The World of Pinot Noir marks its 14th year at its new venue in Santa Barbara California.

 At this time of year we start thinking of spring. Over the years we have had the pleasure of attending many food and wine events and a few stand out at that time of year. We have visited the World Of Pinot Noir on many occasions and has to rank pretty high as one of our personal favorites.  This year marks the 14th year for the World of Pinot Noir ,  a fun ,  2-day event celebrating that special varietal . This year’s event will be held February 28-March 1, 2014 at the Bacara Resort and Spa in beautiful Santa Barbara California. 
Previously, World of Pinot Noir was held in Pismo Beach.  This year’s  new venue is not only a luxurious feast for the senses, but also recognizes Santa Barbara County’s wine country as a place that introduced many to Pinot Noir, as 2014 will be the tenth anniversary of the iconic movie Sideways.
“It’s hard to believe it has been a decade since Sideways came out”, muses Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars and this year’s World of Pinot Noir President. “Having our event at the Bacara Resort and recognizing the effect of the movie is exciting! We look forward to welcoming those who join us each year, as well as newcomers to our 14th celebration of Pinot Noir.”
The effect of Pinot Noir on film and vice-versa will be explored via a panel comprised of participants from Sideways as well as a more recent wine-related film, Somm, in a Saturday seminar titled “Hollywood & Wine”. The main focus of the event, however, revolves around the people and places of Pinot Noir.  The world’s most important wine-growing regions will be represented at seminars, dinners and Grand Tastings. California’s coastal appellations will be well represented, joined by winemakers bringing their Pinot Noirs from Oregon, British Columbia, New York’s Finger Lakes, Spain, New Zealand, Australia and more.
The epicenter of Pinot Noir is of course, Burgundy France who will be well represented at the 2014 event. Maison Louis Jadot’s winemaker, Frédéric Barnier will pour a selection of wines from the Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Ursules Vineyard tasting seminar on Friday, as well as hosting an intimate dinner on Saturday evening.  WOPN guests can explore the Insider Wines of the Cote d’Or on Saturday with French Wine Society educator Don Kinnan, who will lead participants through a tasting of wines from that hallowed region.
In addition to these intimate events, attendees at the World of Pinot Noir are invited to “taste the world” at two Grand Tastings, which include wines from hundreds of international and domestic wineries. You won’t go hungry with tasty bites from Chef David Reardon’s culinary team, including an internationally themed dinner on Friday evening.
 Friday, February 28, 2014:
Jump right in the first day with Burgundy and Oregon: Parallels in Latitude: a Look at 45º North.  Exploring the wines of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Maison Louis Jadot’s Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Ursules vineyard.  Moderated by Katherine Cole. The seminar pairing is followed by a 3 course lunch, paired with the wines. Then enjoy Pinot Noir by the Sea Grand Tasting - A tasting of Pinot Noir from more than 100 world-wide producers, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and complemented by wine country appetizers and a full array of cheeses from C’est Cheese. As the evening approaches don’t miss the International Dinner. Chef David Reardon and his Bacara Culinary team will team up with Pinot producers for an incredible internationally focused 5-course meal complemented by the exemplary wine service always provided by a team of sommeliers. Or join highly allocated Sea Smoke Cellars Dinner in the Miró Cellar. This will be an intimate dinner featuring the wines of Sta. Rita Hills’ Sea Smoke Cellars. And if you are a movie buff, the event will feature screenings of Sideways and Somm throughout the day in the Bacara theatre.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
After a very busy first day, stop in at The Insider Wines of the Cote d’Or. Enjoy boutique producers of the Cote d’Or region including a look at the mountain of Corton, the greatest expanse of Grand Cru vineyard acreage presented by Don Kinnan, followed by a 3-course lunch complemented by many of the wines presented earlier. A very entertaining event will be Hollywood & Wine. Panelists will explore why Pinot Noir has become such a Hollywood star.  It’s Sideways vs. Somm!.  Lunch will be provided by non-other than Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post II restaurant (as featured in the film) and moderated by Sara Schneider.
After the seminar enjoy Pinot Noir by the Sea Grand Tasting that features a different roster of wines than Friday’s Grand Tasting and more than 120 producers.  Guests will enjoy wine country appetizers, worldly cheeses and a terrific view of the Pacific from the Grand Ballroom’s terraces. A full day of lovely events and it’s not over yet. Dine at the Mason Louis Jadot Dinner in the Miró Cellar. Only 36 guests will dine with winemaker Frederic Barnier in the beautiful wine cellar with Grand Cru wines, a 6-course gourmet dinner and legendary wine service. End the event in grand style at The Gala . Guests will enjoy a gathering of friends old and new along with winemakers, chefs and sommeliers to close the 14th year of this renowned event. Get your tickets now. They are sold on a first-come, first-served basis with full details on the World of Pinot Noir
See you there.

