(credit: Sharon Garofalow)

>> CBSLA Special Section: LA Food & Wine Festival

By Sharon Garofalow

Along with the celebrity dinners and parties put on for the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival all over town, there were many intimate, wine-focused panel discussions as well. Secrets of a Sommelier: A Blind Tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon was one such session held at the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live. Hosted by the charismatic Bonnie Graves and featuring Master Sommeliers Richard Betts and Andrea Robinson (also a top selling cookbook author and TV personality) and Kim Beto of Southern Wine and Spirits, the panel set out to teach you how to decipher origin and vintage of a glass of wine when no other information is presented.

(credit: Sharon Garofalow)

The Secrets

The down-to-earth panel was both informative and entertaining. First, the panel members did a quick review of the basics of wine tasting (see, swirl, smell) and then moved on to how to decode the information. For example, they shared that the color of the wine can determine the age of the bottle and that low acid wines are usually found in warmer climates. While clearly being experts in the field, the panelists not only dished out an amazing amount of facts but also a lot of encouragement. While the majority of the attendees seemed to be very knowledgeable in the art of wine tasting, all levels of oenophiles felt comfortable in this friendly environment.

(credit: Sharon Garofalow)

The Challenge

Of the 8 wines presented, there were only a few that stumped the professionals. While you rooted for them to get all vintages correct, the trickiness of the wines that threw them actually allowed for more learning. And while almost all of the wines chosen for the tasting were exceptional (with exceptional price tags – retail prices of about $60 and up!) the final wine proved to be tricky for the panel but a great find for everyone.

(credit: Sharon Garafalow)

The Favorite

This delicious 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon by Falcone Family Vineyards retails for around $30 and seemed to be the highlight of the tasting. With descriptive words like “sultry” and “sexy” being thrown about, the panel and audience seemed to like the blackberry and cocoa notes of this wine. Many thought it was from Bordeaux (some might say the best Cabs are produced there) but were delighted to find that it was, in fact, from Paso Robles. While there were “better” wines tasted, this Cab was embraced by all and ended the tasting session on a high note. For those of you looking for great bottles to bring as hostess gifts or to serve at your next get together, this bottle is for you. It will please both the experienced wine connoisseurs and your novice guests.

Where To Buy

Falcone Family Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon can be found at selection locations in the LA area or purchased direct from the winery. http://www.FalconeFamilyVineyards.com

Country Liquor in Malibu

21237 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 456-6644
More Info

Howie’s Ranch Market San Gabriel

6580 N San Gabriel Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91775
More Info

Seabreeze Liquor and Deli

715 N Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 318-3354
More Info

(credit: Sharon Garofalow)

Play Along At Home

If you would like to learn more about how to taste wines like a professional, check out Andrea Robinson’s video wine series for an approachable, yet in depth lesson at www.AndreaWine.com.