If you didn’t attend the third annual Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival earlier this month, you missed the opportunity to taste, sip and learn with celebrity chefs, sommeliers, local restaurants, 200+ wines from 85 wineries and so much more.
Executive Chef Rob Wilson, Montage Laguna
Here are some highlights from two days of exquisite wine and food.
On Saturday, master sommeliers Chris Miller and Steven Poe joined Hundred Acre proprietor and founder of Duke Spirits Chris Radomski for a VIP Hundred Acre 100-point wine tasting panel. This special event was included with a Saturday VIP ticket.
Guests had the opportunity to talk with owner Chris Radomski, Somms Miller and Poe, and snap pics.
Later in the day, a panel of four master sommeliers: Thomas Price, Christopher Miller, Steven Poe, and Michael Jordan educated us on the finer qualities of Willamette Valley (Oregon) Pinot Noirs with humorous anecdotes and tasting notes. We tasted four distinctive pinots: Gran Moraine, La Crema, Sidhuri and Penner-Ash.
Funniest takeaway you won’t forget: “It’s pronounced Will-am-it, damn it!” Steven Poe sharing an early experience with a local curmudgeon (referencing the pronunciation of Willamette as Will-a-met).
Master Sommeliers: Thomas Price, Christopher Miller, Steven Poe, Michael Jordan
Pinot panel takeaways:
There are two main soil types that distinguish Willamette Valley Pinots – marine sedimentary origin and volcanic basalt origin. Descriptors commonly used to describe volcanic soil wines: “lush” “perfumy” “pure” “sweet” “pretty” “succulent” “soft” “candy” “bright red” and “mixed berry”. For marine sedimentary soil wines: “bold” “chewy” “big tannin” “black pepper” “spicy” “truffle” “licorice” “black fruit”.
Oregon Pinot Noirs are their own category! Please, do not describe them as “like a Burgundy”.
Pinots are very versatile, food-friendly wines – salmon and Pinot is a classic pairing. Big, bold Pinots are wonderful with steak, short ribs, and grilled meats.
The long, cool growing season in the Willamette Valley “achieves optimal Pinot excellence”.
Oregon Pinot Noirs offer immediate gratification, are amazing if aged 9 months – 1 year, and 3-5 years further enhances its drinkability.
For the very first time, Newport Beach had six master sommeliers from around the country together in one place, showcasing interactive wine tasting panels and pairings at the Daytime Festival.
Photo Op with Christopher Miller, Michael Jordan, Patty Mitchell, Steven Poe, Priscilla Willis following Saturday’s Pinot Tasting Panel. Thomas Price went missing.
Scenes from the two Grand Tasting Pavilions where Orange County’s most renowned chefs and restaurants offered insights into their cuisine with beautifully creative and enticing bites to pair with the panoply of over 200 wine varietals from 85 vineyards. 20 different restaurants from the area were feature each day.
Between taking photos, sipping wines, and tasting cocktails, I did not sample every taste, but a favorite was the handmade saffron infused gnochetti sardi with truffle sausage norcina sauce from Pelican Hill Resort‘s Andrea Ristorante’s Chef Marco Criscuolo.
I caught Chef Cathy Pavlos of Provenance torching the rosemary beneath her grilled garden vegetables to impart a smoky rosemary oil flavor. Winner of the 2016 Golden Foodie Award for Best Vegetarian, Provenance is known for their on-site organic garden and imaginative use of seasonal produce. And for her highly requested S’mores in a jar.
Celebrity Chef Nancy Silverton chatted with guests and showcased Mozza‘s house made burrata. As founder of La Brea Bakery and partner with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, Nancy Silverton is the co-owner of Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, Newport Beach and Singapore, as well as Mozza2Go and Chi Spacca in Los Angeles.
From Chef Amar Santana of Broadway and Vaca and Season 13 Bravo Top Chef finalist – Vaca‘s Canelon de Pollo (smoked chicken cannelloni, foie gras sauce and sherry reduction) is a seductive flavor bomb that impresses as it seduces your tastebuds.
Sunday’s VIP ticket included a cooking demonstration with Chef Hubert Keller, Fleur by Hubert Keller and Burger Bar Restaurants in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Beijing, and Master Sommelier Peter Neptune availing guests with champagne knowledge.
I was only able to capture a few photos and tidbits of information like Peter Neptune saying champagne is an excellent, light choice for breakfast or brunch, or aperitif prior to a midday repast or supper. Basically, drink champagne all damn day!
Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish with wife Lauren, Chef Pascal Olhats and Master Sommelier Michael Jordan, Cakes by Sweet Lady Jane, Pastry Chef Jane Lockhart.
Later in the day, Chef Brian Malarkey wowed his audience with an exuberant cooking demonstration that had us spinning and wanting to go home and smash garlic with a heavy skillet. This should come as no surprise considering Malarkey is the creative dynamo behind more than a dozen wildly successful restaurants across the U.S. including Herb & Wood, his newest concept in San Diego’s Little Italy, partner/operator of three healthy, fast-service restaurants in San Diego named Green Acre, Farmer & The Seahorse and chef/partner of Herb & Eatery, a market and cafe, connected to the widely acclaimed Herb & Wood.
When you were weary of standing there was plenty of seating at communal tables, high tables, or relax in the elegant, comfy chairs and sofas situated between the two tasting pavilions while enjoying live music and your drink of choice.
Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival delivers an unparalleled experience and the best of its kind. If you love celebrity cooking shows, are a gourmand or self-described foodie, wine novice or connoisseur, you should definitely subscribe or follow Newport Beach W&F on Facebook to receive updates for next year’s event.