Bonaccorsi Wine Dinner with Jenne Lee Bonaccorsi - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 03-16-2010 01:17 PM

At Poole's Diner in Raleigh where Ashley Christensen is owner/chef. Bonaccorsi is a small winery in Santa Barbara County using purchased grapes from about 13 vineyards to produce 4000 cases of wine a year. Jenne is the widow of Michael Bonaccorsi who was a Master Sommelier. Both worked at Spago in LA and Beverly Hills.

We were greeted with Champagne. The first seated course was an avacado crudo with 2007 BONACCORSI VIOGNIER. This sees 25% new oak and is from a Santa Maria vineyard. Aromatic. Has some weight and length on the palate.

A duck and rabbit saddle confit risotto accompanied 2007 BONACCORSI NIELSON VINEYARD PINOT NOIR.
This Santa Maria Valley vineyard was at one time a Byron property. The wine receives 60% new oak (Bonaccorsi uses Francois Freres French oak) with about 18 months in barrel. Light Burgundy color in the glass with some transparency. Cherries on the nose. Bold structure. I was thinking cherry/plum compote. I also picked up a clove note and asked Jenne if that is something she finds in this wine. She thought maybe it was more a nutmeg note from caramelized fruit. However, in looking up the vineyard I found a winetasting blog by Chris Chamberlain from Jenne's appearance in Nashville, TN in February and Chris described the Nielson Pinot Noir as having a nose of tea, clove and nutmeg and flavors of cherry, strawberry and a rose-petal finish, so I'm going to stick with clove as a descriptor. This wine had a good structure and texture and a medium to long finish. It was my wine of the night as it was for Chris Chamberlain in Nashville. Several of us raved about the sauce on the risotto and the server said it was mainly braising meat juices finished with some garlic butter.

With braised lamb cheek, gnocchi and kale we had two other Pinot Noirs. 2007 BONACCORSI SANFORD AND BENEDICT PINOT NOIR and 2007 BONACCORSI PRESIDIO PINOT NOIR. Sanford and Benedict is a famous vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills, planted in 1970. Although somewhat inland, it is cooled by ocean breezes. It was formerly an organic vineyard but that is no longer the case. This Pinot was dense, rich and spicy with viscosity that formed legs on the glass. It was the favorite of several at my table--John, to my left liked it best on its own but thought it wasn't as food friendly as other wines.
The Presidio Vineyard is only five miles from Sanford and Benedict but has 10-year old vines as opposed to 40-something years. It is just outside the Santa Rita Hills appellation. (Jenne told us it was formerly a shooting range with sandy soil and the grower had to rake up the spent shells.) This had a lifted note and lighter flavors than the dense Sanford and Benedict but I enjoyed it. Supposedly there may be a small patch of Domaine Romanee Conti plantings somewhere in this vineyard.

For the Syrah, we were served Piedmontese beef tenderloin on a golden carrot peppered puree. 2006 BONACCORSI LARNER VINEYARD SYRAH. This wine is in barrels for two years and laid down for another year. Ten-year-old vines. Co-fermented with 4%-10% Viognier--this year 7% Viognier. Jenne says the Viognier contributes to a rounder, more viscous finish. The Viognier and the Syrah grapes have to be picked at the same time and vinified together. Jenne recommends decanting this wine before drinking and says it can improve on the second day.

Our marvelous dessert was a pot au creme with bittersweet chocolate and a sauce flavored with Padrone? Padron? Patron? tequila accompanied with a lady finger with cacao or coffee nibs? Heaven!

I learned that the lady sitting across from me did a bicycle trip in Provence and she has dined at Alain Ducasse's Louis Quinze in Monte Carlo as my sister and I did on our trip to Provence in 2008. In another small world coincidence, at a Black Eyed Peas concert she met a co-worker of John who was sitting to my left.

All of the wines were quite pricy but I did take home a bottle of the Nielson Pinot Noir which was my favorite.

P.S. Ashley Christensen is a semifinalist for the super prestigious James Beard award for Best Chef in the South East.

Another chef and a two restaurants in the Triangle are also in the running including Scott Howell at Nana’s in Durham as well as Magnolia Grill and Crook’s Corner.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 03-16-2010).]

- hotwine - 03-16-2010 02:48 PM

Very nice notes, Wonders..... very nice indeed.

- wondersofwine - 03-16-2010 02:53 PM

Thanks. It was a fun evening.

- Kcwhippet - 03-16-2010 09:45 PM

OMG!!! I sure do miss Michael Bonaccorsi. Way back when I first met him, he was the sommelier at Masa's in SF. He went on to work at a distributor in the city, and my friend, Steve (and former fellow wine shop manager) knew him as a vendor in Steve's Noe Valley shop. Next I knew, Michael was at Spago's, and then he started his own winery about 11 years ago. I had several of his early wines and they were fabulous!! He wasn't afraid to ship wines back east even though it was technically not allowed. We had corresponded by email maybe two days before he died, and he was talking about some of the new wines he wanted to make. Next I knew he was gone. I haven't been, but I've received emails from Jenna Lee about annual memorial shindigs in Michael's memory. I'm not sure who's making the wine now, but I know that Joe Davis of Arcadian Winery and one other small winery owner/winemaker (I forget who) finished the wines Michael had going when he passed. He was so passionate about his wines, and I miss him.

- wondersofwine - 03-17-2010 10:12 AM

From all I've heard Michael was a great guy and is sorely missed. Jenne and one other winemaker make the wines nowadays. She is a very gracious and attractive lady. The wines are still scoring in the low 90's from reviewers. It's a shame that Michael died so young.