Healdsburg is a charming and relaxed small town located roughly at the limit between the Alexander Valley and Russian River areas. If you drive through the region, you must spend some time there.
You may have heard of, or even already visited Mayo Family's Reserve Room, its dedicated tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. For us of course, it was the first visit, and I consider the whole thing a success for several reasons, the first being that their wines are a pleasure to sip all along, the second being that they matched their great wines with delicate food. Mayo Family Winery had this luminous idea to propose 7 food pairings to eat with the 7 wines served. There is a fee for this, but tastings in the US are often for a fee anyway, and this one is good value, with the excellent food from the Zin Restaurant next door (Chef Jeff Mall) and the generous pours of the outstanding Mayo-Family wines.
Thanks to Jack, the author behind forkandbottle who spent some time with us, we had the chance to discover both this new concept of tasting, but foremost the Mayo Family wines.
Mayo Family Winery makes unfiltered wines from single vineyards. Like many others, they just grew grapes at the beginning and later decided to do the job themselves. That was a good move, when you consider what you taste in the glass...
Mayo's Reserve Room is located 340 Center Street. It shares a commercial space with a wine store which also offers tastings (and theme nights on alternate fridays) : The Wine Annex, where you can taste among 48 wines and buy among a great choice of 350 wines at the Bottle Barn (wine store) pricing. So, when you open the door, Mayo' Reserve Room is on the left, The Wine Annex is on the right. I also like the idea of having these different people share a space and work side by side...
For 22 Dollars tax-included, you sit at a table and the sommelier gives you each a printed page with the "menu" of the day and the wine pairing : 7 delicious mini-dishes are served 3 by 3 with the corresponding wines. The wines, it important to say, are served generously, allowing the visitor to really appreciate the wines (I still remember the few drops served at the Navarro tasting room...). Keep the page (that you may have used to write your notes) it has several great tips about food/wine pairing on its back, that you can experiment at home, each with a funny title, like :
"Acid Trip--Acidity can strike down tannin levels in the wine, leaving the fruit as the focus. Try matching subtly acidic food with big, tannic reds. Jeffrey recommends cornichons with the Syrah"
The sommelier, while serving , explains efficiently what you need to know about the wines. He leaves you plenty of time to enjoy the wine and the food. We even had a plus : an 8th wine. our treat was :
__Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Crostini, with Chardonnay 2004, Laurel Hill Vineyard.
__Chilled Shrimp "Spring Roll" Salad with Mango-Mint Dressing, with (insteat of the 2004 Viognier on the paper) Gewurztraminer 2004, Kinde Ranch Vineyard (unwooded dry wine. Richness. little turbidity. glycerol legs. very nice Gewurztraminer. Jack says: "this is the best!")
__Sherry Creamed Roasted Mushrooms in a Phyllo Cup, with Pinot Noir 2004, Darien Vineyard, "Gary's Block"(turbidity, silky, round and long. I love this wine.200 cases of it).
__Red-Eye Pulled Pork with Falls Mill Crispy Grits with 2004 Zinfandel, Ricci Vineyard, "Old Vine" (reads 15,5° but is probably 16,4°)
__Duck & Dried Cherry Empenada with Oaxacan Mole, with 2004 Petite Syrah, Sodoni Vineyard, "Old Vine" (spicy. the only wine that can pair with the dish, they say. 300 cases. 15,2° quite big and colourful).
__Twice Baked Potato with House Bacon, Caramelezed Onion & Point Reyes Blue, with 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Random Ridge Vineyard, "Top of the Mountain", PLUS AN EXTRA : Syrah 2004, Dambrosia Vineyard.
__Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle, with 2004 Zinfandel Port, Ricci Vineyard "Old Vine".
This visit made us eager to visit Mayo Family Winery one day and learn more about their work.
423 Center Street-Healdsburg CA 95448 phone 707-433-4998 doraliceimports.com