Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 7, 2017 Wine Dinner At The Saltbox Café Featuring Eberle Vineyards.

OK, Saltbox Fans.
I have to give you this picture right up front since it's so darn cute.

This is my favorite picture of the evening.

 On February 7, we were happy to attend a special "POP-UP" wine dinner at The Saltbox Café featuring Eberle Vineyards.

The menu is the creation of Chefs Amanda and Randolph Sprinkle.
Our servers are Mike and Matt.
Special thanks to Kerry and Joey of Tryon Distributing.
Special guest tonight was Stacy from Eberle Winery.

Welcome to "Kicking It With Eberle."
Course One  
Baked crab cake over curried cauliflower purée, black pepper and onion jam, and crispy sunchokes, paired with Eberle 2015 Mill Road Viognier.

Kerry of Tryon Distributing welcomed us to a special evening at The Saltbox Café.  As always, he encouraged everyone to try a little bit of each wine prior to and along with each course, noting that it's fun to see how the characteristics of wine meld and marry as the evening goes on.  Kerry then introduced us to our special guest tonight, Stacy Bonnifield, National Sales Manager of Eberle Winery.

Stacy:  I was born and raised in Paso Robles.  When I was growing up in this cattle ranching and farming area, there were only three wineries.  Now, we have over 200 in Paso Robles and Gary Eberle is very much responsible for that.  It is now more than $1 1/2 billion industry in the county.

Gary Eberle is a very large man with a large personality.  He was born in a small town outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, called New Township.  He was an all-star football player in high school and was raised in a single parent home.  They didn't have a lot of money, but he was a good football player and got a scholarship to play for Penn State as a defensive lineman.  Eberle graduated from Penn State with a degree in biology and went down to LSU to study cellular genetics.  He started drinking wine with one of his professors about three years into getting his masters.  Being exposed to the world of fine wines in New Orleans really sparked his interest in wines.  Eberle transferred to U.C. Davis to study oenology and received his degree in 1971.  He traveled south to Paso Robles and started a a small winery called Meridian which he later sold.  He started Eberle Winery in 1979, establishing the appellation in 1983.  And he was the first winemaker to produce 100% Syrah in the United States.

We're starting off with a 2015 Voignier. This is a white Rhone varietal.  Paso Robles can grow a lot of different wine varietals well, but the Rhone varietals do very well in our coastal climate.  Temperatures are cool in the evening and hot in the day during the ripening season.

This is a delightful wine.  Probably our most friendly, smooth pairing wine.  There's honeysuckle in this, stone fruit on the palate, and it has a nice and spicy, crisp finish.  It's going to go perfectly with your first course.

Randolph's Notes:  This Voignier is so bright and elegant we thought we'd go with a classic crab cake with a curried cauliflower purée and little dots of a grilled onion jam, with crispy sunchoke slices on top.  I encourage you to mix the cauliflower purée and the onion jam together.

Rosie's Wine Nots:  Rosie loves a "friendly" wine.  When this wine came to the table, we introduced ourselves and became fast friends during the course of the first course.  This wine will be on my Christmas card list.

Playing the role of April tonight, we have Dinkle...

Next, our second course.
Course Two
Seared local rockfish over hen of the woods and black truffle risotto with leek fondue, paired with Eberle 2014 Estate Chardonnay.

Stacy:  Our second wine is 2014 Estate Chardonnay.  This is all estate fruit.  It's aged in 1/3 stainless steel, 1/3 neutral oak, and 1/3 new French oak and the beauty about aging this wine in different lots is you get this very well-balanced, crowd-pleasing Chardonnay.  It's more fruit forward if you like a naked Chardonnay and a little toasty oak if you like an oaky buttery Chardonnay.  Again, a great wine to pair.

Randolph's Notes:  That toasty oakiness kind of lends itself to our next dish - mushroom risotto on top of a leek fondue with seared local rockfish.

Rosie's Wine Nots:  Did Stacy say "naked" Chardonnay?  No wonder it's crowd-pleasing.

Our third course.
Course Three:  
Grilled pork loin over seasoned black beans, charred corn salsa, and avocado crème, paired with Eberle 2013 Steinbeck Syrah.

Stacy Says:  We're moving on to our Syrah, which Gary Eberle has a very interesting story about.  He actually was the first winemaker in the United States to produce a 100% Syrah varietal wine back in 1975.

I've worked for Gary for nine years now and when I first started, I'd go out and people would say, "Oh, yeah.  That's the guy who smuggled the root stock back in his sock from France."  I had to know the story behind this.  When Gary was a student at U.C. Davis, one of his professors gave him some certified Charpoutier root stock and told him to go down to Paso Robles, we've surveyed the soils there, and this is going to be a great place to grow Syrah.  Don't tell anybody where you got the root stock from, but you can tell the story when we pass away.  Gary waited until 1991 when his well-known viticulture/oenology professor passed away to tell the real story.  He says that 90% of the Charpoutier root stock found in the United States came from his original cutting.

Gary called this "Blueberries and Blood."  That's his analogy of what he thinks Syrah is.  It has  nice blueberry, earthy, leather, mocha, and coffee qualities, which I think sounds more palatable.

Randolph's Notes:  When I tried this wine, I immediately wanted something with a little bit of spice.  I'm thinking about Mexican or American Southwest, so I did a pork dish with a little bit of wine and chili and finished with black beans with a little bit of spice to them and a corn salsa.

Rosie's Wine Nots:  I don't consider these grapes of wrath.  These are happy grapes.  And the grapes make me happy.
Oh wait...  What???  Oops.  Sorry.  Wrong Steinbeck.
An impressive, aggressive wine.  Strongwilled.  Juicy, but equally melancholy.  Corpulent and robust.  Full-bodied.  I would say this wine has a BMI of 31.

Mason is helping out backstage tonight.

Chef Randolph plating.

On to course #4.
Course Four:
Charcuterie plate of merguez, boudin noir, and duck confit, paired with 2013 Steinbeck Zinfandel.

Stacy Says:  This Zinfandel is made from three different California Paso Robles vineyards - Steinbeck, Wine-Bush, and Cocavin.  What I love about this wine - when you take a sip of this wine, it seeps into the sides of your mouth, just rolls down the back of your tongue, it's something you can chew on.  It's delicious.  It's not that heavy Zin.  It's just a very elegant wine.

Randolph's Notes:  I really enjoyed the spice of this zinfandel and decided to pair it with a charcuterie plate.  Three different cured meats.  It has merguez, which is a lamb sausage.  I have boudin noir, which is a blood sausage.  And a classical duck confit.  Also on there is a very old sauce that nobody's made since 1932 - a Cumberland sauce which is made with currant,  a little bit of port reduction, and orange zest.

Rosie's Wine Nots:  Do not allow this wine to inspire you to drunk dial your ex.  Very fine grapes gave it up for this.  Show respect.  Be sure to save the cork for that Pinterest project you've had in mind for the past 2 years.  This is a complex wine that defies you to describe it.  So I won't.  Again, I question my palate's ability and aptitude to truly appreciate the full magnitude of such otherworldliness.

On to #5.

Course Five:  Seared beef tenderloin with foie gras compound butter, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and horseradish whipped potatoes, paired with Eberle 2015 Côtes-du-Rôbles Rouge.

Stacy Says:  Has anyone noticed on our bottles we have a boar?  Does anyone know what Eberle means in German?

Rosie says:  Yes to #1, and to #2, I would hazard a guess and say that Eberle means boar in German.

Back to Stacy:  Eberle translates to "small boar."  The next wine tonight is our Côtes-du-Rôbles which Gary started making in 1994.  He made it for two years and nobody got it.  Eberle said, "I can't sell this wine."  He brought it back in 2001 and now we can't keep it on the shelves.  This is what I call our perfect bistro wine.  This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, three great varietals that when they come together make a nice, classy wine with finesse.  Lots of different layers to this wine.

When I drink this wine, I think of being in a nice little bistro restaurant, it's raining outside, it's cold ...

Rosie here:  Stacy, you're getting dangerously close to Rosie territory...

Back to Stacy:  it's cold, there's a fireplace, and it's one of those wines you can sit down with all day and eat with different foods, and you never get drunk drinking all day...  It's just one of those wines you really enjoy.  A classic wine.
We only made 650 cases of this.  I have 112 case for my restaurant/wholesale market.  It's a wine in demand.  Enjoy.

Randolph's Notes:  For this course, I decided to go with a nice seared tenderloin.  It's going on top of a potato horseradish purée and finished with a foie gras compound butter and roasted Brussel sprouts.

