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WINE

BYOB Wine & Dine Dinner
updated: May 20, 2010, 8:46 AM

By Marc Liberts

About once a month, Spiritland Bistro in Santa Barbara has a BYOB Wine & Dine dinner. Wednesdays's topic was chardonnay. Each participant brings a bottle of wine to share, and the restaurant provides dinner and a wine maker. We started by pairing the chardonnays with 3 cheeses from C'est Cheese in Santa Barbara: Pleasant Ridge Reserve Wisconsin cow's milk cheese & Campo de Montalban cow/goat/sheep cheese & Seascape California cow & sheep's milk cheese. All paired very nicely with the chardonnays.

Tonight, we were honored to be joined by Greg Brewer of Brewer-Clifton, Melville, and Diatom. Greg talked about the DIATOM - Clos Pepe Chardonnay and Brewer-Clifton Mount Carmel Santa Rita Hills chardonnays he shared with us. We also had the chance to listen to Greg talk about his thoughts about the versaility of the chardonnay grape, and the various ideologies he employes when making his chardonnays. Spiritland starded us with a chilled corn & sun-dried tomato chowder, followed by Local Thorny Head Snapper with Caper-Lemon-Butter Sauce over Lima Bean Mash, with Roasted Market Veggies, and a dessert of Strawberry Clafoutis.

All the wines provided by Greg Brewer and brought by the guests were good or better. My overall favorite was the 2008 Rombauer Vineyards Carneros chardonnay. It was classic California chardonnay - fruity - toasty - and oaky with a nice light buttery polish. I also liked the Walter Hansell, but it is a bit stinky for my taste. I was very pleasantly surprised by the Luli Santa Lucia Highlands - it was excellent! I liked the Diatom Clos Pepe Vineyard, but it was a bit too acidic for my palate. I also liked Greg's Brewer Clifton Mount Carmel as well. However, I've had his Brewer Clifton Sea Smoke, and I liked it better. Overall, all the chardonnays that we tried were good or better.

Spiritland Bistro provides an excellent venue to try lots of different wines of the same varietal on a regular basis. I again highly recommend attending their BYOB Wine & Dine events if you enjoy great wine, cheese, and food.

My favorite top 3 chardonnays of the night were:

1. ROMBAUER VINEYARDS - Carneros Chardonnay

2. LULI - Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

3. CHASSEUR - Sonoma County Chardonnay

As always, I encourage everyone to try many different wines and pick your own favorite!

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