California Café’s 5-Bites Friday featured wines from Clautiere Vineyards in Paso Robles on Friday, February 25. Clautiere Vineyards was founded in 1999 by the team Claudine Blackwell and Terry Brady, who brought together their creative skills as fashion designer, welder, landscape designer and restaurant owners. They purchased a 145 acre ranch and converted the farm house into a colorful tasting room/gift shop/commercial kitchen. A visit to Clautiere is a trip to fantasy as these two “Directors of Fantasy” strive to make it a memorable event. The property is decorated with metal sculptures and mosaics by Claudine. The old barn has been converted to a theater used by bands and entertainers to perform during parties and other events.
Mark Pettyjohn, executive chef at California Café, put together a five course menu that paired with three wines from Clautiere plus a sparkling and dessert wine. 5-Bites Friday began with the 1st Bite of Honey Grilled Papaya and Pineapple Salad that had frisse lettuce and kumquat-mint crème fraiche. This was paired with the Yulupa Cuvee Brut. This sparkling had the acidity that paired well with the creaminess and freshness of the salad.
The 2nd Bite was a lobster butter poached shrimp with a ginger-tomato salsa and carmelized salsify. It was paired with the 2007 Clautiere Estate Roussanne. The Roussanne is light bodied with aromas and flavors of tangerine, lemon, melon and tropical fruits. It has a light toastiness and buttery quality. There were not the butter flavors you might expect for this dish and, while the wine and the food were good, the pairing did not really show of the wine as much as it should.
For the 3rd Bite we were treated to a mushroom barley Risotto with candied bacon and crispy brussel sprouts. It was paired with the 2005 Clautiere Estate Mourvedre. This was an excellent wine with aromas of forest floor, toast and dark fruits. The flavors included plum, blackberry and boysenberry with a meatiness texture and a bacon quality on the finish. This paired very well with the Risotto. The food cut back on the earthiness of the wine and made the fruits shine through. It was an excellent example of what food and wine pairing is all about.
With the 4th Bite they served a coffee encrusted pork loin that had a coating of crushed coffee beans, sugar and spice. The dish included a purple sweet potato and raspberry gastique. The wine was the 2005 Clautiere Estate Grenache. The Grenache had an intense aromatic nose of strawberry and raspberry. On the palate you were introduced to a wonderful blend of spices including pepper, cinnamon and vanilla. The well-structured tannins lead to a very pleasing finish with a touch of pepper on the end. This wine paired very nicely with the pork loin, bringing out the fruitiness of the wine and enhancing the pepper slightly.
For the last course, the 5th Bite we enjoyed a delicious fried Cherry-Mascarpone Cheesecake with blackberry coulis in a crispy spring roll wrapper. For this course we enjoyed a taste of Mann Cellars Port. The composition of this included Merlot and Malbec and is from nearby Gilroy in the Santa Clara Valley. The wine had a very nice blend of fruit and sweetness making it similar to a traditional Portuguese style. The sweetness of the wine was perfect for pairing with this fried cheesecake dish, enhancing the dark fruit of the wine.
Clautiere's local representative, Lori Smith of Frank-Lin distributors, visited each table and told the visitors about Clautiere's wines.
California Café’s 5 Bites Friday is an event that has been becoming very popular with a great selection of wines and very tasty dishes. They have just released the schedule for March that includes:
- March 4 – Georis Winery from Carmel Valley
- March 11 – Chock Rock Vineyard from Monterey County
- March 18 – Justin Vineyards and Winery from Paso Robles
- March 25 – Costa de Oro Winery from Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County
For more information: