06 August, 2016

#LoCA for Lodi: Wine and Roses, Acquiesce to Good Taste

Long had I dreamt of visiting Wine and Roses, a resort and spa in Lodi, California.  When @Luscious_Lushes Thea added me to her agenda, I jumped at the chance to tag along.

Wine and roses are two of my favorite things (okay, my favorite thing and some flowers).  Now, I add this fabulous resort to my list of favorite things and I can't wait to go back during the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference.

Wine and Roses is set in a lovely spot, lush with greenery and built for relaxation.  The rooms are large and well appointed; I toured the best Napa had to offer for my day job, and Wine and Roses, if ranked among them, would finish in my top two.

For one thing the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center is conveniently adjacent to Wine and Roses.  This enables a super efficient mini-break, as you could literally drive to Turner Road, park the car, taste and stock up on wine, have an amazing meal, spa treatment, and night's sleep before you would have to leave the property.  I suggest a stop at Delta Farmers Market for souvenirs like peaches, jams, wine you forgot to buy, or Snickerdoodles. You will still be back to the Bay in a flash.

Sue Tipton of Acquiesce Wines
Efficiency can be luxurious. However, take a beat.  You will want to stay longer.  We were super lucky to be hosted by Wine and Roses for our stay in the Lodi AVA. We were also treated to dinner with the wonderful Sue Tipton, owner and winemaker of Acquiesce Winery,  Sue worked with the culinary team at the Towne House Restaurant, headed by John Hitchcock, to create a sumptuous tasting menu featuring her beautiful wines.

As the sun set, we dined on course after course of perfectly matched wine with food.  I was in the middle of a wine and food pairing class and it felt like studying perfection as each of the plates meshed with Sue's amazing wine.

At Acquiesce, Sue works with Rhone grape varieties to produce delicious white wines and roses. They are meant to provide an experience---a moment of luxury and good taste. Incorporate them into your quotidian maelstrom or add them to your gourmand lifestyle.  They will enable the act of sitting  back to enjoy your time and loved ones.

The bottle itself  has a curvy, elegant shape that telegraphs a message of quality. Its tactile weight  at once makes you stop to take a moment to consider, and surrender.  That white flag I was waving was my napkin, signalling more please.

2015 Picpoul Blanc
We started with the 2015 Picpoul Blanc.  Picpoul is one of my favorite Rhone varieties, but you don't see it much as it can be shockingly acidic.  This wine had lovely balance and an interesting note of pineapple.  Sue said Lodi's Picpoul expresses itself differently and deliciously.  Pairing the lush briny oysters with this taut wine was delightful.  Chef John incorporated Yuzu Pearls into the dish.  Pearls are made by combining a flavored liquid with an alginate like agar agar then dropping them into a reagent bath so a thin coating forms around the flavoring liquid. Yuzu, an exotic Asian citrus, created a fragrant (and literal) pop of acid that married well with the flavor and texture of the wine.
2014 Rousanne

We then moved on to the 2014 Rousanne,  which was paired with seared Foie Gras on a round of toasted brioche with pear gelee and brunoise of pear .  If I end up in Hell, it will be because of my deep love of foie gras.  This meltingly delicious plate of food was a perfect match for the wine.  The Rousanne has a lovely minerality and notes of stone fruit, but also notes of pear.  They initially tried the dish with apples, but Sue's amazing palate suggested pear would strike a better note.  It did.

Once sweetness, acidity, and textural components are balanced, what moves a food paring to synergy is that element of magic, where the flavors in a dish match or contrast with the wine.  Sue mentioned her love of Rousanne, though it is difficult to cultivate in the US, with less than 300 acres planted.  She had Rousanne paired with foie gras in the heart of the Rhone, Chateau Neuf du Pape (CdP), and loved it.  Literally an inspired pairing.

Spicy Tuna Tartare
It kept getting better.

2015 Grenache Blanc  with Spicy Tuna Tartare was my favorite pairing of the meal.  The third course was alchemically delicious with all the elements in balance.  The flavors all worked in concert, despite  a higher degree of difficulty by pairing what can be ubiquitous, tuna tartare, and also, handling the spiciness of wasabi.  The Rousanne elevated an already sparkling dish. There were many contrasts as well: creamy, perfect Central Valley avocado, against the crisp snap of a lotus chip, unctous fish against the lovely Rousanne.  Basically, food and wine heaven.

It still kept getting better.

But I lost the light and now I just feel bad, since you weren't there.  Suffice to say, my favorite hard to pair varietal, 2015 Viognier danced a culinary tango with Billi Bi, a saffron infused soup featuring mussels,  And I eschewed my culinary prohibition about eating Disney characters with a 2014 Belle Blanc paired with Rabbit three ways.  Buh bye, Thumper! You were tasty.  Especially accompanied with a CdP insprired blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Rousanne that makes up the Belle Blanc blend.

We ended with a tour of the kitchen, where all the hard work took place and thanked the wonderful team who produced such an amazing meal.  Can you tell we had an awesome time?
Behind the Scenes 
Good night, BCL!
I ended where you will likely find me #goingrogue at the Wine Blogger Conference: In the lounge at Wine and Roses sampling warm cookies and listening to live music, before slipping off to my comfy bed and the sleep of the righteous.

I have been back several times and it keeps getting better.  I even joined the Wine club, which I almost never do, as an excuse to go back,  to drink deeply of the great taste of Lodi

Many thanks to Wine and Roses. Towne House Restaurant, Sue Tipton of Acquiescse Winery and Charles Communication for hosting me at this dream fulfilling event

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