A group of talented artists and wine lovers gathered at an informal wine tasting at the headquarters of LA Art Party. Our tasters consisted of Michael Baroff, Barbara Kosoff, J.J.L’Heureux and Jennifer Verge. Of course, I (Kathy Leonardo) hosted, offering some finger sandwiches and other various other bites.

Gruppo Mezzacorona generously donated some wine to an art event previously produced by LA Art Party, I gathered the troops to do an official review. Wine rep John D’Alvia popped in and explained, “BaciVivaci–meaning “Lively Kisses” in Italian–is a light sparkling made from Grillo, Sicily’s most prominent white grape. This wine has all the components of a great white wine: lively aromatics, hints of tropical fruit, and delicately balanced with minerality and nice acidity. It’s perfect for the spring and summer months ahead.”

Wine Tasting with LA Art Party; From left to right, Jennifer Verge, J.J. L’Heureux, Michael Baroff

It was a delightful wine. Lively and crisp…bubbles danced on our tongues. Coincidentally, I happen to be a huge fan of this company’s 2013 Pinot Noir and had mentioned to John that I was always searching for it in local markets. He brought some to the event as well. The Pinot Noir offers a wonderful price point for such a well rounded and smooth wine. 

I did go home with some….alas it did not make it to the tasting…late one night, Mama had at it as I was tirelessly writing a Huff Post article.

Back to our wine review…We started with a chilled Pinot Grigio 2013 from Cliffhanger. It was quite lively and refreshing. “Fruity, but not too sweet” exclaimed Barbara. Michael said it was crisp with a lovely bouquet. J.J. detected the essence of pears…(we all said “yes”). Jen also commented on how crisp and delightful it was. Truth be told, I am more of a red wine lover, but would definitely consider purchasing some for a summer evening by the beach. The Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio can be found at Robert Burns Liquor in Beverly Hills, Hillhurst Liquor in Los Feliz and Remedy Wine and Spirits in Glendale. It is also featured at the Beverly Hill’s Avalon Hotel (by the glass).

Next was a lovely red blend that may have been my favorite. At first taste, J.J. said, “It’s peppery.” Barbara commented (as she swirled the wine in her glass), “It has a nice bouquet and good legs with a little bit of spice.” Jen agreed, with Michael adding that it had a rich full body and was quite delectable. All in all I thought this one was thoroughly smooth and as it opened up, the taste of the spice lingered. Cliffhanger Rosso can also be found at Robert Burns Liquor Beverly Hills, at Remedy Wine and at Spirits in Glendale and Hillhurst Liquor in Los Feliz.

Wine Tasting with LA Art Party; From left to right, Jennifer Verge, J.J. L’Heureux, Michael Baroff, Barbara Kosoff

Our third wine to try was a full body Chianti. “It really takes you back to Italy,” remarked Jen, who also noticed the oak flavor. J.J. (a fan of labels – which she often incorporates into her artwork) pointed out that the bottle had an authentic Chianti label specifically noting the rooster at the top of the bottle. “It’s.more tannic then the blend,” Barbara added. “You can taste the earth.” Michael admitted that although he would not normally reach for a chianti when purchasing wine, he would indeed purchase this one. He also suggested that this full bodied red would go great with pasta. “And pizza or a steak,” chimed in Barbara. Finally J.J. suggested that the chianti continued to “hold up” as it opened. Querceto Chianti Classico can be enjoyed at these establishments: 800 Degrees Pizza (Downtown LA), Centanni (1700 Lincoln Blvd. Venice), Fireside Farms (Santa Monica) Hotel MdR (Marina Del Rey).

Rounding off the evening, we decided to enjoy a delicious Deco Port brought to us by J.J. She is a fan of Sonoma Portworks and often brings back multiple bottles from her trips up the coast to bring as gifts to her friends back in LA. I have had the pleasure of tasting this once before at J.J.’s home and loved it. The chocolaty aroma and taste seemed to delight the group…that…or the fact that we were now on our fourth bottle and perhaps anything would be tasty at this point. I can say with certainty (since I have had it before), it offers a scrumptious rich flavor. Not usually a fan of port, the chocolate after taste is delicate and engaging.

A wonderful time was had by all. Thanks to Gruppo Mezzacorona for sending samples and to J.J. L’Heureux’s contribution of the Deco Port from Sonoma Portworks.

Wines provided by Gruppo Mezzacorona