Picturing California on the Plate and in the Glass #WinePW

Not California… but we can dream

Wine Pairing Weekend Does the California Thing
California is the theme for our March session with the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers. We’re all pairing foods from a California cookbook with a suggestion of Gaby Dalkin’s “What’s Gaby Cooking”, alongside California wines. In Minnesota, it’s not exactly California weather yet, so we’re taking the opportunity to daydream a bit while we wait for spring. Scroll down further in this post for a bunch of great ideas to help put you in a California state of mind.

This is Gaby’s Southwestern Cowboy Caviar Salad with Cilantro Dressing, steak on the side.

Our Pairing
Finding a worthwhile recipe was more difficult than I imagined. Many “California” recipes rely on high quality veggies and fruits.  We get veggies and fruits in Minnesota all year long, but they can be pretty pathetic in the winter! I decided the Cowboy Caviar Salad would bring a breath of spring to us, and decent avocados are a possibility. Between the grilled steak and the bright fresh flavors of the salad, this dinner will pair with virtually any wine. Pick your favorite!

Tasting with Steve and Jill Matthiasson in 2017

Matthiasson Wines
Steve and Jill Matthiasson own a relatively small but highly regarding winery in Napa. I’ve met them both on a couple of occasions and tasted at their house once a couple years ago (they now have a tasting room). Steve is one the most thoughtful viticulturalists I have ever encountered, and listening to one of his interviews is worth your time. A recent one can be found here.

Matthiasson Napa Valley Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard 2016 ($32 SRP or online here) 12.8%abv
Eye: Clear, medium gold
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of ripe golden apples, ripe pears, pineapple, vanilla, butter and a flinty minerality.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity. Flavors match the aromas with ripe apples and pears, pineapple, vanilla, butter and a bit of flint. Medium acidity, medium+ body, medium alcohol with a rich texture.
Conclusions: Very good quality Chardonnay in the fuller bodied style without going overboard. Medium body, good concentration of fruit and good structure have already served this wine well. Drink now, or continue to age it 5+ years.

William Allen of Two Shepherds Wines, way back in 2012. I’m a long time fan!

Two Shepherds Wines
William Allen and Karen Daenen are the proprietors of Two Shepherds Wines. Two Shepherds focuses primarily on Rhone grape varieties, picked on the early side and made into wine by minimal intervention techniques. The wines always show lively acidity making them super food-friendly. They also make a number of skin-fermented white wines in a variety of intensities according to how much time the juice is in contact with the skins. They range from wines that whisper their skin contact to those who leave no doubt.

Two Shepherds Lodi Cinsault “Bechtold Vineyard” 2015 ($32 SRP or online here) 13.3% abv
Eye: Slightly hazy, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, Medium intensity aromas of ripe cherries, strawberries, honeysuckle with an underlying element of clean earth, tobacco.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity flavors following the nose with red fruits dominating, taking a bit of candied flavor. Medium+ acidity, medium- fine grained tannins, medium body with a lean texture. Medium alcohol and a medium finish.
Conclusions: Very good quality wine, light on its’ feet for a wine from Lodi. Bright fruit and good structure with a bit of complexity.  Can enjoy now, there’s no hurry, this wine will hold or improve over the next 5-10 years. A very good choice for medium rare steak served with a large salad.

I was able to put together reasonably good ingredients from a Minnesota grocery store, even in the winter

Wine Pairing Weekend Posts
Take a look below for a bunch of great ideas for California cuisine and wines. Why not join in our chat on Saturday, March 14 from 10-11am CDT? We chat on Twitter at #WinePW. We love visitors, you can just watch the discussion or jump in. We’re a friendly group!

Grilled Steak with Gaby’s Southwestern Cowboy Caviar Salad
Warning – if you’re one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap, you should just move on to another blogger’s ideas. This recipe is loaded with cilantro. I used the recipe from “What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food“. The recipe is also located here on Williams-Sonoma with credit to Gaby. The salad recipe is so simple, but everyone at the table marveled at how delicious it was. The dressing is the key to this dish, so don’t skip that step!

10 Responses to “Picturing California on the Plate and in the Glass #WinePW”
  1. culinarycam says:

    That meal – and the wines – look spectacular, Jeff. And those are two vintners with which I am completely unfamiliar! Looking forward to getting my hands on a few bottle as soon as I can. Cheers

  2. Wendy Klik says:

    That salad looks so colorful and amazing. Both of those bottles are from wineries with which I’m not familiar. Going to have to check them out.

  3. Cilantro can be challenging to pair, but sounds like you hit on a couple of wines that worked well. That salad looks so inviting!

  4. crynning says:

    You chose some killer wines for pairing with that cowboy salad! Great job – I’m hungry and thirsty right now! Cheers!!

  5. Matthiasson wines have been on my list to try. You and Gaby’s grilled steak and cowboy caviar salad just gave me three more reasons to go find a bottle!

  6. Deanna says:

    I’ve been to Napa many times but haven’t heard of Matthiesson. Embarassing! I’m curious to know how you came across them and how they are regarded in relation to the other Napa wineries. $32 for a Napa chard is not bad!

  7. That salad looks so good! And this reminds me I still need to try Two Shepherds which I’ve heard you extol a number of times.

  8. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    What a beautiful feast and great wine selections. Have always enjoyed Two Shepherds’ wines when I’ve had the chance to try them, and couldn’t agree more with your comment that “Steve is one the most thoughtful viticulturalists” out there.

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