area wineries and craft beer specialists.

Monday, 07 April 2014 02:33

A Visit to Carmel


Cottage in  Carmel PicmonkeyOriginal cottages are well maintainedby Dan Clarke


Never before have I written the word charming and won't now. A visit to Roget's Thesaurus may now be necessary, however, because Carmel is special.

Situated on the Monterey Peninsula, about 120 miles south of San Francisco, Carmel is actually more than one place. Carmel-by-the-Sea, the original settlement developed by James Devendorf and Frank Powers lies just west of Highway One. Carmel Valley is accessed from just a bit south on Highway One. It, too, is beautiful, but in a different way.

Like avocados, foie gras and cigars, Carmel may be a good thing that's an acquired taste. With no flashing lights and no obvious bells and whistles, it might be too subtle for some. I liked it when visiting with my parents long ago. Maybe I was a prodigy. Years later when my Rugby teams were playing in the Monterey Invitational Tournament on the nearby Polo Fields at Pebble Beach, I'd be sure the weekend included visits to Carmel for tea and scones at the Tuck Box on Dolores, a beer or two at a pub called the Red Lion and maybe a glass of wine at La Playa or the Pine Inn. These were genteel offsets to the rigorous competition of the weekend.

More recently I've covered the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where some of the world's most gorgeous automobiles are displayed one Sunday each August on the 18th fairway of that storied golf course. Afterward, I would swing over to Carmel for dinner where cars good enough to be entered in lesser competitions might be parked right on the streets next to my own more modest transportation.

When a recent invitation came to join a few fellow journalists in further investigation of Carmel, I didn't hesitate. There are more stories from that visit than can be told in just one article. Today begins a series of them.

fountain at The Vagabonds Inn Picmonkey Courtyard fountain at Vagabond's House

The vibe in Carmel is more old money than new. There's a lot of tweed and cashmere worn here and both locals and visitors seem relaxed and comfortable. They're friendly, too. Trudging back up Ocean Avenue from a morning walk to the beach (“six blocks down the hill, twenty blocks back,” as one of the locals explained it), I glance into the open door of the realty office of Alain Pinel as I turn at the Dolores intersection. “Nice day, isn't it?” a man at a desk says to me. Indeed it is. There's a little overcast, but we both know the sun will likely burn through in an hour or so. Having noticed the property listings in the windows of this and other real estate offices, I half-jokingly ask the fellow if the sweet spot for residences is between $2 and 2.5 million. There are some nice ones at that price, he responds, but also some closer to a million. We share five or ten minutes of cordial conversation. I learn that Jack Gelke came to the area quite a while ago when attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He met his wife-to-be here and returned to stay. Jack seems a friendly and easy-going guy—the kind of realtor I'd want to do business with if only I could afford a home here.

Jim at Greens Camera in Carmel PicmonkeyJim at Green's Camera CenterOn this visit I stayed at The Vagabond's House at Dolores and Fourth, which is just a couple of blocks off Ocean Ave. A small, two-story property, it's obvious that the place was built in another era. It's also obvious that it has undergone restoration and substantial upgrading. The front office staff all seem very competent, but relaxed in a friendly sort of way. Room Twelve has a fireplace, separate tub and shower and radiantly-heated tile floor in the bathroom. The towels are longer and thicker than most. A light breakfast and pot of tea or coffee is delivered each morning.

On the second day in Carmel my new Olympus locks up and I'm reduced to taking pictures with my iPhone. Figuring the larger neighboring city of Monterey will have a camera shop that can help me, I return to Vagabond's House and ask the desk clerk if he knows such a place. He replies that I needn't drive over to Monterey, as there is a camera shop just two blocks away. At Green's Carmel Camera Center at Fifth and San Carlos I meet Jim. I discover he's originally from King City and, while new to Green's, worked with cameras for 20 years in Monterey. We shoot the breeze while he takes a look. I notice boxes of film—artifacts of another era—on shelves behind him. This is a serious camera shop; one I surmise that can serve needs of photographers more sophisticated than I. Jim fiddles with the Olympus a bit and shoots my picture. Voilà! It seems to work now. He can't exactly explain what he did, but tells me—and not in an immodest way—that people frequently hand him broken equipment that will work in his hands. He's a healer and he refuses payment for his labor. I shoot his picture before departing with my reborn camera.

Brophys Tavern logoWe visitors have been seeing the sights each day and enjoying the hospitality arranged by our hosts, but on the way home from dinner each evening I stop for a nightcap at Brophy's Tavern, which is just a block up the hill from my digs. It's a comfortable spot and, but for the five or six tv screens showing sports, seems to have a traditional pub atmosphere. Audio for all those screens is mercifully turned off, so conversation for those at the bar and at the tables is possible. My drink the first evening is a craft beer at $6 for a pint. The second night I'm in the mood for maybe one glass of good whiskey. The barman is wearing a Cali baseball cap in a style that covers the top of his ears. He doesn't look like any of the guys who poured for me in Edinburgh, but he's pleasant and seems to understand single malts. He has several options in the category, and holds up a couple of esoteric bottles he assumes I might recognize. His trump card is a Glenfiddich, a label with which I am familiar. But this is the 18-year old Glenfiddich and better, in his opinion, than a couple of the other more-exotic options.

It is splendid. I am getting down to the last couple of sips when Cali pours a substantial refresher of the 18-year old into the glass. That's happened to me with beer, but never before with a call whiskey—at least not in a house where I'm a stranger. Our group of writers has been walking the streets and lanes of Carmel all day and into the evening. I'm getting tired, but Vagabond's House is just a block away—and downhill. The tab for my drink is $19 and I add a decent tip before heading for home. All's right with the world.

