I spent the Labor Day holidays in my old stomping grounds, gorging on great food and fine wine at the four-day Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, which began with a Thursday dinner at a private estate overlooking the Alexander Valley and ending on Sunday with the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean.
At the auction I got a taste of my new stomping grounds, when Café Boulud’s superlative sommelier, Mariya Kovacheva, beat out more than a dozen other other heavy hitting wine experts from Washington, D.C. to Vancouver to San Francisco from to become the event’s Top Sommelier Star.
To earn the title Kovacheva had to best her competitors in identifying the varietal, vintage, region and producer of a flight of Sonoma County wines, pair two wines each to lamb and salmon dishes, and present their pairings along with an explanation of why the chose each wine. Her efforts impressed not only the judges, but earned a $2,000-plus auction bid for her services at a private dinner.
Not too shabby. . . going into the heart of the wine country and kicking major sommelier booty.
If you want to experience Kovacheva’s expertise for yourself, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, Café Boulud is presenting wines of the Canary Islands paired with a four-course dinner by chef Jim Leiken and pastry chef Arnaud Chavigny. Cost is $75 per person, and you can make rezzies by calling the restaurant at 561/655-6060.