6 Italian Wines to Sip this Summer

Summer is the time to dine al fresco, enjoy grilled proteins with a beautiful glass of wine. One of Italy’s leading wine producers Banfi makes it easy to pair wine with food. Their wines are affordable, quality wines often under $20 a bottle, and some worth the splurge.

2019 Castello Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio Toscana IGT (SRP: $18.99)
Recommendation: A crisp white wine that you will want to stock up on for everyday summer sipping.

This elegant Pinot Grigio is uniquely produced from Montalcino in southern Tuscany, with lush tropical fruit notes distinguishing San Angelo from its northern counterparts. The San Angelo Pinot Grigio displays a fresh bouquet of pear, ripe peach, and tropical fruits. Crisp on the palate with refreshing acidity, this wine is excellent as an aperitif or paired alongside light dishes such as grilled vegetables and pasta primavera, as well as a range of seafood.

2019 Banfi La Pettegola Vermentino Toscana IGT (SRP: $19.99)

Recommendation: For seaside or beach sipping, enhanced by an ocean breeze and fresh caught seafood

La Pettegola’s translation has double meaning: it refers to coastal seabirds and is also a term for a gossiper. Delightfully fresh, La Pettegola Vermentino is the talk of the town for the quality-for-value it offers. The Vermentino grapes are sourced from around Maremma, and fermentation takes place in stainless-steel tanks to preserve the purity of this wine. Fruit-forward with notes of exotic fruits, a hint of spice, and touch of salinity from the proximity to the Mediterranean coast.

Banfi Rosa Regale Sparkling White, Asti DOCG (SRP: $19.99) 

Recommendation: Deviate from Prosecco for weekend brunches to add a crisp hint of sweetness to savory brunch favorites like eggs benedict or avocado toast.

Newly launched in May 2021, this Sparkling White offers an abundance of aromatics and a sophisticated, balanced sweetness that is indicative of the Rosa Regale name. Banfi produces this fresh, elegant sparkling wine from 100% Moscato Bianco grown in Piedmont. The Rosa Regale Sparkling White offers intense aromas of orange blossom with hints of acacia flowers and sage and is well-balanced with fresh. acidity and hints of honey.

2016 Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG (SRP: $20.99)

Recommendation: Ideal for grilling season so pair with steak fajita skewers or turkey burger sliders.

A staple of the Banfi range, the Chianti Classico Riserva is made with predominantly Sangiovese and small amounts of Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for at least two years, with a minimum of one year in Slavonian oak barrels and spends an additional six months in bottle. The Chianti Classico Riserva is rich with deep cherry, leather, and subtle wood notes. On the palate, it offers supple tannins, bright acidity, and a lingering finish. Pair this wine with flavorful roasts, pastas, and charcuterie boards. 

2016 Castello Banfi Magna Cum Laude Toscana IGT (SRP: $39.99)

Recommendation: Toast to a graduate with this aptly named wine, whether you celebrate them with a fun, casual barbecue or an intimate dinner party.

Latin for “high honors,” Castello Banfi’s Magna Cum Laude combines Montalcino’s historic Sangiovese Brunello clone with international grape varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Bottled unfiltered, this wine is full-bodied with notes of blackberries, plums, licorice, black olives, and pipe-tobacco. Its supple tannins and layered complexity makes for an ideal match for rustic bean soups such as the Tuscan classic Ribollita and grilled meats such as hangar steak. 

2016 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (SRP: $74.99)

Recommendation: A sophisticated gift for Father’s Day that dad can enjoy alongside his favorite steak to grill or age for years to come.

Castello Banfi’s Brunello di Montalcino sets the benchmark for elegance and refinement. Produced entirely from estate vineyards on the southern hills of Montalcino using select clones of Sangiovese, the 2016 vintage represents an iconic expression for both Brunello and Banfi. This wine is released after five years of aging, two of which are spent in oak barrels of various sizes, primarily French oak barriques with Slavonian oak casks. The result is a layered wine with aromas of tart cherry, spice, violets, and vanilla with hints of licorice. On the palate, this wine is full and well-structured, with velvety tannins and superb concentration.

