- The Underground Wine Letter - http://www.undergroundwineletter.com -


The 24th Annual Culinary Evening With The California Winemasters Brings Total Dollars Raised For The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation To $26 Million

The “Midwest Street” backlot at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank set the stage for “A Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters” on May 18, benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s vital research and care centers.  This year’s event brings the total dollars raised for the Foundation to $26 Million.  Wining and dining under the stars in the setting of a quintessential Any Town USA, the sold-out extravaganza was attended by 1,400 wine and food lovers from all across the country.  Throughout the exciting, magical evening, gourmet cuisine from over 45 celebrity chefs from around the world, and wines from 75 of California’s most talented winemakers, were enjoyed by guests while participating in silent and live auctions, bidding on extraordinary items.

cf2011B-300x200 [1]

The 2013 event was another extravagant auction with over 800 live and silent auction items from fantasy trips to exclusive collector wines.  The live auction included “The Romanee-Conti Experience” for three couples: a 6-day visit in Burgundy with a tour of the vineyards of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti followed by a tasting and lunch with co-proprietor, Aubert de Villaine that sold for $50,000; a 9-day holiday for two in South Africa fashioned by the Travel Sommelier with a focus on wine and the safari experience at the finest safari lodges, boutique hotels and wineries that sold for $20,000; a magical 8-day journey to Turkey from Sea Song that showcases Turkey’s rich history and culture and a once-in-a-lifetime 14-night, 15-day adventure beginning in Tanzania and concluding on Pemba Island, Zanzibar hosted by Gilroy & Camm, Manta Resort and the Underwater Room.

CF 2013 wine auction 2 [2]

Live auction wine lots featured a unique 24-year vertical of Pahlmeyer  Red Table Wine that sold for $8,500; an 11-year vertical of Joseph Phelps Insignia that was purchased for $7,000 and a 16-year vertical of Spottswoode that sold for $9,000.

Honorary Chairs Nick Morlet of Peter Michael Winery, Jodie and Luc Morlet of Morlet Family Vineyards and David Fink of Mirabel Hotel and Restaurant Group joined American Airlines, G Country 105 FM, Dole Food Company, the Alfred Hitchcock Family, Warner Home Video, Wells Fargo, Flask Fine Wines, Universal Studios, Ameristar Casinos, Inc. and BJ’s Restaurant Foundation in presenting this year’s exciting event. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. donated the limited drawing prize, a 2013 Prius. Premier auctioneer Dawn Marie Kotsonis conducted the live auction with Gemstone Vineyard founder Paul Frank assisting with the wine lots.

CF.David Skernick 012at nite [3]

The 25th  Annual Culinary Evening With The California Winemasters is set for Saturday, May 17, 2013, at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.  Please contact Barbara Balik for further information and registration:  email: bbalik@cff.org; Telephone: 707-258-1661; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website:  www.californiawinemasters.org [4].

The 29th Annual Central Coast Wine Classic Brings Total Dollars Raised For the Foundation’s Charities
Over The Last 10 Years To Over $2.3 Million

The 29th Annual Central Coast Wine Classic took place in and around Avila Beach from July 11 through July 14.  The focal point of the Classic, the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction has been called by Wine Spectator, one of the “Top Ten” Charity Wine Auctions in America.  It included offerings of rare wines and lifestyle packages from California’s Central Coast and other wine and culinary destinations in California, as well as around the United States and throughout the world.  Also included were remarkable art works from exceptional California artists.  The Live and Silent Auctions raised $740,382, which included $162,000 donated to the MUST! Charities of Templeton, California, through the Annual Fund-A-Need Auction Lot.

Wine enthusiasts gathered at the Avila Beach Resort and other venues in and around the areas of Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, Shell Beach, and San Simeon to enjoy the four-day extravaganza of gastronomic indulgences in the gorgeous setting of California’s Central Coast with its panoramic ocean views.  The Central Coast Wine Classic traditionally showcases special wine tastings, symposia, winery dinners, auction events, and great camaraderie, all offering gracious hospitality and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere

Events began on Thursday afternoon with a Barrel Tasting at Avila Lighthouse Suites, offering guests the opportunity to taste a comprehensive array of unreleased wines from a variety of California wineries.

hearst castle [5]

That evening, the gala Dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon was a fabulous six-course meal with matching wines from Vintner Dignitaries,  featuring the culinary artistry of renowned Central Coast Chefs, Kurt Grasing from Grasing’s in Carmel, Levi Mezick from 1833 in Monterey, John Cox from Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Perecy Whatley of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, James Sly from Sly’s in Carpenteria and Michael Hutchings of Michael’s Catering in Santa Barbara, coordinated by James Sly’s Team.  The annual black-tie affair at Hearst Castle, dining under the stars, overlooking La Casa Grande, the Greco-Roman swimming pool and the Santa Lucia Mountain Range at San Simeon, is a magical event, always sold-out.

