Posts Tagged ‘mauritson’

Judges Pick: Pican’s Pork Tacos at ZAP Grill-O-Rama

August 14, 2012

Food and wine are natural partners. One usually tastes better with the other.

I found that universal truth at work during the ZAP Grill-O-Rama food and wine event last weekend.

A panel of wine and food writers, myself included, selected grilled pork tacos from Pican as the best food presented during the event. The people’s choice — by a popular vote of attendees — was the beef short ribs prepared by Tyler Stone, a celebrated personal chef from Sacramento.

Zin, Wine for All Seasonings

Zinfandel holds up well with all the grilled foods served  at Grill-O-Rama with wines poured by 32 wineries representing ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers group.

I enjoyed a glass of Mauritson Dry Creek Valley 2010 Zinfandel — a blend of several different vineyards, including vines grown in the celebrated Rockpile appellation of Sonoma County, with a “beef lollipop” made from short ribs of beef prepared by Chef Stone.

The beef was prepared “sous vide,” which is a slow-cooking method in which the meat is sealed in plastic and then submerged for hours (or days) in a hot water bath. Briefly finished on the grill,  each serving contained a single chunk of tender meat presented on a thick skewer with a mild chimichurri sauce.

I tried a glass of a 2009 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel from Brazin Cellars ($17) with Pican’s shredded pork, served on a soft tortilla with spicy tomatillo sauce and a sprinkling of crumbly queso fresca cheese. I really liked the addition of pickled onions, which gave the plate a definite acid bite.

Sonoma Smokehouse served an enjoyable grilled pork slider on an open-faced bun with hot and mild tomato-based sauce. It paired nicely with a 2009 Zinfandel  ($20) from Contra Costa County made by Three Wine Company in Clarksburg. The wine carries characteristic blackberry high notes plus some extra stuffing provided by 12 percent Petite Sirah. There’s just enough tannin to balance the fruit nicely.

Oakland’s Bocanova restaurant presented grilled chicken skewers with a delicate mole sauce. I tasted it with a wine I’d never drunk before from Napa, the Green and Red 2007
Tiptop Vineyard ($28).

I’d go out of my way for another bottle of this Green and Red offering that features pure Zinfandel flavors. Don’t be fooled if it’s a bit shy on the nose. It goes down so easy, a second glass is inevitable.

If you went to the tasting, please let me know what wine was your favorite. If you didn’t attend, who made the last bottle of Zinfandel you enjoyed?

Pinot Pig-Out

March 21, 2010

Renown chef Charlie Palmer invited a few of hundred friends, cooks and wine lovers over to his restaurant inside the Hotel Healdsburg for a pork and pinot blow-out this weekend.

It was the fifth annual Pigs and Pinot event, with proceeds going to the local school system and Share Our Strength, a charity that helps feed poor kids.

Click here for a KTVU video of the event or enjoy our slideshow from the Pigs and Pinot competition.

The field was heavy with California wines, especially from the Russian River Valley region, which produced the winner of the coveted Pinot Cup and also the runner-up.

Best Swine Wine

Woodenhead Winery’s 2007 Buena Tierra Vineyard pinot noir won the blind tasting by three celebrity judges — Ray Lisle (wine editor for Food & Wine magazine), Virginie Boone (wine writer for the Press-Democrat) and Rusty Gaffney (founder of The Pinot File).

Williams Selyem placed second with its 2007 Westside Road Neighbors bottling, a wine made from grapes from several Russian River area growers .

Both of the top wines were great.

The Woodenhead ($55) provided a mouthful of restrained red cherry fruit with a hint of spice (cinnamon?). The Williams Selyem ($100) was smooth from the first taste to a long, lingering finish that featured bright cherry fruit with a pleasant hint of earthiness.

Domestic Dominance

California and Oregon were well represented in the wine competition, which  included entries from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France. I was disappointed by most of the overseas entries, but there was a lot to like in the Dujac 2007 Morey-St.-Denis,  a solid village wine from Burgundy’s Cote de Nuit.

The food at this event was outstanding, if you like pork, which was an ingredient in just about every dish from appetizers to desserts.

Palmer’s barbecued ribs were sweet and juicy, a fine foil for most of the pinots poured during the first night of the weekend that also included a gourmet dinner on Saturday with guest chefs trying to out-do each other with signature dishes along with seminars on pinot noir.

Palmer can cook anything with flair, but he showed a special talent with pork, illustrated by a dish of crisp skinned porchetta with chimichurri sauce.

Guest chefs included Bryan Voltaggio and Kevin Gillespie from the Top Chef television competition plus Roland Passot (La Folie in San Francisco) and celebrity chef Tyler Florence.

Barndiva's decadent dessert

Pork for Dessert?

I found especially creative the dessert concoction presented by Barndiva, a Healdsburg restaurant featuring “progressive” California cuisine. The dense fudgey cubes of decadence blended peanut butter, banana and chocolate flavors. Crowning each bite was a spun sugar tuile speckled with fried prosciutto.

