© by Sheral Schowe
When a winemaker comes to town it is unfortunate that the public cannot be made aware of his presence to enjoy the opportunity of learning about his wines. Due to legal restrictions, the advertisement of winemaker dinners is strictly prohibited in Utah. I will, however, share one of the most perfect, yet private, wine and food pairings that I have ever experienced. The wines were among my favorite: Acacia and Carmenet. The food was a recently discovered treasure of Deer Valley: Sai-Sommet.
Mike Richmond, the winemaker at Acacia, has had a long history with the Chalone Wine Group. I first met him at Carmenet Winery in Sonoma. I fondly remember an exciting ride to the top of the mountain where he showed me the huge boulders that had to be blasted out with dynamite in order to make way for the planting of the cabernet sauvignon vines. We also shared a common love for chili peppers. It is always a treat to taste wines with one of the most knowledgeable and personable winemakers in the business.
We began the pairing with a salad of New England lobster tails served with a salpicon of mango, papaya, and pineapple, accented with créme fraiche. It was paired with the Acacia 1997 Chardonnay Carneros ($21.20). This chardonnay has a lot of inherent tropical influences, which were highlighted by the mango and pineapple in the salad. I canít think of a more perfect pairing for this particular wine. Lobster is always an excellent choice for California chardonnay.
Next was a gratin of fennel and poached Pearl Point Bay oysters served on braised pea-shoots, garnished with a Washington lobster mushroom sauté and a saffron vin blanc sauce. The sauce had just the slightest hint of vanilla, which accented the same flavors in the wine from the oak influence. Paired with this interesting dish was the Acacia 1996 Reserve Chardonnay, Carneros ($32.50).
The Acacia 1997 Pinot Noir, Carneros ($22.10) was served with oven roasted guinea hen with a timbale of pheasant and chanterelles, with huckleberry pheasant reduction. The possibilities for food pairing are endless with this wine, which is my favorite from the Carneros.
The list of wines concluded with Carmenetís 1996 Dynamite Cabernet ($19.05) from the north coast appellation. It was paired with a macadamia crusted pork loin and a demi-glaze of apple dandy plums. This is a very reasonably priced cabernet for all of its rich, satisfying flavors that match so beautifully with food.
The skill and artistry of chef James Dumas was a perfect complement to the artistry and craftsmanship of winemaker Mike Richmond. This was an example of how perfectly flavors, texture, and art can combine for an absolutely epicurean experience.
Sept. 2, 1999