Del Frisco’s “World of Wine ” Dinner Series – Napa

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For 2013, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse is offering the “World of Wine” Dinner Series. Each dinner focuses on the wines of a notable wine region rather than on those of an individual producer. Del Frisco’s Boston kicked off the series on March 22nd with an evening featuring the wines of Napa Valley. I was fortunate to be invited by Mindy Valone of CM Communications to be a guest at the event. And what an event. Excellent examples of Napa Valley wines were paired with the excellent cuisine of Executive Chef Derek Berragan. It was both an “auspicious marriage of food and wine” and a most enjoyable way to be educated about the wines of Napa, particularly the Cabernet Sauvignons upon which the region has  built so much of its reputation. Our host for the evening was sommelier- trained Jay Foster, the restaurant’s Director of Wine . In his introductory remarks, he gave a brief history of Napa and its rise to producing renowned wines. The wines of Napa became prominent after the famous (or infamous, if you’re French) Paris tasting of 1976 in which upstart American wines equaled or bested their traditional French counterparts.  Since our focus was Cabernets, Mr. Foster explained the differences in various Napas Cabs by the locations of the vineyards where the grapes were grown. Valley fruit, mountain fruit, fruit from Rutherford or from Oakville –  all have different profiles. Before each course was set down, he would discuss the wine paired with the course and what made that wine  unique. The meal was perfectly paced; service was friendly yet professional; food and wine both outstanding. What better way to get an education!

FIRST COURSE

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Green chili braised pheasant enchilada, blood orange, queso fresco
paired with Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc

Chef Berragan hails from Texas; he was mentored by Chef Tim Love (“urban western cuisine”). All that shows forth in the first course – an updated enchilada. The bright Sauvignon Blanc  – citrus, floral, melon – with creaminess and body from the addition of Semillon grapes –  played well with the spiciness of the dish. Though Chardonnay might be a given on any menu featuring Napa Valley wines, Sauvignon Blanc is also done well in the valley and its inclusion was a smart choice.

SECOND COURSE

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Applewood smoked pork belly confit, caramelized Granny Smith grits, cardamom-sage jus
paired with Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon

 This dish – a riff on  home-style roast pork served with apple sauce –  was outstanding. The apple-sweetened grits playing off the salty, rich pork belly. The black fruits and berries and restrained tannins and medium acidity of the Rombauer (yes – of cookbook fame) Cab worked well with this course.The fruit for this wine was sourced from various sites in Napa Valley.

THIRD COURSE

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Australian lamb ribeye, local goat cheese bread pudding, wild berry lamb demi, watercress
paired with Nickel & Nickel CC Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

In this course, Australia meets Rutherford. A bit more robust than the Rombauer, the Nickel & Nickel CC Ranch worked well with this tasty ribeye. The nose of this wine was the most distinct of the evening – can one smell minerality? The wild berry demi was a nod to the wine’s fruitfulness. In addition, the combination of lamb and the goat cheese in the bread pudding elevated this dish beyond the ordinary.

FOURTH COURSE

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Prosciutto wrapped filet mignon, foie gras, russet-sweet potato gratin
paired with Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Steak, potatoes, big wine – this course was essential “steakhouse” –  and was excellent. The filet, tender and flavor-enhanced and fortified by the prosciutto, partnered well with the Dunn. The wine is made from mountain fruit which results in wines known for being structured and age-worthy. Though this wine is being drunk now, it will be better in several years. The care taken in constructing the gratin – two varieties of potatoes, spinach filling –  shows the skill of  Chef Berragan’s staff.

FIFTH COURSE

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Lemon cupcake with lavender meringue
paired with Dolce by Far Niente

We finished with this moist, lemony cupcake whimsically decorated with confetti sprinkles. After four courses, it was perfect. As was the Dolce by Far Niente, which has for me a nostalgic association.  I first had the wine – an American Sauternes – at the now shuttered “Julia’s Kitchen” in the visionary center for wine, food and the arts – but now defunct –  Copia in Napa. The wine had been the conclusion to a long, wonderful tasting menu that had first introduced me to both California cuisine and wines.

“The World of Wine” Dinner Series continues with three additional dinners –

  • June 7th – Bordeaux
  • August 16th – Burgundy
  • Oct. 25th – Northern Italy

Dinners are reasonably priced at $100++ and  reservations are a must . More info online.

Much thanks to Mindy Valone, Chef Barragan and Jay Foster.

DelFrisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse    250 Northern Ave.     Boston MA

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