Le Cuvier Winery - Paso Robles, CA

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One of the treats of visiting the Far Out Wineries group  in Paso Robles, CA  Wine Country is finding that one very special, family owned,  small lot undiscovered gem of a winery.  For me it was Le Cuvier Winery.  Le Cuvier is a 3.400 case winery open to the public Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for wine tasting and specialty food pairings. It is working towards becoming a winery that is open only to wine club members, so you best be making your way there soon.  My 90 minute appointment reflected winemaker John Munch and general manager Mary Fox’s love of food and wine pairing. Assisted by wine club manager Tiani Bajema, we had a sit down tasting consisting of elegant wines and perfectly paired bites that I am not sure mere words can describe.

What you’re looking at with this winery is more of a wine experience than a mere wine tasting. Take a passionate winemaker (John), combine him with a focused organizer who loves to entertain (Mary) and throw in a creative self-taught from scratch chef (Tiani) and seriously folks …it doesn’t get much better.  From the luscious elegant wines to the mouthwatering foods these guys have game. I’d love to bring my wine writer friends here for a press party because I know I would be a hero.  Yup, they’re that good.

John sources his grapes off property.  I see this trend more and more.  It makes sense on many levels, both economically and quality wise. John explained, “I’ve been in this area many years. I know where the quality grapes are, so all I need to do is buy them and then work with the grapes to produce the best wine possible. Our vision here is to entertain and educate, with a heavy emphasis on the educational component.” 

I certainly got that through the food & wine pairing my husband Allan and I shared with him, Mary and Tiani.  Each course was presented beautifully.  A clear, precise, unhurried explanation was given as the paired food and wine was set in front of us.  A relaxed conversation ensued that made us feel like a treasured member of the family, not a name on a reservation.  From the first course of a uniquely styled 2007 Viognier ($37) paired with Thai Peanut Sauce & Carrot Queens , to a second course of Cold Lentil Salad paired with a lovely 2007 Pinot ($38), to the dramatic third course 2007 blend  L’enfant du Pape ($46.25) with assorted gourmet cheeses, to the luscious fourth course 2007 Cab ($46.25) paired with Blue Cheese and Cream Cheese with celery …everything was perfectly paired.   I must say the celery with the Cab was an eye-opener – loved it – who would have known Cab and celery good be BFF’s? Our final course was a scrumptious 2006 Late Harvest Zin ($50) with the most amazing brownies EVER.

I am telling you here and now…especially those of you who think they’ve had exceptional wine experiences before – you must, must try this winery.  Provocative wines, thoughtful pairings, warm hospitality embraces and a truly inspirational take on making clients happy, make the words “Far Out” take on a whole new meaning.  John & Mary occasional give dinner parties in their home.  If you’re going to the Paso area, make sure you check out their Web site to see if you can join them.  Prices are reasonable for the total wine experience.  Heck…even they weren’t I’d be pulling out my credit card anyway.

Unreal Dark Chocolate Brownies
Courtesy of Le Cuvier Winery
An excellent pairing  with Le Cuvier 2006 Late Harvest Zinfandel ($50)

2 cubes butter (1 cup)
2 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbsp. orange zest
4 eggs
? tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. salt
? tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup sugar
1 cup flour
¾ cup brown sugar handful of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter stirring occasionally. Once the chocolate mixture is incorporated, let the chocolate cool slightly. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then blend in the salt, sugars, vanilla, orange zest, and spices. Stir in chocolate mixture and then flour.

Pour batter into a parchment-lined 13x9x12 pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until top has formed a shiny crust and batter is moderately firm. Cool in pan on rack. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. When cold, slice into neat squares with a large pizza cutter.
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