Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sunday was such a fun day. I've been looking forward to it since before Christmas!

A group of friends went to the San Antonio Winery in LA for Wine 101, which is an educational sort of event where they serve a fancy lunch and paired wines. We went for Andy's birthday a few years ago, and learned so much, we wanted to do it again!

First course:

Goat cheese, orange, roasted eggplant with french vanilla glaze.
Louis Perdrier Rose, France

The Rose, for lack of a better description, was pink champagne. But to be called champagne, it has to be from the Champagne region of France, so instead it's a pink sparkling wine. It was pretty dry, meaning not sweet at all, but in my opinion could have been a little sweeter. The salad, though, was unusual and fantastic! The whole course was very light, and would be good for a spring party.

Second course:

Broiled miso Alaskan black cod on potato and chive pancake
Grgich Hills Fume Blanc, Napa Valley
Windbreak Chardonnay, Monterey
Maddalena Vineyard Riesling, Monterey

I love love loved the way they prepared the cod (I've never broiled fish before). The pancake, not so much. Fume Blanc is another name for sauvingnon blanc, and it was ... OK. Standard. A little citrusy, a little sweeter than the rose, but still very dry. The Windbreak was sweeter yet, but still a little bitter, almost like someone added pure vanilla extract. It was pretty decent though. The Maddalena was obviously sweet, but kind of reminded me of corn syrup. So, maybe just a little too sweet for me.

Third course:

Pepper crusted rack of lamb, wild mushroom risotto and pinot noir coriander sauce
San Felice "Il Grigio" Chianti, Tuscany
Sterling Vineyards Merlot, NapaValley
San Antonio Heritage Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
San Simeon Cabernet Sauvingnon, Paso Robles

I have a steadfast rule against eating baby animals. But this looked ... and smelled ... so good ... sigh. It was good. My excuse is I was about three glasses of wine in. I liked the risotto, but mostly because I like risotto period (and yet I've never made it; what's up with that?). The chianti was your usual red wine, but the only thing worth mentioning was that it went very well with the meat. The Sterling was very dry and had a really strong alcohol taste, and would be really good with a steak. I'm not quite sure if the lamb was heavy and peppered enough for it. But, Sterling wines are usually pretty good and affordable, if you're looking for that.

The Rhone blend and cabernet were served at the same time to compare and contrast a wine from a single type of grape (cabernet) versus a wine with more than one type of grape blended. I thought this was kind of interesting. Most of the table agreed that the cabernet was just too strong on its own; very dry and alcoholic. The blend was much easier to drink, but it probably had a lot to do with the types of grapes used, and I didn't write those down.


Mango mousse with candied macadamia nuts and toasted coconut
Maddalena Vineyard Muscat Canelli, Paso Robles

This was fantastic mousse, and even though I don't like coconut it was a little carmelized and very sweet. The Maddalena was also sweet, but it wasn't a very good pairing because it tasted bitter compared to the dessert. In fact, it kind of reminded me of soda.

Other random facts from the day:
  • A 90-92 point wine is probably going to be good. But anything rated higher than that is going to be really hard to find.
  • California wines are usually pretty reliable because of the stable weather here. Yay California!
  • The San Antonio Winery makes the San Simeon and Maddalena labels. I'd have to say these were some of the ones I liked better than others that day, although I'm sure they wouldn't pick wines that outshine their own!
  • Different types of wines traditionally come in similarly shaped bottles. Rieslings come in tall thin bottles, reds come in wider bottles, champagne in big bottles with the big dimple in the bottom ...
Unfortunately there weren't any wines any of us wanted to buy. The best ones were only ... OK. They were all pretty moderately priced, though, so if you were looking for something good and saw a San Antonio label, I think it'd be a safe bet.

No comments: