Food Just Like Grandma Made
A Food and Wine Experience Summer 2011
By Lindy Baker and Judy Tischler
Seghesio Winery is located about ½ mile north of Healdsburg, just off Dry Creek Road. It is a historic winery, having been family owned and run, until its recent sale, since 1901. The winery is best known for its award-winning Zinfandels. Upon entering you will notice a lovely picnic area under the shade of old oak trees.
This tasting was different; unlike any of the others we had attended. The pairing is served at the “family table”; a private room upstairs from the tasting room that seats 8 – 10 people. Chef Peter Janiak serves appetizer-sized portions of family inspired dishes together on one plate; with five wines poured as a flight.
Our host, Andy, met our group in the main tasting room and took us to an upstairs patio where he treated us to a taste of their Pinot Grigio as well as a couple of current releases, then led us on a tour of the winery and barrel room. About 35 minutes later, we were seated upstairs at the family table, Andy explained all the wines we would taste along with a brief description of our “bites”. He encouraged us to explore our own wine pairings rather than pairing specific wines with specific dishes, although the wines were arranged in sequence, as was the tasting plate.
Lindy: You know, while Andy was explaining the wines, I was looking at and taking pictures of the plate and surrounding area and when I went back to fully paying attention I thought “is he still talking about the zin we are going to taste” then I looked at the menu and realized that 3 of the 5 wines were zins.
Judy: Seghesio is famous for their zins, and I agree this was mostly “zin-centric”.
Even though all the food was on one plate, let’s start with the first pairing first:
Chef Peter’s Shrimp and Corn Ravioli with Piquillo Pepper Cream, to be enjoyed with a 2004 Home Ranch Zinfandel.
Judy: I loved the piquillo cream with the zinfandel. Home Ranch Vineyard was Seghesio’s first vineyard and some of the fines are 80 years old. While 90% zin; the bit of carignane and sirah blended in rounded it out well, this was an interesting wine showing great maturity.
Lindy: I found this pairing confused. While the Piquillo cream did work with the zin, the shrimp did not fare as well. Also, there was a sausage patty on the plate that just didn’t seem to fit, although the patty and the sauce might have made a better pairing, IMHO.
Second up: Peter Seghesio’s Chicken Pietro, paired with a 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel.
Judy: The Chicken Pietro was done with a sausage spice where oregano was dominant. There was shrimp in this as well – a little complicated with the roasted red pepper and oregano flavors. Perhaps repetitive?
Lindy: I found the wine brought the oregano to the forefront. I’m not sure that was the desired result.
Next: Uncle Ray’s Meatballs with California Bay Leaf, served with a 2004 San Lorenzo Zinfandel.
Judy: This pork and beef mixture played nicely against a mint quality in the San Lorenzo Zin; perhaps because there is a 20% petit sirah in the cuvee. The bay leaf accent in the meatball was a perfect choice; I noted the delicate violet and rose notes in this wine. I couldn’t resist trying this bite with the Home Ranch Zin and it worked equally as well – again, the bay leaf was a perfect bridge to the blend.
Lindy: This was actually my favorite bite, and favorite pairing. While it wasn’t “pretty” the meatball was very tasty with good back flavor of the bay leaf, and I agree that worked well with the wines; I tried it with all 3 of the zins and they all paired just fine with this bite.
Finally we were served Chef Peter’s Flank Steak with Creamed Spinach, to be enjoyed with a 2006 Home Ranch Petite Sirah.
Judy: Loved the spinach but was that really flank steak? The beef, always a best bet with petit sirah, was just okay. I would have liked to see a pan reduction sauce of jus and petit sirah to help tie it together and bring up the beef flavors.
Lindy: I agree Judy, I don’t think that was flank steak. Whatever kind of steak it was, it was largely flavorless and mine was over-cooked. If you are going to give someone a small portion of something, I think it’s important that the bite be memorable.
A sweet ending was a bit of Rogue Creamery Smoky Blue Cheese drizzled with local orange blossom honey served with a 2005 Dionigia Port.
Judy: This port, crafted from zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and petit sirah grapes was the highlight of my day. Next time, I’ll ask for a more ample portion of the blue cheese to carry me through to the last sip.
Lindy: I did enjoy the port and the pairing was nice as well, albeit a small portion. Although the flavors worked, it seems like Chef could have come up with something more to highlight the deliciousness of the port.
Lindy: I’m going to give this one a thumbs sideways. I thought the plate looked messy with each taste almost on top of the next one; it was hard to keep the flavors separate. And while the winery is known for zin, I would like to see more diversity in the wines served; although admittedly I don’t think you could get a taste of these particular zins without doing the pairing, they are mostly older vintages. I might go back, because they do change their menu monthly, and to see if they are more diverse in their wine selections; but at a $45.00 pp price tag, it was one of the priciest and least memorable ones for me.
Judy: I go with one thump and one thumb own. Thumb down on the repetitious favors on the plate, and I agree, it appeared messy. One thumb way up for the wines; this winery is deservedly renown for exceptional zins and the port is not to be missed .
700 Grove Street Healdsburg, CA
$45.00 pp Reservations Required