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Pizza in Paradise pleases palates

Pizza in Paradise with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
Pizza in Paradise with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
Melissa Vogt

From now through October 26th, Paradise Ridge Winery is teaming up with Rosticceria + Eventi to bring wine tasters a pairing experience like no other. Pizza in Paradise features a flight of four Paradise Ridge Winery wines and four styles of fresh, hand-crafted, wood-fired pizzas from Rosticceria + Eventi. With that being said, Pizza in Paradise is not just about the pizza and wine—though this is surely an integral part. Equally as important though, is the fact that guests enjoy Pizza in Paradise from the Paradise Ridge Winery deck—sitting beneath an enormous live Oak tree while taking in stunning, panoramic views of Sonoma County. The entire experience, from the pizza to the wine to the scenic views, is breathtaking.

Paradise Ridge Winery
Melissa Vogt

Upon arrival, guests are seated beneath the beautiful live Oak tree, which provides ample amount of shade on hot, sunny days. The tasting room staff discusses the Pizza in Paradise experience and details the local, artisanal ingredients used in the wood-fired pizzas. As the tasting room staff prepares guests for their tasting experience, Executive Chef John Franchetti and Chef Chris Proffitt prepare the pizza at the wood-fire oven, just below the deck. Guests can see the pizza being handmade, then placed into the Italian imported wood-fire oven.

When the pizza arrives, it is clear that Franchetti and Proffitt have mastered the art of wood-fired pizzas. The crust is perfectly crisp, the cheese is completely melted, and the toppings are touched by the flames just enough to give the tips their golden edges. Each pizza begins with homemade pizza dough, a margherita base made from vine-ripened tomatoes, Rosso mozzarella—handcrafted from specialty sourced curds—locally made extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil. Once this foundation is in place, Franchetti and Proffitt create two slices of four individual styles with various toppings; each style is paired with a wine from the Paradise Ridge Winery collection—of which Dan Barwick is the winemaker.

Just like any other tasting, the white wines are poured first. The 2013 Estate Sauvignon Blanc from the Grandview Vineyard is paired with the Sicilian lemon oil slices. The Sicilian lemon oil is combined with seasonal, fresh herbs for a delicate yet flavorful pairing with the crisp Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauvignon Blanc immediately becomes more complex with a burst of flavor in the mouth as the wine and pizza interact; it is the lemon oil that truly makes this pairing pop on the palate. The lovely lemon oil brightens the citrus notes in the wine, while the fresh herbs contrast that citrus by enlivening minerality and grassiness. This pleasant juxtaposition of flavors is only enhanced by the way the weight of the olive oil gives body to the wine. Consequently, the bright acidity is lessened and rounded out so that the wine finishes full and juicy on the tongue.

The 2012 Estate Chardonnay from the Nagasawa Vineyard is perfectly suited for its partner—the house made porchetta, which is pork roast cured with salt, pepper, fennel, sage, garlic, and wine. After being cured, the pork roast is then slow-cooked on a rotisserie. Porchetta originates just outside of Rome in a town called Marino and its richness couldn't be any more appropriate for this Chardonnay which has undergone malolactic conversion and barrel aging in 100% new French oak. The buttery notes are subtle, the mouthfeel is full, and the fruit is full of bright green apple and lemon meringue. When paired with the house made porchetta, the tart green apple flavors become softer and more elegant. Texturally, the excellent acidity of the wine—which is balanced out by its silky mouthfeel—works perfectly with the salty, rich porchetta. As a whole, this pairing possesses a very round mouthfeel, though still maintains enough of a balance between salt and acid to creates sparks on the taste buds. In this pairing, it is clear that the contrasting elements complement each other very nicely.

The 2012 Estate Pinot Noir from Walter's Vineyard is paired with the glorious black pig bacon from Zazu Kitchen and Farm, which is located in Sebastopol on the west side of Sonoma County. The black pig bacon comes form a heritage breed of pig that is raised free range without antibiotics or hormomes. The meat is dry cured with brown sugar for up to twenty-one days and then apple wood smoked for twelve hours. The delicious flavors of the black pig bacon—in conjunction with mushrooms, black pepper, and white truffle oil—couldn't be any better suited to the complexity of the 2012 Estate Pinot Noir from Walter's Vineyard.

On its own, this Pinot Noir possesses notes of earth, dark cranberry, and orange zest. The body is light and the tannins are balanced. When sipped with a bite of the black pig bacon slice, the flavors of the mushrooms and truffle oil enhance the earthiness and body of the wine—making the Pinot a richer, more luscious experience. The way the salty, richness of the black pig bacon interacts with the wine is beautiful—bringing more complexity to the flavors and spice on the palate.

The 2012 Rockpile Posse from the Branham Vineyard is a blend of mostly Petite Sirah with Syrah and Zinfandel. This powerful wine is earthy, spicy, and full of blueberry fruit. The gripping tannins contrast the full body of the wine nicely. When paired with the Palacios chorizo—an all natural, dry curated Spanish pork sausage that has been seasoned with smoked sweet paprika—the saltiness cuts through the full body and tannins, then mellows the intensity of the wine in a way that complements the flavors of the pizza perfectly. Additionally, the smokiness of the chorizo influences the wine and really brings forward nice flavors of smoke and earth on the palate.

Clearly, Pizza in Paradise is an all encompassing tasting experience. From the crisp Sauvignon Blanc to the silky Chardonnay, guests are able to enjoy the differentiation of pairings between the two white wines and learn a thing or two about the way different flavors and textures of wine interact with food. With the Pinot Noir and the Petite Sirah dominated red blend, guests get to experience two completely different red wines and discover how both styles work exceptionally well with different styles of pork—proving just how versatile wine can be when it comes to achieving great flavor and texture combinations between wine and food.

Pizza in Paradise is exclusively offered at Paradise Ridge Winery on Wednesdays – Sunday from 11am–3pm. To experience all that Pizza in Paradise has to offer, contact Paradise Ridge Winery directly at 707-528-9463, or visit their website for more details.

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