All I knew in advance about the sold out “Taste of Summer” wine dinner before I attended was the wine list from Byron Blatty Wines. Vintner Mark Blatty was going to be in attendance, as well as winemakers Steve Lemley and Nate Hasper. (You know these names as the winemakers for our very own local Pulchella Winery.)
The Old Town Junction (OTJ) was filled to capacity, taking advantage of both the large front and back rooms. The usual friendly OTJ wait staff were smiling during their efficient work; as the diners were appreciative, interested and happy. Mark, Steve and Nate worked the room, talking to guests and helping to clear glasses to make way to serve new wines. During each course Chef Daniel Otto came out of the kitchen to discuss the food pairing, and he was joined by either Mark or Steve to talk about the wine.
Before I share the pairings first a little bit about the story behind Byron Blatty Wines…as they stand out for several reasons: they are on the forefront of making a true LA County wine movement by primarily using grapes from LA County in their wines. In a previous article I did the Blattys shared their reasons for wanting to focus on LA County grapes, this is an excerpt:
BIO: “There is a common thread,” Mark began, “and it’s that all of us here love to drink wine.” He and Jenny have a background in television production and now they are also “Executive Producers” of their wine. He’s learned that you don’t have to own it all (a winery and the vineyards) to make wine.
CHALLENGES: Consumers have zero experience or a “bad experience” with LA County wines. But when people discover the wines, and enjoy them, he feels a certain sense of pride as an Angeleno. Another challenge: those writing about wine aren’t writing about LA County Wines, so there is no book educating them.
BIO: For Jenny it was a “daydream” and she was “obsessed with wine.” That obsession drove her to take classes and start making wines in 2013. Putting out their first vintage in 2014 – most of the grapes they picked themselves and continue to do so. That first vintage produced less than two barrels.
2018 Rosé, 100% Grenache. Neenach Ranch Vineyard, Antelope Valley
Course #1: American and European cheese and fruit.
EB: This plate was devoured by guests. Chef Otto felt that the nuts complemented the Grenache Rose, I felt that it all did. Nothing better than a starter of interesting cheeses and a cool and crisp pink wine before dinner.
2016 Agenda, 85% Syrah, 15% Tannat. Alonso Family Vineyards, Sierra Pelona Valley (the Tannat came from Bella Collina, Adelaida District, Paso Robles.)
91 points, Editor’s Choice, Wine Enthusiast
Course #2: Seared Day Boat Scallops, pea puree, corn relish, Yuzo gel.
EB: This was my favorite pairing. I told Chef Otto that the grilled sear on the scallops and the roast on the corn complemented the Syrah-Tannat blend nicely, bringing out a sweet char. Where most chefs go for a white wine with fish, for me it’s more about how the fish is prepared. Glad Chef Otto thinks this way too.
2017 Undertake 60% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 10% Merlot, 5% Syrah. All from the Northeast LA County, except for the Petite Sirah which came from Paso.
Course #3: Braised Short Rib, heirloom carrots, creamed spinach, crispy fingerling potatoes, asparagus, red wine demi.
EB: For me, the short rib had a drying quality on the palate, having it with this huge red blend was the perfect accompaniment.
2016 Evenfall 65% Tempranillo, 25% Petite Sirah, 10% Merlot. Neenach Ranch Vineyard, Antelope Valley (Grenache), Manini Vineyard, Paso Robles (Petite Sirah), Smith Family Vineyards, Los Angeles County (Merlot).
Course #4: Pork Tenderloin, rubbed with toasted spices, house made BBQ sauce, apple gel, onion strings, roasted sweet potatoes.
EB: Evenfall was my favorite wine in the lineup. In the pairing, the aroma of the pork reached me before I took my first bite, making it very tempting. With all of the rich pork and sweet potato the wine – dry with gripping tannins – worked really well.
2017 Tremor, 65% Grenache, 30% Merlot, 5% Syrah. From Neenach Ranch Vineyard (Grenache), Smith Family Vineyards (Merlot), Alonso Family Vineyards (Syrah). All vineyards run parallel to the San Andreas Fault.
Dessert Course: Warm Chocolate Cake with Berry Compote.
EB: Honestly, at this point, I was full and sated…then this dessert just put me over the edge. I packed it up (in a box that joined my other box with some short rib and pork tenderloin) as it was all simply too good to leave behind.
Note on the wines
Not having the opportunity to do tasting notes just on the wines, I rectified this by organizing a small tasting with the Winey Women Unwind group in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for our collective tasting notes on this website soon.
About Byron Blatty Wines
With a focus on red Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, each one of our handcrafted wines is meticulously guided from flower to fruit, harvest to crush, and barrel to bottle. Along the way we make each careful decision with the fruit’s identity and individual character in mind.
If terroir is an expression of place, Los Angeles has never been expressed this way before.
To inquire about Membership options please email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or see their website: https://byronblatty.com/membership
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits