We knew we were in for a good evening after eye-balling the night’s menu that began with a Butter Poached Lobster, an Herb Risotto and a Toasted Orange Beurre Blanc. The first course was paired with Kunde’s 2008 Estate Chardonnay that was subtle and smooth, a flavor gained from the gentle fog that rests on the vineyard early morning allowing the grapes to slowly awaken each day and develop its medium-bodied flavor.
As the night progressed we heard from the fifth generation wine-maker as he warmed the crowd with a few outrageous attempts at humor, that in itself made us laugh. But we were taken back by the Kunde story and their admiration for the land they own and dedication to sustainability. The fabulous ‘S’ word is bandied about quite a bit these days as it pertains to fish, micro-greens and now grapes.
The estate features 700 acres of vineyards with five distinct ecosystems, riparian, aquatic, oak woodlands, native grasslands and chaparral. These environments work in harmony with the Kunde’s sustainable winegrowing practices. Cover crops are employed to reduce energy usage, water conservation, control erosion, increase soil fertility, and create habitats for beneficial insects. Vegetation management and the placement of nesting boxes for owls and other raptors throughout the vineyards support a natural, pest free environment.
The result of Kunde’s stewardship results in a better vine and a better wine. The natural well being of this estate fits well with the Palomar’s very green philosphy.
The evening progressed with another keen Beck dish, a BBQ Beef Short Rib with a Bacon Bean Ragout and a Spicy Onion Ring that was served with a 2005 Estate Century Vines Zinfandel. The short rib was tasty but the onion ring made the plate stand out as the table we were at gnawed on the delicate, crisp ring.
1900 cases of wine made from these beautiful old vines that were planted in 1882 on a 28 acre hillside ages a year and a half in French Oak barrels. The result is a smooth and elegant juice that is rich in fruitiness and tempered the slight spiciness of chef Beck’s second dish.
In typical Blythe Beck fashion, just when we thought we might be able to rest, the chef drummed up a parade in her next dish which was a mammoth Grilled Veal Chop with a splash of mushroom gravy and a side of Port Salut Crab Mac and Cheese. The chop was tender and over-the-top. The Mac and Cheese appeared to be very ordinary but we were surprised with the largish chunks of crab that was altogether unnecessary, but a pleasant surprise.
For the veal dish Kunde plied the group with their 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The earthy wine smacks of ripe cherries and olives and married well with the grilled veal dish. Being the most complex of all the wines for the evening.
The dinnerran smoothly with special attention to service and generous pours, but we were most shocked to hear that the price points for Kunde can often rest in the lower teens. I can see these bottles making it to many backyard barbecues this coming Summer.