19 Aug Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Bento Box Tasting and Wine Pairing at Margerum Wine Company in Los Olivos
Many wineries offer food and wine pairing experiences at their tasting rooms. A successful food and wine pairing can be symbiotic. Not only can flavors be enhanced in the food and/or the wines, but food can really enhance the wine, showing it in its best light. I experienced that with a unique experience at Margerum Wine Company and that is why the Bento Box Tasting and Wine Pairing at Margerum Wine Company in Los Olivos is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Doug Margerum, owner and winemaker at Margerum Wine Company, has a background in food and wine. Prior to starting Margerum Wine Company in 2001, Doug worked with Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist. Prior to that, Doug was the owner of the Wine Cask, a culinary Santa Barbara landmark with an award-winning wine list. At the flagship Margerum tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara, there is an executive chef and a full food menu. And at Margerum Wine Company, Doug is often found preparing meals for the daily lunches for the wine team.
Margerum opened up a second tasting room in Los Olivos in 2023. And, they are offering two unique wine and food pairing options, Sparkling Wine and Oysters and the Bento Box Food and Wine Pairing.
The Bento Box is prepared by Jina and Brian Bae of BB Sushi in Los Olivos. Jina was the former chef at A-Ru Sushi in Buellton and now runs her to-go business out of Los Olivos Grocery with her son Brian. For the Bento Box pairing, which must be ordered one day in advance, is made fresh to order. The Margerum staff runs over minutes before your scheduled tasting and it is there for your arrival.
The Bento Box Tasting and Wine Pairing is for two people and costs $150. The Bento Box includes five dishes which are paired with five wines (per person).
The first wine was the 2019 Barden Blanc de Blancs. Barden is a second label from Margerum that features wines from the Sta. Rita Hills. The Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay made in the traditional method and is bright with a crisp texture. It is paired with fresh Dungeness crab baked with vanilla bean sauce and wrapped in soy paper. The freshness of the sparkling wine balanced the creamy texture of the crab roll.
The 2022 Margerum Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara is paired with Buri sashimi yellowtail with yuzu kosho and brushed with yuzu soy sauce. This Sauvignon Blanc is made in stainless steel but spends time on the lees so that it is fresh and bright with a creaminess on the palate. The pairing with the yellowtail was a congruent pairing as both were bright and vibrant in flavor.
The 2021 Margerum M5 Estate White Rhone Blend, Los Olivos District, is a blend of five white Rhone varieties – Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, and Picpoul Blanc. It is paired with unagi with sauce. This was a surprise pairing as I wondered if the sweetness of the unagi sauce would conflict with the acidity of the white wine. But, it was a harmonious pairing. The sweetness did not overpower the wine and the bright acidity and floral notes of the wine tempered the sauce.
The 2021 Margerum M5 Red Rhone Blend, Santa Barbara County, is a blend of five red Rhone varieties – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Counoise – and has red and black fruit, cocoa, and herbaceous notes. It is paired with Bluefin tuna, avocado, shiso leaf, umeboshi with creamy sesame dressing. The umeboshi (pickled dried plum) and shiso leaf enhance the herbaceousness in the wine.
The 2019 Barden Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills is a whole cluster Pinot Noir with red fruits, earth, and spice notes. It is paired with Bulbogi grilled Korean spiced pork with sesame seeds and green onions. The earthy and spice notes of the wine pair well with the “fired” meat, although the meat was a little spicy. And the freshness of the wine lifted the density of the rice.
The Bento Box Tasting and Wine Pairing at Margerum Wine Company is a flavorful, delicious, and memorable wine and food experience. The Margerum wines shine and I recommend this to anyone visiting Santa Ynez! Just plan ahead and book at least one day in advance!