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Vineyard 511

From Hollywood to Vine with Vineyard {511}

Adventures in Wine, Food, Film and Travel

Irene Ojdana
 
August 23, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Bordeaux Wine Cruise

The City of Bordeaux was the perfect place to start our Bordeaux wine cruise on the Dordonne and Garrone rivers throughout the region of Bordeaux. But the port City of Bordeaux is not just about the "Bordeaux blend." It's not just about what happens inside that French oak. It's about the old, the history which reflects the legendary land of monumental architecture of the chateaux, and the new; not just the Bordeaux that was a dingy city to pass through with coal-blackenned facades on the way to somewhere else, but now a vibrant and beautiful city in its own right. It was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007 after its crumbling city walls had been taken down and the light let in.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel, built where the Roman forum once stood, and where we dined at its celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay restaurant. From our hotel window we saw a sparkling street dominated by the opera house with its grand pillars.

                                             

Of course, Bordeaux is about wine too, reflected in its wine museum, La Cite du Vin, designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicalas Desmazieres. Its shimmering gold aluminum facade resembles the swishing around a wine glass.                        

                                            

We toured the old city ("Vielle Ville"), in the rain. Apparently, it rains a lot in Bordeaux, just as it does in Paris. In fact, Bordeaux reminded me of a little Paris.

                                                                                       

 But the main reason Ed and I were in Bordeaux was to particapate in a "wine lover's cruise" aboard the AMADolce,    

                                           

hosted by friends Peter and Katie Mondavi of Napa Valley's historic Charles Krug Winery to explore the greater Bordeaux region.

Aboard ship, Peter gave several tastings and interesting discussions on board about Bordeaux and Charles Krug wines.

                                           

We even had a blind tasting, comparing Krug and Bordeaux. I preferred the Krug. I guess I'm partial to Napa wines.

Our shore exursions were very interesting. One of the first was to Saint-Emilion AOC (appellation d'original controllee, a government controlled designation of origin, which signifies where grapes are grown, similar to our AVA or American Viticulture Area). We drove through some very lush vineyards with views of stately chateaux,

                                          

and vistited the historic Chateau Soutard for a Grand Cru Classe wine tasting

                                          

in modern vat and barrel rooms replete with sparkling chandeliers.

                                          

On the way to the Sauternes wine region, we visited the historic Roquetaillarde Castle in Mazeres, a fortress initially built in the 10th century by Charlemagne.

                                          

It has been in the same family for 300 years. In fact, the current owner led a tour of the castle and demonstrated how his ancestors could pull up the drawbridge in case of an invasion.

                                         

In Bommes, located in the Sauternes wine appelation, we toured Chateau Guiraud to see how its lovely, sweet Sauternes wine was fermented in underground steel tanks.

                                         

On our last day in Bordeaux, Katie and Peter Mondavi graciously hosted a private winery tour, delicious luncheon and tasting at Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal in the Pauillac appelation. The wine produced there was classified as one of eighteen Cinquiemes Crus in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. It is owned by the Lurton family, involved in Bordeaux wine production since 1820.

                                         

We increased our knowledge of Bordeaux wine and made some new friends on this river cruise; we hope we will meet up with them again soon.

                                         

 

 

                                         

                                         

                                         

 

 

 

 

                                          

                                          

                                          

 

 

 

                                        
 

 

 

                                           

 

 

                                            

 

                                                     

                                               

 

Time Posted: Aug 23, 2019 at 1:52 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 20, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Spain and Portugal Douro River Wine Cruise

The Douro River, in Portugal's stunning Douro Valley, is where Ed and I experienced the most beautiful wine growing regions in the world aboard an AmaWaterways wine cruise, sponsored by The Dry Creek Winegrower's Association. But first, in order to get to the cruise, we had to fly into Spain's capital, Madrid, and stayed there for three nights to enjoy the city and Spanish wine and cuisine.

On our first night there, we at Restaurante Botin (founded in 1725). It's the oldest consecutively open restaurant in the world, according to The Guiness Book of World Records. We ordered the suckling pig (so popular in Madrid), which was roasted in the restaurant's original ovens to a golden crispness on the outside and milky tenderness on the inside.

                                                                          

After dinner, we toured Botin's ancient wine cellar.

                                                                        

The next day, we visited Madrid's famous Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, where its famous bull ring is situated and which dates back to 1929. The outdoor sculpture there depicts the bravura of the bullfighter.

                                                                       

On our last night in Madrid, we and our friends were lucky to score the chef's kitchen table at the Michelin-starred A'Barra Restaurante for a 21st Century meal paired with both Spanish and French Wines, including Rioja and Bordeaux.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

After our too-short, 3-day stay in Madrid, we boarded the ship on the Douro River on the Spanish border. The cruise was hosted by the Dry Creek Winegrowers Association of Sonoma. Some of our friends had signed up, so we said "all aboard!"

Ed and I had visited the Douro Valley before, but wanted to see its magnificant scenery again. Deep gorges alternate with tranquil valleys (mostly unpopulated, which we loved). Terraces on both sides of the river run down to rocky hillsides planted with vines.

                                                                     

                                                                     

The Douro River rises in Northeastern Spain and flows in a westerly direction for 360 miles. For the next 70 miles it forms its border with Spain and then, for its only navigable stretch--the part which formed our cruise-- cuts across Portugal for 130 miles to reach the Atlantic at Porto.                                                              

The first morning of our cruise landed us in Pinhao, in the heart of the prime port-producing region. There we discovered the Pinhao railway station, with its series of 24 fine blue and white tile murals, illustrating the history of winemaking and the culture of the area.

                                                                  

                                                                 

The train station, built in 1879, replaced the flat-bottomed boats that were previously used to carry wine in casks from quintas (wine-growing estates) downstream to Porto.

                                                                

Now the wine is transported by tanker trucks.

During our cruise, we visited quintas for wine tasting, such as Quinta da Avessada, in the village of Favaios. There the "winegrower," with the nickname 'Mr. Bean" because of his resemblance to the actor, told us about the emphasis on preserving the unspoiled landscape of the Douro wine region.

                                                                                                                                   

During another tasting, this time in Guimares, we sampled a very nice wine, new to us, called Vinho Verde. Although the name translates as green wine, it's usually drunk as a white wine. It's young, being released 3-6 months after harvest. It has a slight effervescence from the added carbonation.

                                                                

When Ed and I were much younger, we drank very inexpensive Mateus Rose wine out of round, squat bottles from Portugal. Who knew that the Mateus family owned an enchanting palace surrounded by extensive gardens, just outside of Vila Real, Portugal?                                                              

                                                                

On our last day of cruising the Douro, we toured the city of Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, behind Lisbon. We took a cable car up a hill to Pont-Dom Luis, a bridge designed by a colleague of Gustav Eiffel in 1886. The bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, where port wine tasting rooms and storage facilities are located. From up there, we had dizzying views of the city below.

                                                                 

We are now ready for our next wine cruise of the Bordeaux wine region. 'Till then.............

                                                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                     

 

                                                                    

 

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

                                 

                                        

Time Posted: May 20, 2019 at 5:30 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
March 18, 2016 | Irene Ojdana

The Girl and the Goat Restaurant

While in Chicago recently, Ed and I ate a scrumptious dinner at the highly-acclaimed Girl and the Goat restaurant. Our good friend Patrick Davila, Director of Operations at Meadowood Napa Valley and fellow Napa Valley Film Festival Board Member, scored us a reservation at its kitchen table, where we were up front and personal with the chefs. It was so interesting to watch the chefs put together the delicious pig face dish, which rightfully receives rave rewiews. And we loved the goat empanadas too. Although it was snowing in Chicago, I'd come back to this restaurant in a heartbeat, even in freezing weather!

Time Posted: Mar 18, 2016 at 5:01 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
December 7, 2014 | Irene Ojdana

Pouring Vineyard {511} Cab at Flavor Napa Valley and at SF Vintners' Market

Ed and I spent an entire weekend pouring our 2010 Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon, at two wine events--Friday night at Flavor! Napa Valley, at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, formerly the historic Christian Brothers Winery, in St. Helena; and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, at the San Francisco Vintners' Market, at Fort Mason, on the shore of San Francisco Bay, with incredible views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Flavor! Napa Valley's Grand Tasting event, also known as the Appellation Trail, drew over 100 Napa wineries and rock star chefs, such as Michael Chiarello and Thomas Keller. Wineries were grouped by appellation; we were paired with other Diamond Mountain District wineries- Wallis Family Estate (Edward Wallis pouring) and with Schramsburg-- and paired with delectible bites from Chefs Joe Panarello of City Winery, Stephen Barber of Farmstead and with Don Giavanni restaurant. Yum!

