Saturday, August 24, 2019

Trefethen – A Wine Pairing Experience

April 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Main Blog

Sometimes I wonder how anyone could not be absolutely crazy about food and wine, especially when the two come together in the perfect setting. I was having this thought the other evening as I sat on the patio of my friends’ home enjoying a lovely wine tasting hosted by Hailey Trefethen, of Trefethen Family Vineyards. The wines were paired with small bites created by Chef Dan of P&C Catering here in Las Vegas. Every pairing was perfection! Throw in a beautiful cool spring evening and the company of friends and fellow food and wine enthusiasts, and I don’t think I would have changed a thing.

We started the tasting with Trefethen 2009 Riesling, a dry and fragrant wine with green apple, peaches, citrus, tropical fruit and a touch of minerality and floral elegance. I tend to favor red wines, but I must say that Trefethen wins me over with both their Riesling and their Chardonnay. The Riesling was a great way to get my palate juicy and alive, ready to accept whatever would come next. That something was a Seared Sea Scallop with Roasted Tomato, Classic Béarnaise, Fingerling Potato Crisp and Fresh Chives. Although other pairings followed that were wonderful, the scallop paired with the Riesling really was divine and easily my favorite of the night. I was surprised to discover, as I snagged my fourth scallop from the passing tray, that the Chef only had tasting notes provided by the winery with which to create his pairings. All I can say is wow!

The scallops also found their way around the room as we tasted the Trefethen 2008 Estate Chardonnay, the 35th vintage of Chardonnay for Trefethen. The vineyard is located in the Oak Knoll District of Napa, providing loamy soil and a marine influence that yields a rich, balanced wine that exhibits subtle spice and baked yumminess. I am hard to please with Chardonnay. Many are just too big and too rich or they go the other way and are stripped down, light and too subtle. Trefethen really nails Chardonnay for my palate. I feel not so much like I am drinking a Burgundy, but more like I am tasting the mellow memory of a Burgundy, with just enough richness and spice to delight, without overpowering. And once again, the scallop was a perfect match – like George to Gracie, Fred to Ginger, or the cat’s meow to the bee’s knees! Yes, I am getting carried away.

Now it was time for the reds. The Trefethen 2007 Estate Merlot always surprises me. Hailey said it best I think – “This Merlot isn’t trying to be a Cabernet. It is just the natural expression of the varietal.” This expression included dark cherry, fresh herbs, a little earthiness, plum and unexpectedly smooth tannins. Each flavor was strong but restrained, allowing all the nuance to be appreciated. Then Chef Dan brought out the Chickpea, Eggplant and Bell Pepper Tartlet with Goat Cheese Fondue. Just saying the name makes my mouth water. The flavors were bright, earthy and backed by a great acidity that played nicely with the Merlot. The Goat Cheese provided the necessary richness and the Merlot responded with its own acidity, a quality prevalent in Trefethen wines that makes them ideal for pairing with food.

We moved on, wasting no time in getting to the Cabernets. We tasted both the 2007 Estate Cabernet, as well as the 2005 HaLo Cabernet, named after Hailey and her brother Loren. The Estate Cabernet always delivers. I have enjoyed this wine on many occasions in the past, and I never fail to enjoy the robust dark berry and spice that headline the complex array of aromas and flavors. Chef Dan paired this wine with a Prosciutto and Sage Crusted Pork Tenderloin Crostini with Shaved Reggiano and Roasted Garlic Butter. Do I even need to explain why this was amazing?! I unabashedly enjoyed several tastes. Then we transitioned seamlessly into the HaLo, which was my favorite wine of the evening, in regards to standing on its own. 

HaLo’s deep hue and intoxicating aroma of ripe dark fruit open up into a complex, rich, bold and elegant wine. The lingering finish made me want to wait a little longer between sips, so I could savor the velvety fruit fading slowly from my tongue. This is one of those wines that remind me why I believe in spreading the gospel of great winemaking. Then to top it off, Chef Dan sends out Peppered Filet on an Herb Chip with a Mushroom Duxelle and Horseradish Crème Fraiche. Man it is good to be alive isn’t it? – If for no other reason than to experience a single bite of food paired with the perfect wine. Each was delicious on its own, but the two together were magic. The horseradish could have been too much if the hand that wielded it had been just a touch heavier, but fortunately for us, the balance was just right.

At this point I was wondering how dessert could possibly provide the ultimate punctuation at the end of such a fabulous pairing. Of course I was not disappointed. The Trefethen 2007 Estate Late Harvest Riesling found its way into my glass. This was not my first encounter with this wine, which won me over last year at a Trefethen wine dinner. I just don’t do dessert wines for the most part. I gravitate towards Port, usually a nice tawny. I do love sweets, as anyone close to me knows, but with a wine, it has to be balanced with other things, like spice and acidity. Trefethen not only delivers this balance, but in such a beautiful, golden, fruity, baking spice, mouth-watering way. Paired with Chef Dan’s Caramelized D’Anjou Pear Tartlet with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, how could one go wrong?

What a pleasure to be a part of such a great evening. Hailey shared many stories of the wines and the winery with us, creating an even stronger connection to the wines and the stories that they told our palates. Chef Dan did a truly exceptional job of pairing the wines with his food, and I could not say thank you enough. And the wine and food were only part of the experience. I spent the evening catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones. Thank you to Chris and Don, who opened up their home for this event, and thank you of course to Hailey and Trefethen Family Vineyards for creating such beautiful wines. Thank you also to Aleyda, who gave me one of her outstanding hand rolled cigar. Cigars are an occasional indulgence of mine, and this one was robust and rich, just like I enjoy them. I took my time with it later, as I sipped on a glass of Port and savored the memory of a wonderful night. Cheers!

Chris, Hailey, Don, Kazia & Chef Dan (Cigars)


4 Responses to “Trefethen – A Wine Pairing Experience”
  1. Jace says:

    Sounds like a fantastic night. I have never heard of that vineyard before. I’ll be on the lookout next time I go to TotalWine (love that place). As always great post.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Hope you find it. Thanks as always for your support. Happy wine drinking! Cheers!

  3. Lisa says:

    The Trefethen wine pairing evening sounds enchanting from beginning to end. I know that our taste in wines are fairly similar & I must say that lately I too have been trying more of the lighter, fruity, yet crisp wines. So, I will definetely add the Trefethen 2009 Riesling to my list of MUST trys soon.

    What a fantastic Spring evening! I thank you for sharing your experience.

    MistySky20/twitter AKA~Lisa

  4. Jennifer says:

    Yes, it was “enchanting” (good word for it!) Thank you for taking the time to read about it. Hope all is well with you. Cheers!

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