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Saturday, 21 December 2013 23:49

December 20, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week


Koehler Riesling bottle Picmonkey

2011 Riesling


Producer: Koehler Winery

Appellation: Santa Ynez Valley

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: $14


“Aromas of melon, peach and a bit of honeysuckle in this Riesling from a cooler region of Santa Barbara County. At 1% residual sugar (RS), it's well within dryness profile to qualify as a food wine. There's a reasonable presence of acidity to offset the sweetness. More papaya and tropical fruit characteristics than apple. Surprisingly light considering the alcohol level, yet balanced and a wine we found delicate and attractive.”

Food Affinity: “Could be used as a pre-dinner aperitif with nuts or crackers and soft cheese with chives, or after dinner with pieces of fruit for an alternative to rich and sticky pie or cake desserts. Could also accompany main courses that had a little 'bite' to them (chicken breast slices in a light cream sauce with Mandarin orange sections and sliced almonds?) or spicy Szechwan or Thai dishes.”


Wilson Banks Matteis Tavern PicmonkeyChef Robbie Wilson and wife Emily Perry Wilson join Ali and Charles Banks in toast to new venture. (Kara Block Photography)

Los Olivos, CA November 13, 2013 - Los Olivos, the small township at the heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country, recently celebrated the opening of Mattei’s Tavern, a restaurant housed in an historic stagecoach stop originally founded in 1886. Felix Mattei, the property’s first restaurateur and hotelier, provided sustenance to travelers in the early days of the Southland.

New owners, Charles Banks and wife, Ali, (Terroir Selections, Mayacamas Vineyards) and Chef Robbie Wilson and wife, Emily Perry Wilson, have re-imagined Mattei’s Tavern, the result of which is a modern, warm and inviting interior that marries a luxe country aesthetic with contemporary design elements.

The new Mattei’s Tavern menu, conceptualized by the highly creative Robbie Wilson, features two culinary chapters, if you will, highlighting fare inspired by Felix Mattei, under the title “1886” and whimsical, modern fare under the chapter “2013”.

The “1886” chapter of the menu features, among other dishes, a thirty-two ounce, dry-aged Cote de Boeuf for two. The “2013” chapter of the menu features “Morro Bay’s Greatest Hits,” a dozen fresh oysters served on a vintage turn table with sweet shrimp, hamachi and a Tabasco “slushy”; “Crunchy Sea Creatures”, featuring a selection of fresh seafood prepared in a masa tempura, is served in an informal seaside sand bucket, with an uni tarter sauce, among other contemporary creative selections.

A born and bred Texan, Managing Partner and Chef, Robbie Wilson, has manned the stoves of some of the globe’s most lauded restaurants, including Maison Troisgros, Craft, and The French Laundry. Wilson also served as Executive Chef of Matsuhisa in Aspen. Under him, this branch of the world-renowned brand secured its highest Zagat rating.

In 2010, Wilson was sought by an emerging restaurant group in Nashville, Tennessee—M Street Entertainment Group--to head the culinary development of several yet-to-be-opened restaurants, and improve upon those in existence. From inception, Wilson designed, inspired and created the culinary aspects of celebrated spots Kayne Prime and Tavern, and enhanced the local favorite Whiskey Kitchen and decade-old Virago. As Culinary Director of the company, Wilson helmed this collection of diverse concepts as each one flourished in the press and with patrons.

Joining Wilson on the floor at Mattei’s Tavern is wife, Emily Perry Wilson and General Manager, Jason Smith both whom set the tone for friendly, warm hospitality.

Wine & Beverage Director Stephane Colling has created an international wine list, featuring local wines, as well as rare and coveted wines from around the world. Colling, who was born in Alsace, near Stasbourg, France, studied at Oxford University. His pedigree includes successful stints at the Michelin three-star Waterside Inn in Bray, England, The Castle in Tarrytown, New York, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, and The Modern, where he served as Wine Director. In 2006, The Modern earned the Wine Spectator “Best of” Award of Excellence.

The restaurant property includes bocce ball courts and an outdoor pizza oven, as well as a dining area situated romantically within a small cornfield. “My wife Ali and I arrived here in the Santa Ynez Valley 13 years ago, says Banks. “Since then, we’ve planted some deep roots here. There are tremendous resources in this area for locally grown vegetables, fruits as well as great local purveyors of olive oil, meat, eggs, honey…you name it. It will be exciting to see what Robbie can create from the bounty Santa Ynez Valley provides,” he continues.

Wilson adds, “Our collective vision is to add to the food, wine and lifestyle culture of Los Olivos in ways that will honor its history, while also adding value to its vibrant future. This is a great American town, and it’s been a privilege to become a part of this community.”

Editor's note: If you'll be visiting Santa Barbara County, you may want to check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. In it you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of area wineries and craft beer specialists.

