Sapphire Hill Food and Wine Pairing Lunch
We had some friends in town from Switzerland so we headed up to Sonoma over the weekend. We made reservations for a wine tasting lunch at Sapphire Hill (www.sapphirehill.com) and couldn’t wait to experience it! Sapphire Hill is located in a wine tasting plaza in Healdsburg, CA with around 5 other tasting rooms, so there is plenty of wine to be enjoyed there! This was our second time visiting this part of Healdsburg (http://mferraro73.tumblr.com/post/55233637275/healdsburg-fun-sunday-7-7-its-your-lucky-day) but there is always so much to see and do there.
During the reservation process, we had a few requests due to some food allergies but they were really accommodating. The price is $35 per person which is really reasonable considering how much we tried that day. WineLuv, a website for wine lovers, http://wineluv.com, is currently offering a voucher that will save you 50% on the price making it only $35 per couple! The wine tasting lunch includes 5 dishes and 5 wines but that day they were feeling incredibly generous, giving us 4 bonus wines. See the wine list and food pairings below.
Rosso Moscato (rose)
2013 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
2012 D’Argento Pinot Noir, RRV
2012 Cinque Gemma, Red Cuvee (italian blend)
2012 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley
2012 Rubineaux (bordeaux style blend)
2013 Porky’s 2.0
2011 Merleaux Merlot, Sonoma County
2012 Samocha, Dry Creek Valley
Rosso Moscato with Watermelon, Mint, Feta Cheese Salad
2013 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, with ham, arugula, and apple butter sandwich
2012 Cinque Gemma, Red Cuvee (italian blend) with polenta in a slow cooked tomato, mushroom sauce
2013 Porky’s 2.0 with pulled pork and coleslaw
2011 Merleaux Merlot, Sonoma County and dark chocolate brownie with raspberry jalepeño jam
We started the lunch with the Rosso Moscato, a blend of Moscato, Chardonnay and Cinsault. Not only did we get to taste the strawberry and honey flavors of the wine but then we paired it with Watermelon salad and they created a handmade sorbet using this wine. We could tell this was going to be a good afternoon!
The Chardonnay smelled toasted and had flavors of creme brûlée, flan or burnt caramel. Pretty tasty! Our first bonus pour was one of the Silver Anniversary wines, Pinot Noir, with tart fruit, some spice and a softness, as well as a nice finish. Then we moved onto the Cinque Gemma, an Italian blend of Nero d’Avolo, Sangiovese, Barbera. We identified spice aromas and thought the wine would be light, then found it to taste dry.
The bonus pours continued with a Zinfandel that smelled like earth, tasted like spice and was also dry. Next up a bordeaux stye blend called Rubineaux which reminded me of chocolate and Neil described it as a heavy, dry, Cabernet. Back to the pairing menu with Porky’s 2.0. Definitely a sweet wine, it smelled sweet, tasted sweet and even left sugar residue on the glass. One wine remaining for the pairing menu, Merleaux Merlot, which smelled smooth, and tasted tart and smoky. Once again feeling generous, we were offered a final bonus pour of Samocha, a late harvest Merlot. This wine had a pretty good complexity to it, with aromas of chocolate bars and flowers. The flavor was soft, and reminded me of a chocolate brownie.
Phew that’s a lot of tasting, now onto the food pairings to make your mouths water! The first course was a Watermelon, Mint, Feta Cheese salad that tasted sweet, minty and salty. The flavors of the salad balanced each other terrifically and caused the Rosso Moscato to taste richer. The wine also started crisp and became soft, delicious!
Our next wine, the Russian River Chardonnay, seemed like a different wine when it was paired with the Ham, Arugula and Apple Butter Sandwich. The aromas of the wine seemed more fruity and the texture seemed lighter. How cool that the wine could change that much with food!
The next course was probably my favorite, Polenta in a slow cooked tomato and mushroom sauce. It had such a great savory flavor! I found the Cinque Gemma to get drier with the food but Neil said it was the opposite. He noticed the wine to be dry at the beginning and then enjoyed the wine better with the food.
Course four, yes, more food, was pulled pork covered in cabbage with a barbecue sauce made from the Porky’s 2.0 wine. The Porky’s 2.0 tasted a little tangy with the food and the pork had a distinct smoky flavor. The pairing caused the wine to have more flavor than just sweetness.
And to bring it all to a close, dessert, a dark chocolate brownie with raspberry jalepeño jam. This is one of Sapphire Hill’s signature foods, for good reason. I’m not really a fan of brownies, yes hard to believe, I know. This one was very tasty though with more of a chocolate flavor than cake. The brownie was paired with the Merleaux Merlot, which became a little lighter, and less sweet. Since Neil is on a gluten-free diet, they brought him over some handmade ice cream. He really liked it and then everyone else asked to have a taste too, which they made available.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, the final, final course was the sorbet they told us about at the very beginning. It was made using the Rosso Moscato wine, watermelon, strawberry and mint. What a great finale!
We had such a good time. Our Swiss friends agreed it was totally worth it and we’d all go back. The flavors of the food worked so well together and almost all of the wines changed with the food. Thanks so much to Lisa and the staff at Sapphire Hill! An important note too, is that none of the wines tasted like alcohol while we were eating so they are very food friendly wines.