Cottonwood features Value Wines, Delicious Food

Cottonwood: Exceptional & Approachable

“The wine and food are far reaching and intensely interesting.”

It’s not often that you hear a wine expert talk about QPR – the Quality/Price Ratio – but Jeff Boyer, wine consultant and wine list developer for Cottonwood Restaurant in Truckee, is not hesitant to use this phrase to describe his philosophy about wine. That’s one of the reasons that the wine list at Cottonwood is so exceptional and approachable for diners. You must experience it for yourself.

Cottonwood’s history is impressive. The website (www. notes that today’s popular restaurant overlooks downtown Truckee “from within one of the nation's oldest ski lodges. At the turn of the century, the land on which Cottonwood stands was owned by one of Truckee's most prominent citizen, Charles F. McGlashan, who purchased it from railroad developer Charles Crocker who is considered by most to be the main proponent of winter recreation in the region.”

Winter or summer, the views are far reaching and intensely interesting. The wine and food equally so!
As you relax into the view, you can enjoy a glass of Albariño -- one of my favorite summer wines – that was presented with a Thai coconut curry soup . The Paco & Lola Albariño from Rias Biaxas, Spain, practically dances on the palate – appropriately so, as the wine is named after famous flamenco dancers! Flavors of pineapple, white flower, lots of tropical notes. A golden color. 12.5% alcohol. $35/bottle.

One of Cottonwood’s signature dishes, Caesar salad, features dressing made to order for each salad. It’s a garlic-lover’s delight, and garlic can present wine pairing challenges. Jeff chose the 2007 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, a “signature wine” in his opinion, and it was perfect with the Caesar. This can be considered an iconic wine; Merry Edwards was the first wine maker at Matanzas Creek. Most of the fruit comes from Bennett Valley, and although it is a very simple wine by itself, it tastes like a party in the mouth alongside the Caesar. 13.5% alcohol. $24/Half-bottle.

Another pairing with the Caesar is the 2008 Longboat Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand. Longboat uses grapes from higher altitude vineyards – not exactly a mountain wine like my Sierra favorites, but still vineyards up to 1,000 feet in this case means that there is a bit more spice, particularly overtones of green bell pepper, in this wine. The grapes are handpicked and selected row by row. The result is a balanced acidity, flavors of grapefruit and then a nice spiciness. 12.5% alcohol. $8/glass, $31/bottle.

The 2007 Pinot Noir from Stoller, Dundee Hills, is testimony to hard work by the winemaker, as 2007 was a difficult year for pinot. Located in the heart of Oregon's Willamette Valley, Stoller’s owners blend vineyard stewardship with environmental sustainability, and this was recognized in 2006 when Stoller became the first LEED® certified winemaking facility in the United States to attain the rare Gold level certification. Their pinot is fruit forward, balanced, and complex. You might smell and taste cinnamon, clove, and assorted red fruits, with a nice oakiness and yet sweetness too. 13.5% alcohol. $38/bottle. Paired with butternut squash ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce with pepitas and baby spinach.

If you believe in saving the best for last, pay attention now! The restaurant’s braised 5-Dot Farms beef shortrib, in red wine and molasses au jus, with white cheddar creamy polenta…oh run, don’t walk! A Chilean red, a French Vine de Pays Grenache blend … The Cottonwood wine list will offer you many great choices, and they will all meet the QPR criteria.

Cottonwood Restaurant is located at 10142 Rue Hilltop (Off Brockway Rd.) in Truckee. Open for dinner at 5:00pm nightly, call (530) 587-5711 for reservations.

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© 2010 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of
The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in June 2010.

Watch for my forthcoming book: "Wineries of the Sierra and Its Foothills". Publication date early Summer 2011, Wine Appreciation Guild Publishing.

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