Pigs and Pinot weekend is one of my favorite events of the year and continues to provide wonderful opportunities to taste old favorites and discover new ones. At this year’s Taste of Pigs and Pinot on Friday, March 17th—always held at the Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg—the weekend kicked off with a bang. I focused on tasting producers I was unfamiliar with, before then parading around to taste my old favorites.
Seeking out producers I was unfamiliar with was very fruitful indeed, as I unknowingly tasted the wine that would later be revealed as the Pinot Cup Winner—the TR Elliot 2014 Bootlegger’s Hill Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley. This elegant wine is filled with earthy, cranberry and pomegranate fruit, wrapped up in a medium body with delightful complexity. Another elegant Pinot that stood out was the Vaughn Duffy 2014 Suacci Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. This is a bright and extremely effervescent Pinot with almost crunchy-like red fruit, lively and full of finesse, with spices on the finish. Tasting like it has some whole cluster fermentation thrown into the mix, this unique wine really made an impact on my palate that night.
I also rather enjoyed the Kings Mountain Vineyards’ 2012 Bacchus Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains. I immediately liked this wine not only because it stood apart in style from the local Sonoma appellation wines, but also because it has tremendous amount of complexity. It is a bolder style, to be certain, but done in a very elegant fashion. Baking spices and earthy notes combine to provide an initial savory layer, with undertones of white pepper and a hint of vanilla over black cherry. The layers of this wine keep unfolding, revealing beautiful complexity and seduction in its silky-smooth style.
As for the cuisine at Taste of Pigs and Pinot, I was smitten with the Quail BLT from Chef Ryan Francher of Barndiva. Toasted brioche, tomato marmalade, sunny side up quail egg, chervil and rapini flowers made for the tastiest single bite of the night. A heavenly combination of textures and flavors, I loved the way the crunchy brioche contrasted the warm, oozing egg yolk, and the tomato marmalade added that touch of acid and sweetness to bring all the flavors together.
Alongside Chef Scott Romano, Chef Charlie Palmer of Dry Creek Kitchen never disappoints at his Taste of Pigs and Pinot event and the Niman Ranch Pork French Dip with herb-roasted cipollini relish, Cowgirl Creamery St. Pat cheese and Sausalito Springs watercress on a yeast roll dipped in au jus was a deliciously hearty offering. Cher Perry Hoffman of Shed offered up the most colorful and artfully prepared dishes of the night: the Confit of Niman Pork Cheek with sauerkraut powder, wild mustard and bread crumbs. This confit was wonderful, packed with succulent texture and those floral wild mustard flavors popped on the palate.
Bringing together world-class Pinot Noir and fine cuisine from mostly local restaurants, Pigs and Pinot is definitely a decadent weekend of wine and food, and the best part is that it’s all for a very important cause. A portion of the proceeds from event ticket sales and the silent auction are donated from the annual event to Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign and a wide array of North Bay charities. This year along, This year, Pigs and Pinot weekend surpassed $1,000,000 in total funds raised over the last twelve years! Cheers to the Chef Charlie Palmer and his team at Dry Creek Kitchen for hosting such a fabulous annual event and providing such a fun way to give back to the local community.