Monday, October 3, 2011

Elk Cove Wine Dinner

A few weeks ago, Jose and I had the chance to attend a wine dinner at Lineage featuring Elk Cove Vineyards.  Having previously enjoyed the Berkshire Mountain Distillery cocktail dinner at Lineage, I had high expectations as the prior experience was superb.  This time did not deviate from my expectations as the pairings were all very well thought out and executed.

After arriving (a bit too early), we caught the staff in the middle of a meeting, but we did not have to wait long before the wine started flowing.  With the passed hors d'oeuvre came glasses of 2010 Pinot Gris, which I thought was quite pleasant and easy-going, with notes of limes, gooseberries, and some kind of candy like Smarties or SweeTarts.  This wine was definitely one that I would consider a crowd-pleaser, especially for the likes of a late-summer garden party.  Moreover, the wine went well with a somewhat seafood inflected selection of hors d'oeuvre, including lobster salad served on spoons, gravlax on toast, and parmesan gougères with pesto.

Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2010
Parmesan Gougères with Pesto
A few minutes of mingling later, Jose and I found our seats.  We somehow managed the good fortune of being assigned to a table with a fantastic group of people, for which I suppose I much be quite thankful to Amy.  Not only was our table probably the youngest on average, but also probably the most convivial, at least from the volume of laughter, with no disrespect to anyone else in attendance intended.

People aside, we started the dinner with a salad of Late Summer Market Vegetables with Alisa Craig onion purée and Vermont goat cheese.  Particularly notable in the medley of vegetables were some tasty beets and peas.  The wine pairing for this course was a Pinot Blanc 2009.  Prior to this glass, I cannot recall previously having tasted a pinot blanc, so it was certainly a learning experience.  My tasting notes involve pineapple, raspberries, chalkiness, and lemony acidity.

Late Summer Market Vegetables
The second course was entitled Oak Roasted Mushrooms, constructed as a sort of open-faced pasty and topped by a crispy shallot and herb salad with pinot vinaigrette.  The mushrooms were absolutely delicious and presaged the coming autumn*, although it was my thought that the pastry could have been perhaps a bit flakier.  A glass of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2008 accompanied this dish quite successfully with hints of blueberries and cherry pie woven tightly together with very silky tannins.  The mushrooms in the dish, or perhaps the oak roasting thereof, rather enhanced the wet-forest-floor earthiness in the wine and vice versa.

Oak Roasted Mushrooms
Next came the main course of Long Island Duck Breast served with fingerling potatoes, toasted hazelnuts, sweet corn and scallions alongside.  The dish itself actually struck me as somewhat unusual since it lacked the usual sweetness that one usually finds in many preparations of duck breast.  Instead, it was altogether quite savory, with the hazelnuts loudly providing both textural and gustatory punctuation.  I think the idea of preparing the duck in this fashion was to underline the compatibility of the paired wine, a Pinot Noir "La Bohème" 2009.  The wine featured blackberries and cherries heavily, the intensity of the fruit balanced in part by a bit of what I found to be either pâte sucrée or snickerdoodles.

Long Island Duck Breast
The meal was concluded by Poached Sparrow Arc Pear with almond puree and star anise ice cream.  While the pear was not poached quite as soft as I tend to prefer, the synergy with the star anise ice cream was spectacular.  The concluding wine was an equally sweet Ultima 2008, a dessert wine made from a blend of riesling, gewürztraminer and muscat.  I found it to have flavors of tarte tatin, dried apricots and marmalade, but with enough acidity as to prevent it from being cloying.**

Overall, the dinner certainly lived up to expectations with a full roster of both delicious food and wine.  Undoubtedly, Amy had to put in a lot of effort into the logistical planning before the event for it to go so smoothly, and the rest of the Lineage staff were as charming as ever.  I can only hope that more wine/cocktail pairing dinners are slated for the future, but until then Lineage will still remain one of my regular destinations. 

*Speaking of autumn, mushrooms and Lineage.  Lineage is was in the middle of Mushroom Week at the time I wrote this, but that delicious week of foraged mushroom small plates has since passed.

Bonus Picture: Mushroom Week Menu

**By this point, many glasses of wine had been drunk and no picture was taken.  Apologies.

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