Friday events began with Carissa Chappellet’s Cycling Classic among wineries in the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley.  Also featured were two symposia:  San Luis Obispo County Chardonnay Symposium, held at the Avila Lighthouse Suites and the Napa Valley Cabernet Symposium, “The Venerable, the Relatively New & the New,” held at the Avila Beach Golf Resort.  On Friday evening, Justin Vineyards & Winery hosted a Winemaker Dinner at Lido Restaurant at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Shell Beach.  Also on Friday, there was a VIP Outdoor Winery Dinner Dance at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, hosted by special Wineries from San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County and the Napa Valley, presenting the Cuisine of Meghan Loring of Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa and exhilarating music from San Luis Obispo area bank, The Zongo Allstars.

Saturday morning was the French Burgundy Symposium, hosted by renowned wine collector and Burgundy expert, John Tilson, founder of The Underground Wine Letter, featuring outstanding White & Red Burgundies from special producers, at the Avila Beach Golf Resort.  The wines came from John Tilson’s cellar and are wines that he buys and drinks regularly and recommends for their value.  Following are tasting notes from noted collector Dr. Blake Brown for the six wines included in the symposium.

central coast wine classic.johnA [6]

2013 Central Coast Wine Classic French Burgundy Symposium

 Hosted by John Tilson
Tasting Notes by Dr. Blake Brown

2010 Domaine Saumize Michelin Pouilly-Fuissé Le Haut des Crays.
This wine was bright, steely and citrusy, nicely balanced, showing lots of minerality and very good acidity.

2007 Domaine Ballot Millot Meursault Perrières.
Although there are no Grand Cru vineyards in Meursault, this Premier Cru comes as close to being of Grand Cru quality of any.  The wine offers lots of minerals in the nose, and more lemon than other citrus notes  It is fresh and refreshing, has a long way to go and will get there.

2004 Domaine Jean Boillot & Fils Puligny Montrachet Clos de la Mouchère Monopole.
This wine comes from the estate’s monopole in Perrieres; the color is more yellow gold and, as such, is darker than the first two wines.  The nose gets us off to a good start with aromas of citrus and stone fruit, minerals and some butter.  It has nice acidity, a distinct richness and a viscous texture that hits the spot on the top of the palate with pure pleasure.  I loved this wine and I can see why John states “I buy this every year.”

2011 Domaine Frederic Esmonin Ruchottes Chambertin.
The wine is light in color, but not in substance.  The nose is so inviting and we move on with great anticipation for good things to follow which is what manifests.  It is very fruit forward including fresh strawberry and a bit of earthiness.  Maybe the best is its overall balance.  I’d be happy to have this in my cellar.

2009 Domaine A. et P. De Villaine Mercurey Les Montots.
Light red in color, the wine has good minerality and acidity, a wonderful fruitiness of red and black fruit from the nose on.  I get more raspberry than anything else.  It is impressive and balanced, my favorite of the three reds, all winners.

2006 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits St Georges Les Vaucrains.
Here is another top notch Premier Cru in a non-Grand Cru appellation.  Along with its darker ruby color, there’s some seriousness in the nose.  The fruit profile includes black cherry/berry with a little tartness.  I get a hit of mocha on the back end.  It has a light to medium body, nice balance and is a fine Burgundy.

As John stated, Burgundy is about patience.  These wines all need time and patience.

*      *      *      *      *

central coast wine classic.jose [7]

The always exciting headline event, the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Live Auction, Silent Auction and Luncheon took place on Saturday at noon under the great tent, at the Official Host Auction Venue, the Avila Beach Golf Resort in Avila Beach.  The eclectic cuisine of Chef Rick Manson of Chef Rick’s in Santa Maria was served at the luncheon.  Renowned auctioneers David Reynolds and Greg Quiroga wielded the gavel at the Auction featuring an amazing array of rare and fine wine and comprehensive packages to various destinations throughout the U.S. and around the world, including extraordinary Relais & Chateaux hotels and restaurants.

central coast wine classic [8]

Sunday morning started with a symposium of Santa Barbara County Syrah at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, followed by a Reserve Tasting in the afternoon, featuring the most special wines of 50 California wineries, with culinary samplings from Central Coast restaurants and the eclectic music of Soul Sauce at the Avila Beach Golf Resort.

