Incredible Wine-Dine Experience at Tahoe's West Shore Cafe

NV Billecart-Salmon
Brut Reserve Champagne
I always have such an incredible wine experience when I do a tasting at the West Shore Café.  What makes me feel good about sharing that information with you is that I know all customers are treated equally – and that is, with elegance, attention to detail, and concern for the customer and his palate.

“It’s an elegant tradition to start a meal with a Champagne toast,” noted our host.  We began with NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve from Champagne, France.  This Champagne is mostly Chardonnay, with a nice clean and refreshing taste of green apple fruit and some floral flavors too.  The tiny bubbles deliver a nice acidity and great balance.  12 percent alcohol. $69 the half-bottle.

Freeman Ryo-Fu
Our starters, the Dungeness crab fritter and a gnocchi with hedgehog mushrooms and truffles, definitely called for a Chardonnay.  The 2010 Freeman Ryo-Fu Chardonnay from Russian River Valley was perfect.  Ryo-Fu, translated from the Japanese, means “cool breeze” and yet this wine is ripe and fruit-forward as the grapes had a chance to mature in August of that foggy 2010 summer.  An aroma of peach and pear leads to subtle fruit flavor including pear and anise, tropical tones of pineapple and mango, and the finale is a rich and mouth-filling and lingering finish.  14.1 percent alcohol.  $15 the glass, $56 the bottle.

The 2011 McKinlay Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, was a Burgundian-styled Pinot Noir that paired magnificently with both the cauliflower steak and the King salmon.  The McKinlay family, with over a hundred years experience farming in Oregon, have produced a juicy wine that is a classic Pinot Noir.   The aroma of currant and cherry is followed by a silky mouthfeel and flavors of black fruit and spice. It has a nice sweetness and a good refreshing finish.  12.5 percent alcohol.  $14 the glass/$50 the bottle.

Another excellent pairing with the main courses was the Carol Shelton 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel, Wild Thing, from Mendocino County, is a blend of 78% Zinfandel, 12% Carignane,7% Petite Sirah and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon  This winemaker, called the “Queen of Zin”, writes on the winery website:  “This wine is dangerously good.  Aromas of black cherry, plum and raspberry fruit combine with a beautiful hint of vanilla-oak loveliness, smoothly textured in mouth, very creamy and round, the finish is long and has lush jammy fruit”.   14.5 percent alcohol.  $12 the glass/$44 the bottle.

The West Shore Café  is on the lakefront adjacent to Homewood Mountain Resort, at 5160 West Lake Boulevard in Homewood.  Phone 530 525 5200 for reservations.  More information at

p.s. those of us who are fortunate enough to live a short distance from this wonderful restaurant and its great outdoor bar/patio on the lakeshore do honestly believe that "The West Shore is the Best Shore."   

This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Time column, on May 23, 2013.   

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