On our way to L.A., we stayed overnight in Santa Barbara. This was a nice break: the town has pretty beaches, downtown shopping is great and dining options are plentiful. Looking for a good restaurant, our internet query listed Bouchon on Victoria Street, a block away from State, the old town's main artery. Although a dressy attire seemed to be recommended on the Yelp website, we decided to have a look at the place anyway.
We found out that the restaurant had in fact a lovely and inviting patio and the atmosphere seemed pretty casual. The food was wine country cooking and the wine list offered an extensive choice of wines from Santa Barbara County. So we decided to stay.
We had a great dinner there but what was most remarkable about the restaurant was the special attention given to the wine-by-the-glass service. Each bottle was brought to the table so that we could look at the label (and take a picture of it!), and taste the wine before generous pours were served into large glasses.
The wines we tasted:
• 2007 Ojai Viognier Icewine Roll Ranch: according to the winery's website, ripe viognier grapes are taken from the Roll Ranch vineyard to a commercial freezer in Oxnard, and when they are solidly frozen they are transported back to the winery and pressed immediately. The first juice that is pressed out is fermented in older barrels, stopping the fermentation before the alcohol level gets too high. The wine was extremely sweet with some good acidity and aromas of apricot and muscat. A good match with the Pan-Seared Foie Gras althought slightly too sweet for our taste.
• 2006 Consilience Roussanne Santa Barbara County: Consilience is a small Santa Barbara County producer loosely focused around typical Rhone varietals. In the northern Rhone Valley, Roussanne is usually blended with Marsanne but here, Roussanne is bottled by itself. The wine had a deep golden color and a nose of cane sugar juice. It was rather dry and tight on the palate but opened up nicely as I was enjoying my Flatbread with Roasted Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts & Fresh Mozzarella.
• 2007 Melville Pinot Noir Estate Santa Rita Hills: sourced from the estate vineyards of Melville Winery in the Santa Rita Hills appellation. The wine had a herbal nose of menthol and eucalyptus with aromas of dark cherries and caramel. Good accompaniment to the Bourbon & Maple-Glazed California Duck Breast.
• 2006 Tercero Cuvee Christie: Tercero is a small boutique label produced by Larry Schaeffer, assistant winemaker at Fess Parker, and his wife Christie. The wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre from Santa Barbara County. Each component was fermented and aged separately, and the final blend was combined about a month before bottling. The nose showed aromas of figs cooked with spices. On the palate, it had a rich and velvety texture. Delicious with the Venison Loin.
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