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.

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