The winery in Vallecito (Sierra foothills) started with the purchase of the land in January 2002 by Jeff Stai and his wife Mary. Jeff, previously an electrical engineer in Southern California had spent a lot of time in the Calaveras and Alpine foothills. Jeff’s idea of building his own winery, with his detailed background, merged the two disciplines rather easily. This is the beginning of the paradox. Wine is a creative and an experiment at best coupled with science and the whims of a farmer at the beckon of Mother Nature. For more of the complete story you can read it by clicking:
The Wine – 2016 The Spaniard
Pulled this last night out of the cellar to go with our meal. The 2016 Spaniard is a unique wine made in the Rioja style blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Grenache. The respective percentages are 46%, 31% and 23%. The wine is finished in 30% new French, American and Hungarian oak and 70% being neutral oak. This is a big hearty, bold and beautiful wine not for the faint of heart wine drinkers. When you roll up these three you get a blast of flavors. First on the eyes, a deep dark red/purple, almost black in color and medium-heavy viscosity. On the nose a symphony of the three varieties meet and you are met with bold black cherry, blackberries and faint violet, waft into the senses. On the palate, one savors an oak & cedar combination, earthiness (dust), pipe tobacco, aged leather, with a tinge of sweetness of vanilla. Definitely Christmas spices from the Grenache are present. The finish is extremely long with cinnamon and black pepper being present to close the symphony. The 1812 Overture Symphony comes to mind with the crescendo being the cannons. Tannins are very present with some jaggedness but tempered with the fruit. The current release is the 2017 with a slightly different percentage mix and listed at $55/bottle.
The Food & Wine Pairing
The dinner this evening was a Yuzu chicken stir-fry. For those not familiar with Yuzu, it is a fruit the size of a small grapefruit which are aromatic. Not typically eaten as a fruit, but a common ingredient in many Japanese dishes. The outer rind is used like lemon zest and the juice like lemon juice. The flavor is tart, fragrant and somewhere between a grapefruit with just a little mandarin orange. Others believe it is more akin to a lime than a lemon. The chicken breast was cut up and marinated in Yuzu Barbecue Sauce from Bachan’s. Stir-fried in sesame oil with garlic and ginger. Sautéed and served with Yuzu Sauce and topped off with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. Accompanied by rice, sautéed snow peas and a fresh garden salad. The wine with its full symphony and bold flavors was a great pairing with this chicken dish.
This wine was truly a wonderful and big treat with dinner this evening.