Thursday, March 3, 2011

Duckhorn Vineyards Wine Dinner - Russell's Dining & Bar - Bothell, WA

Well by now I think it’s quite apparent that I like wine. And I like food. And I REALLY like wine dinners. Food and wine pairing has become one of my favorite things, and while I don’t consider myself anywhere near an expert at it, I do enjoy tasting other people’s (who are more “experts” in pairing) menus. In the early part of February I, along with a usual partner in crime @erindrinkswine, attended another wine dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Russell’s Dining & Bar (@russellsdining). As you may or may not remember, I attended a wine dinner at Russell’s back in April of last year for Sojen Cellars of Everett. Chef Russell Lowell creates some of my favorite meals and he really has a knack for pairing his delicious courses with wine. Switching it up a bit, this dinner featured a California winery, which is not a region I have had the opportunity to taste paired with food. I had also never had Duckhorn wines (@duckhornwine) so I was eager to try something new!

Duckhorn Vineyards started in the 1970s in Napa and was named after its founders, Dan & Margaret Duckhorn. They got their start in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with the 1978 vintage and added other vintages to their portfolio over the years. In addition to their Duckhorn wines, which focus primarily on Bordeaux varietals, they also produce the Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, and Decoy labels, several of which we sampled along with our dinner.

We started our meal with a first course of Pan Seared New Bedford Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc & Chive Oil. This was paired along with the 2009 Migration Chardonnay from the Anderson Valley. This Chardonnay was just started with the 2008 vintage and uses 100% French Oak with 90% barrel fermentation. My first opinion of this was “helloooo oak!”. This is a classic California Chardonnay and is crisp on first taste but has a lot of oak on the finish. The scallops were amazing paired with this wine. The pairing took away the oak, but only enough to balance it out a bit. It was a very nice pairing!

We moved on to a Braised Cabbage Salad with Chevre & Pintelle Rillette, which was paired along with a 2008 Migration Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. Interesting to note about this wine is that there were forest fires in 2008 in the area of the vineyard. The smoke from the fires in the distance sat on top of the vines for six weeks when the grapes were ripening. So the smoke present in this wine is truly because “nature did it!”. It’s a classic Pinot Noir and I really loved the nose on this one. It really brought out the Chevre in the dish. I was a little apprehensive of something called “Braised Cabbage Salad” at first, but this dish ended up being one of my favorites of the dinner. I would eat this again in a heart beat. All of the distinct flavors of the dish really made it quite interesting.

Our next course consisted of a Roasted Tomato Soup with Duck Confit & Crème Fraiche, which was paired along with the 2007 Duckhorn Paraduxx from Napa Valley. The Paraduxx, which always has a label featuring two ducks, (quite literally, a “pair-a-ducks”), is a Zinfandel based blend containing 72% Zinfandel, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. The Paraduxx label is really an “experiment wine” for Duckhorn and they play with it to get the perfect blend each vintage. This wine had perfect fruit and spice, pairing with the Duck Confit in the soup quite nicely.

Next, we got a real treat. We enjoyed Sautéed Elk Medallions with Roasted Shallot 7 Chanterelle Demi Glace. This was paired along with the 2007 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley. This is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc and has been released for just 6 months now. This is a lush, full and structured Cab which accompanied the amazingly tender Elk Medallions just perfectly. Man oh man, if I could eat Elk Medallions every day I might just be the happiest person alive…

We finished up our meal with a Caramel Chocolate Tart with Crème Anglaise. This was served along with the 2008 Duckhorn Merlot from the Napa Valley. Duckhorn is best known for their Merlot and this vintage was no exception. They always blend with their wines, this one containing 86% Merlot, 9.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The nose was fantastic and it possessed some great and bright fruit. A great finish to an amazing meal.

We rolled ourselves out of Russell’s with a new appreciation for this amazing winery and the quality wines it puts out year after year. I definitely look forward to picking up a bottle of Duckhorn in the future and I can’t wait until my next meal at Russell’s!

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