Franciscan Wine Dinner at Jaspers

by Steven Doyle

Last evening I was invited to join a roomful of spirited enthusiasts at Jasper’s  for the wine dinner hosted by Franciscan Estates. This not only gave us a keen look at the rich wines from California but also a fresh peek at the cuisine coming from the Plano kitchen.

We were greeted early in the evening by Franciscan winemaker Michael Eckstein, who will be in Dallas tonight for a look at wine blending before moving on to Austin and Houston on his week long junket to Texas. As the passed appetizers floated freely in the room we sipped a beautiful 2008 Sauvignon Blanc which was simply refreshing on the palate as we escaped the soaring 100-degree heat of the day. The wonderful melon and grassy notes soothed as the wine finished well with a muted lime. The wine retails across Dallas for about $17. 

The wine worked very well with the cornmeal crusted green tomato bites that were laden with a generous supply of goat cheese and honey.

Soon we were seated and enjoyed a short discourse from the winemaker about the proper grapes and proper timing in selecting when they might be ready to leave the field. Eckstein likened the process to our backyard tomato plant. We might check the fruit each day, but only a skilled and passionate person might know when to pluck either from its vine. Eckstein shared that passion in his cadence.

Our first course was one of my personal passions this year, a Crispy Soft Shell Crab ‘Po Boy’ that was serve with butter lettuce and a Spring pea remoulade. The crab was especially tender with a delicate crispness that encased the sweet meat.

Crispy Soft Shell Crab 'Po Boy'

Eckstein selected the 2009 Franciscan Chardonnay Cuvee Sauvage the embellished the sea flavors served on the plate. A small sip revealed a steely richness abound with a basket of tropical fruits. Affordable and available at about $13.

The next course was a Hoison Duck Breast served with a scallion pancake that reminded us of the manner in which we might enjoy a mu shu. Served with pickled daikon radish and a ginger-apricot jam, the dish was well thought out. Unfortunately for the diner, we were served a tough selection of duck making the flavorful dish nearly inedible. Sad because duck is probably my second passion these days.

The third course proved even better as we were served a Hickory Grilled Lamb Chop that was executed with perfection and offered with a brilliant Maine lobster squash blossom and a spring ratatouille. Having spent the day on a farm and even picked squash blossoms just hours earlier I was elated at the delicate subtleness the dish carried and enjoyed each bite.

The pairing of the Franciscan Magnificat Meritage 2006 which can be found for about $45 proved exquisite and a treat all at once. We were versed in the process of blending wines as the host made his way through the process. Composed primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, there was also a hint of Malbec and Petit Verdot. The result is a rich blend of blackberry, cocoa and ripe plums with a stark garnet glean that stares you down as you nurture the glass.

I appreciate being the invited guest of Jasper’s and particularly enjoyed the company kept at the table. I mentioned that we were all a bit spirited, but as you can see from what we all experienced there was cause for jubilation. Enjoyable evening to be sure.

7161 Bishop Rd
(469) 229-9111

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Filed under chefs, Crave, Food, Plano, Steven Doyle, Wine

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