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Since Maude changed its format to focusing on wine regions every quarter, they have taken us on journeys to Rioja and Burgundy. For their third featured region, Maude takes us to our own backyard, the Central Coast. From Santa Barbara to Monterey, the Central Coast is a region filled with so much bounty and the Maude team spent a week visiting farmers, purveyors and winemakers to create the menu. The menu generally focuses around the fresh local seafood that we are so fortunate to have access to. Spot prawns, abalone, oysters and uni are just some of the delectable treats we enjoyed. And each dish was paired with wine selections from producers in the Central Coast, from under-the-radar producers to well-known names. As we arrived to Maude for our reservations, we were escorted upstairs to the wine cellar lounge. This room is now incorporated into the regional tasting menus. For Rioja, we started in the lounge with a glass of Cava and a plate of jamón serrano and cheese. For Burgundy, we ended the evening in the lounge where we enjoyed a cheese and dessert display. And for Central Coast, we again started our meal upstairs where we were greeted with a glass of Broc Cellars, Chenin Blanc, Petillant, Shell Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles 2017. The effervescent wine has a floral honeyed nose with notes of citrus, peach, pineapple and key lime pie, as well as yeasty aromas and was the perfect way to start the evening. 
(First posted on November 6, 2012 on www.tastingpanelmag.com) In September, six top Dry Creek producers — Paul Draper (Ridge), Erik Miller (Kokomo), Clay Mauritson (Mauritson and Rockpile), Doug Nalle (Nalle), Hugh Chappelle (Quivira) and Julie Pedroncelli (Pedoncelli) — participated in a panel discussion at Ridge Winery, "Debunking Zinfandel Myths," led by journalist Patrick Comiskey.
Left to right: Hugh Chappelle, Erik Miller, Paul Draper, Clay Mauritson, Patrick Comiskey, Doug Nalle and Judy Pedroncelli.
  With vines dating to pre-Prohibition, Zinfandel is the grape most uniquely associated with California viticulture and was the first variety to create a wine craze in California; it is still known as "as the wine of the people." Today there is a renewed interest in this varietal as Zinfandel is being rediscovered and re-appreciated. But do we want Old World or New World style Zin? "It's a troublesome question to address," Comiskey explained. "Dry Creek really is a place of effortless naturalness for American Zinfandel.  It is in a climate range that guarantees ripeness, and Dry Creek seems ideally suited for getting Zinfandel ripe in a balanced way."