Tag Archive for 'fruits'

Syrah Pairings and Grilled Cheese Thursday

Last night’s Passport to the World of Wine featured some fantastic pairings, and pairings will be stellar again at Grilled Cheese Night this evening. Try these Syrah pairings at home and follow the flavor matching listed below.

Passport to the World of Wine

Syrah/Shiraz
06 Bell Canterbury Vineyard, Sierra Foothills, CA
Pairing: Warm Mixed Mushrooms & Wild Rice “Salad” w Arugula

07 SB Winery, Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Pairing: Roasted Pork Tenderloin w Onion Currant Compote

05 E.Guigal Crozes Hermitage, Rhone Valley, FR
Pairing: Smoked Duck w Balsamic Reduction

07 R Wines Boarding Pass, Barossa Valley, Australia
07 Mollydooker The Boxer, Barossa Valley, Australia
Pairing: Seared Lamb Loin w Black Fruit Jam

GRILLED CHEESE THURSDAY
Thursday, December 3

Tallegio w Tomato Jam
St. Andre w Shaved Pears
Camill Porter w Ham

Great Holiday Parties at the Wine Bistro

516 State Street

Pierre Lafond Wendy Foster Trip Guide

Santa Barbara wine and fashion pioneers Pierre Lafond and Wendy Foster have spent the past few decades establishing and building an empire with businesses spread out between Montecito’s glitzy upper and lower villages, bustling State Street, and the serene vineyard packed Sta. Rita Hills. An ocean side drive that spans about an hour in length can get you from one end of their trail to the other – shopping, wine and dining along the way.

Trip length: 2 days

Day 1:

Arrive in Montecito’s upper village for lunch at the Pierre Lafond Market and Deli where a cluster of Pierre Lafond and Wendy Foster businesses are located on San Ysidro Road. Enjoy wraps, sandwiches, deli entrees, and salads outside on the foliage-filled patio.

Just next door from the Market, Wendy Foster has laid claim to three of the most talked about boutiques in Santa Barbara – Wendy Foster Dress Shop, Wendy Foster Sportswear, and home décor shop Upstairs. The stores have been fixtures in Montecito since 1964. Pick up an outfit for dinner at Wendy Foster and some colorful table accents for your home Upstairs.

Make your way down to the lower village and walk up Coast Village Rd. to stop at Angel, a more contemporary and trend flaired boutique with labels like Vince, Juicy Couture, and whimsical Rebecca Taylor designs.

From Coast Village Rd., head north into downtown Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone for a wine tasting at Santa Barbara Winery, the oldest post-Prohibition winery in Santa Barbara County. Tasting hours are from 10am-5pm, and wine tasting includes six wines and your crystal logo glass ($5). Sample award winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and lesser-known varietals such as Primitivo.

Walk from wine tasting a few blocks up State Street to the Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro for dinner – bring a bottle from the winery and receive free corkage with your entrees. Seasonal and fresh menu items from Flatbreads to Grilled Duck Breast are wine friendly and masterfully constructed. Huge windows allow the space to be full of light until the sun goes down, and an outdoor patio is perfect for State Street people watching over your meal.

Day 2:

Return to the Pierre Lafond Bistro for breakfast and pick up a picnic lunch to bring up to the Lafond Vineyard for more wine tasting at the estate vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Thick Cut French Toast from the Griddle, Omelets, Scrambles, and Santa Maria Grilled Tri Tip with Eggs are among the AM menu.

Hit the road with your box lunches and drive 45 minutes along the coast to Lafond Vineyard to sample the wines from Santa Barbara Winery’s sister winery. The vineyard was planted in 1972 and provides fruit for both labels under the guidance of winemaker Bruce McGuire. Taste through a selection of vineyard and Sta. Rita Hills appellation designated (SRH series) Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah at the vineyard site and enjoy an outdoor picnic over looking the yellowed and vibrant hillsides of the valley.

Joanie Hudson, Director National and International Marketing, Santa Barbara Winery / Lafond Winery & Vineyards

Sangiovese Notes

Last night’s Sangiovese event was a packed house with regular dinner guests on one half of the restaurant and passport tasters on the other.  The night’s varietal really lent itself to pairings with the Wine Bistro fare, as Chef Nathan is a wizard with his tomato sauce based flatbreads.  

Zach (our Bistro Sommelier) types up really great notes on each of the wines for the tastings, and you can read a few of the highlights below.