Valentine’s Day 2021 serve Rose’ wine

Rose’ wine is the quintessential Valentine’s Day offering, not only for it’s romantic rose petal color, but also for its soft berry flavor.

Gone are the days when rosé was exclusively a summer wine. “Drink pink” is now a year-round mantra, and to kick off 2021, here are some exquisite rose’ wines to serve.

The award-winning California winery Sonoma-Cutrer’s just released its 2020 Rosé of Pinot Noir. The blush release is a elegant and delicate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir rosé. Sonoma-Cutrer’s female-led winery team includes Pinot Noir Winemaker Zidanelia Arcidiacono. “We are very excited to share this exceptional wine after what proved to be a difficult year. I am privileged to have collaborated with a strong team of women including our director of vineyard operations, cellarmaster and quality manager to overcome 2020’s many obstacles and deliver a stunning Rosé of Pinot Noir,” she said.

Pairing tips: Enjoy a bottle of this wine with crab cakes topped with Siracha mayo, a piping hot Margarita pizza or a spicy ahi poke bowl.

Tasting Notes: The light pink salmon color catches the light in the glass and opens up with aromas of blueberry, pink grapefruit, cantaloupe and a light hint of rose petal. It’s crisp, refreshing mouthfeel accentuates the fresh fruit flavors of citrus, strawberry and blood orange. The wine finishes long and tangy.

Fun Fact: Sonoma County is the first wine region in the world to be 99% sustainable.

Quick Wine Facts:  ABV: 11.9%, 100% Pinot Noir 

Suggested Retail Price: $25

Available for purchase via Drizly and Sonoma-Cutrer 

Ultimate NYE & New Year’s Day Desserts

Here’s a sweet and sparkly treat to say goodbye to 2020 with Tipsy Scoop’s champagne ice cream. This rich and creamy ice cream is made with decadent and award-winning French G.H. Mumm Champagne. Not only is the ice cream spiked with champagne, but also fresh strawberries, black cherry puree, and edible glitter.

G.H. Mumm’s Brut Grand Cordon Champagne is a sparkling wine sourced from over 100 different crus. With a taste like no other, this ice cream is delicious on its own, or in a champagne float for the ultimate after dinner NYE dessert. 

Tipsy Scoop founder Melissa Tavss creates artisanal cocktails inspired by fond dessert memories and turned these special treats into adult celebrations.

On New Year’s Day, start off with a bang scooping from pints of her “Hangover Cure” ice cream. She makes 3 flavors that includes:

  • Ohza Mimosa ice cream: a creamy, refreshing ice cream made with Ohza sparkling wine mimosa and fresh squeezed orange juice.
  • Bloody Mary sorbet: a savory, spicy sorbet made with vodka, fresh tomato juice, horseradish, chilies, and spices.
  • Bacon, Egg, and Whiskey ice cream: their one-of-a-kind, ultra creamy gelato-style ice cream made with whiskey, bacon, and a pinch of sea salt.

Click on Tipsy Scoop to see how you can get some before NYE or afterwards in 2021. Tipsy has also expanded into the retail freezer space, with locations like Whole Foods, Food Bazaar, Metropolitan Market, and Morton Williams

In May of 2020, Melissa released her first ever cookbook, Tipsy Scoop Latest and Greatest Recipes, to share both secret recipes and teach readers how to create their own celebratory desserts. 

Wine Society Gift Box

Here’s a fun holiday gift to give to yourself or a loved one, WineSociety founder Angela Allison and her husband created premium Napa quality wine in elegant cans.

Courtesy of WineSociety

The 500 ml cans are inspired by the European 1/2 carafe. One can is equal to 2/3 a bottle, ideal for sharing or enjoying alone. All WineSociety blends are 90 calories or less per serving and are low in sulfites and residual sugar. Each of the wines are made from notable growers in the heart of Napa Valley.

