The 3-day weekend exploring San Luis Obispo County wines began with an informative seminar entitled “More Coastal Than ‘Coastal.” These wineries, as close as one mile to the Pacific Ocean, enjoy all of the benefits of living near the beach. Benefits such as temperate climates, morning fog, afternoon cooling breezes, and generally more moisture all around.
John Niven of Nevin Family Estates, and Mike Sinor (pronounced “Signer”), owner and winemaker at Sinor-LaVallee Winery, two SLO wine icons, led the seminar.
We tasted four wines representative of what SLO has to offer: 2014 Tangent Abarino; 2014 Talley Estate Chardonnay; 2015 Edna Valley Pinot Noir; and, 2013 Sinor-LaVallee Syrah.
Our two favorites were the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Talley’s Chard has a distinctive oily residue that works with the citrus nose and the tropical and slate tastes that produce a wine with a long, lush finish. Edna Valley (which is a joint venture between Chalone and Niven) Pinot has a great bouquet with berry and baking spices. The taste is of black berries and pepper. Some folks want a more strawberry-leaning Pinot. Me, I prefer one that’s full bodied and might even be mistaken for a Syrah. Edna’s Pinot is like that.
That evening we were honored to attend the collaborative winemaker dinner “Crafted On The Coast” held at the enchanting Ocean Grill featuring pairings from Chef Bryan Mathers. The menu and wine offerings were amazing.
First course: seared ahi with cucumber noodle salad and compressed strawberries (which Terry loved). This was paired with the 2015 Tangent Albarino, like what we had earlier in the day. The difference was tasting the wine with compatible food. It opened up the tart and tangy Spanish white, showing that simply sipping the wine independent of food is really not a good way to judge it.
Second course was crispy brussels sprouts, not my go-to vegetable. But Chef Bryan was able to make them almost tasty with a combination of goat cheese and balsamic reduction. They did go quite well with the 2014 Chamisal Chardonnay, which had a steel-y character.
Next was the highlight of the evening for me, roasted lamb, paired with the 2012 Center of Effort (COE) Pinot Noir. It’s cliché to say meat melts in your mouth, but that is exactly what happened with this lamb. COE practices whole cluster vinifaction, resulting in fruit forward wines with strong character. Additionally, COE ages their wines extraordinarily long. This Pinot spent two years in barrel before being bottled. Great nose, finish, taste – overall delicious.
We then went to scallops with pork belly, served with 2012 Autry Cellars Syrah. Terry really enjoyed this Syrah, finding a spice and black pepper finish and a fruity and berry taste.
Completing the evening was dessert, a poached peach with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. This was served with the 2014 Saucelito Canyon Zinfandel. Now, you can’t of wrong with peaches and ice cream. It was a great way to finish off the evening.
I’d go back again just to re-experience that lamb. The dinner was a great venue to show off both the culinary highlights and the wine strengths of SLO.