A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
The Dierberg family-owned wineries teamed up with Japan’s sushi master Chef Kiminari Togawa of Sushi Karaku of Ginza Tokyo, winemaker Tyler Thomas and two impressive advanced sommeliers—Matthew Dulle of Single Thread Farm in Healdburg, CA and Andrew Ivanov of Reeds American Table in St. Louis, MO—to create an incredible, intimate wine and sushi experience.
Energetic powerhouse JiaMin Liang Dierberg coordinated the entire meal, and also proved to be an entertaining Japanese translator for Chef Togawa, explaining, “the style of sushi we are eating is from the Edo Period (in the 1800’s) when the refrigeration system was not sufficient and resulted in this sushi method, involving a special way of marinating and seasoning to preserve fresh fish safely.”
The type of “fast food” sushi we commonly eat today has only been in style for about 50 years, JiaMin said, “even in Japan, most of the people have never had this experience.”
And what an experience it was!
Our morning started out with a barrel wine tasting and seminar at the Dierberg Tasting Room in Lompoc. Led by Tyler Thomas, who offered some insight into his belief that great wines are about showcasing great properties and the goal is to help each vineyard reach its unique potential.
We then shuttled to the Star Lane estate and winery in Happy Canyon, which is home to 200 acres of Bordelaise varietal vines and a state-of-the-art winery that features a four story high crush pad, gravity flow system and 26,000 feet of caves full of wine barrels. You have see it to believe it! After our tour of the vineyard and winery we were greeted at the luncheon reception with a refreshing glass of the 2016 Star Lane Rosé made with 100% Malbec.
Then the wine and sushi pairing began.
First Course: Sauvignon Blanc
Kanpachi Yellowtail Marinated in White Wine with 2015 Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Tai (Sea Bream) with Marinated Kelp and Yuzu with 2005 Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley
Seafood Dressed in Basil Sauce
The pairings were exceptional. I particularly enjoyed the way the marinated kelp and yuzu flavors complimented the citrus notes of the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc.
Second Course: Chardonnay
Tai (Sea Bream) Pickled in Sesame Soy with 2014 Dierberg “Dierberg Vineyard” Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
Broiled Skin-onTai (Sea Bream) with 2014 Dierberg “Drum Canyon Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
King Crab Mille Feuille
Again, the pairings were amazing, with excellent food and wine serving to improve the tastes of each even further. The sesame soy oil really went well with the lush fruit flavors of the Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and I loved the King Crab dish.
Moving into the red wine pairings is where it got even more interesting. Common practice is to pair white wines with fish and red wines with meats, which is probably why it’s been difficult to get most sushi restaurants to offer much in the way of wine lists. However, the next two sets of pairings proved that red wine and sushi can indeed be a delicious match.
Third Course: Pinot Noir
Pickled Red Maguro (Tuna Red Meat) in Soy with 2014 Dierberg “Dierberg Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
Chu-Toro (Fatty Tuna) Sprinkled with Wine Salt with 2014 Dierberg “Drum Canyon Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
Oil Marinated Salmon with Tomato Water
These elegant Pinot Noirs were a heavenly match with plummy sweetness of the tomato water marinade. I’m a huge sushi tuna fan and both of these variations were incredible.
Fourth Course: Bordeaux Varieties
Broiled Toro and 2013 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Mirin Marinated Conger Eel with 2011 Star Lane “Astral,” Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Teriyaki Fatty Yellowtail with Foie Gras
The pièce de résistance of an absolutely incredible meal! The 2011 Bordeaux Blend had lovely depth and sweet notes of cassis, plum and boysenberry that were fabulous with the sweetness of the eel. Similar notes in the 2013 Cab added yet another layer of complex flavor to the Toro. All in all it was simply amazingly delicious lunch.
Pairing each course with multiple vintages was an ingenious way to show off the diversity and complexity of the Dierberg and Star Lane wine offerings, as well as open our minds to the variety of ways that wine and sushi can be paired successfully.
This is definitely an experience I won’t ever forget. For more information, visit dierbergvineyard.com.
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When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”