The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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Page 79 of 100

{ }  79 SLO WINE COUNTRY'S PROXIMITY TO THE OCEAN means more than just wines from cool-climate, long-hanging grapes—it also means plenty of fresh seafood. During our SLO Wine Country SOMM Camp, sommeliers witnessed firsthand just how inter- twined the region's wines and seafood are in a joint winemaker dinner presented by Chef Gregg Wangard from Marisol at The Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach. The dinner began with a bang: sliced poke tossed in soy sauce and sesame oil, layered over seaweed, topped with cilantro, pickled ginger and sliced avocado, and nestled inside a bowl of fried rice paper ; paired with Kynsi Winery's crisp, juicy 2014 "Barn Owl Blush" Edna Valley Pinot Noir Rosé—a match that augmented the freshness of both. Next, Wangard paired Sinor-LaVallee's 2014 San Luis Obispo County Pinot Gris with a dish of sweet potato and goat cheese ravioli in arugula sauce with truffle oil. "I love this wine," said Wangard to Winemaker Mike Sinor. "I'm drinking it in the kitchen." "It's a wild wine," chimed in SOMM Camp guide Randy Caparoso of Sinor's native- fermented Pinot Gris. "It's like an unwashed woman running down the street, naked," to which Sinor quipped, "I have no problem with that!" The dish of the evening was Wangard's mussels and toast points in a broth of coconut milk, chipotle, lime and cilantro. "This broth is out of control," said Peter Palmer, Wine Director for San Francisco's Farallon (an establishment that excels in coastal cuisine, to be sure). The wine, Stephen Ross Cellars' 2013 Jespersen Ranch Albariño, showed tart, lemony flavors and just a kiss of salinity. Other matches included seared scallops and fried shredded pork belly with salsa verde and bronze fennel, seamlessly paired with Center of Effort's lush-yet-bright 2010 Chardonnay; and smoked salmon, celeriac, honey mustard and beurre blanc paired with Center of Effort's 2009 Pinot Noir and the 2013 Tolosa Clonal Selection Pinot Noir, both adequately toasty to stand up to the salmon's smokiness, but delicate enough to match its weight and texture. As a surprise addition to the lineup, Wangard brought out a classic course of braised short ribs, glazed carrots and potato purée paired with Niner Wine Estates' 2012 Jepersen Ranch Grenache. "One of the silver linings of this drought has been the thor- ough ripening of our Grenache," said Niner Winemaker Patrick Muran. "Without the rains, these grapes hung out there for a long time—all the way into November," he told us, which resulted in a juicy red wine with the floral, violet aromas of a powder puff. ("It smells just like my second grade teacher," Sinor reminisced.) Wrapping the dinner up, Marisol's pastry chef Hannah Ingham (aka "Muffin Goddess") presented a luscious vanilla bean panna cotta with blackberry macaron, couched in a chocolate bowl and paired with Laetitia Vineyard & Winery's non-vintage XD sparkling wine, a demi-sec with notes of blossoms, strawberry, pie crust and orange peel. As the sommeliers moaned over their desserts, Peter Palmer joked, "Take it easy on this course 'cuz we've got six more to go!" After a satisfying and enlightening repast, the sommeliers congratulated Chef Wangard, his team and the winemakers on a job well done. "Everything we've seen today has been heartfelt, and for somms and other people on this side of the business, that's what we want to see," said Fred Dame, MS. "You're setting the standard by what you're doing. Thanks for being the great folk you've always been." Cool-Climate Wines and Coastal Cuisine A MATCH MADE IN SLO WINE COUNTRY by Jaime Lewis / photos by Jeremy Ball The Kynsi 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé. Chef Gregg Wangard of Marisol at The Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach, describing how he developed the "out of control" coconut milk broth for the mussels. Poke with avocado, soy and sesame in a fried rice paper bowl. "This is a get-in- there, interactive dish," said Chef Gregg Wangard. "Lots of texture and crunch."

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