m2 wines: In Love with Lodi

m2 is located in an unassuming building in a business park campus. The incognito quality of their facility is in sharp contrast to the character of their wines.

Normally they might be hard to spot, but on Sunday they had their roll-up doors open and some additional shade structures set up out front. If that weren’t enough of a tip-off, there was a fair-sized collection of people carrying wine glasses mingling about which let us know we were in the right place.

m2 invited Culinary Arts students from The Art Institute of California – Sacramento to create pairings for specific m2 wines. To honor the event’s theme of “Wine and Chocolate,” each dish incorporated chocolate as well. This really set m2 apart from other wineries and made our visit there memorable. The food was all exquisite, and the chefs were on-hand to describe the ingredients they used and their inspirations for the dishes they had created. m2 provided ballots and encouraged visitors to vote for their favorite pairings, but it was just about impossible to choose one over all others because they were all unique and delicious. I was delighted to discover that the pamphlets m2 gave us going in contain the recipes for each of the food pairings.

The Pairings:

2008 Old Vine Zinfandel paired with Tomato Mousse with Basil Oil

The Zin was bold and jammy with a whole range of berry and dark cherry flavors finishing with a hint of oak. The tomato mousse was a perfect savory companion to the wine. It had bright fruity tang to it, tempered by the fragrant basil, peppery olive oil, rich chocolate shavings, and the slight bitterness of the watercress.

2008 Artist Series Zinfandel paired with Duck Confit with Chocolate Cherry m2 “Artist Series” Demi Sauce

In another example of m2 reaching out to other creatives, the labels for the Artist Series wines are created by Lodi-area artists.

The ’08 had plenty of fruit, but stopped short of being jammy. There was a welcome spiciness and just the right amount of oak. The duck confit was rich, succulent and savory. The Zinfandel, cherries and chocolate in the demi sauce gracefully bridged the savory quality of the duck to the fruit in the wine. Absolutely splendid.

Nikki adds: Maybe it’s because I didn’t get to have this with the food, but I found it to have a high-alcohol finish. I enjoyed the molé-cinnamon cherry smell.

2007 Trio Red Blend paired with Chocolate kissed Pork Tenderloin

The Trio Red, a blend of Cab, Syrah and Petite Sirah was warm and inviting, but a bit more austere with the fruit. The flavor developed nicely over time, revealing an array of berries, caramel and licorice all supported by a toasty oak foundation.

Nikki adds: This had a complex scent that included notes of sage. The taste made me think of sour oranges, with a peppery finish.

The chocolate kissed tenderloin reflected the diversity and harmony of ingredients and flavors present in the wine.

These young chefs clearly have refined palates and understand and appreciate the interplay between wine and food.

2007 Petite Sirah paired with Lamb Sliders with Bleu Cheese

My first impression of the Petite Sirah was “Cherries! Yum!” Big, assertive and exuberant. How do you create a pairing that won’t be lost or overwhelmed by such a wine? We have a perfect answer – lamb sliders topped with bleu cheese and an amazing sweet, savory marmalade that includes the Petite Sirah, dark chocolate and brown stock. The bold, meaty, rich flavors of the sliders were lively and assertive, and provided just the right power to accompany the big wine. Nikki notes: This was from the Clarksburg AVA, making our sixth AVA of the trip.

2008 Viognier Dessert Wine paired with White Chocolate Mousse with Lemon Curd

The tears I cried had notes of bitter oak when I learned we were too late to sample this food pairing. I felt a little better knowing that the wine was also paired with the next food offering.

2008 Amador County Viognier Dessert Wine paired with Milk Chocolate and Pink Peppercorn Mousse Gateau

The viognier was highly aromatic and had flavors of pear and melon. Just the right acidity provided a nice brightness. Nikki adds: First I tasted syrup, then saffron, then tangerine. I like all of those flavors, so this was a winner for me. And, since Amador County is within the defined 50-mile radius of the tasting room, we notched another AVA in our belts.

I didn’t know what to expect from a chocolate mousse with pink peppercorns, but I was delighted to discover the peppercorns provided a nice structure to the rich sweetness of the chocolate, the way that oak can provide a sense of structure to an otherwise sweet wine. The interplay between flavors I would not have thought of putting together was exquisite.

All in all I really liked m2’s approach to the event. The wines were outstanding, the food was amazing, and together they elevated my enjoyment of all the flavors being offered.