Exceptional Wine at Manzanita Restaurant-Ritz Carlton Northstar

Just simply walking into the lobby at the Ritz-Carlton at Northstar is a delight, and that feeling of luxe starts from that moment. It’s fitting that Traci des Jardins, the celebrated San Francisco master of French-California, would be comfortable lending her reputation and skills to Manzanita, the exceptional restaurant with an exceptional wine list at the Ritz.

The Manzanita restaurant at the Ritz–Carlton is known for its culinary delights, but don’t neglect the wine list when you go there. It is extensive. Many of the wines also are part of the restaurant’s half-glass program, which started as part of the “flights” or carefully-chosen tastes of three or four wines, generally served at the bar with light appetizers. Enjoying three or four different wines in the course of a meal is a pleasure, and the half-glass program will not break your budget.

A nice way to start is with the Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut. It’s a nice minerally sparkler, with tart apple and lemon aromas, and flavors of vanilla, citrus and anise. It’s a great champagne experience, as this winery is the California outpost of Champagne Louis Roederer, and it benefits from that centuries-old tradition of fine winemaking 12% alcohol. $12 glass or $6 half-glass.

The Domaine Laporte Sauvignon Blanc Le Bouquet is a Loire lover’s delight, full of bright and vibrant fresh fruit. 12.% alcohol, $10 glass or $5 half-glass. It paired perfectly with the Agnolotti pasta with ricotta and corn filling in a chicken broth base.

The duck confit, a classic that Manzanita prepares several different ways, is a great pairing with pinot noir. The 2008 Calera Pinot Noir Central Coast is a blend of grapes from Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Benito, and Santa Clara counties. Slightly herbaceous, with flavors of cherries, strawberry, blackberry, cassis, a bit of orange and a hint of black pepper. Wine Enthusiast gave it 91 points. It’s easy to find in stores (in case you want to fix duck confit or try other pairings at home), and is smooth and delightful. 14.4% alcohol, $12 glass, $6 half-glass.

A slightly lighter-in-style pinot also paired well with duck: Freeman Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. You’ll experience spicy, slow-ripening Pinot Noir aromas, with hints of violets and roses. A nice acidity and firm tannins differentiate this from Russian River Valley pinot. 14.1% alcohol, $16 glass, $8 half-glass.

Braised shortribs call for good hearty red wines. The Jules Melange red blend from Barrelhead Wine Company, Napa, was created by winemakers Julianna and Chris Corley. It brings together Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah in a slightly offbeat way that results in a juiciness with flavors of black berry and black cherry, and a touch of white pepper. Nicely balanced, and silky tannins add to its great structure. 14.2% alcohol, $16 glass. We also tasted 2007 Mauritson’s Rockpile Zinfandel "Rockpile Ridge", a big bold zin with great richness, balance and structure. 15.5.% alcohol. $19 glass, $8 half-glass.

Just thinking about the dessert list adds inches to the waistline, but do indulge. There are plenty of dessert wines to choose from too. I am a pushover for Moscato, and the Moscato d’Asti Saracco from Piedmont just wowed me with its honeysuckle and jasmine essence. For those who love fig newtons, be sure you try the Domaine du Mas Blanc Banyuls Rimage 2006, made from Grenache grapes. Yum. 17% alcohol.

Let wine director Jessica Norris and sommelier Gail Oversteg guide you in your wine selections. They do a fine job!

Manzanita is at 13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Court, mid-mountain in Northstar, Truckee, CA 96161. Absolutely call for reservations 530.562.3050 or book on Open Table.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
© 2011 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 March 2011.

Book in Process: "Mountain High Wines: The Sierra and Its Foothills".

No comments:

Post a Comment