Courtesy of WineSociety

The three offerings include: 

TEMPT: Syrah blend with notes of dark cherry, plum & cedar spice (ABV 14%). Each sip is full and rich, yet approachable, with a smooth and balanced finish. It’s aged in new French oak and neutral oak.

FATE: Chardonnay grapes with Albariño grapes offering hints of peach, bosc pear & fresh citrus (ABV 13%). Tasting notes include vibrant and fragrant with full of balanced acidity.This wine is crisp and dry. Aged in neutral oak and stainless steel tanks, it’s full of appealing flavor.

CHANCE: Rose blend of Zinfandel, Syrah & Barbera, redolent of white peach & raspberry (ABV 13%). It’s an ideal summer wine that was aged in neutral oak and stainless steel tanks.

All WineSociety blends are $9.99 a can.  Join the Club WineSociety for a quarterly wine subscription. Delivery to your door is four times a year starting February, May, August and November. Each sparkling wine box arrives with a recipe inside for an festive wine cocktail.

Courtesy of WineSociety

No more sharing bottles or finding a corkscrew. The Quarterly Club Price is $39.20 four times a year. Gifts will be billed quarterly. 

Currently, they can ship to every state except Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Utah. WineSociety is available at the following retailers including BevMo! 

Jill’s 5 Favorite Rose’ wines in 2020

  1. 2018 RUMOR Cotes de Provencé Rosé is masterfully blended with Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah grapes. After a 25+ year career in the finance industry, Barry Bayat delved into the world of wine. He traveled overseas in the heart of rose’ country – Provencé and joined forces with the highly-regarded Commanderie de Peyrassol. Founded in the 13th century, this domaine has been producing the finest grapes in the region for over 750 years. 

Tasting Notes: It’s a dry, not too sweet pink Rose’ wine, offering a pleasing burst of fruit and citrus, with slight minerality and a rich, well rounded finish. It’s not as heavy as a red or as light as a white. 

Availability & Price: After a delay in product due to COVID-19, RUMOR Rose’ has finally landed in the US, following much success overseas. Bottles and by the glass are available at The Beverly Hills Hotel, Craig’s, Malibu Beach Inn, The Henry, and Olivetta.  Wally’s Wine + Spirits President Christian Navarro’s posted a photo on Instagram of himself holding a magnum of RUMOR Rose’ touting, ‘one of the best Rose’s in the world.’ Rumor has been one of Wally’s top selling rosés this summer. At Wally’s $35 750mL bottle, and $79 1.5L.

2. The Avaline Rosé was created by actress and wellness author Cameron Diaz with her friend Katherine Power (founder of Who What Wear and Versed Skincare). Together in 2018, they set out to make a clean, vegan wine. They interviewed winemakers in France who use grapes growing in certified-organic vineyards and never use toxic pesticides. Once the grapes are picked and during production, these winemakers use as few ingredients as possible to produce a clean, vegan rose’ wine.

Tasting Notes: a light French wine made with Grenache, Cinsault, Caladoc, Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Offering notes of refreshing citrus and fruity melon with an ABV 13%.

Availability & Price: Available at retailers nationwide at around $24 a bottle.

3.  Domaine Houchart Cotes De Provence Rose won TOP 100 BEST BUYS award in 2018 & 2019. The Domain Houchart is a 200-acre estate with 10 grape varieties located in Provence at the foot of Mount St. Victoire. The estate produces 55% rose’, 40% red and 5% white wines. This Rose’ is made from Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet and Tibouren grapes. Red grapes are juiced and left to soak (macerate) with their skins for a day or two until the juice turns a subtle pink color.

Tasting Notes: Beautiful salmon color highlights, with hints of red berry and strawberry flavors. Notes of pear and peach, with a touch of goji berry and grapefruit give this wine an extra flair. With a low to medium alcohol level of ABV 13.5%, this Rose’ is wonderfully perfumy to the nose, offers bright acidity, and refreshing blast of red berry flavors.

Availability & Price: The Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence Rouge is around $12 to $15 a bottle. Imported by USA Wine Imports, David Milligan Selections.

