Last night, Tuesday, August 15th, the Whitehouse Crawford Restaurant held a "Walla Walla Chef and Artisan Dinner," with dishes prepared by local chefs from with artisan foods grown by local farms. I had gotten a group of friends from PAWS (Perfectly Aged Wine Sippers) together - Ted and Joyce Cox, Howard and Sue Higgen, Philippe and Penny Michel, and his brother. and Lynn and I. The dinner was a BYOW - Bring Your Own Wine - event, with corkage charges waived. So I volunteered to supply the wines for the dinner from my bulging collection.
When the menu was first announced, I found it a challenging one for wine pairing. What wines to have with pork belly and roasted black cod? What I came up with was a Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir themed selection. What made Grenache a logical choice was the medium bodied, aromatic and moderately tannic characteristics of the wines which would go with the rich, fatty dishes. So I put together a selection.
When we assembled at Whitehouse Crawford for the sold-out event, we were presented with the following menu, to which I have added my wine selections and my comments.
Chicken liver mousse bruschetta with pickled strawberry gelee and dijon. Rich Koby, Fat Duck Inn.
Radicchio agrodolce with goat cheese mousse and fennel pollen on black rye, Robin Leventhal, Wine Country Culinary Institute
2016 March Cellars Rosé, Walla Walla Valley (supplied by Whitehouse Crawford) - Fresh and dry, this went nicely with the hors d'oeuvres. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Reynvaan Family Vineyard Grenache Blanc, Walla Walla Valley - With floral aromatics, flavors ranging from citrus to tropical and piercing saline minerality and acidity, this made a fine accompaniment. 19/20 points.
2014 The Walls "Lip Stinger" Grenache Blanc, Yakima Valley, French Creek Vineyard - Crisp and bracing, yet finely fruited, this was a "lip stinger" indeed. Perfect pairing. 19/20 points.
Stuffed Peter Pan squash with lamb and feta. Lainie Carey, Whitehouse Crawford.
2013 Cayuse Vineyard "God only Knows" Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, Armada Vineyard - With an amazing, smoky, perfumed nose and thick, yet svelte, flavors, this was a superb alignment. 19.5/20 points.
Roasted Alaskan sockeye salmon with sweet corn, cherry tomato, purple potato succotash and gribiche, Robin Leventhal, Wine Country Culinary Institute.
2011 No Girls Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, La Paciencia Vineyard - With sensuous aromas of wild fruits and well structure, and a long, fleshy, complex finish, this paired well with the sockeye (substituted for the black cod originally announced). 19+/20 points.
Pork belly porchetta with stone fruit mustard and fines herbes potatoes. Rich Koby, Fat Duck Inn.
2012 Clos des Brusquierès Chateauneuf du Pape - Sultry and smoky, with lavish, rich savory aromas and flavors, showing the earthy and rocky "was" character, this was a perfect fit with the fat inter layered pork. 19+/20 points.
Rye profiterole with blackberry-sage ice cream, stewed blackberries and whipped crème fraiche. Tina Meyer, Whitehouse Crawford.
2012 Betz Family "Besoleil" Red Wine, Columbia Valley - This "CdP" style blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Consult, 15% Mourvèdre and 15% Syrah, showed supple, generous, yet bold and full flavors that counterpointed the cream and stewed blackberries. 19/20 points.
2012 Domaine de la Charbonnière Chateaunuf du Pape, Cuvée Spéciale - This was the "star" of the evening. An intense, dense old vine CdP, with tremendous depth and complexity, this really stood out. 19.5+/20 points.
Thank you to our Artisans
Frog Hollow Farms, Hayshaker Fram, Montelliet Fromage and Uppe Dry Creek Ranch.
At our table, the dinner and the wine and food pairings were declared a great success.