One of my favorite weekend activities is to cruise the Central Coast wineries and tasting rooms north of Santa Barbara. The Central Coast wines keep getting better and better. I previously posted about my tasting of Andrew Murray and Foxen wines. One of my favorite wineries for an overall good time is Curtis Winery, located at the southern end of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail just a few miles east of Highway 101. Curtis, like Andrew Murray, specializes in Rhone-style wines, including Syrah and Viognier. My cellar is presently heavily stocked with Curtis 1997 Heritage Old Vines, which at under $7.00 per bottle is an incredible value. The thing about the Curtis tasting room experience is that its a lot of fun, the result of the playful, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable tasting room staff. You get to taste some very good wine, learn a lot about the philosophy of winemaking at Curtis, and have some laughs and a good time in the process.
Curtis recently started some wine-and-food-pairing events. The first was last May. Matt Wedderburn, one of the tasting room staff, is a talented chef with an extremely impressive resume. At the May event, Matt paired chilled asparagus with feta cheese, toasted walnuts and citrus vinaigrette with two Curtis Viogniers. Then came an absolutely delicious Moroccan spiced chicken with pickled red onion, tomato-harissa reduction, yogurt, and cilantro was paired with the 1997 Heritage Old Vines and a 1999 Heritage Rose, two very different wines that both complemented, but brought out different qualities of, the chicken. The event ended with a vertical tasting of Ambassadors Vineyard Syrah. My wife and I and our guests all had a ball. I left looking forward to the next event.
It so happens that the next Curtis wine-and-food pairing is tomorrow, Saturday, July 14th. Matt is pairing two Viogniers with seared swordfish with spinach, served with a green peppercorn butter and preserved lemon gremolata. He is then pairing Serrano ham with Medjool dates, arugula, and Manchego cheese with two vintages of Curtis Heritage wines. All for the bargain price of $20 per person ($15 if you are a member of the Curtis wine club), and you get to keep the good quality wine goblet as part of the deal. Alas, I was scheduled to be in Phoenix on Saturday. But I had such a great time at the May event, that I canceled my Phoenix trip to be able to take advantage of the event. There are two sessions, at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Highly recommended.