Palo Alto’s California Café 5 Bites Friday on April 22 featured Cambria Estate Winery from Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County. 5 Bites is a very nice way to spend a Friday evening. For the very reasonable price of $20 each, guests sample five wines that have been paired by the chefs at California Café with five small plates while the winery representatives tell you about the wines.
Cambria Estate Winery is located on benchland in Santa Maria Valley where they have been growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah for over 20 years. Owner Barbara Banke, a lawyer from Los Angeles, purchased the Tepusquet Vineyard in 1986 and dedicated her life to managing all facets of Cambria Estate including farming, winemaking, sales and marketing. Winemaker Denise Shurtleff has been with Cambria since 1999 and loves the grandeur of Cambria Estate with acres of vineyards stretching along the Sisquoc River.
On April 22 at California Café the 1st bite was a Thai curried chicken dish paired with a 2009 White Blend from Conundrum Wines. It is a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc. The wine has a nice full body and a good amount of acid, floral qualities and flavors of citrus, peach and melon. In this particular case the curry appeared to be much too spicy for this wine. While the dish was delicious, as was the wine, together they did not work as well as expected.
The 2nd bite consisted of a dandelion salad consisting of dandelion greens, strawberries, goat cheese almonds and a poppy seed vinaigrette. This was paired with Cambria’s Gaga Rose. As the winemaker states, “You will go gaga for this wine”. It includes 85% Pinot Noir along with Malbec and Merlot. It has deep red fruit flavors of strawberry and raspberry with a bit of candy overtones. This paired nicely with the dandelion salad. The rustic flavors of the dandelion really pumped up the fruit flavors of the wine.
On the 3rd bite we were treated to a grilled shrimp wonton with pineapple and jicama slaw that was paired with Cambria Estate Winery 2007 Santa Maria Valley “Katherine’s Vineyard” Chardonnay. This Chardonnay was aged for 8 ½ months in 87% French oak. You will love the aromas and flavors of pineapple, green apple, lemon, peach and pear with delightful vanilla quality. It has good acid and a lingering finish that grows during the finish. The roundness of the Chardonnay stands up well to the shrimp wonton and forms a very nice pairing.
With the 4th bite we were served a strawberry glazed salmon with an asparagus, brie and lemon scented sorrel. The wine was a Cambria 2006 Santa Maria Valley “Tepusquet Vineyard” Syrah. This is a great cool-climate Syrah aged in 97% French Oak. It has deep rich flavors of dark fruit, black raspberry, pepper, smoke and a bit of an earthy nutty flavor. The finish peaks in the middle and then lingers on. The pairing was interesting with the sauce in particular drawing out the earthy, forest floor flavors of the wine while keeping the bright rich fruits.
The final 5th bite was a Meyer lemon semifreddo with stewed strawberries paired with a Kenwood Yulupa sparkling wine.
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