Maui Edition: Kapalua Wine and Food Festival — Red Red Wine (and some White)featured

Oenophiles/winos/wine freaks take note: The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival is where you wanna be.

I have never been surrounded by so many fine wines, talented winemakers, and wine experts in my life.

Festival Host, Master Sommelier Fred Dame, brought together fellow Master Sommeliers Shayn Bjornholm, Jay Fletcher, Greg Harrington, Michael Jordan, Geoff Kruth, Emily Wines, and some of the finest winemakers in the world, to showcase their very best wines at this festival.

At first I was intimidated…these pros were ridiculously knowledgeable and must have the most insane palates to be able to decipher some of those flavor notes. Black cherry, spicy currants, smoky leaves…um, really? Cause I’m getting a little shoe leather here, with a dousing of alcohol.

Thankfully, everyone I met seemed to be genuinely friendly and happy to edify (no pretentious wine snobs here). And, there was no shortage of wines to practice on…

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival_Welcoming Reception Kapalua Wine & Food Festival_Welcoming Reception
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival_Welcoming Reception Brooks Amycas White Table Wine

At the WELCOMING RECEPTION, I had the pleasure of meeting Maui locals Pat and Karen Saka, and Honolulu food blogger Melissa Chang.

They were veteran festival-goers and provided me with some great advice:
1) Pace yourself
2) Spit

Well…I couldn’t bring myself to use the spit buckets (the wines were too good to waste!) but I did manage to pace myself pretty well throughout the festivities.

I restrained myself from taking down a whole platter of succulent fried oysters being passed around, and got my drinking face on. I discovered a new favorite white from Brooks Winery in Oregon. Brooks’ 2008 Amycas White Table Wine was beautiful, with bold notes of white peaches and a floral note of muscat. Not too sweet, but wonderfully fragrant.

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Cab Franc Retrospective

Cab Franc Retrospective

The CAB FRANC RETROSPECTIVE explored the big, bold, juicy flavors of Cab Franc, the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Featured Wines and Winemakers:

  • Substance, Cabernet Franc, Columbia ValleyÂ
    (Jamie Brown – Winemaker, Waters Winery)
  • Buty, Merlot/Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley
  • Ironstone, Reserve Cabernet Franc, Sierra Foothills
    (Stephen Kautz – President, Kautz Family Vineyards)
  • Justin, “Justifciation,” Paso Robles
    (Joseph Spellman, MS – Master Sommelier, Justin Vineyards & Winery)
  • Pride, Cabernet Franc, Sonoma County
    (Stuart Bryan – National Sales Director, Pride Mountain Wines)
  • Verite, “Le Desir” Red Wine, Sonoma County
    (Brian Cronin, MS – Master Sommelier, Jackson Family Wine Estates – The Spire Collection)
  • Ehlers, Cabernet Franc, St. Helena
    (Armen Khachutarian – National Sales Director, Ehlers Estates)
  • La Jota, Cabernet Franc, Howell Mountain
  • Chappellet, Pritchard Hill Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley
    (Cyril Chappellet – Owner, Chappellet Vineyard & Winery)

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Pinot Noir Tasting Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Pinot Noir Tasting
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Haleakala serenade Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Gary Pisoni hula

Folks really let their hair down at the HEAL THE WORLD WITH PINOT NOIR session. Highlights? Sapphire Hill’s lush pinot, Michael Jordan and Fred Scherrer’s rendition of Haleakala, and Gary Pisoni’s accompanying “hula” – and I use that term loosely. Glad to see these pros aren’t all work and no play 🙂

Featured Wines and Winemakers:

  • Brooks, Janus, Willamette Valley
    (Janie Brooks Heuck – General Manager, Brooks Winery)
  • Lachini, “Cuvee Giselle,” Willamette Valley
    (Ron Lachini – Owner, Lachini Vineyards)
  • Patz & Hall, Hyde Vineyard, Caneros
    (Donald Patz – Owner/Winemaker Patz & Hall Wine Company)
  • Hanzell Vineyards, Estate, Sonoma Valley
  • Scherrer, Platt Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
    (Fred Scherrer – Owner/Winemaker, Scherrer Winery)
  • Sapphire Hill, Sapphire Hill Vineyard, Russian River Valley
    (Tim Meinken- Owner/Winemaker, Sapphire Hill Vineyards)
  • Pisoni, Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands
    (Gary Pisoni – Wine Grape Grower, Pisoni Vineyards & Winery)
  • Brewer-Clifton, Santa Rita Hills
    (Greg Brewer – Owner/Winemaker, Brewer-Clifton Winery)
Gone Snorkling, Kapalua Bay

Gone Snorkling, Kapalua Bay

ZINS AND CHEESE – sorry kiddies, was too busy admiring sea turtles and splish splashing away at one of the top snorkeling spots in the world to make it to this session.

I heard it was fun though, with great zins paired with cheeses selected by Cheese Master, Kent Torrey of The Cheese Shop in Carmel and Santa Barbara.

Featured Wines and Winemakers:

  • Hartford Zinfandel, Russian River Valley
    (Brian Cronin, MS – Master Sommelier, Jackson Family Wine Estates – The Spire Collection)
  • Sapphire Hill Winberrie Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River Valley
    (Tim Meinken – Winemaker/Owner, Sapphire Hill Vineyards)
  • Scherrer “Old & Mature Vines” Scherrer Vineyad Zinfandel, Alexander Valley
    (Fred Scherrer, Winemaker/Owner, Scherrer Winery)
  • Estancia Zinfandel, Paso Robles
    (Scott Kelley – National Sales Director, Estancia Estates)
  • Quivira Anderson Ranch Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley
  • Carlisle “Papera Ranch” Zinfandel, Russian River Valley

Featured Cheeses:

  • Noord Hollander – Four year old Gouda with a Scotch/Whiskey overtone
  • Raspberry Bellavitano – Wonderful Wisconsin Cheddar soaked in a tart raspberry ale
  • Old Quebec Cheddar – Nine year old Canadian that’s sharp, tangy but still with creaminess
  • Parmigiano Reggiano Reserva – A true treat that blew away the Chefs at Pebble Beach Food & Wine Fest
  • Leyden – Dutch cow’s milk cheese with cumin and caraway
  • Truffle Noire – Dutch Gouda like the memoire but a drier and stronger to taste
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Greg Harrington

Master Sommelier Greg Harrington wooing the judges


The festival Master Sommeliers brought their very favorites for us to try, while they strutted their stuff for Wine Idol judges Fred Dame (a.k.a. Simon), Blakesley Chappellet (Paula) and Michael Jordan (Randy “Dawg”), and host, Geoff Kruth (Ryan Seacrest).

It was fascinating seeing the somms do their thing. There are only 170 professionals worldwide who have earned the title Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam in 1969. This exam is no joke. In the Practical Tasting portion of the exam, the candidate must describe 6 different wines, and within 25 minutes, identify grape varieties, country of origin, district and appellation of origin, and vintages of the wines tasted.

Needless to say, all the Wine Idol contestants were incredibly knowledgeable, but what really impressed me was their ability to describe what they tasted in such eloquent and illustrative terms. They were inspiring, poetic, even.

Greg Harrington, MS, Owner/Winemaker of Gramercy Cellars won the title of Wine Idol Master MS (yeah, that’s a double master) with his superb use of adjectives and undeniable smartypants-dom.

Dr. Loosen Erdener-Pralat The bottle that took home the gold was
Dr. Loosen’s 2006 “Erdener Pralat” Auslese Riesling, harvested in the Mosel valley of Germany. Spectacular. Like honeyed ambrosia of the gods (or shall I say, the Pralat Bishop). I heard a number of people in the audience marveling, “I love this…and I don’t even like Riesling.” Mmm, wishing I had a taste of this on my lips this instant.

Featured Wines and Master Sommeliers:

  • Chablis “Vaillons” Louis Latour, 2008, France
    (Shayn Bjornholm, MS – Wine Educator, Washington Wine Commission)
  • Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko, 2009, Greece
    (Brian Cronin, MS – Master Sommelier, Jackson Family Wine Estate – The Spire Collection)
  • Dr. Loosen “Erdener Pralat” Riesling, Auslese, 2006, Germany
    (Jay Fletcher, MS – Director of Fine Wine, Southern Wine & Spirits of Colorado)
  • Gramercy “John Lewis” Syrah, 2007, Walla Walla Washington
    (Greg Harrington, MS – Owner/Winemaker, Gramercy Cellars)
  • Williams-Seylem “Rochioli Riverblock” Pinot Noir, 2006, Russian River Valley
    (Michael Jordan, MS, CWE – Owner, Word Wines and President, Beachcombers Restaurant Group)
  • Justin Savant, 2007, Paso Robles
    (Joe Spellman, MS – Master Sommelier, Justin Vineyards & Winery)
  • Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 1998, Napa Valley
    (Emily Wines, Wine Director, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants)

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, wine tasting

“You can’t drink wine all day… if you don’t start first thing in the morning.” — Dan Burke, Founder Gemelli Wine + Spirits

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