2005 Fattoria Le Puille, Morellino di Scansano, Elisabetta Geppetti, Tuscany Italy

In the 1970s, Fattoria Le Pupille was a farmhouse producing red wine from 5 acres of Sangiovese.  In 1978, the Morellino di Scansano DOC was created and the first harvest of this wine was made at Le Pupille.  According to Jancis Robinson, “it is here on the wind swept Tuscan coast that there has been the most dramatic change to the winescape in recent years.”  Robinson says that, “one of the fastest growing regions has been Morellino di Scansano, now DOCG.  Morellino is the local name for Sangiovese, raised here in balmy conditions only just above sea level.  A host of outsiders have invested here in recent years, with dramatic effects on property values.  Florence’s oldest winemaking families such as Antinori and Frescobaldi together with Barbi and Biondi-Santi (more famous for their Brunello di Montalcino), and Chianti producers Badia a Coltibuono, Cecchi, Fonterutoli, and Rocca della Macie, where the resulting wines are much fleshier and more supple than anything made in the hills of Chianti Classico inland.”  The history of Le Pupille really started when Elisabetta Geppetti became personally responsible for the estate in the early 1980s.  She completed her first harvest of Morellino di Scansano in 1985, at the age of 20.  In the 1990s, the quality of the wines began to be rewarded by critics all around the world and Fattorria Le Pupille’s international reputation was established.

Elisabetta Geppetti always believed in the potential of this land she loves, and saw the clear potential for making great wines from the, “red, bitter soil,” when few people thought it possible.  In 1992 she was elected as the first chairperson of the Consortium of Morellino di Scansano, as well as a founding member.  In 2006 Elisabetta was awarded winemaker of the year by top German magazines Der Feinschmecker and Wein Gourmet, making her the first woman to receive this award.

This wine is 85% Sangiovese, with a remaining blend of Alicante and Malvasia Nera.  It has a nose of black cherry and rose petals with accents of leather and smoky minerality.  It is well balanced with harmonious acidity.

Food Pairing: Romesco and Prawn Flatbread with Asparagus and Parmesan


2006 Seghesio Vineyard Sangiovese, Sonoma County, CA

Seghesio is responsible for the oldest planting of Sangiovese in North America.  The Seghesio story begins in 1866 when Eduardo Seghesio departed his family’s vineyards in Piedmonte, Italy for a new life in America.  Like many Italian immigrants he was drawn to Northern Sonoma County and the famous Italian Swiss Colony to follow his passion for winemaking.  The “colony,” as it was known, hired immigrants for three year stints, providing room and board and then, a lump sum at the end of those three years enabling employees to buy land or set up a new business.

Edoardo soon rose through the ranks and became the winemaker.  Yet, he still yearned to return home.  It was his niece and the opportunity to purchase land that convinced Edoardo to remain.  That young girl, Angela Vasconi and Edoardo were married in 1893.  Edoardo remained at the Colony while building his own winery at night.  Upon its completion in 1902, the young couple began Seghesio Winery.  In 1910 they acquired additional acreage surrounding the train station in what was then “Chianti, California.” Edoardo appropriately planted the 10 acres to the Chianti field blend of Sangiovese, Canielao Nero, Trebbiano and Malvasia, creating the oldest continually operating Sangiovese vineyard in North America.  That vineyard they call Chianti Station.  Prohibition brought on hard times, and Edoardo had to bring on partners.  Yet they still survived, in 1934 Edoardo passed away leaving the winery to Angela.  Her three sons took the reins and continued their father’s tradition.  

This Sangiovese from the oldest American plantings, combined with their small-berried clones, produce wines of intense varietal character.  This wine was aged for eighteen months in French Oak barrels, 20% new.  Its bouquet of dried violets and blackberries mingle with a little bit of spicy anise.  The palate exhibits well integrated tannins with clove and oak overtones.

Food Pairing: BBQ Pulled Pork Empanadas


2007 Conalicchio di Sopra, Rosso di Montalcino, Azienda Agricola, Italy

Founded by the Pacenti family in the early 1900s, bottling began at the winery in 1966.  This was the first year of the Brunello Consorzio.  Prior to bottling their own wine, they had sold their grapes to Biondi Santi.  The 2007 Conalicchio Di Sopra Rosso di Montalcino is a great value, because Canalicchio only grows Brunello rated Sangiovese.  Their selection for the rosso often will rival other producers in Brunello.  Their vineyards are located in one of the best exposed parts of Montalcino’s vine growing areas, their vineyards cover 5 acres between Canalicchio and Montosoli.  Although they use the most modern facilities, they still revel in the ancient traditional wine making methods.

This wine spends 7 to 8 months in barrel.  This selection for the Rosso often will rival other producers of Brunello.  It is a limpid, ruby colored wine of great intensity.

Food Pairing: Duck Rillettes on Crostini with Black Fruit Jam


Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Santa Barbara Winery

Notes written by Zach Blair

New Breakfast Menu

Our new Spring Breakfast Menu will be served starting tomorrow, June 2.  Categories of the menu include ‘light breakfast,’ ‘from the griddle,’ ‘omelets and scambles,’ ‘specialties,’ and ‘sides.’ 

Indulge in Eggs Benedict, a Lobster Omelet, or Cheese Blintzes with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.  On the lighter side of that morning spectrum enjoy Housemade Granola, Slow Cooked Oatmeal, or the Roasted Seasonal Vegetable Omelet

Assemble your own assortment of sides to create your own breakfast.  Choose from fresh fruit, half grapefruit, muffins, bacon, chicken apple sausage, bagels, and whole grain toast.

The focus is on the freshest ingredients available to create these recipes.

Full Breakfast Menu

Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Santa Barbara Winery

The versatility of the Sangiovese grape can be demonstrated by the four very different food pairings that will be served alongside these wines at this coming Wednesday’s Passport to the World of Wine event (Wednesday, June 3).  Italy’s most commonly planted grape varietal (specifically loyal to Central Italy’s Tuscany region) can range from simple and fruity to savory laced complexity.  A common theme is the inherent acidity and medium body that makes it suitable for pairing with such a wide range of dishes.  One of our tasting room employees loves Sangiovese so much that he is getting ready to plant a small (very small) vineyard in his backyard to make some delicious home wine that I hope he will share!

Here are the dishes that will be served on Wednesday alongside the five different wines (five wines from five distinct growing regions will be served):

Barbequed Pulled Pork Empanadas

Duck Rillettes on Crisp Crostini smeared with Black Fruit Jam

Romanesco and Prawn Flatbread with Asparagus and Parmesan

Zucchini Cakes with fresh summer Basil

Passport to the World of Wine

Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro

Wednesday, June 3, 6-8pm

25.00 per person

Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Santa Barbara Winery

Passport to the World of Wine – Sangiovese

Our next Passport to the World of Wine tasting will feature Sangiovese (san-jo-vay-zay) from five distinct growing regions in California and Italy.  This varietal is native to Italy and is most famous as the main component of Tuscany’s famed Chianti blend.  It is also notably used in varietal wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino as well as modern Super Tuscan wines.  In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety and is adaptable to many different types of vineyard soils. 

Californian Sangiovese tends to be more fruit driven than its Tuscan counterpart, but bright cherry tends to be a common string that links the wines together.  Its naturally high acidity and moderate tannins make it a very food friendly wine. 

Here is a list of the five wines that will be poured:

’05 Fattoria Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano Elisabetta Geppetti, Tuscany, Italy

’07 Canalicchio di Sopra Rossa di Montalcino Azienda, Agricola, Italy

’06 Seguesio Vineyard Sangiovese Sonoma County

’06 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Ca’ del Solo Sangiovese San Benito

’05 Santa Barbara Winery Sangiovese Santa Ynez Valley

Passport to the World of Wine, Sangiovese

Wednesday, June 3, 6-8pm

25.00 per person

Food pairings with each wine

Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Santa Barbara Winery

Passport Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio Recap

I double checked my wrist watch as I got out of my car to head into the Bistro’s Passport to the World of Wine on Wednesday evening.  I arrived at about 6:30, and while I am used to getting there at that time, this time I felt like I was early because it was still light outside.  I then remembered that Daylight Savings time had switched up the clocks since the first Wednesday of March, and the longer days of summer meant the open windows of the Bistro would fill the dining room with light until the tail end of the Passport tastings.  

The first of the white wine tastings, Wednesday’s Passport tasting focused on Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio.  This varietal is known and grown in Italy as Pinot Grigio, and in France as Pinot Gris.  Outside of these regions the name is used interchangeably depending upon the clone and style of wine produced.  This was a great varietal to pour at the Passport tasting because of the immense differences in style that each region produces.  These wines can range from light, acidic, and flinty to rich in a Riesling-esque nature in texture and mouthfeel.  

