It is with great pleasure that we welcome Master Sommelier Will Costello of Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates for an evening showcasing one of California’s top producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I met Will while taking my Certified Sommelier exam. In fact, he was the one who tested me on the service portion of the day. Fortunately for me, I managed to pass, and have enjoyed getting to know him better over the last year.
But enough of that! Let’s talk about these wines! While the more northern regions of California do get some influence from the ocean, the Central Coast, where Bien Nacido is located, is particularly accentuated by its cooling effect (the photo to the right, taken from their website, shows one of their vineyards). This is makes it perfect for true cool climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to thrive, the two wines they specialize in.
What that means to the wines is that they, like a good Burgundy, smell very ripe and plush, and yet deliver an unquestioned brightness and focus on the palate. Which is great for two reasons; they pair wonderfully with food, and they’ll age very nicely should you lay them down for a few years. If you want a wine to age, it needs acid — and these have it. I’m looking forward to putting some of these, both Chard and Pinot, away for a while.
We will showcase both of the estate’s distinct vineyard sites and I’m sure you’ll notice both what they have in common and where they differ from one another. I really did enjoy each. The Solomon Hills perhaps being a bit higher toned of the two, the Bien Nacido Estate a touch riper; but both exquisite in their own ways.
This was a menu that really wrote itself as we tasted the wines. I went into the process looking to tread lightly and let the wines shine. But they shone so brightly that I realized I had nothing to worry about. So I just went with it…
Frito Misto-- kimchi “pickle chip,” tempura white shrimp and beets with yuzu aioli
2015 Solomon Hills Chardonnay
Scallop crudo with daikon puree, shiso, and chives
2015 Bien Nacido Estate Chardonnay
Duck confit and shiitake mushrooms with egg noodles in oolong tea broth
2013 Solomon Hills Pinot Noir
Star anise cured pork loin with cranberry-ginger chutney, Asian greens, and Tokyo turnips
2013 Bien Nacido Estate Pinot Noir
$80 per person does not include tax and gratuity