Claremont is known for its Fourth of July and Claremont High School Homecoming parades through the heart of its oldest residential area. The Claremont Community Foundation presents a parade of its own. Although its annual Party Parade doesn’t include floats, cheerleaders or marching bands, and it doesn’t traverse the city streets while onlookers wave from the sidelines, it is building an impressive reputation of its own.
This is a parade where everyone is “all-in.” The Foundation’s parade is a series of events hosted by generous residents and businesses with the intent of raising funds to support worthwhile organizations and initiatives throughout the city. Along the way, they’ve found a fun way to engage the community and stimulate the creativity of the generous volunteers who host the many benevolent events.
It’s pretty hard to resist attending one or more of the many events that fill the parade of activities each spring. Last year, more than 120 hosts and 40 businesses staged nearly 20 different themed educational and/or entertaining events, including Oscars night, homebrew tasting, barbecue, Prohibition cocktails and a night at the Claremont Courier.
Our choice was wine tasting at the incredible home of Judi and Bill Manis. Party hosts Liisa and Andy Primack, Vicki Hardy and Richard Chute, Megan Hampton, and Maria and Harry Brown presented a fun-filled afternoon of great wines paired with tasty goodies. Harry Brown expertly led the glass-by-glass instruction, highlighted by side-by-side comparisons.
The selection included a Markham Napa Chardonnay and a Latour Montagny La Grande Roche (Chardonnay) from Burgundy France, paired with gourmet cheeses on toast, selected and provided by Vicki and Rich. Both wines were pleasant, but I thought the Markam was a bit thin, and the Latour was not very bold for a Chardonney.
Next was a McManis (appropriately) Pinot Noir next to a Drouhin Chorey-les-Beaune from France, paired with two pâté variations provided by Megan. Susan Descombes and Beth were particularly fond of the McManis Pinot Noir. It was fruity and nice. The Drouhim had a light finish, but was too soft for me and a bit dusty as well.
Two California wines followed: a Ravenswood Zinfandel and a Dry Creek Merlot. Beth and I are big Zin fans, and while this was not the big jammy Zins that we frequently get from our favorite wineries in Paso Robles, and it was not overly spicy or peppery, it had a nice blend of fruit and spice. I also enjoyed the Merlot, which carried notes of apple and fresh fruit. Both pared well with the lamb meatballs and date-bacon appetizers provided by the Primacks.
We closed with two dessert wines: A Castello de Poggio Moscato from Italy and a Dow 10-year Tawny Port. The Moscato brought forward flavors of summer fruits like apricots and peaches. Very refreshing for a dessert wine, while the Port was a bit heavier, filled with spice and cinnamon.
The beautiful setting, extraordinary hosts and great group of attendees made for a fabulous afternoon and a desire to catch the next parade to come through town.