My guide for the evening was Rose Chehade, a brilliant young woman with a fine eye for good wines and also unusual wines. “I always want to try to bring something different to our list and to our diners,” Rose said. “I enjoy wines that are diverse and extraordinary, and have tried to select them for our list.”
The wine list is divided by the usual categories – white wines, red wines, a separate category for small formats and large formats of each, and the special Cellar Collection wines. What I found intriguing was the listing of Particularly Diverse Whites, and Diverse and Extraordinary Reds.
I began tasting a Murrieta’s Well 2006 Meritage (Livermore Valley, CA). A blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillion in this vintage, the aroma and taste both featured melon and grapefruit. A nice light wine, paired perfectly with the starter prepared by Chef Chad: a butter cup lettuce delight with Green Goddess dressing, honey, chives, shallots and a tasty side of graham-cracker dusted apple slices. Wine: $13/ glass, $43/bottle.
The Sonoma Cutrer 2007 Chardonnay (Russian River Ranches, Sonoma, CA) is a fruit forward wine, with tones of green apple, caramel, and a slight acidity that paired well with the small plate course of poached lobster, shrimp ravioli, salmon caviar, all touched with a light and flavorful clam broth. The wine, $14/glass, $50/bottle.
Next on the agenda was fois gras over grilled brioche, served with currant pear compote, a sun-up quail egg and pink pop rocks. After I got over the excitement of a unique culinary event that popped and sizzled on the plate (I must bring my grandson to see this dish!) , I turned my attention to a wine with a very interesting history: the Chateau St. Michelle 2005 “Eroica” Riesling (Columbia Valley, WA).
This wine is the result of a great partnership between German and American winemakers, with the goal of crafting an extraordinary Riesling from Washington State grapes. It’s a blend of two estates – winemaker Ernst Loosen of Dr. Loosen (Mosel) and winemaker Bob Bertheau of Chateau Ste. Michelle (Columbia Valley) – and exemplifies a fantastic mingling of Old World and New World both in terms of wine-making philosophy and technique. Named for Beethoven's Third Symphony, Eroica is fruit-forward and yet you can taste the mineral from grapes sourced from two new vineyards for this 2005 vintage. These vineyards, notes Chateau Ste. Michelle, are located northwest of the Wahluke Slope in a very cool, elevated site right next to the Gorge Amphitheater near the town of George, Washington. Nice aroma of citrus, lime, and lively and crisp on the palate. $36/bottle.
The last wine, Viña Salceda Rioja Crianza 2004 Tempranillo (Rioja, Spain) was aged 15 months in American oak, making it a dark, rich red wine. It is extremely well-balanced on the palate, not too heavy, and paired well with Chef Chad’s braised veal cheeks, with carmel-dipped dates, butternut squash and a candy-cane drizzle. Lovely wine, drinkable through 2016. (My favorite website for “drink dates” information about wine is http://www.snooth.com/: user-friendly and one-click to the data you need.) $46/bottle.
The final pairing was a Woodbridge “Portacino” Vintage 1994 (Lodi, CA), a lovely earthy port from those reliable winemakers at Mondavi. Served with a sticky coffee cake similar to a plum pudding. Yummy.
Six Peaks Grille is located in the Resort at Squaw Valley, 400 Squaw Creek Road in Olympic Valley, CA. Open for breakfast and dinner daily. Dinner reservations a good idea: 530-581-6621.
© 2009 Barbara Keck
For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article, written by me, appeared in my column "It's Grape" in April 2009.