This celebration was indeed a hands-on wine and food paring affair! Held at the CIA at Greystone, St. Helena on April 1, the organizers set the floor layout for rapid location of the individual purveyors , and easy access with wide aisles running north-south on either side of the enormous Barrel Room on Greystone’s second floor. Each winery’s name was high on a sign post, with the food purveyor, the food selection, and the accompanying wine on placards situated on the table. As if that were not enough organization, the hosts thoughtfully provided a very readable floor topology map in the carry-with booklet given to each guest. The self-parking was just what I like, too. Don’t count on that to continue, as this event gains in visibility and attendees.
The food and wine purveyors demonstrated great pride and passion in their achievements, not least the CIA students. After listening to one student in particular extolling on the virtues of his offering for at least a couple of minutes, I thought “does he also listen”? I interrupted with a question, and he immediately respondedin a way showing he was thinking about an on-point response. I was impressed.
As promised, guests were able to cast their votes for the favorite wine and food pairing team. Near the end of festivities attendees gathered at the far end of the Barrel Room for the tally. Finally, amid much clapping, cheering, and photo-taking, the top three teams, all smiles, were announced and recognized.
My Tasting Notes
95, Cabernet Sauvignon, Spottswood Estate, St. Helena, 2014
Deep ruby with purple highlights. Feels light-weight but is really heavier. The wine has a buoyant feel that assists its expressiveness. Fine overall balance, suppleness, and structure is apparent, with cassis, walnuts, and blackberry compote on the palate . A rare, elegant, and opulent effort!
CIA Team # 10’s pairing with this wine, 48-Hour Shortribs with
Spottswood Sabayon and Sunchoke Purée
94, Merlot, Ehlers Estate, St. Helena, $55
Dark ruby-purple in color. Aromas of black-cherries, rich roasted Sumatra coffee beans, and a note of lightly toasted oak. On the palate, black plums and mocha. Lithe and medium-light weight, although plenty of substance is present. The luscious, ripe fruit is wrapped in fine-grained, ripe tannins. Seamless and smoothly textured, this is a well balanced and stylized wine.
CIA Team # 25’s pairing with this wine, Brasato di Guanciale di Manzo con Fagiolo Blanco alla Toscano
92, Cabernet Sauvignon, Anomaly Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2014, $110
Deep ruby in color. The weight appears light, but there is extract and substance. Animated with great vitality supported by the level of acid. Showing fine purity, the dark fruit is carried on a lightweight but strong frame of very fine-grained tannins.
Team Goose & Gander’s pairing with this wine, Leg of Lamb and Grilled Escarole, with Parmesan, Lemon, Sesame Aioli and Anise Cracker
93, Field Blend, Edge Hill Estate, Mixed Black, St. Helena, 2014, $155
Opaque black-purple in color. Medium to finely textured with good purity of fruit. Appears to be built to age with the significant but unobtrusive tannic frame, intense extraction content, elevated acid level, and medium-plus size, all melding in a single monolithic structure, approachable and harmonious. As the wine warms, it gains in expressiveness and buoyancy, while the luscious, velvety fruit adds an opulent touch. Supple yet precise, and boasting field-blend complexity, this well made wine reveals a hedonistic character.
Press Restaurant’s pairing with this wine, Chicken liver mousse toast, plum chutney, shallots
90, Cabernet Sauvignon, Roberts and Rogers Vineyards, Louer Family, St. Helena, 2014
This is a middle-weight wine displays a deep ruby-purple color, and offers blackberries and spices in the aroma. The delicious ripe forward fruit is coupled with a smooth, velvety texture, make for an enticing wine. The moderate tannins should subside with time and provide aging ability.
CIA Team # 22’s pairing with this wine, Ham Feuilleree with Blackberry Compote & Chocolate
90, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trinchero, Mario’s Vineyard, St. Helena, 2012
This ruby-purple, 100% Cabernet shows aromas of blackberries and chocolate with the purity of quality fruit on the palate. The touch and feel is precise and smoothly textured, with excellent overall balance and a lasting finish. This well made wine’s outstanding attribute is its seamless, polished character.
CIA Team # 24’s pairing with this wine, Braised Beef with Sweet Corn Purée
90, Cabernet Sauvignon, Revana Family Vineyard, Estate, St. Helena, 2014
Medium ruby-purple in color, the forward estate fruit in this wine has a luscious quality to it. This middle-weight Cabernet has a moderate acid level and shows harmony in its character. Tannin is moderate with a long finish.
CIA Team # 30’s pairing with this wine, Chocolate Bacon Drumstick