Early Saturday morning, we were off on a longer drive to San Francisco, to set up for the Vintners' Market, a wine tasting and buying event that drew over 200 wineries from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Russian River Valley. We chose to pour in the event's Cult Lounge, where only premiere wineries were pouring their wines, such as Chappellet, Lail, Plumbjack, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Twenty-Four by Charles Woodson Wines, and Miner Family. Luckily, daughter Kelly and son-in-law Jeff helped us pour at this two-day, very busy event.

 

Time Posted: Dec 7, 2014 at 11:54 AM
Irene Ojdana
 
November 22, 2014 | Irene Ojdana

Napa Valley Film Festival Tribute Night

On Friday night, Access Hollywood's Billy Bush hosted the Napa Valley Celebrity Tributes to recognize the outstanding achievements of established actors and filmmakers, as well as rising stars. The BVisionary award was presented to screen-icon Kevin Costner (who was introduced by his buddy Bill Paxton), and the Domaine Chandon Rising Star award honored Jeremy Jordon. An additional tribute was presented to Michele Monagan. Before each star came on stage, film clips from many of the actors' films were shown. The number of fabulous films that Kevin produced, directed and always acted in was incredible!

We had actually seen his most recent wonderful film, Black or White, which he both produced and in which he starred, the night before. He played a successful attorney, who has to fight for custody of his African-American granddaughter after his wife is killed in a car crash. He and his late wife had taken care of the little girl since birth after their daughter dies in childbirth.

After the Celebrity Tributes, Ed and I headed over to the etoile restaurant at the winery Domaine Chandon, in Yountville, where patrons of the Festival toasted the honorees at a private dinner. Ed and I were so lucky to be seated next to Kevin Costner and his beautiful wife Christine Baumgartner. Kevin was charming and extremely articulate about subjects diverse as hunting, vegetarianism, drugs, football, family, and film.

The dinner of Maine Lobster Bisque, paired with etoile Rose; Braised Short Rib, paired with Domaine Chandon Cabernet Sauvigon, Mt. Veeder 2010; and Honey Olive Cake, paired with Chandon Delice; was terrific too.

Truly a night to remember!

Time Posted: Nov 22, 2014 at 9:09 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
November 8, 2014 | Irene Ojdana

Pouring Vineyard {511} at Breeders' Cup Taste of the World

We recently poured our Vineyard {511} 2010 Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon at the Breeders' Cup "Taste of the World," a food and wine/beer/cocktail extravaganza held in a hugh tent at the Huntington Library, in tony San Marino. The event followed the first day of the Breeders' Cup, horse racing's glamourous international event. Two days of championship races and over $26 million in prize money attract the best horses from the U.S. and around the world including Europe, South America, and Asia.

The Huntington Library includes legendary gardens, which are populated with everything from massive succulents to lovingly-pruned roses, and Japanese and Chinese pavillions. Inside the Library, we were able to enjoy a massive art collection. The current exhibition includes thirty rarely-seen masterworks from its vast collection of American drawings and watercolors.

Each winery was paired with one of Los Angeles's best restaurants. We were lucky to be next to Austrian BierBeisl (formerly of Berverly Hills and soon to re-open on the Westside and Downtown L.A.), where talented young chef Bernhard Mairinger served up the best meatballs I've ever tasted.

 

Time Posted: Nov 8, 2014 at 8:16 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
October 30, 2014 | Irene Ojdana

Dinner at Harvest

Venison and Pinot at Harvest in Cambridge, MAEd and I recently returned from Boston, Massachusettes, where we not only visited the extremely interesting and beautiful JFK library and walked the Freedom Trail, but also ate at Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge. The food there was worthy of its name, as we were served the freshest of farm-to-table ingrediants. Our favorite dish was an amazing and moist venison paired with the best wine we drank in Boston-- a 2009 Peter Michael Ma Danseuse Pinot Noir.  It was so fitting to eat at the terrific Harvest, while back home in Napa Valley, we had just completed our own terrific harvest of our 2014 Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon.

