The Valley Line: A night of fine food, great wine

January 18, 2012|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Craig Sloane, general manager of the Altadena Country Club, far right, checks to see what is cooking in the kitchen with his executive chef John Agelopulos, center, and his sous chef Gonzalo Herrera, left, at the PinotFest Kickoff Dinner. (Photo by Jane Napier Neely)
Craig Sloane, general manager of the Altadena Country…

Oh, what a night it was! The grand kickoff dinner for the fourth annual Pasadena PinotFest was held Sunday, with proceeds benefiting the in-need children and families served by Hathaway-Sycamores. The event was sponsored by Noir Food & Wine and Pasadena Magazine and was held at the Altadena Town and County Club.

It was a dream come true for foodies and wine aficionados, as nearly 100 guests enjoyed a six-course dinner presented by six top Pasadena chefs, with wine pairings by six of California’s finest wineries.

This PinotFest kickoff dinner was just a warmup for the presentation of the PinotFest Grand Public Tasting event that will be held at the Altadena Town and Country Club on Saturday, Feb. 11, when more than 100 wineries and the cuisine of five restaurants will be represented.

The Fest’s feast on Sunday evening began with comments by Rob Myers, executive vice president of development at Hathaway Sycamores, who served as master of ceremonies.


Rob, who grew up in La Cañada Flintridge, then introduced Mike Farwell, owner of Noir Food and Wine in Pasadena. Farwell and his executive chef, Claud Beltran, are the masterminds who coordinate the PinotFest.

Farwell then introduced the six winemakers that were making the perfect pairings of the wines to the cuisine. First up, to introduce the only white wines of the evening, was 1987 La Cañada High School graduate Wes Hagen, whose father, Don Hagen, was principal of LCHS.

Wes Hagen has been the vineyard manager and winemaker for Clos Pepe Estate Winery since 1998. He is passionate about his life’s goal: producing and celebrating world-class Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. His wife, Chanda, is co-winemaker.

Hagen paired his 2009 barrel-fermented Chardonnay and 2009 Homage to Chablis Chardonnay with Chef Onil Chibas’ salad of Clos Pepe olive-oil-poached loup de mer with forbidden rice with apricots, pistachios and preserved lemon. Chiba is with Elements Kitchen.

AKA Bistro’s chef, James Lambrinos, prepared the second course of seared Arctic char over red lentil/pinot noir fondue and baby spinach with a Fuji apple compote. Enhancing the dish were two Pinot Noir wines by Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Wines introduced by winemaker Gray Hartley.

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