In Las Vegas This Holiday Season ? MGM Resorts Has A Tasty Line Up For You .

This season the culinary all-stars of MGM Resorts International are celebrating the season with festive cuisine at Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, The Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur and Circus Circus in Las Vegas From signature dishes to holiday classics and seasonally inspired cocktails, these offerings are sure to bring cheer to all.
Chef Michael Mina will unite his signature cuisine with exquisite delights at MICHAEL MINA Bellagio by offering the renowned Lobster Pot Pie with seasonal vegetables and brandied-lobster cream followed by a dessert of Pumpkin Tart with whipped Chantilly cream. 

Jean Georges Steakhouse at ARIA presents Christmas Day guests with mouthwatering Lobster Bisque with pearl onions, smoked paprika and herbs followed by an Apple and Pecan Sticky Bun for dessert.
 In the spirit of the season, Fiamma Trattoria & Bar at MGM Grand will feature a winter butternut squash soup with velvety crème fraiche and crispy speck, an authentic Italian bacon, as well as Wild Mushroom Ravioli lathered in warm parmesan fondue.
For a more casual celebration, The Pub at Monte Carlo will prepare a delicious menu including dishes such as Roasted Chestnut Soup and Warm Gingerbread Cake with vanilla ice cream. Traditionalists will love the classic Yams with butter and brown sugar sauce at MORE The Buffet at Luxor. Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York will be serving up a prix fixe menu beginning with a hearty Winter Harvest Salad and closing with Irish Bread and Butter Pudding with whiskey cream. \
Those looking to spend the holiday at a classic steakhouse will enjoy The Steakhouse at Camelot at Excalibur where hungry guests have the choice between a juicy Oven Roasted Free Range Turkey Platter complete with mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, seasoned asparagus, sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce, Roast Prime Rib of Beef or Grilled Atlantic Salmon.
The Steak House at Circus Circus will present a holiday menu including tender Mesquite-broiled Petite Filet Mignon and succulent Australian Lobster Tail, served with chef’s fresh vegetable of the day and guest’s choice of garlic mashed potatoes, baked potato or wild rice blend. A festive Eggnog Crème Brûlèe French Toast with spiced rum and cinnamon butter is the perfect toasty treat available at THEcafe at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.
To top it all off, holiday treats can be found at Roasted Bean at The Mirage where guests can indulge in Chocolate Candy Cane Parfaits or a traditional Yule Log dessert. Sweet delights also may be found in liquid form at several bars and lounges at Monte Carlo including Hit Lounge, Ignite and Score. The Hot Buttered Rum is full of winter flavors made from Pyrat XO Reserve rum, Monte Carlo’s house-made hot buttered rum mix, warm apple juice, fresh whipped cream and a hint of ground cinnamon to round out the perfect holiday drink.
Happy Holidays and enjoy

Wine Review : Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 Trinidad Vineyard , Maipo Valley Chile

