Sbragia Family Vineyards is a winery from Ed Sbragia, who had a long history as winemaker for Beringer Vineyards. In 2008, he left to start a winery of his own with his wife, sons and daughters. Sbragia Family Vineyards features single-vineyard wines ranging from Zinfandel to Chardonnay. While there were definitely some high and low points in the couple of wines I tasted, the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was a decent find. It is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Dry Creek Valley. It was aged in stainless steel, has 13.5% alcohol and retails for around $17.
This Sauvignon Blanc opens up with aromas of green apple and citrus. The palate is full-bodied with bright tastes of grapefruit, lemon and pear. There is also a bit of creaminess to the palate followed with a lingering, citrus-packed finish. Refreshing and full of flavor!
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with King Crab, shrimp cocktails or a salad topped with green apples and goat cheese.
I have been obsessed with Top Chef for years. I watch it religiously and feel lucky I get to regularly seek out some of the chefs local to Southern California. When I saw the co-owner and co-chef of The Tripel in Playa del Rey, Brooke Williamson, was on Top Chef this season, I was stoked. Brandon and I stumbled upon her and her husband Nick Roberts’ bar Hudson House in Redondo Beach a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere, food and wine. This past weekend, Brandon and I took a drive north to see if The Tripel impressed us as much as Hudson House.
When we arrived around 1pm, we grabbed the last seats in the house. I was immediately impressed by the wine list. Concise yet strong with some great values from France, Italy and California. I ordered an Alsatian blend from Kuentz-Bas and it was dry with citrus flavors…a great pick for $8.
The beer list was equally impressive. There were 14 craft brews on draft from Victory, Bear Republic and many other great breweries with prices ranging from $5-9. We ordered a couple of beers from the list, Allagash Black and Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, which we have enjoyed many times before and definitely dug this time around.
We started off our meal with an order of sweet potato tots and they way over-delivered. Perfectly fried, lightly dusted with sea salt and served with a delicious spiced aioli and horseradish honey mustard. For our main courses, we ordered the charred baby octopus with black coconut rice, jalapeno and saffron along with steamed mussels and clams with a Serrano pesto broth and grilled bread. The mussels and clams were delicious…I could drink the broth and I practically (and by practically I mean actually) did. The octopus dish was the only letdown. While the octopus was perfectly cooked, I felt that the dish was a little rich and could use something to give it a lift. The bites with the jalapeno definitely helped but the saffron sauce still overpowered the delicate flavor of the octopus.
All in all, our experience was a memorable one…we will even be returning in the next week or so to bring some of our food and beer/wine loving friends. The Tripel is the kind of place I would open if I were lucky enough to ever have my own spot. Unpretentious and comfortable with darn good food and libations!
Earlier this week, I stopped by one of my favorite fish markets and picked up a pound of fresh poke to enjoy on a beautiful afternoon. I first fell in love with poke on a trip to Hawaii and have been scoping it out on the mainland ever since. I have found a few places that do a spectacular job preparing poke in OC and I have also found a favorite wine to pair with it…Sparkling Rosé!
One bottle I recommend uncorking with your poke is Flying Goat Cellars 2010 Goat Bubbles Rosé from the Santa Maria Valley. 100% Pinot Noir with delicate flavors of cherries and strawberries. The acid holds up against the fat and spiciness in the poke while the wine is elegant enough not to overpower the ahi. A beautiful combination I highly recommend trying! ($34, 12.4% alcohol, A-)
When I come across an interesting, small production wine, you can be pretty sure it is coming home with me. This is exactly what happened when I stopped by a local wine store last week. A bottle of Paydirt 2010 Proprietary Red got my attention and ended up in the seat next to me on the drive home (still corked of course!).
Paydirt Wines is a project out of Paso Robles from Mac Myers and Patrick McNeil. The 2010 Proprietary Red is a blend of Grenache, Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Petite Syrah with 1/3 whole cluster fermentation. Aged for 18 months, this wine has 14.5% alcohol and can be picked up for around $30 a bottle.
