Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taste of Terroir - the best of Livermore Valley Wine Country


The Taste of Terroir held the end of July presented the best of food and wine pairing in Livermore Valley wine country. This food and wine experience presented fourteen wineries paired with dishes from local restaurants. The judges were Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier and author of Perfect Pairings; Sara Schneider, Sunset Magazine Wine Editor; and Jessica Yadegaran, Bay Area News Group Wine Writer.

Wente Vineyards has won this event in the past and their 2007 Nth Degree Pinot Noir was a great choice with the house-cured Duck Prosciutto with Fregola Pasta Salad, corn, garden Basil, red onion, tomato and goat cheese. This pairing was selected as the Best Expression of Local Ingredients award by the judges.

McGrail 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon paired nicely with a cherry and olive tapenade with lavender on a Gorgonzola puff pastry from Campo di Bocce. The dark cherry and rich fruit flavors of the Cab matched the cherry and lavender flavors from the tapenade. This pairing proved successful in winning the Most Innovative award from the judges.

The Judges’ Best award went to Ruby Hill winery’s 2007 Reserve Zinfandel with a jammy, ripe fruit flavor that was paired with braised pork with blueberry-Chipotle BBQ sauce from Casa Real.

The judges made a special award called Most Creamaginative (Creative & Imaginative) to the Mitchell Katz 2007 Sangiovese with cherry and spicy flavors matched up against a muffuletta style Empanada with artisan Mortadella, Toscano Salumi and Piquant Ollye Relish. The food helped smooth out the wine and enrich the flavors.

In addition to the judges awards, the visitors voted for their favorites and the People’s Choice award went to Murrieta’s Well 2007 Muscat Canelli with a jasmine aroma and tastes of ripe melons and citrus matched to Hap’s Original testones with sweet chili prawn, pineapple jelly and Cilantro. The acidity of the Muscat worked very well against this dish.

Other delicious pairings were:

  • Concannon Vineyard 2006 Zinfandel Reserve paired with a blackened Prime Rib from Patrick David’s restaurant with sweet potato medallion and wine reduction. This was an excellent pairing, the black raspberry jammy flavor of the Zin paired wonderfully with the Prime Rib.
  • Charles R Vineyard 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Filet Mignon with Cabernet Balsamic sauce with ginger and shitake mushrooms from Bosco’s Bones & Brew in Sunol. The earthy dark fruit flavors of the Cab were a great pairing to the rich spicy flavors from the food.
  • Eagle Ridge Vineyards 2005 Petite Sirah paired with lamb with jalapeno pesto from Blue Agave restaurant. Both the Petite Sirah and the lamb were delicious and rich and full of flavors.
  • Garre Vineyard 2008 Sauvignon Blanc paired with a very interesting coconut Mile and wine based broth over a Basmati rice with scallops, Mahi Mahi, prawns and Dungeness crab. The nice acidity of the wine worked very well against the white sauce and seafood.
  • La Rochelle 2006 Pinot Noir was paired with Casa de Cobre tacos. The tortillas were hand made on the spot and the rich spicy slow braised pork belly meat was an unexpected delight with the Pinot Noir.
  • Les Chenes Estate 2007 Primitive is a great, rich wine with ripe dark fruits and was paired with a braised short rib with blue cheese tortellini from Porter’s Restaurant at Poppy Ridge Golf Course. This was simply pairing the best with the best.
  • Many believe that wine varietals from a specific region should be paired with food from the same region. Tamas Estates 2007 Barbera did that well with a Gnocchi Romana Amarone with Gorgonzola and Rosemary from Amarone Cucina.
  • White Crane 2005 Estate Chardonnay was a good taste match with the grilled Atlantic salmon from Fuzio topped with Basil, pine nuts, Kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes in a butter wine sauce.

The Taste of Terroir is a great event located in nearby Livermore Valley and I encourage you to attend it next year for a wonderful wine and food experience.

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