Speed dating California wine….

A couple of months ago I went to a tasting, here in London, of what was being marketed as California ‘benchmark’ wines which left me mightly unimpressed. I just knew California vintners could do better having sampled many on my trips home so I was excited when the Sonoma county Vintners invited me to Goodman Steakhouse in Mayfair for a Winemakers Speed-dating event.  First of all Goodman Steakhouse is a quality place and I knew their wine list so I thought if they’re having it at Goodman, the wines gotta be good. And so they were. We weren’t speed dating the winemakers, we were speed dating their wines. 8 hectic minutes to sip, taste, swirl and spit as well as get as much info from the winemakers as possible. 8 minutes might seem like a long time of one to one contact but the first two wines makers I sat down with, we had barely finished introductions let alone getting around to the wine before the bell rang *DING* and it was time to move on! There were 4 winemakers and their wines scattered around the smaller dining room of Goodman. Jim Pedroncelli, Proprietor and Director of Sales and Marketing at Pedroncelli showing off his 2007 Mother Clone Zinfandel, Rod Berglund President and Wine Maker at Joseph Swan Vineyards with his 2005 Zinfandel and 2007 Pinot Noir, followed by Jeff Stewart Vice President Winemaker at Buena Vista with a 2007 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir and finally Tom Hinde, President and CEO of Flowers Winery with their 2008 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir. Sonoma Valley specializes in the cool climate varietals chardonnay and pinot noir but also grows the more traditional sauvignon blanc and zinfandel further inland. The range of microclimates and zones varies from the cool Sonoma coast to the rolling hillsides of the Russian River Valley to hilltop estates overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I found the wines to be brilliant examples of the best that California can do. Now THIS is what...

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Simi 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon and a Goodman Burger

Amongst my foodie friends there is a subset of them who are obsessed with finding the perfect burger. Like one that, let’s be honest, you can only really get in the States. A good, old-fashioned, tasty and cheap burger. Cheap being the operative word. So far, I haven’t found one that compares to what you can get back home but I did have a very tasty (and pricy) burger the other night with a group of food bloggers at Goodman Steakhouse in Mayfair. This being Mayfair, we were treated to a starter of wagyu carpaccio with shaved parmesan. Definitely not something you’d find on the menu at In-n-Out. After that we settled in to wait for our burgers. And what a burger, only the top cuts going into this sucker. It certainly was very good but it should be at £12 a pop. The Chef came out to talk us through the burger and he disclosed that the secret to such flavourful burgers was chopped onions. I knew it! That’s just what my mom puts in her minced beef when she’s making burgers for the grill. Perusing the wine menu looking for a wine match (well, we were dining in Mayfair), I spied a bottle of ’02 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley for only £40. I was suspicious as to why it was so reasonable but ordered it anyway, thinking if it was bad, I could always tell the foodies they just didn’t know what California wine tastes like! What a lovely wine it was. Very aromatic, berries, leather and many savoury aromas floating around, mingled with spicy, saddle shop notes and even a few whispers of licorice. Swilling it around, it was soft and velvety, full of red and blackberries, again the leather and spice integrated in there with a dark chocolate finish. I really enjoyed this wine, very well balanced and a real steal! I spoke to the manager later and he told me that the wine had fallen into their hands as...

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