Sips & Bits at Shadowbrook
John Schumacher of Hallcrest Vineyards hosted the latest Winemaker Wednesday, showcasing four wines which were paired with appetizers designed to enhance the flavor of each grape. These elegant pairings truly allow patrons to perceive the salient characteristics of each varietal. Just as important: the featured wines are on sale for half price!
Which made the first wine—a 2012 Verdelho from Alta Mesa, Lodi—a real steal. Think pinot grigio on a mild dose of steroids and you will have an idea of this luscious white with its flavors of peaches and cream with hints of honeysuckle and star anise. Paired with a Mexican prawn cocktail, the Verdelho's tropical nose enhanced the spicy acidity of the prawn; it shouldn't work but it does.
Dried strawberries featured prominently in the bouquet of our next wine, a 2012 Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains; this was served with a bite of beef stew and Parmesan on a crostini.
Next, another 2012 Pinot Noir, this one from the Santa Lucia Highlands, with cherry/berry fruit in front of coffee and spice aromas. It was served with a piece of fried eggplant on a bed of sauteed kale...not my first choice but certainly a fine foil for this plush pinot.
Finally, a 2012 Tinta Cao from Elk Mountain Vineyard, Lake County. At $6.25 per bottle it is a fine way to try an unusual and striking varietal, usually found only in port blends. Inky, smoky, minty, the Tinta Cao packs a punch and was perhaps too strong for the dark chocolate caramel which comprised the fourth and final pairing bite. A dark cake—perhaps even a brownie—might have been a better match.
For a complete list of Winemaker Wednesdays, please go to www.shadowbrook-capitola.com
For more on Hallcrest Wineyards, please consult their website at www.hallcrestvineyards.com
Cost for the Winemaker Wednesdays will vary slightly; this one was $16.75 for a flight of four.