One of the best aspects of writing about events is the people that you meet. It was through one of these connections that I learned that Dr. Tony and Jo Ann Truchard from Truchard Vineyards would be at Restaurant AVA for a 5 course tasting. How could I pass on a chance to eat great food by Randall Copeland and drink good Carneros wine with the winemaker? The answer is that I couldn’t.
The evening started with Dr. Truchard telling the story of how he and his wife came to be in the wine business. It all started with his wife slipping on a grape in a grocery, which stopped him from being deployed and instead being stationed in California. While in California, the Truchards decided to transform an abandoned orchard into a vineyard in a little used area south of Napa called Carneros. Almost 40 years later, he has established some highly sought after vineyards, including 5 wines to be paired with the meal. Here is the menu:
Course 1: Lump Crab Salad, quinoa cake, fennel, tarragon aioli
2009 Truchard Roussanne
Course 2: Pan-seared Alaskan Halibut, fava beans, artichoke tart
2009 Truchard Chardonnay
Course 3: Pancetta wrapped stuffed Texas quail with baby carrots
2007 Truchard Pinot Noir
Course 4: Cast iron roasted venison loin, Oregon morels, potato puree, Truchard broth
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Course 5: Warm strawberry cake, elderberry panna cotta with Truchard soaked strawberries 2007 Merlot
The meal began with a fried quinoa cake that had a slightly crispy exterior that matched the crispiness of the fennel. This pairedlovely with the sweetness of the crab, simply dressed with the creamy and fresh tarragon aioli. The whole combination worked well, especially next to the Roussanne. The Roussanne had enough weight in the mouth to hold up to the flavors and accentuated the flavors with a palate of honeysuckle, crème brulee, orange, and peach. Roussanne is typically a difficult grape to grow and it is not commonly seen, making this a special wine for people to try out.
While the halibut and Chardonnay were good, it was the next two courses that were the highlights of the evening. The pancetta wrapped stuffed Texas quail was the perfect combination of sweet and savory. The quail was stuffed with fresh ricotta from the DMC, flavored with smoked paprika, then wrapped with house made pancetta. The sweetness from the carrot accentuated the creamy, smoky flavors of the quail. Wonderful, especially when paired the Pinot Noir. This Carneros Pinot showed wonderful red fruit (raspberry, cherry, strawberry) vanilla, cola, and tea with strong enough acid to not overwhelm or be overwhelmed.
While both the dessert and Merlot were good, the venison loin was fabulous, with an earthiness from the morels that balanced the potato puree and fork-tender loin. My only complaint was that there wasn’t more meat to eat, especially with the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. With lovely notes of cassis (currant liqueur), cherry, vanilla, clove and pepper, it was a great match to the gamey meat.
Thanks go out to Restaurant AVA and Dr. Truchard for a great meal with good friends and good wine.