My first stop was the Santa Barbara Winery Pinot Gris 2007 paired with small discs of smoked salmon on sliced cucumbers with fresh dill and cream.  I was immediately struck by the refreshing nature of our Pinot Gris, particularly because I was parched from a post-work yoga class.  The 2007 is the first Pinot Gris made under the Santa Barbara Winery label, and it is sourced from the Thompson Vineyard in Los Alamos.  These vineyard is known to produce rich wines with layers of depth, and this Pinot Gris is no exception.  This richness also comes partly from about 20% barrel fermentation, making it a nice pair with the smoked salmon.  

Next stop was the Italian Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio 2007, coming from the Alto Adige region in the north.  Very light in color, this wine screamed poached pears balanced by a zesty acidity.  A goat cheese, tomato, and pesto flatbread was sliced into small squares to accompany the wine.  

My mid-way stop was Oregon’s Willamette Valley for the Belle Pente Pinot Gris 2006.  Belle Pente makes a Pinot Gris that is rich and concentrated, making a strong impression.  The climate, which is similar to Alsace, produces lush and opulent wines.  The smoked chicken and apple salad on endive spears had huge flavors, while at the same time seemingly light.  

Also served with the smoked chicken bites was the Alsatian Schoffit Pinot Gris 2007.  This wine is marked by intensity and purity of varietal character, great concentration of fruit and richness on the palate often associated with Alsatian Pinot Gris.  The smoky aromas and complex fruit flavors matched extremely well with the smoked chicken and crispy apple.

The final stop was Australia, which brought us outside to a table on the front patio beneath standing heaters.  Robert Oatley Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2008 is a lively and easy drinking wine from southeastern Australia.  Lemon citrus and appealing honey on the nose leads to a flavorsome fleshy white fruit character on the palate.  This wine was served with another bite-sized hit, the herb and garlic Bay Mussels, which slid right off their shells.

Next month’s Passport tasting will feature Chardonnay on May 6.

Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Santa Barbara Winery

Nose Knows

Why do we swirl and sniff? Is it just a pretentious way of showing our company and the rest of the restaurant that we are “wine snobs”?  Absolutely not.  Swirling and sniffing your glass of wine enhances what you are drinking.  Yes, it actually makes it better.  It makes it taste better, smell better, and even look better.  It opens up the wine in your glass allowing aromas to jump out at you instead of just sitting on top like a frog on a lily pad.  Think of it like the frogs jumping around, dancing, mingling and dipping their toes in the liquid beneath them.  It just brings something out that does not present itself if you just pick up your glass and sip.  

Why does this matter?  All of the time and effort that goes into bringing what you are drinking from the vineyard into the glass deserves to be experienced and appreciated.  If it was as simple as it being just a beverage people wouldn’t spend lots of money on quality.  It is a sensory experience that awakens all of your senses to not only what you are drinking, but also where you are, what you are eating, and who you are with.  You know how smells remind you of certain things, objects, times from your past? You can recreate these great memories throughout your life through thinking about the aromas and flavors in your glass.  It does matter.  

Here is are some excerpts and the full article discussing aromatics in your glass:

SWIRL, SNIFF AND SIP. Anyone who drinks wine has probably come across those terms. Perhaps you’ve seen someone, nose deep in wine glass, taking a good long sniff before they taste? While it may look like a ritual reserved for wine snobs, it’s not. Performing these three simple actions will unleash a host of sensory experiences that will increase your appreciation of wine.

Our sense of smell is closely related to our sense of taste. That’s why it’s difficult to enjoy a fine steak dinner when you have a cold. Your nasal passages are compromised blocking the aromas of the grilled meat. So the same is true with wine. It’s important to smell the wine as it will enhance the taste and your overall enjoyment.

When wine is swirled in the glass, its bouquet or aroma is released. The wine’s nose, as it’s called, reveals its components or flavor profile. Try this with your next glass of either red or white wine. Tilt your glass and put your nose deep into it. Can you smell big, jammy fruit such as black cherries or raspberries? Is the fruit aroma more delicate like orange blossoms or lemon? Is there spice such as cinnamon or cloves, or a hint of vanilla, butter or toast? Can you discern an earthiness or something akin to mushrooms?

Click here to read the rest of The Nose Knows

Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Santa Barbara Winery

Vino Italiano

I have had an affinity for Italian wines since my first sip, perhaps it’s because I have spent time living in Rome, or because they are made to pair well with some of my favorite hearty comfort foods, or maybe just the romanticism of thinking about picking up and moving to the Tuscan countryside (Under the Tuscan Sun anyone?).  They are some of the easiest to love wines out there, yet it is also one of the most complicated regions to understand and learn about.  A lifetime of studying leaves even some of the most knowledgeable authorities on the subject stuck sometimes.  

