Risotto Palooza

We were in Southern California a couple of weeks ago.  My sister turned 50, and that was
sufficient motivation to get in the car and make the trek down I-5.  More on her birthday dinner in the next
post.  This post is about the
risotto palooza at my brother’s house the night before the birthday


Apparently my brother really likes to make risotto.  Who knew?  Not me, or Lori, that’s for sure.  Since we had an evening available, we connected for dinner,
and he decided to make risotto. 
Not just one recipe, but two different risottos.  I’m a bit new to this, having just made
my first risotto only a month ago. 
(See my blog post on risotto and pinot noir.)  But I
like risotto.  It’s like a blank
canvas, and the cook can do whatever he/she wants with the meal.  Different meats, vegetables, flavors,
styles; it’s all available to the cook/artist.  The other nice thing about risotto, and the different meals,
is that wine pairing isn’t really formal. 
Just go into the cellar and choose something good, and it will work just


My brother went with a seafood risotto with shrimp and
scallops and some vegetables, and some nice lemon accents, and a balsamic
risotto with chicken.  The seafood
risotto was wonderful, with lots of different layers of flavor and texture.  The balsamic risotto was very good, but
a bit one-note on the flavors, and needed some vegetables or something else for
more texture.  Next time. 


For wines we went with a 2007 Matanzas Creek Merlot, Sonoma County, and a
2006 Brian Benson Syrah, Paso Robles.  I
wouldn’t say that I’m not a fan of Merlot, but I don’t drink a lot of Merlot,
mainly because most Merlots are sort of washed out wines without much going
on.  There are a few producers in
California, though, that know what they’re doing with Merlot, and Matanzas
Creek has consistently been in that group.  And this bottle didn’t disappoint.  It also worked great with the risotto.  The other interesting point about this
bottle was that it was purchased at the winery, when Lori and my sister in law
were up there wine tasting.  So it
had come full circle, from Lori recommending the winery and wine, to them
purchasing it, to having it available when we came over a few years later.  Must be good karma. 


We had never had a bottle of Brian Benson wine before, but
we knew of him.  His parents are the proprietors of Dark Star Cellars, and were friends with Winemaker B when he was living in Paso
Robles.  So we were excited to open
this bottle, and see what he had done. 
We’re assuming that this was one of his first vintages, and it was
great.  We’ll have to stop by on
our next trip to Paso Robles and taste more. 






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