 Before we look at the wine we took a look at the vineyard history, the region and the people behind it. Ventisquero began making wine in 2000. Unlike other wineries in the area they are led by a young, creative team of entrepreneurs whose mission is to create distinctive, high quality wines. In a word, this young eager team strives challenge the status quo, always searching for unique and different ways to accomplish their goal to create great wines.
Under the guidance of head winemaker Felipe Tosso, the winery was built in the Coastal Maipo Valley, Casablanca, Leyda and Colchagua . Felipe Tosso is the craftsman behind GREY, involving himself in every detail of production. He works the vineyards, selects the fruit, controls fermentation, and oversees the 18-month ageing regimen for each of the wines. Single Blocks from Maipo Alto, Casablanca and Apalta make GREY a rarity in the world of wines.
After looking at the winemaking it was now time for the panel to get to work and put the wine to task. The Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 is interesting in that only 50% of the grapes are crushed. A pre-fermentive maceration is carried out at 8C for 5 days. The Carmenere is aged 18 months in French Oak barrels, 33% of them new and 66% second and third use.  The wine is then bottle aged for 8 months.

In the glass the wine showed hues of purple to garnet and medium bodied.  On the nose, blueberry and black cherry are prominent giving way to wet earth and spice. On the palate, big flavors of blueberry and cherry tantalize the palate followed by pepper, earth and slate, ending in a long finish with light feminine tannins. This Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 is a beautiful blend of 97% Carmenere and 3 % Petit Verdot and nicely balanced acidity.
Felipe Tosso
Felipe Tosso

Drink the Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 now or age 10 years when it will become more complex over time.  Look for this Carmenere , at $23.99 it is affordable and enjoyable.

Cuisineist Tasting Panel Score (Dec 2013) Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 Trinidad Vineyard , Maipo Chile
 93 Points 

Tony Hsieh Makes Life Beautiful for Thousands in Downtown Las Vegas

 Life was certainly beautiful at the first Life is Beautiful event at the continuing evolving downtown area of Las Vegas.


Arriving at the VIP kickoff event we really did not know what to expect. Our first hint of what we would be experiencing that evening were tantalizing aromas of proteins on the grill, light white smoke summoning us to explore with our palates what our nose was already telling us.
Chef Hubert Keller , Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris
Chef Hubert Keller , Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris

This downtown extravaganza showed off the musical talents of 70 bands and DJs that drew standing room only masses of dancing, peaceful, fun-loving fans of all ages. Two Ferris wheels and Cirque du Solei performances kept attendees busy all day and into the night .

In addition to the music and other events, Life Is Beautiful teamed up with Wirtz Beverage to feature wine tastings, a beer garden with live music and an Alchemy Village where mixology experts poured creations from their very talented beverage team.
Iron Chef Cat Cora
Iron Chef Cat Cora

 The Culinary arts were a big part of the multi-day celebration the culinary village was located in the heart of the festival and ground zero to many world’s best chefs and restaurants. These chefs and over 50 restaurants provided gastronomic delights that made palates dance from the incredible dishes served all day and into the evening hours when renowned band’s tunes filled the air.
Chef Scott Conant
Chef Scott Conant

Over two incredible days, 20 of the most highly regarded chefs in the world showed their culinary skills live on a Sub-Zero Wolf, Westar Kitchen & Bath stage. These demonstrations featured celebrity Chefs such as Scott Conant, Johnathan Waxman, Hubert Keller, Cat Cora, Jet Tila ,Todd English and the two hot tamales themselves Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken as well as  others who shared their kitchen secrets with eager guests.

Chef Johnathan Waxman and Elaine Harris

Tony Hsieh, over the past few years has transformed downtown Las Vegas into a vibrant community abuzz with boutiques, locally owned restaurants, bars and of course the Zappos headquarters. The good news for the area is the inaugural event sold 40 percent of tickets to Las Vegas residents, most of whom have not spent much time downtown. After attending the festivities, we have no doubt Las Vegas residents will be spending much more time exploring what the area has to offer.

Chefs Carla Pellegrino and Rick Moonen
Chefs Carla Pellegrino and Rick Moonen
Overall, for an inaugural event, Life is Beautiful was a success.15 blocks of music, food, celebrity chefs and art showed off the new downtown that is Tony Hsieh’s on going vision. We look forward to the continued evolution of downtown over the next year 

Bledsoe Family Winery Opens Its Walla Walla Winery At The Box Factory Location.

Not long-ago Drew Bledsoe was throwing touchdowns in the NFL. Shortly after his retirement in 2007,  they planted their first vineyard. ...

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