Whether you're a bona fide oenophile or barely know anything about wines at all, if you love good food, good times and the idea of pairing wines to cuisine, have I got the event for you! Capital Grille -- with locations including Baltimore -- is doing its Generous Pour again this summer. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!
Each summer, Capital Grille finds a region from which they select wines to pair with their menu items. This summer is America’s West Coast. Two of the wines are currently exclusive to Capital Grille right now. You get to have as many of the wines with your dinner as you like. Though I put my server to some good challenges pairing-wise, I'd say that most turned out exquisitely.
As an aperitif, I tried Carmel Road "Liberated," Monterey, 2012. This is how they describe it:
Riesling. Grown on the cool, foggy hillsides of Monterey Valley, and fermented in stainless steel tanks for a bright flavor "liberated" from oak, this crisp white is idea with spicy food.
Tasting Notes: A crisp, clean fruit salad in a glass. Enjoy the scents of nectarines and citrus that complement flavors of pure fruit and a touch of sweetness.
My server let me know that this wine is great with shellfish or calamari, in case I'd be ordering one or both of those. It's a sweeter wine and quite drinkable on its own.
Then, as a first appetizer, I tried the Cold Shellfish Platter: Chilled 1lb lobster, Shrimp Cocktail and Oysters on the half shell. That's a plate that's more difficult to pair than you would think. Sure, seafood is a no-brainer, but you have to consider the sweet-hot cocktail sauce, the red wine vinegar-based mignonette and the fresh lemon! The Atalon, Napa Valley, 2012 went stunningly with everything! Here's what they say about it:
Sauvignon Blanc. The scenic valley floor of Rutherford is one of the finest locations in the country, and one of the best in the world, for growing Sauvignon Blanc grapes. A new New World favorite.
Tasting Notes: A brilliant straw color, aromas of lemon, gooseberry, lychee, and bright flavors of citrus, grass, and pineapple make this an exceptionally crisp, lively Sauvignon Blanc.
For a second appetizer, I tried Steak Tartare with Truffle Deviled Egg. It had bigger chunks of steak than you may have had with other steak tartars, with a heartier, more savory flavor. The truffle deviled egg complimented it well. To drink with it, I tried a wee bit of Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley 2011, complementing the savoriness and sharpness of raw onions, pickled onions, capers. This is what they say about it:
Merlot. Freemark Abbey has been producing celebrated wines on the Rutherford Bench for 128 years. Mountain berries from their famous Sycamore Vineyard make this Merlot unforgettable.
Tasting Notes: Deep ruby-garnet red in color, with complex, layered flavors of blackberry, raspberry, black cherry, plum, dark chocolate, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla. Sweet and spicy.
For the next courses, I had a cup of their very cheesy, sweet (not herby like others) French onion soup, then the Capital Grille Chopped Salad, which has yellow grape tomatoes, red cherry tomatoes, chick peas, radishes, fresh corn off the cob, asparagus, Romaine lettuce, Mozzarella, croutons, celery. These were dressed with olive oil vinaigrette, complimented by La Crema, Willamette Valley, 2012. This is what they say about it:
Pinot Noir. One of the first major wineries to establish vineyards in the lush greenery of Oregon, this inaugural vintage of La Crema Pinot Noir is elegance in a glass.
Tasting Notes: A stunning balance of acidity, earthiness, and vibrant fruit. Violet, star anise, marionberry, and bay leaf on the nose; brambly fruit, coffee, and orange zest on the palate.
For a main course, I had the Chilean Sea Bass with Heirloom Tomatoes and Saffron Tomato Broth. It was light, moist, a firm, meaty fish and perfect for a hot summer day. With it, I had the Byron, Santa Barbara, 2012, Chardonnay. I feel that the Riesling would also have been a great match. Here’s what they say about the Chardonnay:
This boutique wine with a cult following comes, perhaps unexpectedly, from the rolling hillsides of Santa Barbara. Its lush flavor and exquisite balance are sure to lure you in.
Tasting Notes: It begins with lovely aromas of stone fruit, fig, and honey. Followed by flavors of ripe apples, pineapples, and pear. With a long finish with hints of brown spice and minerals.
I also got to try a wonderful steak – the King of steaks, in my opinion -- Porcini Rubbed Delmonico with 15-Year Aged Balsamic, their signature steak, prepared with delicate porcini mushroom crust. I had vacillated between this steak and a plain Delmonico, because why mess with perfection, right? But this is a lightly sauce/crust that adds tons of deep umami. With this juicy beast, it needed a wine to with the muscle to stand up to it . . . welcome Capital Grille’s exclusive premier of Kendall-Jackson “Winemaker Selection,” Sonoma, 2012! Here’s how they describe it:
A special reserve blend featuring hand-selected Cabernet grapes from the very best of Jackson Family Wine’s vineyards. Created exclusively for this event, and available this summer only.
Tasting Notes: A bold greeting of black currant, blueberry, and plum aromas, followed by flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, and hint of sage. As rich and velvety as a Cabernet can be.