(Editor?s note: This month, wine columnist Jason Jenkins visits four Petaluma restaurants, bringing a bottle of a different local pinot noir to each restaurant to pair with a dinner entree.)
The first restaurant I visit is Pazzo, owned by the sweet pair of Bill and Beverly. Here, I paired their raspberry duck with the spectacular pinot noir from Ridgeway Vineyards.
To the tune of some soft salsa music, I raise my wine to my nose and the Ridgeway fruit seems to almost permeate through the skin on my face and into my mind.
Raspberries and mountain strawberries make this a truly fruit forward wine, its creative processes embellishing in the love of a sweet grandmother?s garden. The fruit is round and whole, yet luscious and soft. My first bite of duck simply melts on my tongue. Initially, the crisp skin delicately clings to my mouth until my teeth seamlessly fall through the soft meat.
The oil from the skin resonates, the ground pepper heightens, and as I pull the last of the Framboise (pronounced fram-bwah) juices, the soft glide of one of the best pinot noirs in California takes this dish to a whole different level.
The creaminess of the Ridgeway pinot balances perfectly with the crispy, salty skin. The acidity dances on the softness of the tender duck meat and rests gently on the cold-climate tannins. This is a match made in heaven in a restaurant just two miles from where this extraordinary pinot noir is grown.
In fact, all four wineries that I?m pairing with these spectacular restaurants are all very close to our home. Overall, the service was spectacular, and who in town is more friendly than Beverly?
My second stop is Vino Grigio, where I paired Antonio?s beautiful rabbit dish with the Roessler Griffin?s Lair pinot noir. I first cheat and have a glass of the wine before I begin eating. It?s amazing. Layered and deep and dark, its silky texture runs to every part of my mouth, seemingly hanging like thick fruit stalagmites slowly dripping apart and fusing into my palate. This wine is a perfect pairing for the wonderful rabbit.
With beautiful decor, this restaurant on Western Avenue is the newest of shining stars that have popped up in Petaluma in the last decade. My first taste of the meal is incredible. It?s mixed with big green and tan pasta noodles, tossed with olives and wild mushrooms, and is cooked to perfection. This dish is big and full of life and so is the Griffin?s Lair pinot.
Notes of cherries and ripe Santa Rosa plums collide with each beautiful mouthful of the rabbit dish and the lovely tannins stand right up to the rich sauce, making this meal something to smile about. Antonio is a very good chef and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
Call me Daffy, but for my third combination of local pinot and local restaurant, I took the 2005 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard pinot noir over to Risibisi for yet another duck dish ? duck confit. I absolutely love duck, so I wasn?t passing this opportunity up. Again, singing out of the wine are cherries and big raspberries, which seem to grow on a stem and climb out of my glass.