LosOlivosCafeWineMerchantInterior2010 PicmonkeyInterior at the Los Olivos Cafe

October 24, 2013 Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County, California – The Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café has been named one of the “Top 100 restaurants with the most notable wine lists in the USA” by Opentable.com diners.

Owned by Sam and Shawnda Marmorstein, The Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café was also the winner of the 2012 Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence”— one of only 878 restaurants in the world that received this coveted ‘two wine glass’ award.

Of the latest Opentable accolade, Sam Marmorstein said, “We are so proud to be honored as the only restaurant in Santa Barbara County; and one of only 21 restaurants in California out of 100 nationwide to be recognized this year. This is our second year in a row to be named to this prestigious list.” The Opentable award reflects the opinions of more than 5 million reviews for more than 15,000 restaurants between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013. (entire winners list)shawndasam marmorstein--owners of Los Olivos Cafe PicmonkeySam and Shawnda Marmorstein

The casual yet elegant Café (as seen in the 2004 award-winning movie Sideways) serves fresh, local wine-friendly cuisine for lunch and dinner daily. The Wine Merchant features over 500 local and international vintages and is the exclusive distributor of owner Sam Marmorstein’s Bernat Wines.


Editor's note: Planning a visit to Santa Barbara County? In Taste California Travel's Resource Directory you'll find a link to the website of the Los Olivos Café, as well as links to the sites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as those of Central Coast wineries and craft beer specialists.



CharlesBanks BobLindquist ByJeremyBall PicmonkeyCharles Banks and BobLindquist in photo by JeremyBall

Santa Barbara County, CA October 14, 2013 - Charles Banks and Terroir Selections have acquired a majority stake in Santa Maria Valley’s iconic Qupé winery, long considered one of America’s finest Syrah producers. Founder and winemaker, Bob Lindquist, will assume the role of partner, while Louisa Sawyer Lindquist will continue to assist with sales. Moving forward, both parties are committed to improving quality at Qupé.

“I am thrilled to work alongside a gifted winemaker and legend like Bob Lindquist,” says Banks. He continues, “Bob has been a steadfast visionary of Syrah for decades. Few have done as much as Bob to advance awareness for Syrah in the United States. I love Syrah and have wanted to work on a meaningful Syrah project for a number of years now. With an infusion of capital from Terroir Selections, Bob and I are both confident that we can strengthen Qupé’s future allowing it to remain the benchmark in American Rhone-inspired wines.”

Lindquist has long been considered one of Santa Barbara wine country’s visionaries. While a tour guide in the late ‘70’s at Zaca Mesa, Lindquist learned to make wine from his co-workers and friends; Jim Clendenen, who at the time was assistant winemaker, Ken Brown, who was winemaker, and Adam Tolmach, who was the enologist. All three, who became successful winery owners themselves, worked at Zaca Mesa during Santa Barbara wine country’s nascent era.

Founded in 1982, Qupé will continue to share a winery with Clendenen’s Au Bon Climat on the esteemed Bien Nacido vineyard; an agreement that was made between Lindquist and Clenenden in1989, when they brought their winery projects together under one roof. Lindquist and Clendenen continue to mentor a new generation of winemakers, including Paul Lato, Gavin Chanin, Gary Burk, Josh Klapper and Rajat Parr, among many others.

Banks adds, “My wife, Ali, and I have been in Santa Barbara County for 13 years, and we’ve set down some roots here, first with Jonata, and later with Sandhi and Mattei’s Tavern (a four-way partnership between Ali and Charles Banks, and Emily Perry Wilson and Chef Robbie Wilson) and now with Qupé.

Qupé Winery will join Banks’ Terroir Selections portfolio, which includes Sandhi (Sta. Rita Hills, with celebrated sommelier-turned-winemaker, Rajat Parr), Mayacamas and Leviathan (Napa Valley), Wind Gap (vineyard designates throughout California), Mulderbosch, Fable and Marvelous Range (South Africa); Maison L’ Oree (France), and Cultivate, a philanthropically-minded brand sourcing fruit from around the world.


Editor's note: Planning a trip to Santa Barbara wine country? You find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory, as well as links to the websites of all the wineries. In fact, we also have links to all the craft beer specialists in the area, too!

Sunday, 06 January 2013 19:14

August 2-6, 2017 Old Spanish Days Festival

Region: Central Coast     City: Santa Barbara     Contact: www.oldspanishdays-fiesta.org

Sunday, 06 January 2013 18:50

July 13-15, 2017 California Wine Festival

Region: Central Coast     City: Santa Barbara     Contact: www.californiawinefestival.com

Sunday, 06 January 2013 16:21

July 15-16, 2017 French Festival

Region: Central Coast     City: Santa Barbara     Contact: www.frenchfestival.com

Region: Central Coast     City: Santa Barbara     Contact: www.solsticeparade.com

Region: Central Coast     City: Solvang     Contact: www.solvangusa.com

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