We love food and wine pairings of all kinds. One of our favorite annual events just rolled around again and we had a chance to attend: the Bacon and Cab Pairing at Las Positas Vineyards!
We have attended this amazing pair event before, and are willing to rearrange our schedule to make room for it. Last year the pairing pivoted a bit due to the pandemic, with a take-home Popcorn and Cab pairing that was fun and delicious. We were quite relieved that the Covid guidelines had relaxed to the point of allowing this type of event to be enjoyed in person again. Las Positas Vineyards AGM and Chef Curtis Pipes keeps raising the stakes, and this year was the most challenging yet for Curt and his team: a full three plate pairing for this very popular event. Think three days of celebration, each day drawing hundreds of guests enjoying a beautiful Labor Day weekend.
We had made advanced reservations, so the parking lot full of cars did not deter us. We were immediately welcomed at the check-in desk and led to our reserved table. The beautiful patio held dozens of café tables, each a safe distance from the next. On display was the Livermore wine country landscape at its finest, with rolling hills covered in grape vines and blue sky as far as the eye could see. We settled in, carefully arranging our chairs to make use of the welcome shade cast by the tables’ umbrella. We had a 1:00 reservation and nearly all of the outdoor tables were already in use. A lot of the tasters had an hour’s head start on us and seemed to be having a wonderful time. The tables seemed to be evenly divided between tasting flights and the Bacon and Cab pairing offering.
Our first pairing was their 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon with a bacon and watermelon salad topped with feta cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Our first sip of the Cab was glorious! Nicely nuanced layers of fruit and a leisurely finish that beckoned us back for another sip. The acid of the tomatoes and the sweetness of the watermelon in the salad brought out the subtle smoke and leather of the Cab. A true case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. We were struck by both the insightful pairing (thanks Curt!) as well as the generous portion of salad on the beveled square plate. This was so much more than a pairing taste! I made a note to be sure that this wine would follow us home. We also sampled their 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon with the salad and found that the salad again highlighted some of the background notes in the wine without masking any of the lovely fruit.
Our next pairing was their 2016 Meritage with an amazing peppered bacon with caramelized onion flatbread, with arugula sprinkled artistically across the top. We were expecting a piece of flatbread about the size of a playing card, but we were each presented with a piece of slate with an Olympic-sized slab of flatbread that could serve the table. We quickly found that the size was actually the least remarkable thing about this pairing. The Meritage was lovely on its own, but when paired with the flatbread we were sure that we could hear angels sing. The spicy bacon and tangy onion on the flatbread brought out the complex fruit and pepper in the Meritage while the Meritage highlighted the umami of the flatbread.
Our final pairing was their 2015 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with a bacon brownie served with a drizzle of salted caramel, presented in a perfectly sized square ceramic ramakin. Another triumph of pairing! The richness of the brownie really accentuated the wonderful minerality and tannins of the wine. The Cab’s mild acid on the finish played well with the richness of the brownie and the salty/sweet of the caramel. This dessert was a fine conclusion to an out-of-this-world pairing flight! This experience demonstrated why we make attending this pairing event such a priority every time it is offered.
With our tasting flight complete, we were anxious to free up our table to make room for the next tasters. We purchased our wine, thanked the team helping us, and set off into the sunshine. We had time for one more tasting. There was a new winery in the area, and it was time that we checked it out!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?