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Wednesday evening saw lively American diner Automat play host to 50 Square Meal readers at a California wine and food tasting of rare diversity. The atmosphere was relaxed, the wine flowed and chef Sujan Sarkar excelled in producing high-spec canapés to match the vinous treasures on offer.
Following a glass of rich and toasty Roederer Quartet from the Anderson Valley, served with a fresh-tuna tartare with avocado and tomato, guests enjoyed cool-climate Marimar Estate Chardonnay and Carmel Road Pinot Noir, complex Silverado Cabernet and Rodney Strong Merlot as well as perfumed, brooding Quivira Zinfandel . A fascinating pair of elegant Sauvignon Blancs from Cakebread and Honig showed how good this varietal can be from California, while Hahn Pinot Gris was a winning combination with a lobster cappuccino.
What the evening did best was show off the food-friendliness of these wines. Ceviche of scallop with lime and ginger married beautifully with the Sauvignon Blancs, the Chardonnay added a zesty seasoning to frogs’ legs with butter, while confit duck and pork croquettes complemented the Pinot Noir, and beef with mushroom and blue cheese made a triumphant match with the Cabernet Sauvignon.
‘The enthusiasm for California wine was self-evident’ said co-host John McLaren, California Wines’ UK director, who introduced all the wines throughout the evening. ‘The state’s diversity of offering and clear value in the £10-30 bracket again shone through’.
As Europe's classic fine wine regions have risen continually in price over the past decade, California’s offering stacks up well against what Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône are delivering at this price level.
Thanks to all those who joined in this excellent evening. We look forward to seeing both old and new friends at the next tasting soon.