Friday, May 4, 2012

Celebrating the Long in Longoria

There’s that idea that one human year is seven in the life of a dog, and the equation has to be nearly the same for a winemaker, as each vintage creates its own unique and innumerable challenges. That’s why it’s important to recognize that Rick Longoria is celebrating his 120th year, er, 30th year as a winemaker. To celebrate, he and his wife Diana are hosting a winemaker dinner at bouchon (9 W. Victoria St., 805-730-1160, ) on Friday, May 11.

“This is a special opportunity for me to design a menu around Rick’s wines, highlighting some really interesting seasonal flavors,” says bouchon’s executive chef Greg Murphy. “Rick is a legend in Santa Barbara wine country, and I don’t think there's a more perfect fit than the cuisine here at bouchon to complement the wines. The way Rick talks about ‘his’ grapes and how important his vineyard sites are to his wine making is how I look at sourcing my ingredients for the restaurant. The process of creating this menu with Rick reminded me of how much affinity wine makers and chefs have in their respective crafts.”

The five-course menu features: Dungeness crab and melon salad with a 2011 Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County; a diver sea scallop, set off with a Longoria-inspired Cuvée Diana beurre blanc, and paired with the 2010 Chardonnay, Cuvee Diana, Sta. Rita Hills; a confit leg of duck with ricotta gnocchi, spring peas, and wild morels alongside a nicely aged 1996 Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard; a Duo of Beef comprised of a braised shortrib and Wagyu flat iron with a 1996 Merlot, Santa Ynez Valley (Longoria was one of the first winemakers in the County to nail Bordeaux varietals); and a chocolate molten lava cake with a 2009 Syrah ‘Vino Dulce.’ The cost is $125 per person, tax and gratuity included.

“From the very beginning of my career I felt that the Santa Barbara wine region had the potential to produce world class wines, and it’s been very gratifying to see that belief realized over the last 30 years I’ve been here,” Longoria claims. He modestly adds, “It’s also been very rewarding to have had the good fortune over the years to have some of my wines contribute to the acclaim of our wine region.”

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