Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bubbly and Caviar in Sonoma

My first stop was J Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg. It just happened that they were having an open house to show off their new Garden Pavilion. Guests can reserve a table with a garden view and then enjoy J wines including their Sparkling Brut and a selection of wonderful pinot noirs.

The garden was lovely, but it was during a heat wave, so I took refuge inside the modern tasting room. I love the sculpture behind the bar, a wall of rusty metal studded with shards of glass. I sipped a glass of 2000 J Sparkling Brut, which was perfectly creamy yet alive with citrusy flavor.

The other attraction was caviar from Tsar Nicoulai in San Francisco, which included sevruga and a rainbow of their new naturally flavored whitefish caviars. The assortment included a green wasabi caviar, a golden ginger flavored one and my favorite, a luminous brown caviar infused with white truffle oil. Piled on a blini with creme fraiche, egg yolk and red onions it was heavenly, the perfect accompaniment to a glass of sparkling wine.

In fact, I loved Tsar Nicoulai's tiger's eye caviar so much, I ordered some as soon as I got home. Making blini seemed like alot of work, so I piled some on top eggs flavored with chives one morning.

Bringing home a bottle of wine from every winery wasn't feasible, so I settled for a bottle of tiny bubbles, the kind you blow.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Bubbly Girl's Sparkling Wine Goodwill Tour

So it's been a busy summer. Especially so since I'm working on gathering material and getting support from important people in the world of sparkling wine and Champagne for my book, The Bubbly Girl's Guide. I never even got to tell you about my fabulous trip to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen!

In late July, I headed north to Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties with one goal: to visit every major sparkling wine producer in the area. Did I make it? You'll have to keep reading to find out...

My first stop was at my friends' home where we shared a simple welcome dinner of figs wrapped in prosciutto, a garden tomato salad with fresh herbs and goat cheese and grilled chicken breasts.

Our beverage? Bubbly of course. In this case, it was Iron Horse Vineyard's wonderfully creamy and refreshing Wedding Cuvee with a twist. The crystal flutes were filled with fresh blueberries first, which I'm told is one of Joy Sterling's favorite ways to enjoy bubbles. And don't you love Iron Horse's sexy new labels?