Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sparkling Wine And Glowing Reds Highlight Valentine Dinner

With Valentine’s Day falling awkwardly on a Sunday, the Toledo Wines and Vines crew cooked up a gourmet meal highlighted with a constellation of outstanding wines.

Who Needs An Overpriced Restaurant?

For Valentine’s Day, Green Dragon and I are probably like a multitude of other couples. I make dinner reservations – often at the last minute – we wait in line and then cram into a fancy restaurant. Since it’s so crowded the wait is often long and the service questionable.

With Valentine’s Day on Sunday this year, we took another approach. I play tennis on Sunday nights. So I assumed I would have to cancel or risk the rage of the Green Dragon.

I was mistaken. Green Dragon informed me that she and Glorious T, her buddy and a member of the tasting team, would make dinner. This would take place while the Cabinator (her husband who also goes by “Wine Sponge”) and I played in our Sunday night tennis ladder.
What a deal! The fabulous dining experience would be ready when we got back from the club.

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3-2-1 Lift Off!

When we arrived home, delicious odors wafted through the halls. Garlic parmesan shrimp appetizers were awaiting. I had a couple of bottles of sparkling wine chilled down. We led off with the Chandon Extra Dry Riche from California.

Outrageously good! Creamy bubbles and, as billed, a rich goodness with a hint of sweetness. A shrimp and a sip of bubby erased all memories of any bad shots during the tennis match.

Since we polished off the Chandon before the first course – a delicious lobster bisque – I decided we needed a second sparkler. I opened the Dubl 2006 Greco Vino Spumante. This is a somewhat quirky sparkler with a burnished gold color and a smoky, citrus flavor.

In An Instant A Fumble And A Shattering

As I was bring the flutes to the table, I somehow batted the glass and it went shattering to the floor. Unfortunately, there was no one close to blame it on. Even my dog Amber was in the next room.

Thankfully we were soon seated and enjoying an incredible lobster bisque along with a salad with goat cheese crouton. Priceless! Somewhere someone was trying to cut a rubber chicken in an overpriced restaurant while we were dining like royalty.

As we transitioned to our entree, we popped the cork on the 2011 Soléna Guadeloupe Vineyard Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. This comes from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA within Willamette and has a deep raspberry flavor with traces of vanilla and herb.

On To The Main Course

The main course was Chicken Cordon Bleu. Covered with panko, this was a delectable treat served with potatoes and sautéed mushrooms and a thick garlicky cheese sauce. The Soléna continued to rock as we talked and laughed our way through the entree.

The decanter was empty and it was time to open another red – this was a beautiful 2012 Seven Hills McClellan Estate Vineyard Cabernet Franc from Walla Walla. This was indeed beauty in a bottle with elegant aromatics with cherry, blackberry and even some mineral notes. It was Cab Franc heaven!
We finished with a fudgy orange cappuccino torte, which sent our taste buds into orbit. We then retired to the living room to chat, clink our glasses and savor the moment.

One More Wine Before We Go

It was then I made my second mistake of the evening. I asked the Cabinator if he wanted more wine. Turns out he had Monday off for Presidents Day, so getting up early the next day wasn’t a concern for him. “Sure,” he replied and I returned with a bottle of Efeste 2010 Upright Merlot from Washington State’s Red Mountain AVA.

I first learned of Efeste during my visit to Taste of Washington last year in Seattle. What an impressive winery. Upright shows what I love about Washington State Merlot – it has depth, it has character and if a wine can have gravitas, it does.

Upright has dustiness and flavor notes of crushed blueberries, coffee and vanilla. (That sounds like a pretty good dessert too – but this is a dry wine.) The evening sipped and slipped away.
A special thanks to our Valentines, Green Dragon and Glorious T. We love them almost as much as wine – just kidding, of course!

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