“If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” Ted Plemons, CASS winery partner.
Guests at a recent CASS wine pairing dinner were treated to more than one Ted-Ism, as Ted Plemons wife, Lisa, calls her husband’s affable speech, on a warm night on Salt Creek Grille’s patio. But first, SCG owner Greg Amsler, had a few –isms of his own to bestow on Ted.
“The first time I met Ted my wife Chell and I had VIP reservations,” began Amsler. “And, we had a couple of other tastings before so we were ready for Cass.
We were greeted by a surfer dude wearing flip flops, cut off jeans and a UCLA Bruins t-shirt that said, ‘Dudes, can I help you out?’ That was Ted. It was the best time we’ve ever had at a winery. We became friends and have been in touch, planning this dinner, ever since. Many of our guests kept asking if Ted was coming to the dinner, as, everyone knows Ted.”
And with that, Amsler introduced Ted Plemons to the room.
“I want to add a little to that story of what happened that day we met,” Plemons started, preparing us for the Ted-ism to follow. “Some call it tasting, I call it drinking.”
From there Plemons teased us no further and said, “What happens in the barrel room stays in the barrel room.”
Plemons explained that he started in Paso doing construction over 30 years ago, and continues to this day, while also being a partner at Cass Vineyard and Winery. He also built Cass.
“We don’t embellish wine, we just take from our vineyard and try not to mess it up.”
What Was Paired (Notes on some of the food, and all of the wines, are below in bold. All of the food was under the watchful eye of Chef Ignacio Munoz and designed by Chef Tamra Levine. Tamra is the ONLY chef in town that is nearest a sommelier and always does excellent wine pairings.)
Butlered Amuse Bouche
Olive Cake with Smoked Onion Jam
Cones of Smoked Sturgeon Mousse and Horseradish Granita (I liked how the Viognier worked with the horseradish as opposites, I though it “A dance on my palate while a full symphony played.”)
Viognier (Color – clear, pale yellow with the faintest of green. Aroma – Honey, lemon, cantaloupe. Taste – grapefruit, pineapple, high acid, med-long finish. One of my favorites of the night. Lil Lepore thought it cut through the Olive Cake nicely.)
Spring Pea Flan… Sweet Carrot Emulsion, Butter Poached Lobster, Microgreens (“Frickin’ delicious” per Lil Lepore. I liked the chalkiness of the peas against the blend)
Rockin’ One White ’09 (60% Rousanne and 40% Marsanne. Color – mid-yellow. Aroma – spice, possibly white pepper, oak. Taste – nice viscosity coated my mouth, high acid, grapefruit, lemon, medium finish, tickles the tongue. My favorite of the night.)
Ratatouille Mille Feuille… Savory Rosemary Shortbread, Mustard and Herbed Crusted Lamb (Eddie liked the spiciness of the veggies against the Syrah, I enjoyed the melt-in-your-mouth shortbread.)
Syrah ’08 (Color – deep garnet, opaque. Aroma – chocolate. Taste – balanced, soft tannins, medium finish, some toast per Lil Lepore.)
Chocolate Braised English Short Ribs..Mint Pesto Cipolini, Onion Confit…Sun-Dried Tomato Grits (Loved that it was shredded, and the playfulness of a hint of mint. Brought out quite a bit of pleasant smoke in the wine. And the grits were so creamy with no extra-sharp pungent flavors from the tomato – most welcome.)
Cabernet Sauvignon ’08 (Color – dark garnet and opaque again. Aroma – fruit bomb, eucalyptus, pine, dark cherries. Taste – some cherry (Yes, we guessed something was blended in, thought maybe Petit Verdot or Merlot), dry on the mid-palate.)
Meyer Lemon Cake Tower draped in Lavender Glaze
Apple – Calvados Sorbet (I found the anise in this! Wonderful! Really neat with the Port!)
Port macerated figs, walnut and gorgonzola Rugalach
Syrah Vintage Port 08 (Color – black. Aroma – licorice and raisins. Taste – high tannin, sugary-sweet and dry. It was Ted’s gift of the night as it came from his personal cellar and he only had 9 bottles left – before tonight! Thanks!)
Who Was Seen and Thanked
Jim and Monica McClafferty, Louise Castaldo, Steve and Julie Sturgeon, John and Debbie Heys, Bob and Margo Hudson, Skip Newhall, Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier, Wendy Ora Roberts, Greg and Chell Amsler, Jennifer Chadwick, Jennie Wagner, Jen Baker, Steve and Cathy Martin, Steve and Marcia Tannehill, Ted and Lisa Plemons, Jeff and Tamra Levine, Chef Ignacio Munoz and the Salt Creek kitchen staff…