Inevitably, spring comes to Boston. In fits and starts, the earth warms, the grass greens and myriad buds unfurl. In juxtaposition, a wrenching week of watching evil, tragedy and loss unfold. If ever there was a time for a celebratory nod to the nascent season – a joyous gathering a tavola celebrating the marriage of food and wine – it was now. And so, on a New England perfect spring evening, I made my way to the “Coppola Spring Wine Celebration” at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for a media dinner.
The eveining was hosted by Marlow Daniel, Director of PR and Communications for “Francis Ford Coppola Presents”, assisted by both Clay M. Hall, Director of National Accounts, and Joseph Mattivello, New England Regional Manager. Francis Ford Coppola has two wineries – Niebaum-Coppola in Napa and Coppola Winery in Sonoma. While the Napa estate is now focused on producing a 100 point wine, the Sonoma property provides more everyday selections and it was these wines which were featured at the dinner. The highlight of the evening was having Coppola winemaker Corey Beck on hand to discuss the winery. Chef Andy Ortiz stepped out of the kitchen introducing each course; Mr. Beck would then discuss the paired wine. Mr. Beck also made it a point to skillfully table-hop throughout the evening so all guests had the opportunity to chat with him.
Hand-Passed Hors D’Oeuvres
Seared Ahi served on a Crisp Cucumber and Fresh Tomato Bruschetta Crostini
Paired with 2011 Sofia Blanc de Blancs
This wine was Mr. Beck’s first assignment for the winery. Mr. Coppola wanted a fresh lively Prosecco-styled sparkling wine for the wedding of his daughter Sofia, the talented film director. And the wine accomplished those goals. Our mantra at WDWU – “A sparkler sets the tone”.
Chilled Shellfish Salad
tiger shrimp, lump crabmeat, spring greens, white balsamic vinaigrette
Paired with 2011 Diamond Chardonnay
I’m not usually a fan of California Chardonnay which can often be a flabby rendition of Carmen Miranda’s hat. I was pleasantly surprised by this wine – ripe but not over-ripe fruit, judicious oak and a creaminess that melded well with the salad and vinaigrette.
Wild Mushroom Risottos
cremini mushrooms, fresh thyme, Romano cheese
Paired with 2010 Votre Santé Pinot Noir
This course was my favorite pairing – and appropriately spring-like. This Pinot is restrained, owing more to Burgundy than California: fruitful but not overextracted with good acidity, moderate alcohol and mild tannins – a great food wine. The aromas of dried leaves, forest floor, mushroom and earth complimented the wild mushrooms in the risotto. The wine’s acidity a good foil to the richness of the dish.
8 oz Filet* & Lobster Tail Rockefeller
stuffed with creamy spinach and Romano cheese
Served with potatoes au gratin and green beans
Paired with 2010 Diamond Claret
” Claret” – have the French ever thanked the British properly for their role in promoting the wines of Bordeaux? Probably not. This wine contains all five Bordeaux varietals was hearty enough to accompany the steak but not so massive as to overpower the lobster.
Chocolate Sin Cake & Fresh Berries
rich and sinful flourless chocolate cake
Paired with 2010 Director’s Cut Cabernet
It’s become something of a fashion to pair chocolate and Cabernet. However, that pairing rarely works for me. The intensity and richness of the chocolate just defeats the wine. I believe some sugar – Port, Maury, Pedro Ximenez – is called for. Individually both the dessert and the wine were excellent just not together.
This had been a perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring (hopefully!) and to gain a respite from the cruelty of the preceding week.
Kudos to both the team from Coppola Winery and the kitchen and wait staff at Ruth’s Chris Steak House for ensuring such an enjoyable and enlightening evening.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House 45School St. Boston MA