Ooh La La: Los Olivos to Host Culinary Fete on Bastille Day

By Gabe Saglie
(published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on July 13, 2012)

Los Olivos will tip its beret to the French this Saturday, as it hosts its first ever Bastille Day soirée.

The event, which will take place from noon to 3pm in the charming gardens of Coghlan Vineyard & Jewelers at 2366 Alamo Pintado Avenue, is the newest production by the Los Olivos Business Organizations, or LOBO.  “We wanted to create something totally new and different, and that highlighted great food and wine, which is what this town is all about,” says Kelley Lucia, assistant director at LOBO, which already puts on the town’s annual Day in the Country, Quikdraw and Old Fashioned Christmas events.  For Bastille Day, participant wineries and food purveyors are donating their time and wares to benefit the non-profit group.

The afternoon fete will pair eight wineries with eight chefs and caterers to create a unique culinary experience.  “It’s a small, intimate, more upscale event where people will have time to truly enjoy the food and wine pairings that have been very specifically put together,” says Larry Schaffer, winemaker and owner of Tercero Wines, whose Los Olivos tasting room is open four days a week.  He’ll be pairing his wines with the yet-to-be-announced French food creations of Succulent Café and Trading Co. chef Brian Champlin.

For Mr. Schaffer, the Bastille Day angle creates a relevant culinary connection to Los Olivos, and even to the way he crafts wine, including his grenache.  “I certainly don’t try to mimic wines from other regions, but my love for grenache has certainly been driven by my own love for the wines of France, especially from Chateauneuf du Pape,” he says.  “When I make a wine that aromatically, and flavor-wise, reminds me of those wines, I’m very happy.”

Winemaker Alan Phillips agrees with the French inspiration on Santa Barbara winemaking, though he’s quick to assert that “there are a lot of individualities on both sides.”  Many of those hinge on the weather, since France has “a continental climate, much more like Oregon, while we have a coastal climate and don’t get rain during the growing season,” he says.  “That makes for totally different conditions.”

But the French connection is inescapable in Mr. Phillips’ wines.  His label, Fontes-Phillips, is renowned for the Panky, a classic rosé made from grenache, cinsault and syrah grapes.  “We style it exactly as the French rosés are made – same varietals as a blend, cold fermentation, whole clusters, no barrels,” he says.  “The same traditional techniques used in the south of France.”  And his 2008 La Encantada Pinot Noir, he says, is driven almost entirely by its fruit source; La Encantada, planted by Richard Sanford in 2000, is one of the western-most vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills.  Similarly, “with pinot in France, derivation of fruit is the most important thing.”

At the Bastille Day event, Mr. Phillips' La Encantada pinot will be paired with a duck cassoulet created by Chef Kurt Alldredge of the popular catering company, The Chef’s Touch.  “The secret to this provincial French dish is our house made duck confit,” says Mr. Alldredge, “along with two different types of French sausages, some pork belly, beans, tomatoes and a lot of other really good foods.”

Other pairings featured Saturday afternoon include a stone fruit-bacon-arugula panzanella salad by Chef Jeff Nichols of Sides Hardware & Shoes – a Brothers Restaurant, the newest eatery in Los Olivos; served on ciabatta croutons and drizzled with white balsamic vinegar, it’ll be paired with Consilience Winery’s Cuvée Mambo White blend (of viognier, grenache blanc and rousanne) and Tre Anelli Winery’s grenache, both wines made by Brett Escalera.  Coquelicot winemaker Louis van Tonder will barbecue lamb on a spit and pair it with his Mon Amour blend of five Bordeaux grapes.  And Coghlan Vineyards will match its 2009 Fusion – an award-winning cabernet-merlot meritage also made by Alan Phillips – with dark chocolate truffles infused with the very same wine and doled out by Jennifer Freed of Stafford’s Famous Chocolates.

Tickets for the first annual Bastille Day event by LOBO are $50 and can be purchased in person at Coghlan Vineyards & Jewelers or by calling 805-717-0046.

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