With the upcoming Italian Passport tasting I pulled out my favorite and most comprehensive book on the subject, Vino Italiano, The Regional Wines of Italy.  This wonderful book has textbook worthy facts alongside page turning and heart warming stories of Italy.  All encompassing discussions on cuisine intertwine with explanations of varietals and regions.  

Here is an excerpt on sangiovese

In sangiovese you get not only a telltale aroma and flavor of black cherry but a distinctive savor that roots the wine in Tuscany.  A good Chianti, or Brunello di Montalcino, or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, has a foresty, smoky quality; drinking it is like eating berries in the woods, the spicy scents of the underbrush mingling with the sweetness of the fruit.

I just love the descriptions of varietals that they use.  Looking forward to the first Wednesday of March…

March 4, Passport to the World of Wine, 6:00-8:00pm

Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro

$25 returning Passport holders, $30 first timers

Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Santa Barbara Winery

Pinot Passport Recap

Last night’s Pinot Noir tasting provided an exciting look as to what the world of that varietal has to offer, literally.  Taking samples from four distinct regions, and presenting them side by side is a lesson on wine that you can’t get from any amount of reading.  The most crowded tasting yet took over the entire restaurant with the four tables spread around the perimeter of the room.  

First stop was the Sta. Rita Hills, where we sampled two different vintages from the region from Santa Barbara Winery and Lafond.  The only 2007 of the bunch was the Santa Barbara Winery Pinot Noir, which we sampled first as we snatched a deliciously spiced pulled lamb slider to bite into between tastes.  A very concentrated vintage, this 07 Pinot really just jumps out at you with rich dark fruit and intensity.  Vintage 2007 is from 10 vineyard sites up to 18 years old and from eight different Pinot Noir clones.  

At the same table was another representative from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, Santa Barbara Winery’s sister label, Lafond.  For the 2006 Lafond SRH Pinot Noir Winemaker Bruce McGuire chose very specific sites in the vineyard for each of his Pinot Noir selections.  In 2006, Bruce chose 6 clones from 16 vineyard lots at two vineyards (Lafond and its neighbor Arita Hills Vineyard.  Nice to be able to taste the sister winery selections next to each other – same winemaker, different vintage, different philosophy to wine productions.  I grabbed a second irresistible slider to go with my second taste.  

All the way on the other side of the restaurant were the other three tables.  I went with New Zealand’s 2006 Wild Earth Winery Central Otago Pinot next.  First I tried one of the sesame tuna on cucumber discs nibbles, which was so tasty on its own, but a tiny bit too spicy for the wine – would have been delicious with an off dry Riesling.  But I enjoyed tasting it with the wine only to demonstrate how certain pairings succeed or fail.  This wine was a screw cap so there was some debating going on in conversations around me as to what this does for the wine.  For me, screw cap or no screw cap, I’m going for what’s inside of the bottle.  Pinot is the most widely planted red variety in New Zealand, where the main star is Sauvignon Blanc.  There is about half as much Pinot planted as Sauvignon Blanc in this up and coming wine region that has an ideal climate for growing Pinot Noir.  This wine was fruit driven, yet savory and earthy – very approachable in its youth.  The 30% new oak aging came through a little bit on both the nose and palate.  Watch out for those New Zealand Pinots, it is definitely an up and coming player in the wine world…

Next was the French Burgundy, which was the 2006 Bouchard Pere et Fils, Bougogne Rouge.  This was quite the departure from the other new world Pinots with a subtlety and finesse that is inherent in quality French Burgundies.  It was more subdued and elegant than the rest of the bunch.  Bistro sommelier Zach Blair was fielding questions left and right from behind the table, very excited about the quality for the value of this wine.  Another delicious appetizer was served alongside the wine at this table – baked Camambert on crostini with a pear walnut dressing.  This nutty and rich treat was so tasty, with most of the flavor coming from the oozing cheese.

Last stop brought me back to the United States with Oregon’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  The 2006 Benton Lane Pinot Noir table wins the award for best wine pairing of the night.  Served with this wine was the classic pairing of mushrooms, prepared in a small tartlette that could be eaten in just one or two bites.  This was an example of how when wine and food come together there are certain pairings that really just bring out elements of each other, highlighting certain strengths and flavors in each.  In this case it was the intense and intoxicating aromas and flavors of earthy mushrooms.  Each bite and sip seemed to exponentially bring out this element, definitely a perfect ending to the tasting.

Return to the Bistro website for information on February’s Passport to the World of Wine tasting.  This event will happen on the first Wednesday of each month.

Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Santa Barbara Winery