4. Chandon Sparkling Rose’  offers a pretty rose petal color by winemaker Pauline Lhote’s keeping contact with red grape skins longer in the process. This Rosé is primarily made from Chardonnay with a little Pinot Noir red wine blended in to give it its signature flavors and beautiful shade of pink.

Tasting Notes: This dry sparkling Rose’ displays a hint of fruity cherry, strawberry and refreshing watermelon aroma and flavor profile.

Availability & Price: Available by the bottle at $24, and a case of 12 bottles for $288. Also by the magnum and aluminum minis.

5. Miraval Rosé is another wine from Côtes de Provence, France. This Rose’ is from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with the Perrins, one of the leading wine producing families in France. The Perrin family of the Rhône’s Château de Beaucastel manage the winemaking, using Grenache & Rolle grapes. This wine is vinified in egg-shape concrete tanks to produce a long-aging Rosé wine.  They are about to reveal a champagne from the Miraval Estate.

Tasting Notes: Aromatic expression of fruit and flowers with a slight strawberry finish.

Availability & Price: At Total Wine & More you can pick up a bottle for around $20 or have it delivered to your front door.

Cameron Diaz adds winemaker to her resume

Actress and wellness author Cameron Diaz said in a recent statement, “I enjoyed wine for many-a-year and never questioned it. Not once. I actually felt it was the most responsible alcohol choice because it was made from fermented grapes! But I had no idea of the process.” She soon learned it wasn’t what you added, it’s what you didn’t add that make a clean wonderful wine.

In 2018, Diaz and her friend Katherine Power, founder of Who What Wear and Versed Skincare, were drinking wine in the backyard, and both were discussing their concerns about the ingredients that goes into and on their bodies. After a few more sips, they questioned what goes into making a good bottle of wine.

These two dynamic ladies immersed themselves into the wine world and discovered everything from farming, harvesting, pressing, bottling, marketing and selling wine. In the process, they discovering that most wine is not made from organic grapes and that wines can be manipulated with over 70 additives.

“Cameron and I spent two years developing, tasting and refining Avaline,” said Power. “We could never have imagined the world in which we find ourselves today. But it’s clear, to us that as we navigate the complexities of 2020, it has become more vital than ever to find joy in small, everyday moments.”

They made it their mission to bring a new standard of transparency to the wine industry by developing clean wine. They interviewed winemakers in France and Spain who use grapes growing in low to no irrigation certified-organic vineyards. Both wanted to make sure their vineyards never use toxic pesticides. Once the grapes are picked and during production, these winemakers use as few ingredients as possible.

They made two of their favorite varieties that are accessible to everyone:

Dry white wine ideal with a cheese and fruit plate

The Avaline White is a dry Spanish wine with bright notes and a fresh finish and an ABV 11.5%.

Pretty pink in color, ideal with grilled vegetables and a salad.

The Avaline Rosé is a light French wine made from Grenache, Cinsault, Caladoc, Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with notes of citrus and melon and an ABV 13%.

Availability & Price: $24 a bottle. Available for purchase at select retailers in 43 states plus the District of Columbia and on drinkavaline.com

Enjoy Japanese delicacies at NOBU Malibu at a QUI Tequila dinner

When Nobuyuki Matsuhisa moved from Japan to Peru in the 1970s, he opened his first restaurant offering a menu filled with a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian ingredients. With its success, he later arrived in Los Angeles and opened Matsuhisa. Actor Robert De Niro was a huge a fan of the chef and restaurant, and convinced Matsuhisa to open a similar restaurant in New York City.


Within the last two decades, De Niro and Matsuhisa have remained friends and business partners. Through the years, they opened Nobu Restaurants, named after shortening the chef’s first name. Another fan of Nobu is billionaire and founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison. Owning multiple homes in Malibu, Ellison joined Matsuhisa and De Niro’s Nobu Hospitality Group to help build the luxury restaurant and boutique hotel in his backyard.


