Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Taste of Terroir winners

By Jessica Yadegaran
Friday, July 27th, 2007 at 10:28 am in Uncategorized.

Last night was Livermore’s Taste of Terroir, a wine pairing contest of sorts that takes place in the gorgeous Palm Event Center, on the Michael Katz property off Vineyard Drive in Pleasanton.

Ah the power of a good pairing! It was definitely a positive way to experience Livermore wines, particularly the reds, which I often find too hot for my taste (15.9 % alcohol in a Syrah is not uncommon; neither is 14.4 % in a Tempranillo, which was billed to me as a “lighter red wine”).

I had just come from the new Livemore Safeway on First Street, the chain’s first uber-lifestyle store with a deluxe wine bar I will be covering in the August 8 Food & Wine section. Phil Wente was manning it, pouring free samples of Murrieta’s Well wines. YUM. With their luscious White Meritage lingering on my palate, I headed straight to that station at Taste of Terroir.

The balanced structure and fruit of the Sauvignon Blanc-Semillion blend provided just the right softness for the poached rock shrimp on spicy couscous salad with lemon vinaigrette, courtesy of As Good As It Gets Catering.

But that wasn’t my favorite pairing. My favorite pairing involving a white wine was the John Christopher Cellars 2005 Chardonnay. They served it with seared scallops with chevre and brandied pears topped with organic feta. The pear flavors echoed in the Chardonnay was outstanding, not to mention the mimicking richness and pillowy butter of both scallops, this varietal and the chevre.

I think the most successful pairings help people understand and eventually appreciate a wine’s true style. That’s what this one did for me, a person who doesn’t typically like traditional Chardonnay. For a moment I was over the new, trendy unoaked expressions. Only for a moment though.

There were two fantastic red pairings and both won, which you’ll see below. The Garre Cafe made a phenomenal strawberry stuffed with smoked quail, goat cheese and aged balsamic vinegar to go with Garre Winery’s 2004 Gina Maries Private Reserve Merlot. Pow! The vinegar-kissed berries brought out all that is good and true in Merlot. Try it at home sometime.

The People’s Choice and Judges Award went to the same pairing, a 2005 Syrah Clark’s Corner Syrah from Mitchell Katz Winery that was served with wild boar sliders on sweet potato brioche with Syrah-sour cherry ketchup. Yowzers. Most of us felt that the Syrah was too young on its own, but paired with that lip-smacking ketchup, it was truly a whole new wine.

Best Expression of Local Ingredients
Garré Winery & Garré Café
2004 Gina Maries Private Reserve Merlot, Livermore Valley
Smoked Quail stuffed Strawberry with Goat Cheese and aged Balsamic Reduction

Judges Best
Mitchell Katz Winery at Ruby Hill and The Palm Event Center
2005 Syrah Clark’s Corner, Livermore Valley
Wild Boar Sliders on Sweet Potato Brioche with Syrah-Sour Cherry Ketchup and Baby Arugula

People’s Choice
Mitchell Katz Winery at Ruby Hill
2005 Syrah Clark’s Corner, Livermore Valley
Wild Boar Sliders on Sweet Potato Brioche with Syrah-Sour Cherry Ketchup and Baby Arugula

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