This delectable article was written by my friend and guest blogger Charlotte Monte who had the pleasure of attending the annual EDWA (El Dorado Winery Association) Vintners’ Dinner. Enjoy!
For the second remarkable year in a row, my husband Paul and I, along with four other couples, experienced El Dorado County’s Winery Association’s Annual Vintners’ Dinner. Each year, the EDWA showcases a six-course meal with wine pairings that kicks off the spring wine tasting season.
Held in the historic and lovely Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center at Sequoia, (formerly the Bee-Bennett House on Bee Street, complete with ghost stories!), the EDWA dinner is a beautiful meal with wine pairings. In some instances, there are two wines per course! At the beginning of each course, the winemaker makes a short presentation about his or her winery, and the wine the diners are about to sample. Then the winemaker takes a seat at a table, and they rotate around the tables at each course so that every participant has a chance to meet them and ask questions.
This year’s theme was “A Taste of the Mediterranean”, and I found it superb. The appetizer, a cashew-crusted, savory cheese timbale was flavorful and delicious, paired with two whites: David Girard Coda Blanc, a very dry, balanced wine perfect for the savory appetizer; and Lava Cap’s Sauvignon Blanc, which I preferred as it was more sparkly and crisp.
The seafood course that followed was grilled wild salmon on wild mushroom ragu, with pesto drizzle and dill sprig. Well, I’d eat mushrooms morning, noon and night so this dish was scrumptious in my book. Nello Olivo, the owner of the tasting room on the ground floor of the building and winery of the same name, shared a 2007 Barbera. The Barbera was a surprisingly perfect red wine for the fish, smooth and buttery and not overpowering.
As Designated Driver I was having literally a splash of wine on the tongue at each tasting, which I think contributed to my overall appreciation of the wine and the food. The salad course that followed was equally light and luscious: fire-roasted chicken on flat bread with Asian slaw. This was a double-dip Zin pairing: Crystal Basin Cellars’s 2009, and Sierra Oaks Estate’s 2007. The former was sweeter, and my notes describe the ’07 as ‘bitey.’ I would have preferred the Sierra Oaks with a sweeter dish. The CBC ’09 paired perfectly.
All during the dinner, we were enjoying various vintners’ conversations, learning about their methods, their stories and their intriguing lives.
Three courses remained: pasta, the entrée and dessert. The pasta was prosciutto, asparagus and bleu cheese agnolotti matched with Auriga Wine Cellars’s Super Tuscan. It was 100% super. Next came beef ragu on potato puree in Vol-au-Vant paired with a “Méthode Ancienne” ’09 Syrah from Mira Flores. Lest you think ‘méthode ancienne’ bespeaks of the wildly romantic, it simply means that the grapes are stomped by foot. (This is the old way that the yeast infusion was begun. Yes, I am also glad that they left this bit of news till the dinner was almost over. I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for dessert . . .)
…Which was a plate of assorted treats: chocolate ganache, candied nuts, Shaft bleu cheese, dried cherry compote and lavender panacotta. The panacotta was absolutely irresistible, and I found eating the bleu cheese with the candied nuts a tasty combination. Each dessert tidbit was divine. Fenton-Herriot Vineyards supplied a superb Port, neither too syrupy nor sweet, and perfectly balanced.
By this time you are likely wondering what you have to do to become invited to this dining and wining extravaganza. First of all, many wine pairing recipes can be found right on their website. For more information, visit the website, or use the downloadable application for a dinner invitation here. The dinner this year cost $55/person, a truly outstanding deal.
I hope you enjoy the beauty and freshness of El Dorado’s wine country. With so much wine, terroir and flavors to explore we are fortunate to live in such a bountiful, beautiful area.