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Wine Tasting at Laguna Culinary Arts

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Last weekend when I was visiting MM in Orange County, we took a little drive to Laguna Beach. We had a delicious lunch at Sundried Tomato Cafe before venturing to Laguna Culinary Arts for a low-key wine tasting. It’s a little hidden, right off Laguna Canyon Road in what looks like a warehouse parking lot. On Saturdays they host wine tastings from 1-4pm, and for only $5.00 you get to taste eight great wines from around the world (mostly Italian, French and Californian). They also serve a special lunch menu on Saturdays, featuring a cheese and charcuterie plate, salads, sandwiches and mac-n-cheese. We skipped the lunch since we had already ate, but the wine tasting was delicious!

Here is what they are tasting for the month of October:

  1. Les Domaniers Rosé 2011 (Blend of Grenache & Cinsault, from Provence, France) – $21.00/bottle
  2. The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (from Marlborough, New Zealand) – $12.00/bottle
  3. Marco Felluga Friulano 2012 (from Collio, Italy) – $18.00/bottle
  4. Louis Latour Ardèche Chardonnay 2010 (from Southern Rhone Valley, France) – $8.25/bottle
  5. Cuvee des Colosses 2008 (blend of Syrah, Carignan & Grenache, from Hérault, France) – $14.00/bottle
  6. Barnard Griffin Merlot 2009 (from Columbia Valley, Washington) – $17.25/bottle
  7. Luigi Bosca Malbec 2009 (from Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina) – $19.00/bottle
  8. Thompkin Cellars 3ie Degré 2008 (Blend of Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre, from Santa Barbara, CA) – $33.75/bottle

The New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (#2) was my favorite of the whites. I immediately smelled lychee and passion fruit on the nose, and the taste was slightly effervescent with a smooth, delicate middle and crisp finish – and a steal at only $12.00 per bottle. I found the Rose (#1) to be very light in color, with a citrusy nose and an aroma of strawberries. It was a well-rounded wine with a crisp finish, but a little overpriced at $21.00 per bottle. I really did not like the Italian white (#3), and found it to be a little too sweet. The Rhone Chardonnay (#4) was rich and toasty – not my preference for a Chardonnay but overall a well-balanced wine.

With the surprising exception of the Malbec (#7), all the reds were great. The Malbec was a little too high in alcohol, and didn’t have the intense spice element that I was hoping for. In fact, it was more like a Pinot Noir. But if you’re looking for a Malbec on the lighter side, then this is the ticket. The first of the reds, the Cuvee de Colosses (#5) was a blend of Syrah (45%), Carignan (40%) and Grenache (15%). The result is a spicy and complex wine with a chocolatey, smooth finish. It would be great with hearty meat or spicy foods. Similarly, the Washington Merlot (#6) was a complex wine with a good balance of spice, fruit and acidity. And last but not least, the Santa Barbara blend (#8) was a wonderful ending to a well-rounded tasting. The full-bodied blend of Syrah (60%), Grenache (20%) and Mourvedre (20%) had a chocolatey nose with a smokey mouthfeel. This is definitely one that you want to sit for a couple of years, as it will open up very nicely.

All in all, it was a great tasting with a good variety of wines at great prices. It’s a great place to stop if you’re on the road or just passing through Laguna Beach, but I can also see how it would be a destination for locals. The adjoining wine shop also had a great selection of fairly-priced wines – I picked up a bottle of my favorite South African Chenin Blanc for only $9.00! I will certainly be back here in the winter, and hopefully we will have room for some of their mac-n-cheese next time!

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a food and wine lover residing in Napa, California, where she does marketing for a boutique wine collective. She previously lived in San Francisco for over six years, where her blogging journey began. She loves to cook seasonal meals and experiment with new wine pairings. She has been drinking and learning about wine with her father since she was 14, and cooking in the kitchen with her mother since she was 6. Both of her parents taught her well about seasoning and flavors, and she continues to learn more with every meal that is made.

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