Chocolate and wine pairings

February 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Discover the best chocolate and wine pairings for Valentine's Day or any day!

Pick the right wines for Valentine's Day. You can't go wrong!

For Chef Arthur Wall's recipe for dark chocolate tart with blood orange, the perfect compliment to the wines featured below, click here.


1) 2005 Red Meritage, Livermore Valley

On the nose, dark plum blend with complex notes of cinnamon, and undertones of chocolate and anise. With well-integrated oak, this wine displays cinnamon, boysenberry, and mocha flavors, with medium tannins and balanced acidity.

2) 2006 Reliz Creek Pinot Noir

Since the early 1960's, Wente Vineyards has been growing Pinot Noir in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey. This wine was named after the creek that runs through the Estate vineyards. Arroyo Seco is the ideal region to grow this Burgundian varietal because of the long, cool growing season, which allows the grapes to fully ripen and develop deep fruit flavors. The gravelly-loam soils found here, rich with shale and limestone deposits, impart desirable earthy and mineral qualities to the wine. There are several blocks dating back to 1963, which are planted with the old Pommard and Martini clones. Neighboring these are much more recent, high-density plantings that include a variety of new clones. All of the fruit is hand picked and sorted.

This vintage of Reliz Creek Pinot Noir has aromas of cherry and vanilla, with hints of toasted oak, earth and cigar box. Flavors of black cherry and vanilla are followed by a smooth fruity finish, with undertones of earth and clove.

3) 2007 Tamas Estate Pinot Grigio

This vintage reveals vibrant aromas and flavors of grapefruit, green apple, and citrus complemented by hints of green grass and mineral with a crisp, refreshing mouthfeel.

Tamás Estates produces estate grown California wines made from traditional Italian grape varietals. California's Mediterranean climate and Tamás Estates' gravelly soils provide ideal conditions for crafting appealing New World interpretations of Old World classics. Founded by Iván Tamás Fuezy and Steve Mirassou in 1984, Tamás Estates is now part of the Wente Family Estates portfolio, sharing in the family's 125-year commitment to fine winemaking and land stewardship in the San Francisco Bay and Monterey appellations.

Wente Vineyards
5050 Arroyo Road
Livermore, CA 94550

About Karl Wente:
Fifth Generation Winegrower Karl D. Wente represents a new breed of winemaker. Well-versed in the chemistry and biology of winemaking and vineyard management, he maintains the traditional hands-on approach of previous generations of Wente family winemakers. "Successful winemaking remains a blend of insight and experience," says Karl. "Consequently, there's no substitute for time spent in the vineyards and winery."

During the summer of 2002, Karl joined Wente Vineyards as a winemaker to oversee the production of the winery's Estate Grown and small lot wines. His passion for artisinal, hand-crafted wines has led to the addition of limited release wines, The Nth Degree, and the development of a small lot winemaking facility within the main winery. Along with his interest in the technical aspects of winemaking, Karl is also an ardent viticulturalist. "We understand that continued emphasis on innovative farming and top quality fruit is key. Great wines truly do begin in the vineyard," he says.

Today, Karl is responsible for all winemaking at Wente Vineyards. And, thanks to the efforts of the previous generations, he enjoys the benefits of state-of-the-art winemaking facilities and nearly 3,000 acres of vineyard in two premier coastal appellations. Karl grew up working at Wente Vineyards and he chose to gain experience at other wineries, starting with The Peter Michael Winery in Sonoma. That was followed by a stint at Brown Brothers winery in northern Victoria, Australia, where Karl gained southern hemisphere experience before returning home to Wente Vineyards. Karl graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Chemical Engineering, graduate school at the University of California at Davis, where he earned two Masters degrees: one in horticulture (viticulture) and one in food science (enology). Studying winemaking and viticulture at U. C. Davis is another family tradition. Karl's father and uncle studied there, as did his great-grandfather in 1909, a year after the school was founded.

About Arthur Wall:
In spring of 2008, Wente Vineyards named Arthur Wall to the position of Executive Chef at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. In his role overseeing The Restaurant kitchen and menu conception, Wall sources local organic ingredients to create seasonal wine country fare. Previously, Wall was Executive Sous Chef at George's at the Cove-California Modern in San Diego, California, named one of the world's top 10 restaurants in 2006 by Fodor's Travel Guide. Prior to that, Wall completed a three year term as Sous Chef under highly acclaimed chef Jonathan Wright at The Windsor Court Hotel's New Orleans Grill in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has also worked at Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco and Herbsaint Restaurant in New Orleans, recently named one of "America's Top 50 Restaurants" by Gourmet Magazine. Wall graduated with honors from the California Culinary Academy and holds a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Alabama. A native of New Orleans, Wall now resides in Walnut Creek.