A few weeks ago, I joined several dozen folks for a fabulously indulgent wine pairing dinner featuring Hagafen Cellars, from Napa Valley, Calif. Co-hosted by the Kosher Pastry Oven in Silver Spring, the evening featured seven courses and eight wines. Here are the pairs we enjoyed together:
The Spicy Tuna Tartare with Jicama Slaw, with which dinner began, was paired with the outstanding 2016 Dry Riesling ($24) — fresh, clean, dry, crisp and tingling, with citrus, stone fruit and spicy ginger and lychee notes.
The Eggplant Babaganoush & Caponata was served with the stunning 2017 Sauvignon Blanc ($27) — perhaps Hagafen’s finest vintage yet. This is a delicious, luscious yet bright and crisp sauv blanc (63 percent Napa County, 37 percent Sonoma County) with white peach, green apple, citrus and gooseberry fruit dancing expertly across a tightrope of bracing acidity. Lively and refreshing with a nose that instantly conjures images of lazy afternoons in the California sun.
The deeply satisfying Cauliflower Seafood Bisque was ably aided by the rich, dry yet fruity and complex 2016 Chardonnay from the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley ($30), which offered pear, citrus, apple and stone fruits with green tea, buttercream and toasted coconut. The nicely integrated oak adds a sensual creaminess to the palate.
For the delicious Roasted Beet Salad, we were served the dry, crisp yet fairly full 2017 Don Ernesto Beret Rosé ($27) — made from syrah and offering plush aromas and flavors of strawberry, watermelon, honeysuckle and lemon zest, with a whisper of menthol-like greenness that both quenches and refreshes.
The Butternut Doppio Ravioli was served with the 2015 Prix Reserve Chardonnay ($40) — at once tropical and creamy, the oak here is on the verge of overwhelming the fruit, but is saved mid-palate by an intriguing eucalyptus note that seems to bolster the balancing acidity. The finish is long and
satisfying, with additional notes of coconut, roasted almonds and a little quince.
For the outstanding Parmesan Crusted Skrei Cod, we were served the 2016 Pinot Noir ($39) — bright,
aromatic and lively, with notes of cherry, cranberry, strawberry, cloves, a little black pepper, a kiss of spicy oak and a clean earthiness. Though fairly lush, this dances across the palate with panache, almost as if it were simply hovering along. The mild and nicely integrated tannins give this some additional depth. An all around beautiful Napa pinot noir.
Before the dessert course, we were served the 2014 36th Anniversary Winemaker’s Reserve ($120) — this rich, full-bodied blend is elegant, complex and delicious; fruit forward (red and dark fruits), with notes of spice, chocolate, oak, leather and tobacco. Aged in French oak barrels for 30 months, this lovely and impressive blend should start to really come into its own in another few years, and then develop gracefully through at least 2030, perhaps longer.
The Chocolate Marquis dessert was served with the show-stopping 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon ($54). I’m admittedly a sucker for great California cab, and this vintage from Hagafen does not disappoint. Complex, rich, utterly absorbing, but with terrific balance, this fantastic cab exhibits ripe, dark fruits (blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry), dark chocolate, rich dark roasted coffee, tobacco, violets, leather and earthy but beautifully integrating tannins. The finish is epic and rewarding. L’Chaim!
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