Jun 24
The Wine Dinner
posted by: dawn in Italian, Restaurant Reviews, Wine Tasting on 06 24th, 2009 | |

As a whineaux, I have to be honest, I’m typically completely unimpressed by wine and food pairing classes and wine dinners. Yet somehow I’m also inexplicably drawn to them. No matter how much wine I taste (or guzzle) or how many “experts” I meet with I feel quite insecure about my palate which is perhaps why I keep going to these things and joining wine clubs.

Friday night our favorite restaurant, Café D’Antonio in Celebration hosted a wine dinner and Angels Share Wine provided the wines. Angel’s Share Wine is a distributor that focuses on boutique wineries in the Napa area, in this case they selected California wines made in the Italian style.

The dinner was an incredible 4 course meal, Chef Sergio outdid himself. Each course was paired with a wine.

First Course – Insalata di Finocchio

Arugula topped with fresh fennel, red onion, tangerine pulp and finished with tangerine dressing served with a 2006 Crawford Wine Company “Highlander” Sauvignon Blanc.

The wine was poured before the food was served, giving us all a chance to taste the wine on its own. It retails for about $23 and this was the one wine we all agreed we liked (we had a group of six ranging in wine tastes from the serious collector to the Fish Eye Fan Club). On its own the wine was a great summer glass, light in color and fragrance we all picked up on fruit and acid, it was smooth and enjoyable. The wine representative told us we tasted pineapple, but we disagreed. When paired with the salad this wine came to life, the spice of the arugula and sweet of the tangerine was a perfect compliment.

Second Course – Tonno alla Griglia

Fresh Tuna Loin encrusted with fresh cracked pepper, grilled over oak blocks served with caramelized apples paired with a 2007 Bocatta Wine Chardonnay from their Stag’s Leap vineyard. The wine was from Mark Harold and aged in French Oak barrels.

Again, the wine came first and alone. The difference was this time we did not like it at all. The first taste and smell was of alcohol and hit the back of our mouth with an unwelcome bite. Considering they went to the significant expense of aging the wine in French Oak, it was completely lacking in that “Oakey, buttery yum” that I love about Chardonnay.

The tuna was our favorite course of the night. Chef Sergio gave us excellent cuts of fish and the scent of oak from the grill was still on the fish when it came to the table. I personally never would have put the apples with the fish but I truly loved the combination. Each dish was superb on its own, but when combined in a single mouthful the flavor exploded. The wine did come together with the food, but Napa Chardonnay’s typically make my heart sing, especially the Stag’s Leap vineyards. At a retail price of $32 I didn’t hate it, but I found it disappointing and there are better values out there for sure.

Third Course – Agnello

Leg of Lamb marinated with garlic, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil then roasted and accompanied by Italian mushroom risotto served with a 2004 Hestan Vineyards “Meyer” Cabernet Sauivgnon.

If we hadn’t been so full by the time the lamb arrived, it may have been our favorite course. Tender, moist and delicate not at all over seasoned and the risotto at Antonio’s is always a treat so it was a lovely pairing. The wine was a big fruity cab, not at all spicy. The nose had quite a bit of alcohol, but also the expected berry and spice. The texture was pure velvet. While I enjoyed it, I’m not convinced that it is worthy of a $58 retail price tag (which puts it on a restaurant wine list at roughly $140 and absolutely not worth that)

Fourth Course – Crespelle di Ciocolato

Chocolate crepe filled with fresh chocolate whipped chocolate cream and finished with a drizzle of blackberry reduction served with a 2006 Charter Oak Winery “Monte Rosso” Zinfindel.

I can’t possibly improve on the description of the dessert, it lived up to its promise, not too sweet and a big chocolate payoff – need I say more.

The wine is made by hand in a 100 year old basket press and the vines are Sonoma old growth (dating to 1880). The care  taken in producing the wine was evident in the glass. It was a dark hearty wine that stood up to the chocolate and blackberry but didn’t overpower it. It was an excellent pairing. Again, I think the wine was a bit overpriced for what it offered, $57 per bottle retail, but this is a wine that could comfortably take you through dinner to dessert and in that sense I wouldn’t be disappointed if I ordered if in a restaurant.

I hope Antonio’s offers another wine dinner. The food was fantastic and I was able to experience wines I would not otherwise have tasted.

4 Responses to “The Wine Dinner”

  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  2. Great review! I think I absolutely have to make my way back over to Celebration just to try this restaurant… let me know if you ever need another couple to attend one of these tastings with you.


  3. I’ll be sure to post a notice when they do it again — we’d love to have you join us!

  4. I talked to Chef Sergio tonight. They are keen to do it again!

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