The aesthetically pleasing Nobu Malibu opened right on Carbon Beach, with an elegant Japanese minimalist design and a casual Malibu chic vibe. Located next door to the restaurant is the serene 16-room beachfront Nobu Ryokan. Guests who stay at the hotel get preferred reservations at the restaurant.

Besides Peruvian-influenced Japanese food with a Cali spin, Nobu is also known for its creative cocktails. With over 30 Nobu restaurants nationwide, the bartenders have a playful Grand Cordon cocktail competition each year. They enter their best drink recipe, all of which use one spirit as the base. This year, they used QUI Platinum Extra Añejo Tequila, and the winning mixologist, Lanee Kelley, from Nobu Newport Beach, won with her “Mayonaka Sour.” It’s listed on all of the Nobu cocktail menus for guests to experience during October and November.IMG_6430-2



To celebrate her win, the founders of QUI Tequila recently hosted a multi-course dinner at Nobu Malibu. Guests were invited to meet the founders on the wood deck, which is located off the oceanfront private dining room. Looking south to the shoreline lights, called “queen’s necklace,” we were each offered an old-fashioned glass with an extra-large ice cube and pour of QUI tequila. Taking a sip, I noticed a slight essence of hazelnut, vanilla and butterscotch characteristics. “It’s a smooth and sophisticated tequila, not the type to down quickly with salt and a lime,” said Pete Girgis, president and co-founder of QUI.


With our drink in hand, we were led into the wood-paneled dining room to take a seat at a large square-shaped table. Plates of edamame beans with crisp garlic chips and yellowtail sashimi with a thinly sliced jalapeno sphere on top and sprig of cilantro were arranged as a pinwheel on a plate. The coolness of the cilantro and spiciness of the jalapeno provided an outstanding balance of flavors.

Another QUI co-founder, Medhat Ibrahim, joined us and shared how this tequila is made in small batches in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Ibrahim, Girgis and the third co-founder, Mike Keriakos, named their spirit from the heart of the word te-QUI-la. “We take the blue agave plants and discard the heads and tails, only using the juice of the heart,” Girgis said.


He shared how this agave is distilled, filtered and redistilled to create the world’s first platinum extra añejo tequila. “It’s aged for three and a half years in hand-selected American whiskey and French Bordeaux barrels, giving QUI the rare and highly coveted ‘extra-anejo’ designation,” Girgis said.

When the Nobu food and beverage team were introduced to QUI, they agreed to stock and serve it at Nobu restaurants nationwide.

The mixologists at Nobu Malibu made and sent over a tray of the winning “Mayonaka Sour” for us to taste. Served in a Marie Antoinette glass, QUI is enhanced with a little creme de casis, lemon juice, organic egg whites and a black sesame orgeat sprinkled on top. This pretty pink drink offered a pleasing flavor profile that was slightly sweet and a tad sour. It paired nicely with one of Chef Nobu’s most famous dishes – his signature black cod. He was the first Japanese chef to prepare black cod with a miso-sweetened caramelized glaze. It’s often attempted at other Japanese restaurants, but it rarely tastes as good.


The mixologists at the Malibu location made a “Taste of Jalisco” with QUI for the cocktail competition. This runner up is served on their “secret menu.” Ask for it, because it pairs nicely with platters of freshly made sushi and sashimi. It also is nice with a tender rib-eye steak topped with thin crispy onion strips, chives and heavenly truffle sauce.

Nobu restaurants are also known for their rock shrimp tempura bathed in a spicy cream sauce. The lightly battered shrimp has slightly creamy coating that offers the perfect amount of seasoning. It’s very addictive and I doubt you will be able to eat only one. The tempura shrimp is also available in a buttery lemon sauce.

Before leaving, we learned that QUI has been awarded the gold medal in the Spirits of the Americas competition, and will soon be served at all Nobu restaurants worldwide.


Take a trip to the beach and sip QUI Tequila as a new beverage option with Chef Matsuhisa Nobu’s Japanese delicacies with a Peruvian and California flair. $$$ Open Monday through Friday for lunch at noon, and 11 a.m. on weekends. Dinner service is served Sunday through Thursday until 10 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, dinner is served until 11 p.m. 22706 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu (310)317-9140.

