Pinot Noir shows off stellar growing season
A Greek friend invited six of us over for dinner, preparing incredibly tasty Hellenic food, including pastitsio, artichokes, a typical Greek “horiatiki” salad, and finishing up with my favorite dessert of galaktoboureko (semolina pie). Along with the popular Greek aperitif ouzo, we had plenty of Retsina wine as well.
I took along a bottle of Comanche Cellars 2012 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($34) for friends to taste—and it was a sure-fire hit. “It was practically an ideal growing season, with perfect conditions for everything from fruit set to slow, even ripening,” says winemaker and owner Michael Simons of this luscious Pinot. “The wine reflects its sunny heritage beautifully, with aromas of a warm afternoon briar patch, roasted plums, cherry tobacco, rosemary and carob,” he adds. Luscious flavors of tangy berries and black cherries are also captured in the bottle, along with nuances of wild sage and chai.
Simons is turning out some excellent wines, and he’ll be opening up a tasting room in Marina—shared with two other wineries—in about a month’s time. Meanwhile, he’s offering a tasting experience at his home and office in Monterey. “It’s a relaxed and fun guided excursion through the winegrowing process as you learn about all the great vineyards where Comanche Cellars wines begin,” he says. The tasting fee, which includes cheese pairings, is $10 per person. He also has a new label, which still depicts the horseshoes belonging to his much-loved steed Comanche. Although Comanche is no longer around, his name lives on in the winery.
Comanche Cellars, 1198 Harrison St., Monterey, 320-7062. comanchecellars.com
Casa Nostra Dinner
Casa Nostra will be hosting Comanche Cellars on Tuesday, March 29. It’s an opportunity to meet Simons and try his award-winning wines. Five small plates of delicious Italian cuisine will be paired with Simons’ wines as you listen to a live jazz duo. Dinner is served in the restaurant’s garden under a canopy with plenty of heaters to keep guests warm. The dinner is from 6-9 p.m. and tickets are $65 (advance ticket sales only).
Casa Nostra, 9217 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond, 609-6132. ristorantecasanostra.com. The menu will be posted on Facebook.