It was a tranquil fall night at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony as the sun set over the glorious hills and our Wine Council members gathered to share pairings of some special wines matched with delicious dishes. Our Wine Council, organized by wine guru, Linda Kissam, meets regularly to taste and evaluate wines matched with food prepared by the council members.
The Dorland Mountain Arts Colony is an international artists’ retreat located about 100 miles south of Los Angeles and 60 miles north of San Diego, and is a few miles from the beautiful Temecula Valley Wine Country. Visual artists, writers and composers apply to spend from a week to a month (or sometimes more) away from all the interruptions of daily life on Dorland’s 300 acres of nature preserve. There are no phones or televisions in the retreat’s comfortable cottages, but there are majestic vistas all around to warm the soul and stimulate the creative spirit. Linda was spending a few days at Dorland to write and she had invited the Wine Council members up to the hills to partake of the beauty of the place and enjoy some good wine. It’s hard to imagine a better combination.
Our first tasting was a 2012 Pepi Pinot Grigio. Made from Monterey grapes, this crispy wine greeted us with apricots and nuts on the nose. Fruity and smooth, it was a nice match with the creamy French cheese, Le Delice des Bourgogne (available at Trader Joe’s) that Sue brought. This cheese is a favorite at Wine Council gatherings and usually pairs very well with crispy white wines. The wine also paired nicely with the scrumptious alderwood smoked trout from Clear Springs Farms that Tom brought back from a recent trip to Idaho. Our next taste was of a 2010 Tin Roof Sauvignon Blanc. With its hints of grass and grapefruit, it was also paired well with the cheese. These wines are very reasonably priced for their quality at $10 each.
Todd had concocted flavorful beef meatballs in a marsala sauce with peppers and they were enhanced by a 2010 Tin Roof Merlot, which had bold cherry flavors that stood up well to the somewhat spicy meatballs. This wine also matched very well with Tom’s savory beef bruschetta. He had topped slices of sourdough baguettes with olive oil, ripe olives, garlic, basil, sun-dried tomatoes and tender cooked roast beef. A few sips of the Merlot brought out the interesting combination of flavors on the bruschetta. Again, at $11 this wine is a great buy.
We felt that the next wine, a full-bodied 2009 Shannon Ridge Wrangler Red, might taste even better without food, although it worked well with the meatballs. We enjoyed plum on the nose and bold fruit, vanilla and oak on the palate. Linda aptly described this as a nice Indian Summer wine. It retails for $18.
One of our favorite wines of the evening was the 2010 Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet, which was refined and full-bodied with tastes of deep berry, mint and cloves. This lovely wine brought out the many flavors in Tom’s bruschetta. The sign of a good pairing is when both the food and wine taste better with each other and that’s what happened with this luscious match. At $43, this cab was not inexpensive but worth the investment.
It was finally time to try Linda’s pumpkin chocolate chip cake, which had been tempting us all evening. She paired this sweet fall treat with our favorite wine of the evening—the 1999 Buena Tokaji Aszu from Hungary. Part of the winery’s Heritage Collection, this was a complex, elegant wine which offered our palates rich tastes of lemon, apricot and honey. It was no surprise that this stellar wine goes for $75 a bottle.
As a final treat, Linda contributed a delicate, sweet Inniskillin, a 2011 Riesling ice wine from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. We savored this special wine as our congenial evening of wine tasting came to an end. It was a beautiful match for the cheese and also the pumpkin chocolate chip cake. As we headed down the hill, leaving Linda behind to enjoy the peace and solitude of Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, we knew we would come back, both to Dorland and to some of the outstanding wines we had tasted.