• Alice Hama

Amazing Experience of Precision Pairing - Chef Togawa of Ginza Sushi Karaku & Star Lane Vineyards

Sushi and Wine!? - Why Not? Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards collaborated with Japan’s sushi master Chef Kiminari Togawa of Ginza Sushi Karaku, and created a wonderful and unique wine pairing experience. The event was organized by LA-based leading winery PR marketing company Jarvis Communications. The day started with a tour through the beautiful Star Lane Vineyards. The vineyard is located in the heart of Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA, an area that now represents a home for Santa Barbara’s high quality Bordelaise varieties. The Dierberg family also acquired a cool-climate estate in Santa Barbara producing elegant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in addition to their acclaimed Bordeaux blends.


Owners The Dierberg Family After establishing their business in finance, Jim and Mary Dierberg were looking for something new. With a passion for historic preservation, the Dierberg family purchased the Hermannhof Vineyards in Missouri, which is a part of the National Register of Historic Places by the Federal Government, and have been owners since 1974. While the winery was designed to preserve the grapes' natural character and quality, the family started traveling throughout the country in search for a perfect venue for their new adventure. In 1996, the family purchased the Star Lane estate located in the elevated ridge, where they started pursuing the production of old world style wine expressive of terroir.

Name Star Lane The family named their new wine estate "Star Lane" after the name of the old ranch originally built back in the early 1800's. Since the estate is on a high elevation site, the stars look closer and sparkle brilliantly at night. The winery’s flagship wine is called “Astral”, it is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Winemaker Tyler Thomas Tyler Thomas, a graduate of UC Davis Viticulture and Enology, joined Star Lane Vineyards in 2013 after working at Donelan Family Wines and Hyde de Villaine (HdV). He is a well-traveled elite winemaker. Having absorbed wine making technique from around Europe, he applies and blends the knowledge to create something original.  His focus is always on the vineyard-driven, terroir-centric style and has been transforming Star Lane into next level wine producer.

Chef Kiminari Togawa Chef Togawa is an owner and chef of one of Tokyo’s top sushi restaurants, Ginza Sushi Karaku. He made a sensational debut in the media not only through his skill and devotion for maintaining the traditional Edomae* sushi style but also through his extensive knowledge in wine and the unique precision pairings he presents.

* Edomae is a style that was popular in Tokyo back in the 1800's (Tokyo used to be called Edo at that time) when the refrigeration system was not sufficient and resulted in this sushi method, involving a special way of marinating and seasoning to preserve fresh fish safely. Chef has been featured in various media including the comic book for wine lovers “Drops of God (kaminoshizuku)” and Anthony Bourdain’s book and television show "A Cook’s Tour". He is a pioneer in offering a Omakase Wine Pairing series and also an inventor of the culinary trend "Sushi-Shan" (“shan” coming from “cham” in champagne), a way to pair Sushi and Champagne.


--- The luncheon started with a refreshing Rosé made with 100% Malbec. Crisp and nice acidity with a touch of water melon and wild strawberry flavor. First Course: Sauvignon Blanc Kanpachi Yellowtail Marinated in White Wine & 2015 Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara

Tai Seabream with Marinated Kelp and Yuzu & 2005 Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Valley

Seafood Dressed in Basil Sauce

The pairings were perfect to the point. The mineral accent from the fish meat and Sauvignon Blanc's green notes blended very well, creating a pleasant harmony on the palate. I was particularly amazed by the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc as it offered soft and beautiful length, reminiscent of a classic aged Bordeaux blanc.


Second Course: Chardonnay Tai Seabream in Sesame Soy & 2014 Dierberg "Dierberg Vineyard" Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley Broiled Skin-on Tai Seabream & 2014 Dierberg "Drum Canyon Vineyard" Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills

King Crab Mille Feuille

This course had an interesting marriage. The way Chef used Sesame Oil with Tai brought out a vanilla nuance in flavor which went just perfectly with the round, fuller body style Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley. On the other hand, the Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay had a hint of flint and herbs, pairing very well with the Broiled Tai Skin, as the charred skin provided a nice edgy character with the pronounced aroma of sea salt.


Third Course: Pinot Noir Marinated Red Maguro Tuna & 2014 Dierberg "Dierberg Vineyard" Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley Chu-Toro Fatty Tuna Sprinkled with Wine Salt & 2014 Dierberg "Drum Canyon Vineyard" Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

Oil Marinated Salmon with Tomato Water

Again, the flavors for the pairings were meticulously calculated. Usually a Pinot Noir pairing is tricky due to its higher acidity component. However Chef did an amazing job by using a marinade, wine salt, and tomato to tune up the acidity to match with Pinot Noir. The guest behind me commented that "this paring is SO sexy!" - and I totally agree with him.


Fourth Course: Bordeaux Varieties Broiled Toro & 2013 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara Mirin Marinated Conger Eel & 2011 Star Lane Astral Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara

Teriyaki Fatty Yellowtail with Foie Gras

Hats off to Chef. The aged 2011 Bordeaux Blend expressed beautiful depth which matched with the sweetness of the eel and the umami of the seaweed. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon displayed red and black fruit profiles which added another layer of complexity to the Broiled Toro. Ending the meal with an aroma of fresh shaved truffle is always a luxury. When you think of a beverage choice for sushi, sake will be an easy answer. “There are a growing number of international guests to Ginza. Our original beverage list started with only sake and shochu, however, as I learned wine through my guests, sharing wonderful glasses with them, I came to the conclusion that I want to create “East-meets-West” experience”, Chef commented. By having each course pair with both the current and aged vintage, the Dierberg and Star Lane wines were able to shine alongside each other, as well as with each course. Chef’s clever usage of the Edomae style sushi created an opportunity for even a full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon to step into the line up for this precision wine pairing lunch. --- The luncheon was guided by two amazing Sommeliers. Professional and educational, it was very special that two talented minds shared their experience and philosophy toward the art of pairing.

Matthew Dulle is Advanced Sommelier currently with Single Thread Farm, Healdsburg, CA. He was featured on San Francisco Chronicle as one the rising stars in the industry.

Andrey Ivanov is currently with Reeds American Table, St. Louis, MO. Reeds American Table is one the hottest new restaurants in St. Louis opened last September by his friend and chef Matt Daughaday. The restaurant was also recently named one of the “Top 100 Wine Restaurants in America” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Andrey was also named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2015,  as well as one of the Sommeliers of the Year by Food and Wine Magazine in 2016.

A big thank you the Dierberg Star Lane Team and the Ginza Sushi Crew for such an amazing pairing luncheon! Also a special thanks to Ms. JiaMin Liang Dierberg for amazing Japanese translation and making this event an epic one!



Alice in WINEderland® 2019