Brian Cousins, General Manager of Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, recently treated my #LAWineWriters group to a wine pairing luncheon with a selection of French and German Wines represented by Clink Different. Of the featured wines we were to have Sparkling, Rosé, Riesling, Semillon, Pinot Noir and Bordeaux. Of the meal, we were to also have no less than five courses prepared by Executive Chef Kenny Spost. (Napa Valley Grille does a monthly promotion, so head there before the end of October to try these wines!)
Cousins has been our host for numerous luncheons, where our organizer Cori Solomon usually brings in a winemaker. I was happy to support his own wine program, and taste through wines he wanted our opinions on. Later that evening he would repeat the tasting for clients of the restaurant.
In the course of our discussion Cousins shared that the wines were not ones we would find in stores and were an “expression of what (he) tasted and liked” providing the restaurant with a “world’s list” of imports. Of our menu he said that there were many new items we were trying that were being offered for both lunch and dinner, including more selections for vegetarian and vegan diners – at least six new dishes. Cousins said that between the new imported wines on their list, and the new menu items, Napa Valley Grille seeks to be “in the conversation” with other innovative restaurants – I believe they already are. (Photos of the food and wine can be seen on my public Facebook post here.)
The menu (below) and tasting notes were provided, so I limited my commentary on how I liked the wine and how well I felt it paired with the menu, noted with an EB at the end of each course/wine descriptions:
Oyster with Chipotle Herb Butter.
2016 Scharzhofberger Riesling sparkling wine brut, Saar
Fine citrus and grapefruit aromas, concise animating mineral, racy acidity, fine yeasty notes and elegant perlage.
EB: Chef Spost had made his own chipotle sauce with shallots, parsley, butter = I loved the savory qualities of this dish. The wine was so different for me, I noted a fresh apple cider and yeast that was a nice complement to the oyster.
mixed greens, frisée, toasted turmeric pepitas, pears, raspberries,
bubu arare, vanilla bean vinaigrette.
2018 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé, Pfalz
a true rosé, made with a brief maceration before pressing to extract color. It is light and refreshing, with deliciously bright berry and fruit flavors and a clean, zippy finish.
2017 Franz Keller Vom Löss Pinot Gris, Baden
concentrated grapefruit and lemon flavors that leave a pleasant murmur of citrus zest on midpalate. It finishes on lingering notes of crushed mineral and volcanic ash.
EB: Many of the LA Wine Writers commented that this was the best “fruit salad” they ever had. I loved the vanilla bean in the dressing and the toasted pepitas – crunchy, nutty, sweet and vinegar all working together well. I enjoyed both of the German wines; the Pinot Noir (bright raspberry with a very balanced acidity) and Pinot Gris (apple, perfumy, crisp).
orange-ginger-soy reduction, shaved fennel, black sesame seeds, taro root chips.
2017 Clos des Lunes Lune d’Argent. Sauternes, Bordeaux
70% Sémillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. Featuring a mix of pear, tangerine, yellow and green apple flavors, lined with light honeysuckle and fennel hints. Creamy along the edges, and pure and vibrant through the middle.
2017 Scheferkorf Sylvaner, Franken, Germany
Brisk aromas of tangerine and quince gain ripeness and concentration on the palate of this dry but honeyed Silvaner. It’s an easy-drinking, juicy wine with ample yellow-peach flavor and just a hint of mineral complexity.
EB: I was in love with this flavorful tuna, especially with the soy reduction. The Sauterne was drier and less sweet than the usual dessert wine, with creamy apple notes. The Sylvaner, from Germany, had a light but round mouthfeel and lovely peach notes.
Colorado Lamb Rack
corn polenta, mint-pomegranate reduction.
2016 August Kesseler, The Daily August, Pinot Noir, Rheingau
Hints of beetroot, black cherry and earth extend from nose to palate in this lusciously ripened Pinot Noir. Full bodied and supple in mouthfeel, it’s fringed by fine, smooth tannins and just a hint of astringency on the finish.
2017 Chateau St Sulpice, Bordeaux Superiore
70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc
In the nose plum, red cherry, menthol, dried herbs, baking spice and oak. On the palate plum, red cherry and baking spice followed by dried herbs and a cedar finish.
2016 Franz Keller Pinot Noir, Baden
The nose suggests whiffs of cherry blossom, graphite, plum and smoke. Black cherry and berry flavors seem delicate initially, but amass concentration and complexity with aeration, building layers of savory earth and tannin.
EB: A lot going on here but let me just start with the Colorado lamb – yes it’s gamier than what you might be used to, but with that it’s also earthier, so having a flavorful meat was perfect for me. Of the three wines I appreciated the Bordeaux but my palate, for a change, leaned toward the two German Pinots, “The Daily August” especially as it had nice dark cherry and what Cousins referred to as a “herbaceous” quality.
Australian Wagyu NY Strip Steak
10 oz, green peppercorn-cognac jus.
2010 Goulée by Cos d’Estournel, Medoc
On the nose aromatic ripe cherries, tobacco, coffee and minerals. On the palate rich and full bodied with velvety tannins and a long finish.
EB: Thank you for this course. The meat was cooked perfectly – pan seared with brown butter – and I thoroughly enjoyed it with the Bordeaux, that was all barnyard aromas at first but blew off to reveal nice dark fruit and a slightly sweet finish.
Chateau Grand Jauga Sauternes, 2015
A lovely mix of aromas and flavors including apricot, honeysuckle, and juicy citrus, plus a streak of minerality. Gracefully balances honeyed sweetness against acidity, and finishes with appealing intensity and length.
EB: This is my idea of dessert after such a filling meal, just bring on one small taste of a luscious dessert wine. This one provided a sweet pineapple, Meyer lemon and a lingering fresh fruit cocktail finish.
Napa Valley Grille
1100 Glendon Avenue, #100
Los Angeles, CA 90024
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.