Rosie's Wine Nots:  From Eberle Wine Notes: "This medium bodied wine captures aromas of dried cherries, cranberries, and forest floor, while the palate is filled with ripe strawberry and rhubarb compote wrapped up in rustic tannins."

 Forest floor?  If I recall correctly, the last time I tasted forest floor I was face-down on a forest floor after a night of debauchery which involved a vin rouge and I would have to say the wine was sous-bois forward.  Forest floor has risen to a new level of funky badass. I believe notes of moss, dead leaves, and small ripe animals featured prominently.   Squirrel tracks ran up my back.  I definitely felt deer hooves.  I was wrapped up like a douche, another deadbeat in the night...  Now I've got that ear-worm.

Back to what Stacy was saying, "... and you never get drunk drinking all day..."  Well, OK, Stacy.  That sounds like a challenge.

It was a dark and stormy day. The fireplace was roaring.  Rosie was drinking.  It became a darker and stormier night.  The fireplace was purring.  Rosie was still drinking.  By now, Rosie was shit-faced.   Stacy, you cannot drink this wine all day long without repercussions.

Our last course.

Course Six:   Spooned "berramisu" with pomegranate wine syrup and sugar coated pistachios, paired with Eberle 2016 Muscat Canelli.

Stacy Says:  For our final wine, we have Muscat Canelli.  This is one of the first three original wines Gary started making.  He modeled his style after Robert Mondavi's Muscato d'Oro.  Mondavi was a huge mentor for Gary Eberle.

This is our Muscat Canelli.  It's all estate fruit.  One beautiful thing about this wine is it is semi-sweet.  It's 5.6% residual sugar which is considered semi-sweet, so it's not a real cloying wine.  This is a wine that can be paired with spicy food, it can be used as an aperitif on a hot summer day, or as we're having it now - for dessert.

Just a beautiful well-done Muscat Canelli.  Beautiful nose.
Our winemaker will tell you this is one of the most difficult wines to make because of the acid and the fruit.

Chef Randolph's Notes:  For this last course, my wife is making a tiramisu, or a "berramisu" with ladyfingers, blackberries, strawberries, mousse, and pomegranate syrup.

Rosie's Wine Nots:  I happen to like a difficult wine, because Rosie, too, is difficult.  

Amanda's desserts are always a favorite, so you get lots of pictures of the pretty.

The Saltbox Crew tonight - Westin, Chef Randolph, Mason, and Chef Amanda.

Stacy of Eberle Vineyards and Chefs Randolph and Amanda.

More of the Saltbox Crew tonight - Joey of Tryon Distributing, Stacy of Eberle Vineyards, Chefs Sprinkles, and Kerry of Tryon Distributing.

Mr. Hawthorne was color-coordinated.

Chef Amanda, peaking around the corner.
Yes, Amanda.  We're still here.

There's Matt.

And Mike.

Heh...  This is The Saltbox Café kitchen after ... what? ... at least 35 x 6 dishes out.
That's a minimum of 210 platings.
I KNOW what my kitchen would look like after only 3 meals plated.  And it would NOT be this.

For our previous wine dinners, please click on the links.

February 2, 2017.  Holy Trinity!  Taking it down to New Orleans.
January 5, 2017, we Played With Pinot. 
 December 19, 2016 we enjoyed Christmas in Paris.
December 14, 2016, we savored Holiday Reds.
  December 1, 2016, we experienced a Night In Italy.
  November 14, 2016, we enjoyed a Taste of Northern Italy.
November 3, 2016, we got to Fall In Love With Wine.
October 2016, we traveled the Loire Region in France. 
October 2016, we experienced Madrid
September 2016, we enjoyed South Africa
April 20, 2016, we explored the vineyards of Oregon.
March 29, 2016, we visited the Pacific Northwest.
March 9, 2016, we had a lovely visit to Chile.
In February 2016, we visited Italy.
Also in  February 2016, we took a road trip to California.
 In December 2015, we visited France.
 Also in December 2015, we enjoyed a Réveillon Feast.
  And again in December 2015, we visited Japan.
October 2015, we visited Germany.
  March 2015, we visited Italy.
  February 2015, we visited Chocolate. (Why yes, Chocolate is a country.)
  December 2014, we visited Paris.
 November 2014, we visited Argentina.
 October 2014, we visited Spain.

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