Florence, Fan Favorite

One of the biggest lines formed to meet Florence and sample his cooking. The handsome chef, well known for his work on the Food Network, took time to explain each facet of his porcine creation as admiring attendees queued up for a taste.

“I call it ‘Relationship’ because it reunites the pig with elements of its life,” Florence commented.

Tasty roast pork was laid over a bed of whey flavored with white truffle oil and slivers of earthy black truffle scattered across micro greens. The pigs used in the dish were fed a diet of whey and other organic materials. And, similar pigs are used to hunt for wild truffles in Europe.

Florence makes his own excellent pinot noir (TF, 2008, Split Rock Vineyard, $60), which he poured to complement his dish. Although it wasn’t an official entry in the competition, it was a great match!

The Mill Valley chef will introduce a wider lineup of wines later this year.

When he’s not expanding his empire in food-oriented directions, Palmer is also a winemaker with a $65 pinot noir called “Charlie/Clay.” His partner in the winemaking venture is Dry Creek Valley’s own award-winning winemaker Clay Mauritson.

Click here to read my blog about Mauritson wines.

Rough and Ready Reds from Rockpile

June 19, 2009

There’s a rugged stretch of land rising hundreds of feet in the hills above Lake Sonoma called Rockpile where the tough terrain produces some of the most sensational zinfandel wines in California.

Mauritson Wines is one of the most successful wineries using Rockpile fruit to craft  incredible wine. The Sonoma County winery grows grapes on 40 acres in the Rockpile appellation.  Zinfandel rules the roost but they also farm cabernet sauvignon, syrah, petite sirah and malbec from these hillside vineyards.

Three Generations of Mauritsons - Glendene, Thom and Clay

Three Generations of Mauritsons - Glendene, Thom and Clay

The Mauritson family have been farmers for more than a century, but it’s only in the last decade that winemaking became part of their operation. Clay Mauritson, whose father, Thom, heads the farming operations, is the winemaker.

Production for each special lot of Mauritson zinfandel is limited to only a few hundred cases. Most goes to wine club members, but you can get a pretty good idea about just how good the small production wines are by sampling the 2007 Dry Creek Valley zinfandel ($27), which includes about 40 percent Rockpile fruit.

It’s a fruit forward wine with raspberry overtones and a nice broad finish that makes it a good choice for drinking right now or perhaps holding for a short while to let the minor tannic bite relax just a bit.

The Rockpile area — now its own appellation which is about 700-800 acres in size — had been five times bigger before the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed Lake Sonoma. The lake covers what had been vineyards first planted in 1884 by some of the Mauritson forefathers.

Cemetery Vineyard Produces Heavenly Fruit

On a recent visit to the Mauritson tasting room — open since 2004 near the intersection of Dry Creek and Lytton Springs roads in Dry Creek Valley —  I  sampled  the current lineup of wines, including the 2006 Rockpile Cemetery Vineyard zinfandel ($39).

Mauritson Winery

Mauritson Winery

This is a big, dense, darkly colored wine that needs more time to develop. One taste showed it had the right touch of oak plus a nice vein of minerality and tannins that should push the wine to even higher levels over the next several years. Noted wine critic Robert Parker gave the 2005 vintage of Cemetery — named for the tombstone shaped rocks that ring the area —  a 90-point rating and  it wouldn’t surprise me if the 2006 version surpassed its sibling.

Summer Solstice Sipping

Get a head start on the official arrival of summer and help a good cause, too. The Napa Land Trust is holding a special tasting at the Bardessono resort in Yountville on Saturday (June 20) to recognize the Summer Solstice and promote a growing trend of solar-powered wineries. The Solarbration event runs 6-9 and features wines from Flora Springs, Larkmead Vineyards, Honig, LMR, Oakville Ranch, Peju, Saintsbury, Silverado, Trefethen and ZD. FYI, Bardessono opened in February and touts itself as the “greenest”  luxury resort  in the country. Tickets are $50.

Howell Mountain – Above the Fog Tasting

Taste a selection of wines from the Howell Mountain appellation of Napa at Charles Krug in St. Helena on Saturday (June 20). Thirty area wineries will pour samples alongside hors d’oeuvres at the Taste of Howell Mountain event.

Randy Dunn

Randy Dunn

There will also be  silent and live auctions of special bottles and wine-related packages like a do-it-yourself winemaking adventure with master winemaker Randy Dunn, special dinners, vertical and horizontal collections and overnight stays hosted by participating wineries. Proceeds benefit the Howell Mountain Elementary School. Tickets are $95.

Make Dad Glad at Crushpad

If there’s a wine-loving dad in the family, celebrate an early Father’s Day on Saturday (June 20) with a visit to Crushpad, the “make-it-yourself” winemaking facility in San Francisco. The open house event is free, and several wines from the 2007 and 2008 harvests will be available to sample, but you must register in advance. Crushpad provides winemaking equipment and storage facilities for individuals and groups interested in making their own wines from premium grapes trucked in from California’s top vineyards.