A Tasteful Experience: Laguna Canyon Wines
An Occasional Wine Council Review
The postman always rings twice at my house – once for regular mail and then again with wine shipments –lots and lots of them. Most of these wine shipments are compliments of wine vendors throughout the US and abroad. Rarely do I request wines. Almost always I share my cache with one of my 3 wine councils.
When I visited Laguna Canyon Winery (Laguna Beach, CA) a year ago, I couldn’t get them out of my mind. The wines I tasted were special, the owners were passionate and articulate, and their brands were just plain engaging. Just a few months ago I received some promotional material from the owners and I immediately sent them back a note asking for samples for my wine council. It wasn’t long until 6 beauties arrived at my door. As it turned out, that was a very good thing.
By way of background, brothers Marlowe Joseph Huber and Darren Huber built their winery facility in the Laguna Beach Canyon in 2003. Over the years they’ve developed into a first-class boutique winery. They produce a range of fruit forward wines. Some are casual table wines and other ones are more complex wines. As proof of the brothers’ focus on producing quality wines – the wines have been awarded many ribbons from the Orange County Fair – the largest California wine competition anywhere.
Laguna Canyon Winery currently features three brands that are available in their two tasting rooms and 15 states throughout the United States. Their main premium brands are ‘Laguna Canyon’, ‘Purple Paws’ and Wyland Cellars. A portion of all Purple Paws wine sales go the care of homeless pets. Marine artist ‘Wyland’ creatively decks out the Wyland Cellars brand and a portion of the sales go to the Wyland Foundation which supports clean rivers, oceans, the environment and the protection of sea life. What’s not to like?
Grapes for the Laguna Canyon wines are sourced mainly from Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Premium grapes are selected from small low yield vineyards and transported to the winery for crushing, pressing, fermentation, barrel aging, blending and bottling.
The Laguna Canyon wines were the spotlight of our holiday tasting. They were impressive and certainly made the review session festive.
As usual, each member (8) was assigned a dish to serve with an assigned wine. Perhaps it was the seasonal nature of the holiday session, but the food was bountiful and exceeded the limits of the 8-person table we sat at . In the end, after the crumbs had fallen and the sips were over, three wines really shined: The Malbec, the Cabernet and the Chardonnay.
1. Los Carneros Pinot Gris – $20: Scented wild flowers on the nose with flavors of melon and pear on the palate. A lighter style wine that pairs well with chicken salad sliders, skewered shrimp, white sauce pasta firm textured white fish, and slow cooked whole quince.
2. 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay – $26 : An awesome white wine showcasing flavors of apple, guava and tangerine. Modest acidity with butter and creamy nuances create a unique mouth feel. Pairs well with slow cooked whole quince, Red & Green Shrimp Salad, BBQ deviled eggs, chicken salad sliders and lemon zest Stilton. A group top three pick.
3. 2009 Lodi Petite Sirah – $30: Boldish and jammy with berry flavors. Expect some pepper, and spice with definite French oak complexities. Excellent with Philly Cheese Steak Pizza, Fig Bruschetta, BBQ deviled eggs, Le Delice des Bourgogne cheese, pork, sausage and beef. One of my favorites, but not a group top three pick.
4. 2009 Rockpile Petit Verdot – $44: Gold Medal Winner at the OC Fair – At an elevation of over 1,000 feet the Rockpile AVA stands at the top of Sonoma County. This premium Petit Verdot needs some more time in the bottle and then it will impress from beginning to end. This is a wine that should be served with food to bring out all of its elegant nuances. Right now the tannins are shouting for attention. Pair with Shepherd’s Pie, Big rich organic Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, lamb, wild game, beef stew, Le Delice des Bourgogne cheese and steak.
5. 2009 Rockpile Malbec – $42: Gold Medal Winner at the OC Fair – At an elevation of over 1,000 feet the Rockpile AVA stands at the top of Sonoma County. Although commonly used as a blending wine, this full-bodied Malbec shines brightly as a star on its own. Open the bottle, pour, swirl, and relax into one of the most delicious and enticing noses ever. Expect an earthy bouquet, intense deep color, classic strong berry flavors and rich long tannins. Could be laid down for a few more years, but its fine to drink now. This was the hands down, no dissention, number one favorite of the group. Pairs well with Shepherd’s Pie, chocolate, brownies, lasagna, Le Delice des Bourgogne cheese and steak. Could have lingered here most of the night. Yes, it was that good.
6. 2009 Napa Valley Cab– $48: Gold Medal Winner at the OC Fair – As the royalty of all reds, this is an outstanding classic Cabernet Sauvignon and one of the top three picks of the night. Aged in French oak for 20 months, the smoky, vanilla and earthy bouquet was wonderful. Hearty berry flavors complemented by tannins give this wine a complex Old World style. Excellent with Shepherd’s Pie, Big rich organic Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, lamb, wild game, chocolate truffles, Le Delice des Bourgogne cheese and steak.
Be sure and visit Laguna Canyon Winery next time you are in the SoCal area.
Main Winery – 2133 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 Tasting Room Hours – Daily 11-6 pm, closed Monday & major holidays
(949) 715-WINE (9463)
Downtown Laguna Beach Tasting Room – 380 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651 Tasting Room Hours – Thursday-Saturday 2 – 8 pm Sunday-Wednesday 3-7 pm (949) 715-1621