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Joining me at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort's 10th Annual Wine Festival were club owner Tim Busch, left, and General Manager Dieter Hissin

Joining me at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort’s 10th Annual Newport Beach Wine Festival were Pacific Hospitality Group Founder/CEO Tim Busch, left, and the resort’s General Manager Dieter Hissin

The Balboa Bay Resort’s 10th annual Newport Beach Wine Festival drew wine aficionados from around the county and beyond. The three-day wine extravaganza boasted such events as a master sommelier wine dinner with guest chefs and separate  soirees for the white wines of France, bordeaux from around the world, an Australian Shiraz vs. the French Rhone Syrah affair, and ending with a Cigars, Cognacs, Spirits, and Sweets evening. Heck, there was even a Beer for Breakfast gathering in Duke’s Place! The festivals two wine tastings included a Seafood on the Bay affair, with guests mingling on the lawn by the bay to savor wines from 20 different wineries, and a Grand Tasting Gala in the Grand Ballroom.

I opted for the Grand Tasting. The jam-packed affair featured wines from 50 vineyards and a top-notch cuisine to match, thanks to Executive Chef Josef Lageder and his team. The artisanal cheese selection and fresh seafood displays were standouts, as was the caviar station – love those yummy salt-cured fish eggs with all the trimmings! – ahi tartar station, scrumptious selections of sushi, carving stations with lamb and peppered New York roast, mini beef and crab cake sliders, and even a escargot Provencal sauté station. Ummm, those garlic buttered snails on a small French baguette were delish! Oh, and lest I forget –  dessert was Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee with Tahitian vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries with Baileys Irish Cream white chocolate fondue and Belgium bitter sweet fondue. Trust me, the desserts more than met every sweet tooth request in the room!

As to the wines offered for tasting, they were superb! How can you go wrong with labels like Heitz, Nickel & Nickel, Byron, Duckhorn, Foley, ZD, Stag’s Leap, Ferrari-Carano, Trefethen, and many more. My friend, Mona Nesseth, who loves champagne and pinot noir, pointed me towards the Champagne Nicholas Feuillatte – very good, indeed! – and we both tasted a new label for us – Beau Joie Champagne. The bottles, encased in recycled copper – keep the champagne colder we were told – were gorgeous (see photo). Dieter Hissin, the Bay Club & Resort’s General Manager, definitely had a favorite – Wedell Cellars. “Best pinot in the room,” he shared. And, PHG’s Tim Busch couldn’t say enough about his winery, Trinitas Cellars. His favorite was the Trinitas 2010 Pinot Noir Napa Carneros – superb!

A very entertaining jazz trio rounded out the evening for all, and I’ll be looking forward to the 11th annual wine soiree next May!

Seafood on the Bay photo courtesy of the Balboa Bay Club & Resort

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