My friend Jenny is a wine consultant and together we threw an outdoor dinner highlighting the wines of Napa Valley, along with hearty, easy, grilled food and bonfires on either side of the dinner table. I wrote about our joint Summer Bonfire Feast last month, and today Jenny’s back to share more about the wines she paired with the meal. These are GOOD recommendations.
I wanted to throw a wine dinner, and Maxwell wanted to throw a feast together we decided to combine efforts and throw a Napa Valley wine dinner at Maxwell’s farm with bounty from the land. In honor of Apartment Therapy’s new column, Gatherings, Maxwell took the lead on all things food and design, and I picked the wines.
Though just 30 miles long, and a few miles wide, Napa Valley is a small place with a big reputation. Home to many diverse microclimates and soils that enable it to cultivate a variety of internationally acclaimed wines. Napa is responsible for just 4% of domestic wine production, yet accounts for much of the nation’s wine reputation.
The evening started with the 2013 Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc — often considered to be “America’s best sparkling wine.” The Schramsberg estate consistently produces elegant and beautiful wines that rival French champagne. In fact, this wine is frequently served at the White House for state dinners.
With the first course of caprese salad, we moved onto the always fresh and lovely 2013 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc. Dan Margaret Duckhorn started Duckhorn Winery in 1976 and have an excellent reputation as premier producers of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet. It’s a crisp, light, and refreshing wine that is generally pleasing.
Moving onto the asparagus course, I chose the 2011 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. This is one of my favorite wines of all time, with bright and racy fruit all wrapped up in elegance. Interestingly enough, it was the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that took top honors in the Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976. Beating out famous White Burgundies, it was this tasting that put Napa Valley on the map as an international contender in the world of wine.
With the grilled corn on the cob and roast chicken, we enjoyed the luscious 2010 Saintsbury Pinot Noir. Located in the southern part of the Napa Valley, in the Carnerors sub-region, the Saintsbury wines are able to take advantage of the Pacific fogs that roll up the valley, cooling the grapes by night, and creating ultimate balance in the wine. One can never go wrong with a Saintsbury Pinot, they are always delicious with bright fruit and a long finish, and just a touch of spice. My favorite pairing in the world is grilled chicken and Pinot Noir, and this one just took the cake.
We ended with a bang, with the 2007 Cliff Lede Poetry. The Poetry is a Cabernet driven blend that is big, bold, powerful and strong. We paired it with a hearty blue cheese and everyone was in heaven. Coming from the Stags Leap District in Napa Valley, which is renowned for Cabernet, the Poetry is the flagship wine from boutique producer Cliff Lede. Producing just a couple hundred cases per year, this was an exceptional way to end the evening.
(Image credits: Maxwell Ryan; Schramsberg; Duckhorn Wine Company; Chateau Montelena Winery; Astor Wines; K L Wines)