This review was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.




Holiday Herzog – Wines to Give and Receive

Drinking wine is a Mitzvah (good deed) and prescribed for many Jewish rituals: Bris Milah (circumcision), the wedding chuppa (canopy), and the Kiddush that starts all Sabbath.


Wine is essential to enjoy during the holidays. Celebrating Purim, wine is the beverage of choice for the festive meal. It may be sipped in abundance as described in the Megillah story. During Passover, Jews are required to drink four cups of wine at the Seder.

When I received three bottles of Herzog wine as a holiday gift, I learned a lot about Kosher wine. According to Jay Buchsbaum, Executive VP Marketing and Director of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp. It’s the top kosher wine purveyor in America, “When it comes to taste, there’s no difference between kosher and non-kosher wine.”

To be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant Jews must supervise and sometimes handle the entire winemaking process, from the time the grapes are crushed until the wine is bottled. Any ingredients used, including yeasts must be kosher.

When kosher wine is produced, marketed and sold commercially, it will bear kosher certification granted by a specially-trained rabbi who is responsible for supervision from start to finish.

There has been an increased demand for kosher wines, motivating vintners in South Africa, Chile and Canada to produce kosher wines under strict rabbinical, besides the wines produced in Israel, France, California, Spain and Italy.


The first Herzog wine I opened was the Special Reserve Quartet, Red Blend. This 2013 wine offered notes of dark berries and a mouthful of vanilla and spice with finishing hints of dark chocolate. It’s made with 36% Petit Verdot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec, and 15% Zinfandel.

For a family dinner I opened a chilled bottle of Baron Herzog California Chardonnay 2016. While taking a few sips I noted the essence of baked pear and apple with a hint of lemon zest. This is a nice wine to pair with an almond crusted fish or rosemary roasted chicken.

For a holiday meal, I uncorked the last bottle, a Herzog Lineage 2016 Choreograph. This wine is made from 12 select varietals in a secluded portion of their Herzog vineyard. Each of the vines were specially chosen to create a kaleidoscope of red and black raspberries, espresso, and nutmeg. It’s ideal with a steak or brisket.

Herzog Wine Cellars-Winery is located at 3201 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard, CA 93030


A Special Wine & Dine Dinner at The Larchmont

Come Meet winemaker Bill Hawley and learn about his estate-grown, handcrafted Random Ridge wines on Wednesday, March 22 starting at 7 p.m., at The Larchmont.


Located in the Mt. Veeder AVA Napa Valley, the Random Ridge red and white wines you will be tasting are selectively paired with a multi-course dinner. The grapes grown in the Mayacamas Mountains offer a distinctive bouquet.


The Larchmont Chefs will be serving some of the dishes family style at a communal table. Here’s the proposed menu:
Warm Olives; Scallops; Tuscan Chicken Under a Brick; Butter Lettuce Salad with assorted Cheeses and finish with Beignets and dipping sauces paired with a dessert wine.

To read a review of The Larchmont, click here – Jill’s Beverly Press Review

The cost is $90 per person. 5750 Melrose Ave. (323)464-4277.

The Newly Opened Napa Valley Grille

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

For 15 years, Napa Valley Grille has been a dining destination for UCLA parents taking their college students to a fancy dinner. It’s one of my favorite restaurants before a UCLA basketball game. The outdoor patio is ideal to meet friends for a glass of wine and elevated fare before seeing a show at the Geffen Theater or exploring the Hammer Museum across the street.

After a $2 million renovation, Napa Valley Grille recently re-opened with a contemporary design showcasing warm earth tones and textures of stone, wood, tile and copper. The bar is now doubled in size and is decorated with an eclectic array of wood flooring, rattan weaved bar stools and classic lighting. On the wall in the main dining room is an interesting, large wooden collage made from wine crates from some of the most popular California wineries – Simi, Joel Gott and Napa Valley Cellars.

