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I love good wines, and the Balboa Bay Club & Resort’s Ninth Annual Newport Beach Wine Festival over Memorial Day weekend was just the ticket for me. The three-day festival offered a variety of wine events, from wine dinners to paring certain wines with certain foods, an Argentinean BBQ with big reds and beers, a seminar on Spanish wines & tapas, and ending with a Cigars, Cognacs, Spirits & Sweets event. I opted for the “Grand Tasting” Gala with some of my wine loving friends, Mona Nesseth and Kathy and Noel Hamilton (Noel is a member of the club’s Board of Governors) with the Marc LeBrun trio’s smooth jazz in the background.

The club’s Executive Chef Josef Lageder and his team orchestrated a great assortment of foods to accompany the wines. I was a constant at the caviar station, and the leg of lamb and peppered New York roast carving stations proved just as popular, as well as the seafood offerings with jumbo shrimp, crab claws, New Zealand mussels, and ahi tuna tartar. Oh, and lest I forget, the Escargot “Provencal” sauté in garlic butter was also a hit. I’m always a sucker for good cheeses, and the display of artisanal cheeses and pates was impressive, especially the Country Pate – yum! I ended up having bananas foster with Tahitian vanilla ice cream for dessert. Need I say more?! As to my wine faves, I’d give a nod to the following chardonnays – Duckhorn’s ’09, Newton’s Unfiltered ’07 and Far Niente (didn’t catch the year, but every year is good). Some good cabs I tasted were Joseph Phelps’ ’09 (needs more aging but excellent now) and Silver Oak’s Napa Valley ’09 . Trefethen’s “Dragon’s Tooth” red wine blend was very good as well. I’ve always loved champagnes and sparking wines, and Wilson Creek Winery’s Peach Bellini sparkling wine was right on point, and anything from Schramsberg is fabulous – the label is one of my all-time favorites!

ASIDE: As I write this, the transition of ownership from International Bay Clubs, Inc. run by Beverly Parkhurst is in play with escrow due to close this week. This historic landmark in the midst of our community is a true jewel. Let’s hope the new ownership continues its grand tradition.