Friday, May 14, 2010

Sojen Cellars Winemaker Dinner - Russell's Dining & Bar - Bothell, WA

I’m so excited to be able to post about the second winemaker dinner I was able to attend. On April 22nd, 2010, Russell’s Dining & Bar in Bothell (@RussellsDining) hosted Sojen Cellars (@sojencellars, @sojengirl) for a winemaker dinner at the restaurant. After my first experience at the Andrew Will dinner, I was very excited to try wine and food pairings from a winery that I already knew quite well at a restaurant that I consider one of my favorites. Once again, neither winery nor restaurant disappointed. Sojen Cellars is owned and operated by Max & Jen Jensen and has a tasting room located in Everett, WA. The winery is a side project and passion for Max & Jen, as they both have jobs outside of the winery. While I haven’t had a chance to make it to the tasting room in Everett yet, I hear they have some great Friday night events with live music and tastings. I look forward to heading up there one of these days!

Our first course of the dinner was pan seared early season halibut served with baby spinach and arugula, wild mustard and thyme vinaigrette and manchego cheese. This amazing course was paired with Sojen’s 2008 Olive’s White Blend. This wine was actually named after a dog, a small pug named Olive! This white blend was an amazing pair for the flavorful halibut and a great way to begin the meal. A crisp white is so perfect with tender halibut. I tore through my plate so fast that I didn’t even get a shot of the course before hand. See photo below, it was just THAT good.

Next we moved on to a roasted pintelle with beluga lentils, spring carrots and natural jus. This course was served with Sojen’s ‘Ride Wild’ Cave B Syrah. This 100% Syrah was named for Sojen’s neighbor, a motorcycle shop! The label is great and lively and the same can be said about the wine. This is a very jammy, fruit forward Syrah and as Jen Jensen stated “it’s a California wine from Washington”. This wine ended up being my favorite, and I definitely purchased a bottle to go home with me. Pintelle is something I have never had before and what a treat that was. The combination of the pintelle and the lentils was fantastic.

Our third course was a cedar roasted pork tenderloin with white pepper polenta, smoked poblano jam, braised cipollini onions, and Italian prune glaze. This amazing dish was served with the Sojen Cellars 2006 Broken Oar Red Cabernet/Merlot blend. This wine was originally made for local Wine Styles stores and is a 40% Merlot and 60% Cab. This was a deep and sassy wine and was quite enjoyable. The pork tenderloin served in this course was by far the best I have ever had. Normally (at least for me) when you taste a pork tenderloin, it’s fairly dry and you usually dip in juice or sauce for additional flavor. Not this dish. The pork was cooked perfectly and the flavors at the first bite were so amazing that no additional sauce was necessary. I can’t say that I am usually “wowed” by pork dishes, but I most definitely was at this meal.

We finished up our meal with a rhubarb and strawberry marscarpone cheesecake with begonia petals (edible flowers, who knew?!) and blueberry preserves. This delicious dessert was served along with the Sojen 2007 Broken Oar Syrah. This wine hits the pallet hard at first, but finishes smooth. It was a great complement to the sweet flavors in the dessert. While I’m not normally a cheesecake fan, this dessert was different than the norm, and was such a wonderful way to end our meal.

Overall. I was extremely impressed with this dinner and accompanying wine pairings. Russell’s sends some of my favorite dishes out of the kitchen consistently and the experience at the restaurant is always wonderful. It was nice to have owner Russell Dean Lowell come out and explain each course, making sure it hit the table at just the right moment during the meal. It was also great to see Max & Jen Jensen again, two people I always have a wonderful time with. What amazing winemaker dinner will I attend next? Stay tuned…

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