A new private wine room seats over 100 guests, and a beautiful, upgraded patio lounge features fire pits and glass walls to protect guests from wind and cut the noise from nearby Wilshire Boulevard.

Executive Chef Adrian Vela, formerly of Cafe del Rey in Marina del Rey, created a new menu that includes West Coast oysters, Wagyu meatballs, oven roasted mussels and crispy pork Milanese.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

We sat at a large booth for two in the smaller dining room, and received a glass jar filled with pickled cauliflower, cornichons and baby corn, that was a little too briny for my palate. Our server Phillip recommended the Wagyu beef meatballs with and a fried green tomato on the bottom of the skillet. The dish is dazzled with pancetta, fresh herbs, red pepper flakes and a lovely Romesco sauce offering a nutty essence.

We ordered the Fresh and White salad with roasted cauliflower, sliced grapes, thinly sliced Asian pear, frisee lettuce, chopped hazelnuts and a Mine Shaft Bleu cheese dressing. It’s a nice profile of sweet, crisp and savory.

The kale salad is one of the most popular with its organic black quinoa, toasted almonds, rum raisins with a lemon-Parmesan vinaigrette.

The chef sent an amuse bouché of a puffed pastry filled with foie gras and quince jam which gave the dish an appealing sweetness.

Philip paired several glasses of with our entrees. He recommended the shockingly good Seghesio 14 pinot grigio with the Fresh and White salad and my steelhead trout. It is from the estate-owned Keyhole Ranch in Russian River Valley, and offers a bouquet of bright sweet melon and juicy white peach flavors. The delicate acidity provided a clean finish.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

To pair with my husband’s grilled duck breast, he offered tastes of two of his favorite wines. The first was a Paso Robles DAOU Vineyard Pessimist, known as “A Pessimist is Never Disappointed.” It’s an earthy blend of syrah, petite syrah, zinfandel and tannat (a national red grape grown in Uruguay offering a smoky essence). The second taste was an intense, plum-colored Tavistock Malbec that offered a sweet, silkiness with non aggressive tannins. It was an excellent accompaniment to the grilled duck breast glazed in port.

Napa Valley Grille has expanded it wine list to include International wines, including a sparkling Tavistock reserve prosecco from Veneto, Italy, and two exclusive white wines – Tavistock reserve Sauvignon Blanc “Block House Vineyard” and Tavistock reserve Chardonnay “Bien Nacido” from Santa Barbara. Red wines include Red Tavistock reserve Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County and the Tavistock reserve Malbec.

Debbie Kofsky, the manager of the restaurant, checked on each table inquiring about the guests’ experience. She shared with us the secret 3-3 wine menu – three glasses of three ounce pours. You must ask your server about it because it isn’t featured on the regular menu. It’s a wine flight tailored to the dishes you order.

Kofsky poured one of her favorite wines – Bu Bruliam 2012 Zinfandel Rockpile from Healdsburg, CA. She said it’s the “Zin for Pinot lovers,” with a delicate nose, hints of dried dark fruit, Cassis, clove and soft tannins.

Kofsky said Bruliam Wines is a boutique vineyard built by two doctors. They source their own fruit from California’s finest vineyards and donate 100 percent of their profits to the breast cancer and alzheimer charities. It may be my new favorite wine too.

We finished our dinner with a butterscotch brioche pudding. It’s silky smooth with a caramel flavor and topped with brûlée marshmallow.

fullsizerender-47Another winning dessert is the cherry crumble with housemade rosemary ice cream. The pastry chef changes the crumble flavor based on the freshest and sweetest fruit available. The kitchen makes housemade sorbets and ice creams daily.

I’m so pleased with the newly renovated Napa Valley Grille. Stop in for a glass of wine and relaxing meal served by attentive and knowledgeable servers.

They are open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They also offer a popular Happy Hour daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It starts back up at 9 p.m. to closing. $$ 1100 Glendon Ave. #100 (310)824-3322.

This was published in the Beverly Press and Park La Brea News in May 2016.

%d bloggers like this: