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Posted: Nov 3, 2008

Posted By West Site Today

Posted by: http://westsidetoday.com/malibu-beach/

Raising the Vines at Cielo

November 03, 2008

Malibu, California is a burgeoning appellation for producing wine. Emerging from the Saddlerock Malibu AVA, Cielo Farms is making a splash along the coast.

Nestled on a hill with a 360-degree view, Cielo Farms is surrounded by vines that curl about the hills and blanket the sun-drenched slopes of the canyons.

Cielo was established in 2002. Here, the grapes are treated to long days of hot sun. At night, the mountains breathe as the vines prepare for the next day’s heat. Sweetened by the sun, these vines produce robust, flavorful grapes. Created with attention to every detail, the wines they produce are simply fantastic.

The Hirsh Malibu Estate Cielo Wineyard Syrah 2006 won the Double Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. They also received two bronze medals for the 2006 Malibu Rouge a “September Cellar Selection” by renowned wine expert, Joel Fisher (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc) and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 3 Reserve. That is impressive for a vineyard only established in 2002.

Cielo founders Diana and Richard Hirsh, and his brother William, Director of Cielo Malibu Estate Wineyards, grew up with brother Jon in the shadow of the Santa Monica Mountains. They are close, though Jon is not in the business. All three share a lifelong love for wine.

Richard Hirsh’s career as a vintner followed his success in the garment industry with JohnPaulRichard, a trendy clothing company he started after leaving his sophomore year of college.

Richard and Diana live atop the vineyards in a warm, friendly estate. Their gracious home, reminiscent of an old hunting lodge, is cradled in the mountain terrain. Inside, the glass doors open to an infinity pool and that priceless landscape. Yes, this is Malibu and it is perfect for growing wine.

Saddlerock-Malibu is a very exclusive terroir. Cielo neighbors Ron and Lisa Semler, owners of Malibu Wines, sought the designation. “They were nice enough to include us in their appellation,” said Richard. Cielo wines are available at the Malibu Wines tasting room located on Mulholland Highway, run by the Semlers and Glen Gerson of neighboring Calamigos Ranch. Cielo hopes to have a tasting room in the future.

Cielo is expanding their “Woodstock Collection” and their Syrah and Syrah blends, which are well suited in the region. But, said Richard, “we aren’t interested in competing with lower or mid-tier wineries. Small production,” he said, “but big, rich wines!” In 2009 they will introduce a line of cold-pressed olive oil and oil blends made from over 1000 Greek, California and Tuscan olive trees on the ranch.

Wine-lovers can find Cielo wines in a “Who’s-Who” of LA restaurants, including Saddlepeak Lodge, Il Cielo, the Drago restaurants (Enotica Drago, Drago, Drago Centro, opening downtown in November, and Celestino in Pasadena), Crustacean, Tuscany, Riviera, Akbar and Valentino. Pierro Salveggio at Valentino was a huge endorsement for Cielo. “When he embraced our family and our wines, we were honored,” said William. “He really gave us the confidence to go into the next zone. And for our wines to be accepted into the Drago family of restaurants is an honor and a privilege for us. It reinforces our resolve to produce incredible wines!”

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” said William.

Posted: Sep 12, 2008

Posted by TableConversation.com

Wines: The High and the Low

“It’s so good,” said the man sampling the 2007 Alamos Chardonnay. And I heard that time after time from other tasters.

Alamos is a second label of Bodega Catena Zapata, which is located in Mendoza, Argentina. But that doesn’t mean the wines can’t be first rate. This golden Chardonnay, with hints of apple and lemon, a slight sweet edge and pleasant acidity, is indeed a winner, a double gold medal winner in the 2008 San Francisco International Wine Competition.  

What really sets it apart is its price, an amazing $10, which drops to even less on the Internet.

Double gold winners from that contest as well as from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition are now on a nationwide tour sponsored by The Tasting Panel magazine. The Los Angeles tasting took place at Citrus at Social.

At the other extreme of price was Hirsh Malibu Estate Cielo Wineyard Syrah 2006, which sells for $90 on the winery website, www.cielofarms.com. Only 125 cases of this wine were made, and very few are left, according to William Hirsh of Hirsh Malibu Estate Cielo Wineyard Wineyard (yes, the W is correct).

Established in 2002, the vineyard is located at an altitude of 1,500 to 2,000 feet in a hot climate that benefits red wine grapes. The 2006 Syrah spent six months in new French oak. The 2007 Syrah is said to be even better.

Cielo also won two bronze medals in the San Francisco competition. These went to the 2006 Malibu Rouge, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, and to the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 3 Reserve.

Here is a sampling of other double gold medal winners:

Cambiata Winery 2005 Tannat, from Monterey County, a deeply colored wine with rich berry flavor. ($22). The Cambiata 2007 Albarino also won gold ($25).

Epiphany Cellars 2005 Revelation from Santa Barbara County. Voted best Rhone blend, this fruity, rich, full wine blends 62% Syrah with 30% Grenache and 8% Petite Sirah ($35). Epiphany Cellars Grenache Blanc was voted best in show white ($23).

Filus 2006 Malbec Reserve from Mendoza, Argentina. named best Malbec in the competition. Deeply colored with violet tones, this wine combines fruitiness with good acid and has more character than the average Malbec ($15). Filus also makes the low-priced La Boca wines.

Portalupi Wine Company 2006 Barbera from Nevada County, voted best Barbera in the competition. Lots of character, a wonderful red for $30.

Turning to spirits, the best tequila award went to AsomBroso El Platino silver tequila from Jalisco, Mexico  Appropriately, asombroso is Spanish for astonishing, which applies to the bottle as well as the tequila.  

This 100 % blue agave tequila has lovely soft flavor components—I had a momentary impression of  pandanus, coconut and caramel. These would be overwhelmed in a Margarita, so drink this one straight. ($45).

See more at www.TableConversation.com 


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