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Dining Guide for Families in Orange County

Tasting Perfection With Lail Vineyards At Bluewater Grill

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Few pleasures rank higher in my book than enjoying a glass of wine complimented by well-paired appetizers along with it. If this ranks high on your list of things to do, imagine an evening spent tasting and comparing several great wines, one an “absolutely perfect” 100 pointer… a “first” for me. Such was a recent evening spent at Tustin’s Bluewater Grill as Michael Updegraff, the Managing Director of Napa’s Lail Vineyards walked us through two of their Sauvignon Blancs and two of their Cabernets accompanied by several small plates by Chef Jason Mazur.

So what was on the tasting menu?


We started with Blueprint 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, a new world style “crowd pleaser”. This one is citrusy and bright and gets 92 points from Robert Parker, Jr. The Wine Advocate and retails at $40.

“This Blueprint has intense aromas that are true to the varietal: lemongrass, lime, sweet pea, honeysuckle. Barrel fermentation in new French oak added complex layers of vanilla and toasted brioche. That wonderful zesty zing of Sauvignon Blanc is evident in the finish, complemented by the minerality seen in the world’s best Sauvignon Blancs.” ~ Winemaker, Philippe Melka

Contrasting this was my favorite of the two, their old world style Georgia 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. Retailing at $120 this scores 94 points (Robert Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate).

“In the tradition of our Georgia Sauvignon Blanc, this wine reveals complex aromas of honeysuckle, exotic tea, citrus peel and white peach blossom…what a sophisticated and intense nose! Wonderful mouthfeel with a round, juicy texture; this wine is extremely focused and charming. Combining power and elegance, a vintage that should age gracefully for a long time.”  ~ Philippe Melka, Winemaker



A few freshly sucked Phantom Creek oysters from British Columbia and Sea Bon Bons, stunning sashimi sea scallops topped with ponzu, wakame, wasabi cream, and masago from the oyster bar and I was on my way to a perfect Friday evening.

Next up was the lush, full-bodied Blueprint 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon which retails at $70 and scores 93 points. (Robert Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate)


“This Lail Vineyards 2012 Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon is deep purple in color, with a wonderful nose of violets, dark red and blue fruits, black licorice, chocolate and a hint of Asian spices. The mouthfeel is extremely inviting with great energy, freshness and viscosity. Full bodied and rich, the combination of velvety texture, bright acidity, substantial but refined tannins, and complex layers of flavors create a sense of sophistication and liveliness. This is a beauty!” – Philippe Melka, Winemaker


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And drumroll… the 100 point “Absolutely Perfect” according to Robert Parker, Jr…. J. Daniel Cuvée 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, which retails at $200. This luxurious, cab retails at $200 and I may have had more than my share of tastes.

“Sweet almost truffle-infused earth, graphite, forest floor, blackcurrant and black cherry notes are followed by a full-bodied wine with a hint of mocha and licorice. Superb purity, an incremental, yet full-bodied mouthfeel, and an extravagant, layered texture and finish make for the finest wine Robin Lail has produced to date at her winery. Drink it over the next 25-35 years.” ~ Winemaker, Philippe Melka

To compliment, Chef Jason Mazur created three small plates specifically to be enjoyed with the wine including:


Smoked Salmon


Seared Tuna

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Braised Short Rib

Most definitely an evening for the books.

Bluewater Grill is located at The District 2409 Park Avenue in Tustin with additional locations in Newport Beach, Catalina, and Redondo Beach, Coronado, Temecula and Phoenix.

Learn more about Lail Vineyards’ Flights of Fancy memberships and tastings in Yountville here.

Dana Wilde grew up playing “sous chef” for her father as he churned out one amazing meal after the next for family and friends. She inherited her father’s life long passion for cooking and has spent the past two decades studying, reading, practicing, experimenting, and creating in the kitchen.

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