Every few months the patio of our very own Salt Creek Grille is transformed for a wine dinner. Well-executed menus are placed in neat leather frames, misters may be soundlessly cooling a still night, seating charts are laid out, a winery representative will have been arranged to address the party and wine glasses are handed to guests immediately as they check in for their first pour.
On September 24 Valencia Wine Company, most often at the helm of a Salt Creek Grille wine event, held a pairing dinner with Trefethen Napa Winery. This time, along with uncompromising fare by Director of Catering Chef Tamra Levine, wine paired by owner the of Valencia Wine Co, Guy Lelarge, Trefethen Representative Kazia Schulhof was invited to talk about the wines in between this stellar lineup:
I. Trefethen Estate Dry Riesling 2008
Sweet Peach Wrapped in Carpaccio of Salmon and Grilled w/ Asian spices; sandwiched w/ Apple-Chicken Sausage
II. Trefethen Estate Chardonnay 2007
Pan-Seared Sablefish w/Fennel Chowder
III. Trefethen Estate Merlot 2005
Maple Brined White Farms Pork Loin Stuffed with Herbs
IV. Trefethen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Beef Filet Medallions w/ Caramelized Shallot & Fig Sauce
V. Trefethen Estate Late Harvest Riesling 2007
Warm Apricot and Stilton Crostada w/Creme Fraiche Ice Cream
“Trefethen began in 1968 when the 300 wineries we had in the 1800’s had been whittled down to the 25 that had survived Phylloxera (it’s a bug, don’t bother Googling.). We’ve been independently family owned for 3 generations and sustainably farmed before it was in fashion.”
We listened to the history of Trefethen while enjoying a light well-balanced Riesling with appetizers that both tickled and tempted. Guests were astounded to find a firm flavorful peach inside salmon. I was fond of all three served on sparkling silver trays but limited my sampling to one of each. This was going to be a challenging evening…
“The Chardonnay put us on the map because no one was making Chard they way we did as a ‘Napa fruit made with an old world hand.’”
Now we were onto the not-your-usual-overoaked-CA-Chard with Tamra’s delicate fish…guests were starting to voice their appreciation of the meal more boisterously.
“I’m a fan of Tamra’s as much as a fan of Napa,” said Debbie and John Heys. “We’ve only had Trefethen at home before. And the food tonight, with the wine, is amazing! Tamra is never intimidated in her pairings.”
Kazia continued now, onto the Merlot: “Merlot got a bad rap in the movie Sideways. Mediocre Merlot would always be just that; but good Merlot continues to do well over time. This one is 18% Cabernet, Malbec and Petite Verdot reminiscent of a French blend that pairs well with meats and spicy foods” As we were onto the Pork Loin, I had to agree, the 18% Cab made this Merlot a standout.
Then came the Cab. “We received a double gold metal in the San Francisco wine competition and is a true expression of the area.” Kazia reported. I was enraptured by the Beef Filet with all of the nuances Tamra brought to it with the array of vegetables and sauce.
Our final wine, the late harvest Riesling, Kazia called, “A sweet tooth nirvana”. And like most dessert wines, startled guests with how well it paired with the Stilton Bleu cheese warmly nestled beneath apricot in the crostada.
Sated. Completely. All that was left was for Kazia to thank Guy, who thanked Salt Creek Grille owner Greg Amsler, who in turn thanked Tamra, who you guessed it, thanked the entire staff in the Salt Creek Grille Kitchens. Makes my mouth water just thinking…what shall be next?