The first dinner of our “Savor the Summer at Sundy House” series took place on June 28th and highlighted the fabulous flavors of Summer and the wines that pair with them. The inventive and delicious cuisine of Chef Lindsay Autry infused elements of Southern, French and Asian cuisine into the freshest of ingredients resulting in dishes that truly captured the essence of Summer and beautifully complemented our selection of wines.
The Sundy House looked lush and inviting, nestled among the tropical Taru Gardens. As guests arrived they were greeted with flutes of Charles Bove Brut NV, bubbly from France’s Loire Valley. This sparkler was light and delicate with a delightful acidity and paired perfectly with Chef Autry’s passed hors d’ouevres including Butter Lettuce Cups with avocado, grapefruit and shaved radish as well as Crispy Artichokes with Lemon Coriander Dipping Sauce.
After sipping and savoring, guests found their way to their tables and the tasting began! The first wine of the evening was the 2011 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Blanc, a delightful white wine from one of the most respected producers in Alsace, France. This wine is a blend of 70% Auxerrois, which brings a lovely richness to the wine, and 30% Pinot Blanc which adds structure and acidity. The Pinot Blanc was paired with Chef Autry’s cobia crudo with ceviche vinaigrette, shaved celery salad, toasted garlic and chopped corn nuts. Yes, you heard correctly, I said corn nuts, but before you scratch your head at the inclusion of this beloved road trip staple, I have to tell you this “garnish” made the pairing. The Pinot Blanc had notes of citrus and ripe peach along with a vibrant acidity that paired very well with the fish; yet there was also an a nutty, spicy quality and oily viscosity to the wine that synergized beautifully with the corn nuts, making for one of the favorite and most unexpected pairings of the evening.
Our second wine of the tasting menu was a rosé from California’s Central Coast, the 2012 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare. While many folks tend to shy away from pink wines, thinking they are akin to White Zin, this little gem made believers out of our crowd (for more info on the significant difference between these wines, please click here). Dry, Provencal style rosés are quintessential Summer wines and I think our guests will remember where they were the moment they fell in love with rosé! This wine is a blend of 62% grenache, 17% mourvèdre and 15% white Rhône grape varieties including roussanne, grenache blanc, and cinsault. Curious about the use of the word “cigare” in the wine’s name, I reached out to winemaker and owner of Bonny Doon, the eccentric Randall Grahm, on Twitter. He replied that the term relates to some bizarre legislation implemented in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine region of France in 1954 when sightings of UFO’s, referred to by the French as “cigare volants” or “flying cigars” due to their shape, were on the rise. He was so intrigued with these peculiar laws that expressly prohibited space craft from landing in the vineyards that he used it to name his wines. Much like it’s maker, this wine has lots of personality as well as inviting notes of strawberry, watermelon and spice with a refreshingly dry finish. It paired perfectly with Chef Autry’s delicious Key West pink shrimp with wilting greens, roasted tomato and soppressata.
Our only red wine of the evening was the 2011 Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes Côte de Brouilly Cuvée des Ambassades Beaujolais. While definitely a mouthful to say, this juicy gem from the Burgundy region of France is perfect for summer sipping, with oodles of personality as well. Made from 100% Gamay, the signature grape of Beaujolais, this wine is crafted with care and quality in mind, as most cru Beaujolais are, from grapes grown in the Côte de Brouilly AOC located in the upper vineyards above the larger Brouilly AOC. The alcoholic fermentation occurs in cement vats, after which the wine goes into foudre (large oak barrels) for aging. The result is a delightful wine with notes of black cherry, cassis and spice balanced by just enough minerality and tannins. Chef Autry prepared an array of Summer-inspired dishes that beautifully demonstrated this wine’s versatility in pairing with food including fried “rice”of toasted farro, confit chicken and ginger house salad; grilled Korean style short ribs with green tomato slaw; and crispy Brussels sprouts with house hot sauce and cilantro. This wine not only stood up to the richness of the confit chicken, the nuttiness of the toasted farro, the smokiness of the Brussels sprouts and the zesty Korean style short ribs, it actually enhanced and unified these elements.
For our finale, we switched to something delightfully sweet and bubbly, the 2012 La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti Bricco Quaglia DOCG. This wine hails from the Piedmont region of Italy, best known for producing such famous and beloved wines as Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera. This wine is the first single vineyard Moscato in Italy made from grapes from 30-35 year old vines hailing from the “Bricco Quaglia” or Hill of Quails vineyard. Because Moscato does not undergo a secondary fermentation like Champagne, it is only semi-sparkling or “frizzante” as the Italians call it. Because of the lower level of pressure in the bottle, it is sealed with a traditional cork, not the cage and cork required of wines such as Champagne. On the nose this wine exhibits fragrant, inviting aromas of honey, ginger and citrus which are confirmed on the palate along with a delightful sweetness balanced by a lively acidity. When pairing a dessert with a dessert wine, you never want the dessert to be sweeter than the wine, otherwise the wine will taste bitter. Sundy House Pastry Chef Sarah Sipe created a divinely inspired Garden Mango Mousse with chocolate “soil”, passion fruit sorbet and toasted coconut that was the perfect level of sweetness to pair with this wine. While technically considered a dessert wine, this wine is so delicious and refreshing it would make a fabulous aperitif as well.
A big thank you to all who attended the first dinner of our series! We greatly appreciate your support and are hard at work planning for the next dinner which will take place Wednesday, July 24th featuring “Wines from the South of France paired with Southern Cuisine,” one of Chef Autry’s specialties! Reservations are required and there are still a few seats left, please call the Sundy House directly at 561.272.5678 to make your reservations. All of the wines featured in this post are currently available at The Wine Atelier. Look forward to seeing you soon!