Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bonterra Vineyards at California Café’s 5-Bites Friday in Palo Alto

California Café’s 5-Bites Friday in April brought in wines from Bonterra Vineyards, a winery based in Mendocino County.  Bonterra has a philosophy of growing grapes that match the location utilizing an organic and sustainable style.  In fact Bonterra was the first winery in California to commit to organic and sustainable winegrowing on their 378 acres of steep hills and rolling valleys in mountainous Mendocino County.  5 Bite Friday at California Café is a great way to experience the effect of food and wine pairing.  The chefs at California Café are very experienced in delivering great results matching the food with the wine.

At 5 Bite Friday they started the evening with a delicious fruit and cheese platter.  The first bite was a house cured salmon dish. This delicious dish was served with the Bonterra 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Lake and Mendocino Counties.  The wine delivered a lemon/lime zest flavor mixed with grapefruit, grass and tropical qualities.  The result was a delightful pairing with the acidity of the food balancing out with the wine, providing a long round finish.

Next up, the second bite for the night was a twice baked soufflé with a “cowgirl creamery” red hawk cheese.  It was paired with the Bonterra 2008 Roussanne from Mendocino County. This wine had a small amount of Viognier, Muscat and Marsanne in it. The Roussanne had a great floral quality followed up with a taste of Granny Smith apple, pear, honeysuckle and a certain waxiness coating.  Paired with the soufflé the brighter acid and fruit of the wine came through and the waxiness was cut delivering a brighter flavor and longer finish.

Third bite of the night was a smoked pork belly with an herbed cranberry wild rice and berry-chipotle sauce.  Bonterra brought their 2009 Mendocino County Merlot.  The Merlot was loaded with lots of black and red cherry flavors including raspberry and cranberry along with cinnamon, clove and vanilla.  It had a bit of earthiness to it plus a good toasted bread aroma and flavor. This was a wonderful pairing in which the food brightened up the fruit of the wine and cut down on the toastiness to deliver a well-balanced result.
Moving on to the fourth bite we found boar ribs with a vanilla scented BBQ sauce and crispy onion rings.  It was paired with Bonterra’s 2010 Pinot Noir from Mendocino County.  The wine had a very nice intense nose followed up with flavors of strawberry, cherry and raspberry.  It had a hint of cola and vanilla plus a long finish.  The ribs gave the wine a great kick in flavor and it continued to improve with each bite of the food resulting in the wine enveloping you in a warmth of flavor and spice.

We finished up the night with a fifth bite of poached Bosc pear in a honey mascarpone matched with the Bonterra 2010 Muscat from Bartolucci Vineyard in Lake County.  The Muscat has the aromas of almond, honey and orange blossom, combined with flavors of mandarin orange, lemon tart and honeysuckle.  The softness of the acid compliments the wine excellently with the mascarpone cutting through the acidity.

The night was a delight and congratulations to Sous Chef Madison Montoto for putting together a great food and wine pairing event.  Be sure to visit California Café for the next 5 Bite Friday on May 4 at 6:30 p.m. when they are putting together another great pairing with Castoro Cellars.  Cost is only $25 per person for a wonderful culinary event.

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