Mattei’s Tavern is a bit of an institution in these parts and I was very happy to return to the stagecoach turned restaurant for Santa Barbara’s Vintner’s kick-off vintage party, Paulée style. I hadn’t been to Mattei’s for what must be about 15 years (it was a regular go-to spot for the well behaved students of my high school, Midland, just up the way on Figueroa Mountain Road, I think I went once in those years…). It was also my first time attending a Paulée event, where you bring a favorite bottle and go around and share with the other folk.
After much deliberation I brought my treasured sparkling wine from England, 2007 Nyetimber Classic Cuvee. A vineyard I spent a lot of time at while writing my dissertation for uni. The place is mentioned in the Domesday Book and the soil is this little lone spot of chalk, straight from the Paris Basin and oddly enough surrounded by clay. Just for good measure I also brought an Ambyth zinfandel from 2010, their ode to Paolo Bea and my first Californian natural wine and from Paso no less.
The new and renovated Mattei’s is to say the least, stunning. I was seated next to kitchen and pretty much all the action. The food was excellent with the dinner highlights being the grilled avocado starter, the Smoked Beef Short Rib, and the Rotisserie Chicken salsa verde.
These are the sort of events that bring a wine community together. Wines were shared, poured for others, swapped around, some were even hidden. But the idea is you get to hang around with some of the local winemakers in a very non-formal fashion. Yes, winemaker dinners are also fun, but here people are bringing wines they feel best represent what they are doing or what they strive to do.
Above, is some of the older French stuff that appeared from Mattei’s Cellar.
A 2001 Stolpman syrah, Sashi Moorman’s first wine.
And Greg Martellotto’s epic grenache, syrah and mourvedre blend, with grapes from Demetria.
Thanks to Eric Railsback from Mattei’s and Morgen McLaughlin from Santa Barbara Vintners for the invite.