California Wine Month

California Wine Month
Month of September

September is California Wine Month—the perfect time to experience the annual harvest season. To celebrate the occasion, our chef de cuisine, Jonathan Bautista and California Modern General Manager/Sommelier, Matt Strickler teamed up to spotlight some of our most delicious food and wine pairings available right now. Join us for dinner tonight and savor the state's best varietals with the season's freshest flavors.


Heirloom Tomato & Melon Salad and 2017 Hourglass Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, CA

The Heirloom Tomato and Melon Salad has subtle complexity. It is layered with nuance: creamy ricotta, cucumber, mint, and crispy ham, as well as the star components of melon and tomato. We therefore endeavored to pair it with a wine with similar qualities, a wine with depth but also subtlety: 2017 Hourglass Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, CA. Hourglass makes exceptionally good estate wines in the heart of Napa Valley. They are renowned for their Bordeaux varietals, both white and red. Their estate Cabernet Sauvignon, estate Sauvignon Blanc, and proprietary red blend known as HGIII are all of outstanding pedigree and quality. The Sauvignon Blanc is well rounded and fruity with notes of lime zest, orange blossom and white peach. These notes are followed by a keen sense of minerality and then a generous wash of citrus. The wine has green notes but is not the obnoxiously grassy peppery Sauvignon Blancs known to reside in certain Southern Hemispheres. Winemaker Tony Biagi shows a deft wrist in his careful integration of around 15% new French oak, lending the wine just a kiss of vanilla in the finish. Fruit, acid, oak, gentle phenolics… all of these elements play beautifully in a gentle expression of a very vibrant grape, the noble Sauvignon Blanc.

Heirloom Tomato and Melon Salad

Maine Lobster

Maine Lobster and 2016 Alban Vineyards Viognier, Central Coast, CA

Our Maine Lobster plate has a myriad of Asian inspired flavors: bok choy, lobster mushrooms, Chinese long beans, black bean vinaigrette, and lobster fried rice, a kaleidoscope of sweet to savory to bitter to mildly spicy. Umami and succulent, the dish is complex and exciting. When it comes to Asian flavors and wine pairings, a sommelier’s choices can sometimes seem limited. The scope of variation on a plate and on the palate can make otherwise exciting wines seem dull or flat. A common answer to this conundrum is a wine with residual sugar, most often Riesling. There are also tendencies toward Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and sometimes Chenin Blanc as well. Again, wines with residual sugar followed by a generous tide of acid, something exciting on the palate that can dance with the multi-faceted approach of Asian cuisine. In this case we chose the 2016 Alban Vineyards Viognier, Central Coast, CA. This wine has tremendous texture, a subtle kiss of sweetness and good wide swath of acid on the finish. Unfined and unfiltered, the wine is fermented in stainless steel. The lack of oak lets the fruit’s character really shine, good ripe stonefruit, minerality and bright acid. The rollercoaster of flavors on the Maine Lobster plate is beautifully accentuated by this complex and racy wine.


Crispy Eggplant and 2013 Saxon Brown, ‘Durell Vineyard’, Sonoma Coast

Our new Crispy Eggplant entrée is a late summer delight! The crispy breaded eggplant is flanked by a sweet and tart eggplant/carrot caponata, as well as roasted carrots, some fresh burrata cheese and basil. We chose a beautiful single vineyard designate chardonnay as the pairing for this course: 2013 Saxon Brown, ‘Durell Vineyard’, Sonoma Coast. This is the work of the legendary winemaker Jeff Gaffner, whose masterful touch brings us a wine of stunning complexity. I would put it on par with a premier cru Mersault or Chassagne-Montrachet. These wines tend toward subtle, slightly smokey flavors: beautiful balance between oak and acid. This is what Gafner has achieved the 2013 Durell. He uses oak artfully, he coaxes subtle fruit, toasty caramel and generous acid out of this gorgeous wine. The interplay of the wine’s complexity and the Egglplant dishes elegance is truly something special and delicious!

Crispy Eggplant

Dry Aged Ribeye

Dry Aged Ribeye and 2013 Porter Creek ‘Timbervine Ranch’ Syrah, Russian River Valley

Our new Dry Aged Ribeye plate pays homage to late summer BBQ: the steak itself is coated with a smoked pastrami seasoning crust, then adorned with creamed corn, summer beans and a house made plum BBQ sauce. When pairing wine with steak the obvious answer is Cabernet Sauvignon. In this case, however, we chose the 2013 Porter Creek ‘Timbervine Ranch’ Syrah, Russian River Valley. This is a low production, hand crafted wine with great single vineyard pedigree. It is full bodied, slightly smokey and rich: a wonderful partner for the complexity of the pastrami seasoning on the steak. It has good fruit character as well, deep dark berries and rich cassis, a wonderful foil for the plum BBQ sauce. Syrah has a character all its own, at once both powerful and nuanced, much like the incredible plating on our chef’s newest incarnation of a ribeye.


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