Thursday night, the Queen Mary in Long Beach once again proved that they could present top-tier culinary events as they hosted the B. R. Cohn Wine Maker's Dinner. It was a perfect night for fine dining, fine wines and cigars, as guests began the evening with glasses of B. R. Cohn Sauvignon Blanc, assorted hors d'oeuvres and spirited conversation. The guests in the Queen's Salon had plenty to look at about the B. R. Cohn Winery in Sonoma County and it's history, provided by Senior Vice President and National Sales Manager Dan Cohn. Large display boards featured photos of the winery, the whimsical car sculptures inspired by Bruce Cohn's car collection, the vineyards and the Doobie Brothers, the iconic music group that founder Bruce Cohn has managed since their start 43 years ago. Music of the Doobie Brothers filled the room as classic videos ran on the movie screen
Twain Schreiber, Director of Food and Beverage for the Queen Mary, took to the podium to begin the evening and introduce Dan Cohn, who led the tasting part of the evening. Twain has been the driving force in bringing unique, interesting food events to the Queen Mary and this one was no different because of Bruce Cohn's history as a music manager, grape grower and ultimately producer of fine wines and estate olive oils. The tables themselves were a tribute to the Olive Hill Estate that the winery is situated on, each one featuring a small olive tree as a centerpiece to represent B. R. Cohn's grove of 145 year-old French Picholine olive trees.
Dan Cohn took to the podium and started by giving some background on his family's history. He explained how his father had moved West, with no clear idea of what he wanted to do, but with an entrepreneur’s spirit that would serve him well. When an opportunity arose, Dan explained, his father used a rehearsal hall as a place to let groups practice in the late 60's. Ultimately, he heard a group that he really liked (except for their name, which Bruce suggested they change from a somewhat unacceptable word to the now famous Doobie Brothers) and became their manager, a position that he still holds today.
Dan also talked about how his father took some of the money he had earned, bought the Olive Hill Estate vineyards in 1974, selling grapes to Charlie Wagner of Caymus Vineyards and Gundlach-Bundschu Winery. When Gundlach-Bundschu was chosen by the White House to provide their 1980 Olive Hill Cabernet for President Reagan to give to China as a gift, Bruce contacted the White House to complain about giving such a good wine away. During the conversation, it was explained, however, that the White House had chosen the wine through an exhaustive search for the best wine in the United States, something that could showcase California wine as the best of the best. With a much different attitude after the phone call, Bruce decided that it was time to make his own wines. Even on the airplane as the Doobie Brothers traveled to different cities for concerts, Bruce pored over viticulture and enology books, learning what he needed to know to achieve his dream. With Charlie Wagner as his mentor, one of the most famous winemakers ever, Bruce opened B. R. Cohn Winery in 1984.
Dan Cohn introduced the first wine, a B. R. Cohn Chardonnay. After the introduction, guests at the various tables clinked their glasses and then tasted the wine. The Chardonnay was fruity, filled with tastes of pear, apple, tropical fruit and honey, with a vanilla and oak scent. As guests enjoyed their wine, the first course was brought out to accompany it. The menu pairings, created by the Queen Mary's talented Executive Chef Todd Henderson, matched the wines perfectly. The first course was butter-poached Maine lobster. It was accompanied by a vanilla-scented Yucatan yam, an heirloom tomato salsa and mixed greens dressed with B.R. Cohn's Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The subtle flavors of the lobster and yam puree paired perfectly with the flavor notes present in the Chardonnay. The dinner was off to an excellent start.
The second wine to be presented was the B.R. Cohn Pinot Noir. An assertive wine, the Pinot Noir reminded every one why it is a temperamental grape, but if tamed properly, as B.R. Cohn's winemaker Tom Montgomery has done, it can yield a wine of exceptional quality and taste. The rich, dark color of the wine, along with a nose that foretold of good things to come, led to a taste that was complex and full of intermingled flavor, with a smoothness on the finish that had guests drinking slowly, better to savor the finish on their palates. The second course was then presented, a wild boar chop with meat both on and off the bone. It was cooked with a canella and fennel marinade, adding flavors reminiscent of cinnamon and licorice to the meat. The rare meat was tender with an amazing flavor. Braised cannellini beans accompanied it for a nice chewy contrast to the melt-in-your-mouth meat.
The excitement built at the tables as the third wine, the B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was presented. This was the wine many at the tables had been waiting for and it did not disappoint. Smooth, with a wonderful aroma and hints of berries, plums and currants in the taste, this wine showed why B. R. Cohn has earned a reputation for small batch, high quality wines. The tannin was well controlled, adding a promise of greatness for anyone willing to lay this bottle down for several years. Shortly after, the third course was presented. The Prime Rib Eye Filet was cooked to a tender medium rare. To add flavor, Chef Todd made a demi-glace with B. R Cohn Cabernet and then served it with a wild mushroom ragout and a bone marrow butter. The sauces added a depth of flavor to the meat at was exceptional. The wild mushrooms, thin and delicate, had a delicious flavor to them, cooked to just past al dente to provide a wonderful bite.
The fourth course began with the B. R. Cohn Zinfandel. Hints of berries and peppercorns in the nose led to a smooth, berry finish. The smoothness of the wine worked well with the dessert course, a divine pairing of chocolate and wine. The flourless chocolate cake was delicious, accompanied by a chocolate crunch of dark chocolate mousse. An inspired touch to the dessert was the addition of some B. R. Cohn balsamic syrup, cutting the sweetness of the dessert while bringing flavors out as well as a delightful tang.
Chef Todd was introduced at the podium to tremendous applause, speaking to the delighted diners as he sipped his glass of Cabernet. Afterwards, the guests were invited to adjourn to the Queen Mary's Verandah Deck, where a perfect evening looking over the water at the skyline of Long Beach greeted every one. The fifth and final course was then presented, a B. R. Cohn Port to sip while guests enjoyed some fine cigars from Alec Bradley. As ports go, this Cabernet Port is one of the smoothest around, with a slight, not overpowering sweetness and aromas of blackberry and cherry. This is definitely a sipping port, to be savored slowly and allow the hints of chocolate and oak to provide a luscious finish. The Alec Bradley Black Market cigar, made in Hondouras with a Nicaraguan wrapper, was an excellent accompaniment, very smooth and allowing the flavors of the port to linger after each puff. As guests lingered in conversation or sat on benches to enjoy the night view and savor their port and cigars, the Queen Mary once again brought an exceptional experience to the people of Southern California.
1126 Queens Highway
Long Beach, CA 90802
Information: (877) 342-0738