Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kendall-Jackson Wine Center

5007 Fulton Road, Fulton, CA

I always want to go wine tasting just because I live in vineyards-filled California, and just because I never even been to any winery! A couple months ago, I started getting into wine. I love how they taste when pair with certain food, and I love the knowledge behind growing, making and tasting them.

Hold and behold, my very first visit earlier this month was to a winery that I bought the most bottles from (whether for myself or as gifts)--that winery is Kendall-Jackson in Sonoma. I don't know how it becomes one that I often buy, maybe because the name sounds good to me.

The experience and service at the estate was superb! I know I can be a little bias since it was my very first wine tasting, but all in all, I really enjoyed the estate as a whole. One, the estate offers a food and tasting menu. Two, the people working at the estate really take their time to explain their wine (okay, maybe all estates do that). Three, there is a garden outside the estate where they grow ingredients that goes into the food tasting menu, and it is opened to the public! The garden really enhanced my experience there, especially since they have so, so many varieties of edible plants there!

Okay, onto the food! As mentioned previously, I had the food and wine pairing.
Johnny Cake with Trout Roe and Sour Cream (to serve with 2007 Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay)

Kendall-Jackson is known for the Chardonnay. So according to the chef, the rich mouth feel of the sour cream goes well with this full bodied wine. I was suprised how corn cake goes really well with trout roe! Then I was suprise how the sweetness of the corn and the saltiness of the trout roe totally sweeten the the wine, turning it from a bit sour to a nicer finish. This 2007 Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay was my favorite in the whole tasting menu--the aroma and taste of this wine was really, really good!!

Crostini with Delice de la Vallee Cheese, Fresh Beans, Radishes and White Verjus Vinaigrette (to serve with 2009 Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc )

The Sauvignon Blanc was a bit strong in acidity or sourness. But after eating this crostini, the acidity was toned down a little bit, probably by the cheese. The crostini was interesting. All the greens on it made it tasted very green and earthy, if it wasn't for the cheese, I don't know if I can eat it, especially the sprouts.

  • Buckwheat Crepe with Smoked Ham Hocks and Bellwether Farms Carmody Cheese (to serve with 2006 Highland Estates Seco Highlands Pinot Noir)

  • Sweet Tea Brined Niman Ranch Pork Belly Slider with Syrah BBQ Sauce (to serve with 2006 Highland Estates Alisos Hills Syrah)

  • Korean Style Kobe Beef Lettuce Wrap  (to serve with 2005 Highland Estates Trace Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon)
This next course was pretty grand considering it had both crepe and kobe beef! So I finally understand why people usually pair red wine with meat, especially steak or other fatty meat. All the red wine was quite bitter from the tanin at first, but after each bite of food, it tasted so much better since the fat rid some of the tanin flavor. 

The buckwheat crepe was amazing! I could eat more if they offer more! The ham was flavorful but it didn't cover the flavor of the cheese. The light Pinot Noir that served with it did not get covered by the rich ham and cheese neither, it actually enhanced it.

The pork belly slider was good because it's fatty and it has hoisin sauce in it. But yes, the fatty pork is so fatty and tender that it definitely helps rid the tanin of the syrah, a wine that I usually don't drink (that my dad drinks a lot).

Lastly, the kobe beef lettuce wrap was amazing also! The beef was not too heavy, but heavy enough to be balanced with the lettuce. It was so good that I wanted to go Korean BBQ afterward. But anyhow, the heavy BBQ flavor and the beef definitely helped rid some of the tanin with the full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the strongest wine in this whole tasting menu.

Onto the last course...dessert!! For this course, I actually looked forward to the the wines more than the desserts because I love the color of white wine and the wines listed for the tasting were late harvest wines, which I never ever tried I was super excited!

  • Mama Frischkorn's Caramel Corn (to serve with 2006 Late Harvest Chardonnay)

  • Arborio Rice Milk Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Curd and Marinated Citrus (to serve with 2007 Late Harvest Riesling)
Okay, the caramel corn was super duper sweet for my taste. I could only finish 1/3 of it. The Chardonnay on the other hand was much sweeter compared to the 2007 Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay from the first course, but not as sweet as the caramel corn. I am guessing that the caramel corn suppose to make it sweeter by enhancing the sugar in the wine.

The Panna Cotta was super creative, especially since it was made with Arborio rice. At the beginning of the tasting, the chef asked for my favorite wine, and I said Riesling. So kindly at the end of the meal, he brought out a regular Riesling that he had at the estate to let me compare it to the late harvest one. The Late Harvest Riesling was nothing like the regular riesling I usually drink. The Late Harvest Riesling was extremely sweet, it was like drinking a moscato or syrup! I couldn't finish my glass. Although I must say, the milder taste of the panna cotta was just perfect for the wine since the wine was so sweet already.

The grapes weren't ripe yet when I visited in early July. I think I will go back around September so that it will be riped by then. Also, the chef said the food and tasting menu change as the season change...count me in for that!

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