Thursday, July 24, 2014

Small Doesn't Mean Puny Taste at the ‘Urban Exposure’ Garagiste Festival

“GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr.  – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.  Who’s laughing now, Francois? Syn: Rule-breakers, pioneers, renegades, mavericks, driven by passion.  Welcome to Garagiste, a place for the underground, the different, and the cutting edge of small production winemaking with no rules.”

Edible Skinny was lucky enough to attend the first Los Angeles ‘Urban Exposure’ Garagiste Festival at Union Station last week with the lovely Miss Angelina Meany.  Despite the heat, the Garagiste Festival welcomed 500 Angelenos to this sold out event with 45 artisan winemakers, including 12 commercial, urban-based micro-production artisan winemakers who live in Los Angeles.

The non-profit Garagiste Festivals are the only events that exclusively showcase high-quality, cutting-edge, small-production commercial wineries that produce fewer than 1,500 cases a year, and have emerged as among the most unique and influential wine events in the US. 

There was lots of vino sampled that day and some of our favorite picks from this year festival included:
  • Pulchella (1,000 Cases) was our absolute favorite winery at Garagiste!!!  The brainchild of troublemakers, Nate Hasper and Steve Lemley; Steve was present at the festival with his lovely wife and they were absolutely dolls!  Part bubbly/part intense the Lemleys were absolutely passionate about their small lot wines made from some of Paso Robles best vineyards!  Two of their standouts were Highs & Lows (66% Syrah/34% Grenache) at $39 and their Tannat Reserve (That’s right they do a full on Tannat that Miss Angelina Meany called “a punch in the face, in a good way!”) at $69.
  • Cloak & Dagger (1,000 Cases) has ties in Malibu even though the grapes and wine come from Paso Robles.  With the tagline of “Handcrafted in Secret” (they had to keep their ownership and production a secret when they first started out 3 years ago) you know they mean business!  Our favorite was their very bright “Novus Ordo Seclorume” Cuvee Reserve (Sangiovese/Syrah blend) at $40.  With only 25 cases you better drink up before it disappears!
  • The Central Coast Group Project (280 Cases) was pouring the futures of their first vintage.  Their Barrington Hall Wine Dinner Special Cuvee and Names Syrah are sourced from top shelf vineyards such as White Hawk and Thompson and are full of intense fruit.
  • La Fenetre (1500 Cases) is a friend of Edible Skinny.  Created by Josh Klapper they concoct a Chardonnay, a Syrah, and two Pinot Noirs.   On top of that Josh also creates the resident wine for FIG Restaurant at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica.
  • De Su Propia Cosecha (700 Cases) was pouring six wines at the Garagiste and one of them was a Roussanne from the Stolpman Vineyard (and for $28!)!  Co-owner Danna King (w/ husband Chris) noted that people either love Roussanes or they don’t.  Luckily I was the former with a Sommelier background (Miss Meany) who declared theirs “Spicy, but well balanced.”
  • Sempli isn't a winery or vineyard but a product design company that makes hand blown glasses and decanters designed to aerate your favorite wine with their unique stemless construction.  Their uneven bottom creates a swirling rotation when set down that assists the oxygenation of the wine.
The Garagiste Festivals recently announced the dates for the fourth annual Paso Robles Garagiste Festival November 6th – 9th, 2014.  Returning to its roots in the heart of Paso Robles, the event will expand to Ponderosa Pavilion at Paso Robles Fairgrounds along with other local venues for four days of tastings and educational events with over 50 artisan ‘garagiste’ winemakers.   Returning popular events include the Opening Round, two wine tasting seminars, Shiners, Samples and Secrets, and the festival’s signature Rockin’ After Party.

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