Beaujolais Bistro in Reno. Chef Bill Gilbert is responsible for the wine choices, and he did a wonderful job pairing his signature dishes at a recent wine dinner with a range of wines from Calera Wine Company, grown in vineyards where California’s Central Coast meets its Central Valley.
Calera Wine Company's history goes back more than 30 years, to when owner/winemaker Josh Jensen fell in love with the wines of Burgundy and decided to turn that love into his life's work. How perfect to pair wines from his enterprise with French food!
Chef Gilbert built his chef’s resume in the Lake Tahoe area for twenty years before he opened Beaujolais Bistro in Reno in 2002. It’s a regional favorite for wine dinners featuring (of course) Beaujolais, and Rhone, Languedoc, Pinot Noir, Alsatian, Bordeaux and Loire wines from France as well as America.
At this dinner, we began with Calera’s Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, 2009. Chef Gilbert paired a Jonah crab claw fritter with a tomato-horseradish sauce. This bright pink rose is slightly frizzante with tones of European-style dry red wines. On the nose, citrus, with raspberry and strawberry flavors, a bit of a floral accent, but the red-berry flavors giving it a zip that is perfect with rich foods. 14.5% alcohol. $17/bottle
The almond-crusted lemon sole with wilted spinach and a brown butter-lemon sauce paired perfectly with Calera’s 2009 Chardonnay. The grapes for this wine are a blend from several Central Coast vineyards, and it is a nice buttery chardonnay but not overwhelmingly so, with a honeysuckle and peach bouquet and tones of apple and pear. On the palate, this wine offers spicy oak, ripe apricot and a lemon note that persists through a nice long finish. 13.9% alcohol, $17/bottle.
The Central Coast Pinot Noir 2008 was paired with a pork trotter spring roll by Chef Gilbert. This Calera wine offers spiciness and a pungent cherry-oak tannic quality; it is considered medium-to-full bodied. The Wine Enthusiast calls this a “delicious introduction to the Calera style.” Grapes from a four separate Central Coast counties went into this blend, so it’s like a tour of Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Benito, and Santa Clara. It is bottled unfiltered after aging in French oak for 11 months. Aroma of black cherry, taste of blackberry and cassis results in a wine with a lot of personality. 14.4% alcohol, $25/bottle.
The “Ryan” Pinot Noir 2007, Mt. Harlan, was paired with a black trumpets mushroom mélange with asparagus and cow’s milk cheese. The black fruit richness of this wine will please those who enjoy a tannic experience with earthy foods, and the 93 points awarded this wine by Robert Parker came with this commentary: "From one of the property’s coolest sites, the 2007 Pinot Noir Ryan Vineyard reveals nearly overwhelming notes of sassafras, root vegetables, plums, red currants, and raspberries. It is a spicy, earthy effort with an autumnal-like herbaceousness. Aged 17 months in French oak (30% new), it is a Pinot Noir for those who prefer that varietal’s spicy, stemmy, earthy side. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of fruit in this complex, singular cuvee." 14.8% alcohol. $37/bottle.
Most of the Calera wines are available at Ty Martin’s terrific wine shop, Craft Wine & Beer at 22 Martin Street in Reno, tel 775 622 4333.
For a wonderful French bistro meal, and a great wine list to choose from, make a point to go to Beaujolais Bistro at 130 West Street, Reno. Call 775 323 2227 for reservations. http://www.beaujolaisbistro.com/
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© 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 "Wine Adventures" in June 2011.
Book in Process: "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".