Archive for the 'Wine' Category

pinots.jpg Don’t miss next week’s Pinot Paradise festival, March 26-27, which begins with a self-guided tour of the region’s pinot-producing wineries $25, and culminates on Sunday with the Grand Cruz Tasting at Villa Ragusa in Old Town Campbell ($55/65). Find all the details you need at SCMWA website - or by calling (831)685-8463.

Just in case you think that wine tasting is a piece of cake, check out this sea of stemware—and pinot.jpgthis is only partial snapshot—up at the historic Burrell Schoolhouse, yesterday, where a few dozen of us worked through four flights of Santa Cruz Mountain pinot noirs for ranking at this year’s Pinot Paradise.

(That’s Hallcrest’s John Schumacher at far left and Big Basin’s Bradley Brown right, front.)

squid.jpgHere is something rococo—and delicious—we sampled last week from the hand of Cellar Door chef Jarod Ottley.  A froth of tender local squid, accompanied by pink grapefruit and pea sprouts dotted a long mound of quinoa. Brilliant crimson beet puree accompanied and a slick of rich date confit provided the sweet visual accent.

A lot going on. All of it good. We partnered our meal last week with glasses of never-better Nebbiolo and Cigare 2006, from the oeno-mind of Randall Grahm. And yes, Cellar Door service is outstanding.

sesnoncabrillo.jpgThe lovely Pino Alto dining room at Cabrillo’s historic Sesnon House, formed a graceful backdrop for some cool jazz and exciting food and wine pairings last Wednesday evening.The highlights for me were the elegant sounds of Hot Club Pacific trio (who also hold down the house at Soif each Monday night), and the well-trained students from Mike Wille’s advanced culinary class, who served, cleared endless dishes and stemware, and served some more throughout the evening. The evening, this year’s version of the recent “Dare to Pair” wine & food event, marked the mid-term exam of Wille’s young team.

Another highlight was an engaging match of (more…)

forklift.jpgLast Friday I watched one of many busy forklifts in the immediate vicinity of Kelly’s, gently placing its load of pinot gris grapes down at the front door of Pelican Ranch Winery.

Offered a taste, I savored the robust sweetness of this future 2010 vintage, grapes freshly picked out at vineyards near the Mission San Antonio. One of the best flavors of fall in our next of the woods. Freshly-harvested wine grapes.

That rich, sweet, musky aroma you smell this week is wine grapes overflowing their fermenting bins all harvest_celebration.jpgover the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Why not visit some small wineries and see how the crush of 2010 is going?

This weekend, October 16 and 17, the Summit Harvest Festival opens the tasting room doors of Burrell School, Hunter Hill, Loma Prieta and Poetic Cellars — come taste wines, savor special harvest decor and some treats involving pears, apples and pumpkins as you talk with winemakers about their new harvest of grapes.

rose.jpgA ruby rosé Kalmuck Zweigelt 2009 made the perfect partner for a hearty plate of duck sausage, sauteed napa cabbage and roasted figs at Soif last Sunday, part of the special Octoberfest menu at the popular downtown boite, er, Weinstube.

rgrahm.jpgBonny Doon Vineyard will host a special dinner to commemorate the recent bottling of the 25th vintage of Le Cigare Volant. Taking place on Friday, October 15, at the Cellar Door Café in Santa Cruz, the menu will include retrospective wine flights of library wines and unreleased vintages of the flagship southern Rhône-style blend. This is a rare chance to taste the most consistently laudable wine made by BDV, introduced and deconstructed by the winemaker himself.

Winemaker and President-for-Life Randall Grahm will host the evening’s celebration. Cellar Door Executive Chef Charlie Parker will create the food pairings to complement these rare vintages.

October 15 – 6pm, $125 per person, ($100 for Club Members) multi-course dinner including wines, Le Cigare Volant flights include a splash of the 1991 (!) and each are matched with such dishes as:

Foie gras torchon with grapes, (more…)

vines.jpgReport from the Vineyards: Yes, it’s true that wild man winemaker Richard Alfaro has cut his locks — “I donated a 15-inch pony tail to Locks of Love,” he revealed a few days ago. (You can see why I didn’t pry any further.) Alfaro also says he’s experiencing a “reverse Samson” effect from the hair cut: “my strength has doubled and my six-pack abs have returned.”

Alfaro officially started the harvest of 2010 as of September 27 - “bins are being cleaned and loaded on the trailer for delivery…. winery equipment is being sanitized….. lab work has started…the phone is ringing off the hook with fresh information from my growers…the fridge is stocked with beer and the margaritas are being mixed!!!!” Alfaro says he expects to pick until the end of November. “The fruit is late but WONDERFUL” he added. Most of his Corralitos and south appellation colleagues are ready to begin their harvests too — “the action is started.”

I chatted last week with Peter Rinaldi, a third-generation Santa Cruzan who’s about to open Rocco’s at 503 Water Street. Why am I telling you this? Because Rocco’s is the new Italian-influenced dining place occupying the site of the late Limoncello, that’s why.

We’re happy to know that there will soon be a fresh new restaurant in this familiar old location, and Rinaldi — who also manages next-door Callahan’s — said that he wants to make sure the restaurant is casual, inviting and uses as many local purveyors as possible. Stay tuned! . . . .
And Chris leVeque tells me that his long-awaited El Salchichero house of artisan charcuterie is moving along — the interior tilework is, in a word, awesome. But he’s thinking that perhaps Thanksgiving might be a more realistic opening date than Halloween. Stay hungry!. . . .


fogarty.jpgIt’s the first Santa Cruz Mountain pinot noir from the 2008 vintage I’ve tasted, and now I know why this beautiful creation from Thomas Fogarty Winery took a gold at the recent SF Chronicle competition.

This full-throated wine is loaded with complex aromatic information, and the flavors just go on and on. Dark plums and tamarind, an undercurrent of licorice and bay leaves, a suggestion of tangerine peel and black pepper — all of these gorgeous notes are delivered by a prime 14.1% alcohol content. Enough to carry the experience, yet definitely not engaged in the fruit bomb California stereotype.

Within reach too, at under $22 a bottle. Try Shoppers and New Leaf, but definitely try this lovely pinot noir.

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