Diane planned a surprise birthday dinner at Elements in Santa Barbara www.elementsrestaurantandbar.com for Laura’s BIG 4-0 – she probably would have been surprised had she not actually recognized several of the vehicles parked out front – oh well – fun was had by all either way. An unseasonably scorching hot day in SB yesterday (damn global warmng!) so the restaurant was quite stuffy – even though there were few bodies around except for our group of 12. It was difficult to get comfortable and make food and drink decisions until the sun was well set and a cool breeze began to blow. We selected a white, Jaffurs Roussanne www.jaffurswine.com and a red, Kunin Pape Star www.kuninwines.com and asked the bar to chill both for several minutes before pouring. There’s nothing worse then warm wine. Rob ordered the sesame crusted ahi with mashed potatoes and a sauce of wasabi intermixed with some other sweet sauce that was a delicious combo with the ahi. I ordered the corn pancakes with avocado and the Japanese white tuna tartare served with seaweed salad and taro chips - the pancakes had mild flavor and were overcooked and a bit rubbery, but the tartare was fresh and tasty with a light ponzu marinade drizzled over. The chips made nice fish scoopers and were lightly salted and crispy.
When the wine was finally at a temperature to be enjoyed, we poured both – the Roussanne had nice citrus flavors and a creamy mouthfeel, good acidity and not overly sweet. The Pape Star is a Chateau neuf du Pape Grenache blend that is a simple wine, yet has bright fruit flavors and light spice with a soft tannin – not overly concentrated, but an easy drinking red and quite enjoyable. We then opened up the gift we gave Laura, the Villa Creek ’05 High Road from the James Berry Vineyard www.villacreek.com/cellars rated 92 points from ebob www.erobertparker.com and was immediately floored by the deep purple color and dark fruit flavors, a very concentrated and complex wine – the quality outshined the previous red blend – no contest.