Last year, as we were finalizing our Wine Pairing Weekend Calendar for 2018, it made sense to do Carmenere for November — what with Carmenere Day Nov. 24 and all.
But then we in California were hit with fire after fire, and that, added to the fires in Portugal and Spain as well as earlier in Chile made me think that we should focus on wines from fire struck regions; it’s an easy way to support them their time of need and to reflect ton all that we have to be grateful for.
Like Clos de Amis which I wrote about in the invite post and Topa Mountain Winery which I feature below. While the fire impacted everyone in our community in myriad ways, both lost valuable winery assets in the Thomas Fire — in the case of Topa, they lost Tempranillo vines. Topa also hosted a fundraiser where 6k was raised.
But before I get into today’s discussion of this Syrah from Topa, what will other people be posting about and tweeting about this Saturday at 8am Pacific?
- Nancy Brazil of Pull That Cork presents “Failla Hudson Vineyard Syrah & Moroccan Lamb Tagine #WinePW”
- David Crowley of Cooking Chat” suggests “Butternut Squash Risotto with Roasted Garlic and Sonoma Wine.”
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Somm’s Table will “Uphold Ribolla Gialla with Crispy Pork Chops & Braised Cabbage to support California Fire Relief”
- Wendy Klik from A Day in the Life on the Farm says “Let me tell you a story.”
- Camilla Mann of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is “Celebrating Sonoma:
Lamb Lollipops with Cranberry-Apple Mostarda + Wild Ridge Pinot Noir 2014.
- Here on Wine Predator we offer “Post #ThomasFire Gratitudes with The Ojai Vineyard’s 2001 GSM and Duck. for #WinePW.”
If you’re local and you can’t wait to see what wines we’re pairing, check out this Wine Pairing Dinner inspired by the bounty and beauty of Ojai tomorrow Thurs. Nov. 8 from 5-8pm when a “four course dinner will showcase Topa Mountain wines sourced from local vineyards, paired with seasonal California cuisine by Chef Dan Murray of Pedaler’s Fork featuring produce harvested from local organic farms … all whilst being surrounded by vines and views of the Topa Topa mountain range.” Tickets are $100 per person plus tax and 20% gratuity (gratuity and tax brings final price to $128.70) Menu options accommodate vegan, vegetarian and gluten free diets — but not minors! Must be 21 and over to attend.
In anticipation of hosting this Saturday, Sue and I put together a cheese board perfect for a picnic on the expansive ground of Topa Mountain Winery near downtown Ojai in Ventura County.
There’s live music every weekend, you can play bocce ball, corn hole, hang out on comfy couches in the shade, lots of picnic tables, and more. Great place to gather and meet with friends or make new ones.
Inside, the tasting room features a large rock wall on one side and expansive views of the Topa Topa Mountains. A perfect place to watch the famous “pink moment” as the sun sets on the rugged hillsides.
In 2009, Topa Mountain Winery planted their first estate vines in Ojai, including new grapes like Barbera, Tempranillo, Carmenere and Touring Nacionale which join Rhone vines like Syrah, Grenache and Viognier. Topa Mountain also sources grapes from neighboring vineyards in Ventura and nearby Santa Barbara county.
Winemaker Dominic O’Reilly grew up in his family’s winery in the Pacific Northwest, then studied . , Philosophy and Literature in college. In 2010, he began working closely at the Ojai Vineyard in 2010 with Adam Tolmach at the Ojai Vineyard. In 2014, Dominic became head winemaker for Topa Mountain Winery while consulting for wineries and vineyards locally and internationally.
We look forward to visiting the vineyards and interviewing Dominic as well as owner Larry Guerra to learn more about the Topa Mountain story.
2015 – Topa Mountain Winery – Syrah – John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Barbara County – SRP $48
This wine was a gift.
Color: Dense maroon, with a ruby rim, almost a ruby violet rim.
Nose: Baking spices, chai spices, black pepper, dusty blackberry, green thai curry
Palate: Very rich, nicely voluptuous, there is a lot of intensity to this wine. This is a big wine for a cool climate vineyard, maybe due to our years of drought here in California. There are beautiful herbal characteristics to this wine including mint, menthol, and eucalyptus which makes me think about the flavors of green that curry. Lots of fruit but plenty of pepper.
Pairing: At the last minute I threw some cashews from an open bag on the cheese board –really good and made me think about a cashew and blackberry sandwich. It holds up well to sharp salty cheeses, which made us consider a blue cheese burger. Really lovely with the salami and it went well with the humus I made using lemons from my garden and locally grown and made olive oil. This is not a party wine; it really is so much better with food. I’d love to have it with rack of lamb or elk medallions. Yummy with duck.
Go visit the winery and take your picnic with you! Enjoy!