The warm sunshine of a Napa Valley afternoon, the idyllic melody of birds chirping over an Italian vineyard… a fantastic bottle of wine has the power to transport your mind (and your taste buds) to settings far and near. And now more than ever, this is exactly what many of us are craving — the chance to escape, even if just for a sip.
As the manager of CBC Restaurant, Malibu, Joe Cervantes is well-versed in the art of creating a journey through wine. So to spark your imagination and broaden your horizons during this time, we invited him to share what he’s been drinking at home.
“Most of my [go-to] selections are heavily influenced by our award-winning wine list at CBC Restaurant — it has given me the ability to taste wines I may have never experienced on my own journey,” he says. And while we are currently welcoming guests to taste many of these wines for themselves through our in-room dining experiences (such as our Private Dining Suite offer), for those who are unable to join us for now, we hope that these suggestions open your mind to wines you may not normally reach for at home.
So, without further ado, “here are a few wines that I actually look for in the stores to enjoy and teach my family about over a meal — sometimes against their will,” Cervantes jokes. We look forward to sharing our passion for wine with you in person at Malibu Beach Inn soon.
1. Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Pajè Riserva 2011
This bold and bright red wine instantly transports your taste buds to the Piedmont region of Italy, where the wine hails from. “I was lucky enough to stumble across this in a wine shop, but it may require a bit of searching for — I promise you it will be well worth it!,” says Cervantes. “This wine’s elegance and vibrant acidity allows for wonderful pairings such as white meat and soft cheeses (which we tend to eat a lot of at home). It’s a very versatile wine with a great price point for its superb quality.” It also pairs particularly well with pastas and risottos, in true Italian fashion.
Find in your local wine store or order on Wine.com, $88
2. Far Niente Chardonnay 2018
“This is a benchmark wine in our household with plenty of history to back it up—this was the first winery my wife and I visited 4 years ago on our trip to Napa Valley,” shares Cervantes. “Not only did it affirm my love for wine and inspire my journey, it turned a once self-proclaimed non-wine drinker (my wife) into a Far Niente fanatic.”
With notes of citrus and hazelnut, this balanced wine is easily drinkable by itself (especially chilled on a warm day), and it also pairs well with risotto and buttery pasta dishes, he says.
Find in your local wine store or order on the Far Niente website; $70
Malibu Beach Inn recently hosted a virtual winemaker’s dinner led by Far Niente CEO Larry McGuire and Director of Winemaking Andrew Delos. Missed out? We invite you to subscribe to our email list for updates on more upcoming virtual wine events — sign up on our website.
3. Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rosé
With the right bottle of bubbly, any day can be a special occasion — and this luscious brut rosé is that bottle. “Salmon pink in color, this fine Champagne is crispy and vibrant as can be,” says Cervantes. “It’s great as an aperitif with light fare, especially sushi… and it’s perfect for a Friday evening toast for two.”
Needless to say, “this does not last in our house very long,” he adds. “Always an awesome way to start a weekend.”
Find in your local wine store or order on Wine.com, $80
4. Chateau Pontet-Canet 2014
“This Bordeaux blend from Pauillac is dense and supple — a fantastic wine to keep stored for a few more years, but nonetheless perfect for my palate right now,” says Cervantes. “With notes of tobacco, pencil shavings, and dark red fruits, this wine has a mouth coating finish that seems like it will never end. Definitely one of my favorites during this quarantine.” He tends to break out this bottle (and other Cabernet-heavy blends) when he’s grilling red meat or lamb chops, he adds.
Beyond the wine itself, Cervantes also loves this winery for its rich Bordeaux history as well as its practices — “It is 100% biodynamic and has been for over a decade,” he says.
Find in your local wine store or order on Wine.com, $120
5. Rudi Pichler Hochrain Smaragd Gruner Veltliner 2018
“You don’t typically go to the store to pick up Austrian wine to enjoy at home — at least I didn’t until I was introduced to this very affordable stunner,” says Cervantes. Native to a colder climate, “high acidity, gun flint, and honeydew melon stand out most for me in this wine. It shows more character with big body due to the ‘lees’ contact (the wine’s contact on dead yeast cells) during the winemaking process,” Cervantes explains.
Pair this wine with Chinese take-out, spicy Thai food, and tacos with some kick to them, he suggests. “An easy call in our household with our love for heat & spice!”
Find in your local wine store or order on Wine.com, $60
No matter where you call home (and what you’re sipping there), Cervantes suggests, “drink a lot of different wines and be open minded with your pairings.” Stay safe while supporting your local businesses, he adds, including wine shops and restaurants — and if you’re local to the Malibu area, we hope you’ll allow us to handle the cooking one night soon by taking advantage of CBC Restaurant’s delivery and curbside pick-up options.