We ate at other restaurants too, but couldn't resist the lobster roll (of course, not the only lobster we ate in Boston) at the restaurant called Mooo, in our hotel XV Beacon -- a great, award-winning boutique hotel, right across the street from the Boston Commons.

Time Posted: Oct 30, 2014 at 9:40 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
September 25, 2014 | Irene Ojdana

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

David Gelb, the director of the super successful documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (for which Ed was an Executive Producer), just sold a docu-series about other famous chefs to Netflix. Jiro, about an 85-year-old sushi chef, whose three-Michelin-starred restaurant in a Tokyo subway, was 30-year-old Gelb's first feature. The terrific film was about Jiro's striving for perfection and about his 50-year-old sushi chef son wondering when his father would retire so he could take over the restaurant. (The younger son, knowing he would never take over, opens his own sushi restaurant in another part of Tokyo.) It was also the restaurant to which Prime Minister Abe of Japan took President Obama right off of Airforce One upon Obama's arrival in Japan.

Ed and I are looking forward to seeing Gelb's other documentaries about talented chefs and their stories creating mouth-watering food in exotic locations. Bon appetit!

Time Posted: Sep 25, 2014 at 11:52 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
September 25, 2014 | Irene Ojdana

Dinner for 700 in Calistoga

Calistoga Harvest TableCan you imagine a dinner for 700 people stretching a quarter of a mile down the main drag of Calistoga? Well, wonder no more. On Sunday evening, September 7th, Ed and I were invited by our generous nextdoor neighbors, Suzie and Norm Kiken, of the wonderful Reverie Winery (first two on left in photo), to the Calistoga Harvest Table. The event was sponsored by the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce, and the table stretched all the way down Lincoln Boulevard, which was closed to vehicle traffic.

Fifteen fine restaurants along Lincoln Boulevard sold tickets to a fixed-price dinner, at the table situated in front of that restaurant. We dined at Brannan's, where executive chef Rob Lam (also the executive chef at Butterfly, on the Embarcadero, in San Francisco), provided an over-the-top delicious meal with four starters (my favorite being Tory Farms peach salad), four platters of main dishes (my favorite being seafood paella topped with soft-shell crab), and a decadent dessert of warm chocolate pot de creme, consisting of Vietnamese coffee and five spice chantilly. We were drinking Rombauer 2013 Chardonnay and the Flowers 2012 Pinot Noir, both of which went well with the delicious meal.

We hope this classy outdoor happening becomes an annual event!

(Photo: Calistoga Tribune)

Time Posted: Sep 25, 2014 at 11:14 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
April 27, 2014 | Irene Ojdana

Obama Dreams of Sushi

My husband Ed is one of the executive producers of the wonderful 2011 documentary feature film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which was directed by David Gelb. It is about the almost 90-year old sushi chef, Jiro Ono, his search for perfection in the making of sushi, and his relationship with his two sons. In fact, Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, uses this film as a mangement tool to motivate his staff. Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which was screened at the 2011 Napa Valley Film Festival, is the film of which Ed is the most proud to have been a part.

On April 23, 2014, within 90 minutes of landing in Tokyo to meet with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Abe took President Obama to eat at Sukiyabashi Jiro, the only sushi restaurant in the world to be rated with three stars by the Michelin Guide. There are only about 100 restaurants in the world with three Michelin stars and, I'm sure, it took a prime minister to score the reservation there. It is located in a Tokyo subway,  has only ten seats, and is extremely popular. There is no menu, one eats what chef/owner Jiro Ono puts in front of him or her, and the meal costs about $300 per person.

Although director David Gelb started out to make a movie about several sushi restaurants in Japan, after meeting chef Jiro Ono, felt compelled to do the film about him and his fabulous restaurant. You may stream the film on Amazon Prime Instant Video or on Netflix.

At the end of the meal, President Obama told Prime Minister Abe that, even though he had eaten alot of sushi as he came from Hawaii, it was the best sushi he had ever eaten. If you are driven to make a reservation to fly to Tokyo, just know that, it could take at least 3 months to get into Sukiyabashi Jiro, if ever.  You may have better luck with the French Laundry!

Photograph by Cabinet Public Relations Office/Japan Pool via Bloomberg

 

 

Time Posted: Apr 27, 2014 at 6:05 PM