Every year the Wine Classic offers fabulous lots.  The most successful Wine & Lifestyle Auction Lots this year were a Relais & Chateaux French Wine Country Excursion for Four People for $50,000, an AMA Waterways 13-day Cruise from Madrid to Lisbon for Four Couples for $40,000 and a 2013 Harvest Dinner for 30 People presented by Au Bon Climat Winery and the Buellton Hitching Post Restaurant for $30,000.

The Wine Classic has grown from an afternoon wine tasting to become a highly successful, very popular fundraiser, where education is key, attended by wine lovers, vintners, chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, honorees and press.  The Classic, founded by Archie McLaren, who remains the event’s Chairman and driving force behind it, offers something of interest for everyone.  The Classic began with and continues to fulfill the multiple purposes of promotion of the Central Coast wine industry, education of event participants, encouragement of the symbiotic pairing of food and wine and the raising of money for the Wine Classic Foundation.  The Foundation, established in 2004, awards monies to fund project-specific grants to non-profits involving studio arts, performing arts, and healing arts in the counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.  Over the past ten years the Foundation has conferred grants totaling $2,311,555.

symposia [9]

Please contact Archie McLaren for further information and registration for 2014’s 30th Annual Central Coast Wine Classic:  email: archie@slonet.org [10]; Telephone: 805-544-1285; fax 805-595-2742; Wine Classic website:  www.centralcoastwineclassic.org [11].

auction.vintage.affaire [12]

Several Other Charity Wine Auctions Also Achieved Remarkable Success In 2013

Auction Napa Valley, Napa Valley, California

The 33rd Annual Auction Napa Valley, held in early June, raised a phenomenal $16.9 Million for the non-profit organizations in Napa Valley.  The country’s first and most celebrated charity wine auction was hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners Association.  The Auction at Meadowood Resort was the focal point of a weekend of dinners and wine tastings held throughout the Valley.  For information regarding the 34th Annual Auction Napa Valley, call 707-963-3388; email reception2@napavintners.com [13] or visit www.napavintners.com/anv/anv_1_overview.aspx [14].


Vintage Affaire, Woodside, California

The 31st Annual Vintage Affaire, Silicon Valley’s premier wine auction, an elegant party with fine wines, gourmet cuisine, live music and one-of-a-kind auction items took place on Saturday, June 22, in exclusive Woodside.  Always a wonderful affair to remember, it is one of the largest wine and destination auctions in California and benefits Palo Alto’s Vista Center. Over the past 31 years, Vintage Affaire has raised over $8 million for Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Palo Alto and Santa Cruz.  The 32nd Annual Vintage Affaire will take place June 21, 2014 in Woodside, California. Please contact Vista Center at 650-858-0202 for additional information, website:
www.vintageaffaire.org [15].

auction.johnglines [16]

St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church Cellar Classic,
Los Olivos
, California

St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church held its 4th Annual Cellar Classic’s Auction of Rare & Fine Wines on Saturday, June 29 in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley.  The Classic was successful in many ways, allowing the Church to continue to serve not only their Episcopal congregation but also to function as a meeting place for the area’s Jewish congregation, Food Bank, Valley Community Theatre and recovery groups, as well as to provide art, music and educational programs and to help fund other non-profits.  The 5th Annual Cellar Classic will take place in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley in June 2014.  For more information, contact Stephen Pepe, 805-735-7867 or steve@clospepe.com [17] or The Rev. Dr. Randall Day, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church at 805-688-4454, or randall@smitv.org [18], or visit –www.SMITV.org [19].

L’Ete du Vin, Nashville, Tennessee

The 34th Annual L’Ete du Vin (A Summer of Wine) was held in mid-July in Nashville, raising over $700,000.  The city’s premier wine event and America’s oldest charity wine auction unites the wine community to fund the fight against cancer in Middle Tennessee.  Events took place over four days with special tastings and dinners.  The signature event, the Grand Auction, was held in Loew’s Vanderbilt Hotel.  Please contact L’Ete du Vin for further information and registration for the 35th Annual L’Ete du Vin, email: info@nashvillewineauction.com; Telephone: 615-329-1760; Fax: 615-329-1704; L’Ete du Vin website:  www.nashvillewineauction.com. [20]

Detroit International Wine Auction, College for Creative Studies,
Detroit, Michigan

The 32nd Annual Detroit International Wine Auction, which took place in Detroit’s historic Cadillac Square in October, was a luxurious evening of world-class wines, fashion and art to benefit Detroit’s College for Creative Studies.  “The Art of Wine” raised over $1 Million to fund scholarships at CCS and provide free art classes for at-risk youth.  Please contact the College for Creative Studies for further information and registration: contact Kim Moses at 313-664-7983;  email: diwa@collegeforcreativestudies.edu; Telephone: 313-664-7464; CCS website:  www.collegeforcreativestudies.edu/news-and-events/diwa. [21]