The Evolution of California Cuisine & Wine

Panel1West Sonoma County Vintners kicked off West of the West Festival with two strong seminars, the first “The Evolution of California Cuisine & Wine” and the second “Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnays.”

Co-Moderators & Sommeliers, Paul Einbund and Peter Palmer, lead a distinguished panel of chefs from some of the hotest trending San Francisco restaurants featuring Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions, Evan Rich of Rich Table, and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine for Seminar #1 “The Evolution of California Cusine and Wine.”

Wines 1Six Pinot Noir were paired two at a time with a dish from each chef/restaurant.  The first two 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir were Alma Fria Dona Margarita Vineyard and Gros Ventre Campbell Vineyard.  The wines were tasted individually and then paired with a bay shrimp ceviche with blue lake beans and coriander.  The Alma Fria aroma of forest floor was layered with black fruit and spice, medium acidity and a medium long finish, but the best pairing with the bay shrimp was the Gros Ventre which rocked black raspberries and spice with a lively acidity that made this pairing sing.  I need to try more of this wine – my first introduction to this vineyard is extremely positive.

PairingThe second two 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir were Furthermore Nevina’s Vineyard (a new vineyard named after Chad’s daughter) and 2012 LIOCO Hirsch Vineyard.  The pairing was with a Smørrebrød (dense dark brown bread) with Kale, Yogurt and Sunflower Tahini.  The Furthermore offering was earthy with spicy notes balanced with acidity, although the LIOCO with a black raspberry, cedar, and spice aroma and lively acidity was the pairing star for me.  Chef Cortney indicated they sprouted the seeds and worked with the bread to help digestability of the dish.

The final palate temptation featured local ingredients including Liberty Duck and local mushrooms and blackberries in a State Bird Provisions dish of very lightly smoked duck, which was paired with the final two 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyard and Flowers Sea View Ridge Vineyard.  The Flowers Pinot Noir displayed black cherries and herbs in a balanced wine, but the star pairing in this duo was the Joseph Phelps with bright red cherries and cassis aroma with a full mouthfeel and long finish, great balance with the duck.

This array of food and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was not so much about one being better than another, but displayed the high quality of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (as it is currently being made) as an excellent pairing with the ever evolving and adventurous California cuisine. The chefs on the this panel were very interactive discussing how they are always challenging the foods that can be combined with Pinot Noir.  They are thrilled that the wines being produced on the True Sonoma Coast are wonderfully food friendly and enhance the amazing culinary offerings being created by California’s talented chefs.

PaulThe sommeliers were asked why California wines are not dominately featured on their wine lists and they honestly answered that it is changing for the positive for a number of reasons.  California wines, especially the kind displayed here are becoming more food friendly in general.  Additionally, visitors to the area don’t want to taste wines (with their meals) from other areas, but want to experience the best California has to offer.  California’s wine is evolving to match the talent of our California chefs.  We might be young, but we are learning rapidly.

This was a first class seminar and one of the many reasons The West Sonoma Coast Vintners West of the West is a not to miss event.

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