It would be difficult to find a better host for a winemaker dinner than Joseph Nase, Director of Wines at Baxter’s Bistro, Northstar-at-Tahoe. The winemaker dinner series he hosts are justifiably famous and packed with patrons, and Chef de Cuisine Michael Plapp contributes outstanding dishes for pairings with wines at the dinner.
(Joseph Nase, left; Steven Ledbetter, right)
I attended the winemaker dinner that featured the wines of Kermit Lynch, a famous purveyor of the wines of Burgundy, with a shop located in Berkeley and sales offices nationwide. Mr Lynch has been named Wine professional of the Year by the James Bearch Foundation, and has been given medals by the government of France, including the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. His book, Adventures on the Wine Route, is award-winning.
To begin the dinner, Stephen Ledbetter of Kermit Lynch, chose a group of rose wines to tickle the palate. We tasted the following:
Domaine de Fontsainte Corbieres “Gris de Gris” – 50% Grenache Gris, 25% Cinsault, 25% Carignan
Domaine de Poujol Coteaux du Languedoc Rose – 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 5% Carignan
Chateau Trinquevedel Tavel Rose – 50% Grenache Noir, 20% Cinsault, 20% Clairette, 10% Syrah, Mourvedre, Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc. A note on the Trinquevedel’s rose from Mr Ledbetter: “The last 10% of grapes is somewhat typical for the southern Rhone. Historically farmers planted a range of varietals (all allowed under the French laws) to insure they had a large enough harvest. That is, in the event that one varietal didn’t ripen properly or was destroyed by the weather (hail and strong winds are a recurring problem), they would have other grapes to use in the final blend.”
The dinner began with Local Oysters Three Ways (broiled, smoked, raw), paired with a 2007 Aligote, Bouzeron, A & P De Villaine. This is a high acid white wine featuring Aligote, another white grape that’s used to make dry white wines in the Burgundy region of France. The most famous white grape from Burgundy is chardonnay.
The next wine pairings were matched to the first course, a Clover Farms Rabbit Dijonnaise served with escargot and with Gary Romano’s Baby Carrots. (Gary Romano is an organic farmer producing wonderful produce in the Placerville area). The 2007 Morgan, Cru Beaujolais, Breton, was almost aromatic, hints of cardamom. The second wine, a 2007 Cote de Brouilly, Cru Beaujolais, Chateau Thivin, is a high acid wine, with bright fruit. It is terrific with food, and would match well with fish too. Taste of tobacco, pepper, black cherry. According to Mr. Ledbetter, this wine is a great value at about $19/bottle, so search for it!
The second course, sautéed frog legs with parlsley coulis and garlic flan, was paired with two wines. The first, 2004 Chambolle Musigny, Premier Cru, Domaine Bertheau. Is a sophisticated wine made from pinot noir grapes, with a deep floral structure and a fine fruit-forward nature. The 2006 Morey St. Denis, A.C., Meo Camuzet, had wonderful earthy tones and is reminiscent of the village wines you’ll find in Burgundy. (Hope you’ll do the Burgundy wine walk with me in July 2010 and taste these village wines for yourself!)
The third course, a Muscovy duck breast served with Romano’s Russian Kale, beluga lentils, Foie-shallot soubis sauce, was paired with two wines, both of them dark and spicy for the perfect accompaniment to this rich dish. The 2006 Nuit-St.-Georges, Premier Cru, Bousselots, Chevillon was the first wine, and the 2006 Gevrey-Chambertin, Premier Cru, Cherbaudes, Domaine Lucien Boillot was surprisingly mellow; it is often a very powerful wine.
Finishing up the wine-food pairing was the dessert course, Champagne Grape Clafouti, paired with a low alcohol (7%) Vin due Bugey-Cerdon, La Cueille, Patrick Bottex.
A lovely beginning to this over-the-top evening was a short seminar that Joseph Nase and Stephen Ledbetter gave on Chablis. We tasted four wonderful Chablis…. But we are out of space!
Look for the next winemaker dinner series at Baxter’s at Northstar, listed on Northstar’s website http://www.northstarattahoe.com/. Or call (530) 543-3132 for information.
To obtain any of the wines mentioned above, or other burgundian wines, contact Kermit Lynch via their website (http://www.kermitlynch.com/) or call their Berkeley location at 510 524 1524.
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© 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 appeared in my column "It's Grape" in November 2009.