Last Friday, I met a friend at the Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg for their weekly wine tasting. Each week a pouring winery is featured on Friday night from 6:00pm-8:30pm (generally one whose wines are sold by the Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg). Last Friday it was Sapphire Hill http://www.sapphirehill.com/)
from the Russian River Valley.
Linda Fetzer is the Wine Manager at the Healdsburg Oakville Grocery and in addition to the nice selection of wines (both room temp and chilled) that they have for sale in the bottle, they have a selection of wines by the glass (I think you get a 10% break on a bottle if you first have a glass of wine).
We arrived separately at around 6:30pm (I with 2 kids and 2 friends from the East Coast) and the patio was packed with people enjoying the wines, friends and food on a beautiful Sonoma County Friday evening.
A quick survey of the tables lead us to believe that we should go ahead and order our dinner and hope for the best.
Melanie, my friend, had mentioned in a conversation earlier having enjoyed their Rotisserie chicken on a prior occasion so we opted for that and from a dazzling array of salads and pastas we selected the green beans with cherry tomatoes and Feta as well as the Asian noodle salad. We also selected the bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella bathed in olive oil with cherry tomatoes and fragrant fresh basil)to accompany our meal. I also ordered a cheese pizza for the kids - to which I was told it would take 35 minutes (must make note to get there early in future for table and ordering). The East Coast friends were not hungry after a day of eating/wine tasting.
Melanie suggested a bottle of 2000 Dry Creek Zinfandel from Dashe Cellars(~$21)(http://www.dashecellars.com/). Upon arriving outside, we found that my friends had found seating with former co-workers of theirs and seating for our meal was no longer an issue.
The Sapphire Hill wines were excellent, they were pouring a Chardonnay, a Reserve Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel. Melanie (are there enough superlatives for her knowledge of wine and food?) is a disciplined taster and does not ingest the wines she is tasting rather she "spits" them out. Further, much to my dismay, I discovered that Melanie, spits out better wines than I drink!
The Dashe Cellars 2000 Dry Creek Zinfandel was deep and fruity, though one friend, who is partial to Rafanelli, described it as Chocolatey and concentrated. I thought the wine was fine and would buy it again. The Rotisserie Chicken was smallish in appearance (but more than enough for two with sides), though moist and flavorful (salt, pepper and Italian seasonings?). The green beans were perfectly crisp and appeared to have been prepared in Olive oil with a touch of salt - the Feta Cheese chunks and cherry tomatores were equally good, as well. My favorite side was the dish of Asian noodles which were reminiscent of Asian noodles that I had for breakfast
while on business in Singapore. A touch of hot spice made these a nice addition to the meal.
I am a regular (as often as I can) at the Friday night Healdsburg Oakville Grocery store tastings - my kids and wife (if she's made it home from working in the South Bay) can tolerate quite well the atmosphere and
we see several friends frequently and make new acquaintances. Melanie and I agreed that this was an ideal North Bay chow meeting place and that we would meet there again. At that we parted ways, she a short
drive North to her weekend getaway and me a 5 minute drive South to home.
Disclaimer: I am a member of the Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County and, as such, have solicited donations from the Healdsburg Oakville
Grocery for our annual fundraising auction.