The matching of foods with wine varietals is a special culinary art in its own right. This matching of food and wine has been a hallmark of the Ventura Chapter of Wine Investigation for Novices and Oenphiles, WINO for short. Each month wines from an individual winery are coupled with the artistry of a restaurant chef.
Now in its third decade, under the guidance of Jeanne Bartlett, the Wino group met last evening at the Residence Inn in Oxnard where Executive Chef James Smith showed a menu that perfectly matched the vintages of Rancho Sisquoc Winery. It is located in northern Santa Barbara County adjacent to the Sisquoc River, east of Santa Maria.
We had the opportunity to meet with Sarah Holt Mullins, brand ambassador and assistant winemaker, as well as her mother, Mary Holt. The Holts have managed the ranch and vineyards since 1975. Originally a cattle ranch grapes were planted in 1952 and now include fifteen varietals with 300 acres of vineyards.
The menu opened with a salad of baby spinach with apples, candies walnuts and bleu cheese which was served with Rancho Sisquoc 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, a wine we thought outstanding.
Next was pumpkin and mascarpone ravioli with 2010 Tre Vini, a blended red of Sangiovese, Syrah and Malbec.
There were two entrees, the first broiled pork loin with spiced quince and apple chutney accompanied by Sisquoc 2011 Merlot followed by grilled breast of chicken with Creole sauce and a 2011 Pinot Noir.
Dessert was handmade chocolate truffles and chocolate dipped strawberries with 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. All three of these Sisquoc red varietals rated high on our score card, as did the talents of Chef James Smith.