We spent a Friday afternoon recently at the J Winery in Healdsburg, California. We're fortunate to live in Sonoma County and there are many fine wineries all around us. We had reservations for a food and wine pairing experience at 11 am, so we arrived and went right into the Bubble Room.
We were greeted by our server (I apologize, but I cannot recall her name. She was delightful and very knowledgeable) and she spent some time with us to describe the experience we were about to have. We had a copy of the menu to look over and she went into the specifics of what foods we would be tasting and what wine had been selected to pair with it. She had us taste the wine before we tasted the food and explained how the food would change the taste of the wine. In some cases, the wine would taste a lot different after tasting the food. She described what we might experience after the food and wine had a chance to act on our taste buds.
The first course was a Roasted Chestnut-Fennel Soup with Chives and White Truffle Oil. It was paired with a 2008 J Vineyards Chardonnay form the Russion River Valley. We also had Spicy Dungeness Crab Beignets with an Avocado 'Hollandaise' sauce. That was paired with a 2008 J Viognier, Hoot Owl Vineyard from the Alexander Valley.
This was incredible and I could really taste all the interesting flavors that were described to us. Wow, we were all so surprised at how well the wine went with the food!
Next, for the second course, we had:
Second Course - Red Wines
2006 J Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Pan-Seared Pork Medallion, Pumpkin Bread Pudding,
Brussels Sprouts, Membrillo Sauce
2006 J Pinot Noir, Robert Thomas Vineyard
Pinot Noir Braised Local Lamb, Panisses, Butternut Squash Purée
That was followed by the third course:
Third Course - Sparkling Wines
J Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley
Three Beets Three Ways: Roasted, Garnets, Marshmallows
1999 J Vintage Brut, late Disgorged, Russian River Valley
Apple-Apricot Scone, Whipped Crème Fraîche, Granny Smith Apple Butter
For dessert, we had:
J Ratafia, Russian River Valley
Dessert du Jour
After about 2 hours, we had finished the tasting and we made preparations to leave the Bubble Room. I had never experienced a food and wine pairing before. It was a lot of fun and I really appreciated my nephew's kind and generous invitation (thanks Leo!) to attend this special presentation that is so thoughtfully put together by J Winery. I understand that the menu changes every so often, so you can go more than once and have a completely different experience each time.
Afterwards, we bought bottles of wine to give as gifts. I really enjoyed the J Brut Sparkling Rose and the 1999 J Vintage Brut. We will be opening the Brut when we celebrate Christmas this year and sharing it with friends and family. I can't wait!!
The J Winery has been lovingly built up over the last 25 years by Judy Jordan. She founded the winery, and has built a wonderful business by bottling some excellent sparkling wines. From the J Winery website:
"Judy Jordan, Founder and President of J Vineyards & Winery and second generation vintner, chose to honor her family's heritage with a courageous and different path. Respecting her family and the Jordan Winery, Judy decided as a young woman to build her own brand and winery".
We would like to visit the winery again sometime soon. Perhaps in the spring. We live 40 minutes minutes away and the trip is well worth it! We heartily recommend you stop in and try the Bubble Room for yourself!