A few weeks ago, we wrapped up our Wine Festival weekend with a brunch on Sunday at The Oceanaire. (Editor's Note: We were comp'd the brunch from the nice folks at The Oceanaire.) The Sunday brunch featured wines by Rich Parducci, the winemaker for McNab Ridge and two of the Coro wines, all out of Mendocino, CA.
I'm not really a seafood girl, but every time I'm at The Oceanaire, I make it a point to try something new and I'm usually pleasantly surprised. I figure if I'm going to learn to appreciate seafood, a high-end seafood restaurant is probably the place to do it.
When we walked in on Sunday morning, we were greeted by Alli (her card reads Allison) who was an excellent server throughout the meal. In fact, we had two different servers, although I only got Alli's name, and both were friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.
We started the meal with mimosas, followed closely by an amuse bouche of salmon with lemongrass on a crostini with a mint-infused grape (if I'm reading my notes correctly) and Bloody Marys. I'm not into Bloody Marys either, but Kevin said it was excellent – spicy and "his type of Bloody Mary."
Our first real course was the Oceanaire Porkopolis Breakfast, consisting of housemade goetta, sunny side egg, and creamed hashbrowns. This was paired with the 2007 McNab Ridge French Columbard. As far as the food goes, it was great. I tried the goetta and it ended up on Kevin's plate as well. I'm fairly convinced that goetta is an acquired taste in this town and you either love it or hate it.
2007 McNab Ridge French Columbard: French Columbard is a white wine that McNab Ridge is growing to "preserve history in the county." Not many people grow French Columbard anymore, but it used to be quite common. It's an off-dry wine with 1.8% residual sugar. It had natural, bright acid. I noted that it was sweet, light, aromatic, and refreshing. Kevin noted the intensely floral characteristics, such as white flowers and pansies. To my surprise, it added a bit of spice to the first course – or perhaps the food added the spice to the wine. It was certainly easy to drink and I've been inspired to seek out more French Columbard.
Our second course was the Fisherman's Breakfast: grilled Norwegian salmon, baked shrimp, fried oyster, and bourbon-glazed Nueske's Bacon. The course was paired with the 2007 McNab Ridge Sauvignon Blanc. My only complaint with this course was that the bacon was so strong, it sort of overpowered the Sauvignon Blanc.
2007 McNab Ridge Sauvignon Blanc: This was obviously a California-style wine, right from the nose, which was full of tropical scents and candied fruit. From my first taste, I got big mangos, as well as honeydew and cantaloupe. This one was aged in stainless steel and did not see any malolactic fermentation. If you enjoy the bright, tropical California style Sauvignon Blancs (as opposed to grassy New Zealands), you'll enjoy this wine.
Our third course of the morning was the hickory smoked Rushing Waters trout hash, with chorizo, sweet potato, poached egg, rosemary oil, and tomato concasse. The third course was paired with the 2004 Coro Mendocino Zinfandel Blend. This was a great finish to the brunch with a wine that deserved to be the last, as it was by far the best.
2004 Coro Mendocino Zinfandel Blend: Coro is a special project in Mendocino that really deserves its own blog post. Winemakers in Mendocino get together, blindly judge each others wines, and then go back and make changes to the blend based on the feedback. They've implemented all sorts of rules and restrictions in order to create the best wine possible representing the terroir of Mendocino County. Coro, by the way, means "Chorus" in Italian and only 12 winemakers participate out of the 70 in the county. That's really the short version.
As for the wine, I could have sipped on it all day. I got chocolate and bing cherries on the nose. It was followed by raspberries, cherries, and gentle tannins, and finally, a chocolate finish. This was such a luxurious wine that I hope I get a chance to try all of the wines in the Coro project.
Our wine brunch wasn't quite over, however. As we enjoyed the last of the Coro, we got a chance to chat with Andrew of Oceanaire, Rich Parducci the winemaker, and Brandon from Tramonte & Sons (distributor). In the process, we discovered that Tramonte & Sons has partnered with McNab Ridge to create Zincinnati, a limited edition Zin just for our area. They were completely sold out except for City Beverage – a liquor drive-thru in Hyde Park – where Kevin and I headed directly after the brunch. I think we bought the last bottles in town. Andrew also gifted us with several bottles of Graziano wines, left over from the Graziano wine dinner the previous week. Thanks Andrew!
Overall, I was thrilled with The Oceanaire wine brunch. They offered enough food for picky eaters like myself, coupled with great food for slightly more adventurous foodies like Kevin. Oceanaire is thinking about having brunches for both Easter and Mother's Day. I think a seafood brunch followed by a walk around the square on a Sunday Spring morning would be a great way to start the day.
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