Silver Mountain Vineyards makes quite a few varietals but is very well known for its Chardonnay. Winemaker Jerold O’Brien was one of the first in the Santa Cruz Mountains to plant 100-percent organically farmed Chardonnay grapes—and this was back in the ’80s, when very few people were thinking “organic.”
The 2013 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains ($34) is all estate-grown and bottled, and made in the style of French Burgundy “to showcase our estate vineyard,” says O’Brien. “The Mount Eden clone is rich in flavor, and hearkens back to Martin Ray and the early days in the Santa Cruz Mountains,” he says of planting his vines a long time ago. And with three decades of experience under his belt, O’Brien certainly knows his vines and his wines. He produces some fabulous Chardonnays—the estate 2013 being no exception. Elegant and complex, it has a beautiful nose of vanilla and citrus peel, with subtle aromas of minerals, pineapple, yellow apple, and delicate herbs. On the palate, this zesty wine is citrusy, creamy and refreshing. I paired it with one of my favorite things to eat, salmon, first enjoying a glass as I cooked it. This Chardonnay also pairs well with many kinds of cheese, especially French Brie.
Silver Mountain Vineyards, 402 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 408-353-2278. Open Friday through Sunday. silvermtn.com.
Wine Events: Dare to Pair
Cabrillo College Culinary Arts students are teaming up once more with Surf City Vintners (including Silver Mountain) for the eighth annual Dare to Pair food and wine challenge. The competition will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 23 in the Surf City Vintners’ tasting rooms in the Swift Street Courtyard complex in Santa Cruz. Enjoy enticing appetizers prepared by Cabrillo’s culinary students, paired with fine wines from participating wineries, and then vote on your favorites. Then have yet more fun at the Awards Ceremony and After Party until 5 p.m.—featuring live music by West X Southwest. Tickets are $75. Visit daretopair.org for more info.