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles about Carmel. The second of these is Look All Around in Carmel. Others will run later in April. If you're planning a visit to this area, check out the Monterey County listings in the Central Coast section of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of Lodging and Dining options in Carmel, as well as other communities on the Monterey Peninsula. Also in the directory are links to the sites of area wineries and craft beer specialists.

Friday, 04 April 2014 13:33

Wine Pick of the Week for April 4, 2014

Caraccioli Brut Rose bottles Picmonkey2007 Brut Rosé


Caraccioli Cellars

Santa Lucia Highlands

Alcohol: 12%

Suggested Retail: $57


Taste California Travel  discovered this week's 'Pick' on a recent visit to Carmel. In an all-too-brief visit to the winery's tasting room we had time to try the Brut Rosé and a still wine, their 2009 Pinot Noir ($47).

“Most Monterey County wineries are situated close to their vineyards. While they have access to some wonderful fruit, most of the vineyards supplying it are off the tourist track. Lately these wineries have been opening tasting rooms closer to where the visitors are—the City of Monterey, Carmel Valley and the City of Carmel, itself. We'd not visited the Caraccioli Cellars tasting room on Dolores Street in Carmel by the Sea, nor in fact had we even heard of Caraccioli. It was a delightful surprise. Though the room has a sophisticated vibe (appropriate for quality sparkling wine), the servers were friendly, as well as knowledgeable.

“Though Caraccioli Cellars has very small production (less than 1,000 cases of the 2007 vintage of our reviewed wine were produced—759 of the standard 750ml bottles and 115 magnums), it has attracted a world class winemaker, Michel Salgues, who made wine for Roederer Estate for 20 years. He's now doing consulting and works with the Caraccioli's other winemaker, Joe Rawitzer.

“The 2007 Brut Rosé pairs the restrained power of great California fruit with the elegance and style of French Champagne. It's fuller, rounder than any blanc de noirs and even more so than most rosés, but still expresses a delicacy. The rest of the afternoon could happily have been spent tasting other Caraccioli wines—or maybe even having another glass of the rosé—but we'd spent enough time to discover an exemplary sparkling wine.”

Friday, 14 February 2014 11:12

February 14, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Estancia-2012-Chardonnay revised Picmonkey

2012 Chardonnay


Producer: Estancia

Appellation: Monterey County

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $12


“There are many serviceable examples of Chardonnay for $2-3 dollars less than the 2012 Estancia, which we purchased in a supermarket for $10. Most of them are recognizable as the variety, but are otherwise undistinguished. Though still relatively modestly-priced, this bottle, sourced from Pinnacles Ranches fruit, is an example of getting a much better product by paying just a bit more.

“Color is a golden straw hue, a little deeper than most wines from such a recent vintage. Aromas of Bosc pear and pineapple on first impression. The predominant flavors evoke tropical fruit—pineapple again and guava, though we find some more pear characteristics and maybe just a hint of green apple. Subtle cinnamon and toast notes from just the right amount of oak aging gives the impression of a more expensive wine. Flavors are fairly rich, yet clean and crisp.”

Food Affinity: Chicken and leek vol-au-vents. Baked salmon. Big shrimp sautéed with garlic and rosemary. 

Rocky Point fish plate and ocean PicmonkeyDr. Peter Wang, owner of Rocky Point Restaurant and founder of The Wang Foundation, stands ankle deep amongst an invasive pest that covers the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Ice plant has taken over the ground, covering the land which it has since evicted indigenous vegetation. "Here I make my stand" Wang says in humble defiance. "I took over Rocky Point Restaurant close to a year ago with the goal of polishing this beautiful gem of a property...one of the challenges I face, is my ongoing commitment to the rehabilitation of its surrounding natural landscape". When Wang says, "rehabilitation," he refers to the act of fixing and returning of land to its natural state. "Rehabilitation is the act that must occur after conservation has run its course."

The Rocky Point Restaurant was first opened on the cliffs of Big Sur overlooking the Pacific in 1947. This iconic destination just 12 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea fast became the destination for food and drink by locals and travelers, including many Hollywood Stars, making their trek North and South on California Hwy. 1. Dr. Wang, and his wife, Grace, (both Chinese immigrants who came to the US as students) made this acquisition back in January of 2012 for over $4.75 million and have invested close to one- million dollars into its renovation.

The restaurant re-opened in March of 2013 and has realized solid steady growth in sales and with numbers of patrons wishing to sample not only the good food, but also wanting to take in a view that is arguably one of the greatest on the Pacific coast in California. Wang's commitment to the property is not only limited to landscape, where he has already re-introduced close to 500+ native plants, but to the employees of Rocky Point.

"....I am a man of deeds, not only words" (to quote an ancient Chinese proverb) Dr. Wang smiles with a glint of knowing sparkle in his eyes. I am committed to the success of Rocky Point and a great deal of that success comes from my staff. I am committed to creating a platform for them. A platform that can create opportunity for those whom I employ to grow just like the new plants I have recently planted here on our grounds...Rocky Point is also the platform to grow commerce through education and cultural exchange between Chinese and US students."

The Wang Foundation which Dr. Wang founded a number of years back is committed to the development of opportunity in the cultural exchange and education of Chinese students here in the US. Many Scholarships have been subsidized by The Wang Foundation.

Wang shares his main philosophy, "I truly believe the solution to war and poverty is education of our youth and the growth of commerce...When people work together and create commerce, war stops and poverty begins to be alleviated. When commerce stops, war begins and poverty becomes prevalent... I want Rocky Point Restaurant to play ongoing active role in this by generating scholarships for students who will follow this belief in their careers."

Editor's note: Information for this article was provided to TASTE News Service by Travmedia sources. At Taste California Travel's Resource Directory readers will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options on the Central Coast. Also in the directory are links to wineries and craft beer specialists.

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