We had a friend from Greece staying with us for two weeks, and it was a joy to show her around the Santa Cruz area. On her last night, we went to Au Midi in Aptos—owned by French couple Muriel and Michel Loubiere. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best local restaurants, and I’m always impressed with the food. Chef Muriel prepares the most exciting and innovative cuisine with a delicious French flair.
Taking along a zesty 2013 Zinfandel by Bottle Jack (corkage fee is $15) turned out to be a good move. This excellent Zin paired well with all of our entrees, especially with my husband’s hearty beef stew.
Bottle Jack winemaker John Ritchey says of this Santa Cruz Mountains Zinfandel, “OK, maybe not an Italian variety, but very closely related to one,” with “cherry, raspberry, blood orange, tea leaves and juniper with a black pepper finish.” What he really means is that it has all of the boldness of an Italian Zinfandel, with the sweet-tart flavor of blood orange adding extra pizzazz. At $28, it is an excellent buy. Ritchey says the grapes are harvested from dry-farmed, self-rooted, head-trained vines, and the Zin is one of their flagship reds. It was also a gold-medal winner in the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Bottle Jack is open from noon to 4 p.m. every third weekend for wine tasting, and I suggest you head on out and meet the winemaking team of John and his wife Katharine. The next weekend they’re open is Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16. April 15 also happens to be Passport Day, when many wineries are open to the public for a complimentary tasting—if you buy a Passport from the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, that is. Check their website at scmwa.com for more information on Passport events.
Bottle Jack Wines, 1088 La Madrona Drive, Santa Cruz, 227-2288. bottlejackwines.com.