Lush aromas of dark and red fruit dominate the nose. The palate is rich and ripe with tastes of blackberry, licorice, blueberry and spice. Bold, indulgent and a great representation of Paso Robles.
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with casual food such as burgers, lamb chops or pizza.
Looking for a bottle priced perfectly to buy by the case and drink any night of the week? My latest find, 2010 Domaine de Saint Antoine Syrah, really fits the bill. A Syrah from Rhone that is ripe, unfiltered and bursting with flavor!
This Rhone offers a very earthy nose with notes dark berries and tobacco. The palate is rich, brawny and full of fruit. There are tastes of cherries, cassis, blackberries, earth and pepper. Uncomplicated yet delicious. Skip the Trader Joe’s $10 wine selection and upgrade your table wine to this bottle! (13.5% alcohol, $11)
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with grilled meats (perfect for a BBQ), pizza or pappardelle with meat sauce.
If you read my blog often, you probably know I am a big proponent of wines that are balanced and graceful. However, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I know a lot of people are looking for voluptuous, seductive reds that are generally a little heavier on the alcohol. I had a chance to taste some wines from Rock Wall Wine Co. over the weekend and they are the epitome of decadence!
Rock Wall is housed in a converted 40,000 square-foot airplane hangar in Alameda which was once part of the Alameda Naval Air Base. This urban winery produces a few different varietals, including Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc. If you are looking for one wine to knock the socks (or perhaps other articles of clothing) off of your Valentine, grab a bottle of their 2010 Westphall Ridge Vineyard Rockpile Zinfandel.
Aromas of dark berries and spice are met by a big, luxurious palate. There are flavors of blackberries, cocoa, sweet tobacco and touches of pepper. You will also find hints of minerality in every sip. Rich, decadent and perfect for a romantic meal! ($40, 14.8% alcohol)
My Wine Rating – B+
Food Pairing Suggestions -Pair with a coffee-rubbed filet, seafood stew or rack of lamb.
Last weekend, we stopped by a restaurant in Laguna Beach for lunch and ordered halibut sandwiches. My husband and I frequent this restaurant because they never have a corkage fee (which is a rarity in OC!). We toted along a bottle of unoaked Chardonnay we picked up last year. To our palates’ delight, the wine was great and the paring was even better!
If you haven’t enjoyed an Unoaked Chardonnay, you are missing out. Forget the thick, buttery Chardonnay you are used to and open up your glass to bright, refreshing flavors. Look for a bottle with citrus and tropical notes to pair with the halibut. The combination is mouth-watering and delicious!
The second Pinot Blanc in my Alsace tasting lineup was Hugel Pinot Blanc Cuvee Les Amours 2009. I uncorked it over the weekend and paired it with an array of shellfish. It was a fantastic combination!
This Pinot Blanc pours a pale, golden straw color in the glass with delicate aromas cantaloupe, watermelon and pear. The palate offers bright flavors and crisp acidity. Honeysuckle, honeydew, citrus and watermelon are followed with toasted nuts and a dry finish. Definite enjoyment for your taste buds! ($16, 12% alcohol)
Food Pairing Suggestions – Great with crabs legs, sushi or as an aperitif
I received a couple new samples of Pinot Blanc from Alsace this week and couldn’t wait to dive in. The first bottle comes from Trimbach, a family winery with roots in viticulture dating back to the 1600’s. Their 2009 Pinot Blanc is dry, balanced, and very food-friendly.
Trimbach pours a pale gold in the glass and has simple, elegant aromas of citrus and flowers. The palate is refreshing and clean with tastes of lemon, honeydew, and apricot. Healthy acidity and a dry finish makes this a great wine to pair with a variety of cuisines. (12.5% alcohol, $15)
My Wine Rating – B+
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with a salad with brie cheese, shellfish, or charcuterie.