by Steven Doyle
Newsflash! They do not grow grapes in Oak Cliff. However, there is an Oak Cliff Cellars. Owner Jim “JR” Richardson lives in an Oak Cliff neighborhood with his wife Maria, but makes wine in Calistoga, California at the northern end of Napa Valley. And from the selection JR was pouring this week at a special wine dinner at City Café, where we were an invited guest, he does a splendid job of it as well.
Oak Cliff Cellars is a fully-bonded commercial winery, specializing in small lot production of premium Northern California wines (less than a few hundred cases each of our favorite varietals — Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay). They purchase their grapes from select vineyards each year and blend their own wines and ship out across the country.
You may find these wines in many Dallas restaurants including The Grape, Bolsa and the Mansion on Turtle Creek.
After a brief reception where we were served petite crab cakes and Oak Cliff Cellar’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, we sat to enjoy our first course hosted by JR himself. Meeting JR you are immediately put at ease. The man enjoys hospitality just as much as he loves his wine, and for good reason. He puts out very good juice.
The first course was an unusual Crab Louis served with a 2009 Chardonnay. His wine is unfettered by oak and made in steel casks, allowing the full flavor of the delicate grapes to shine. Flavors of apple and pear come to mind when sipping this wine, and paired beautifully with the seafood dish.
The next course was an Australian rack of lamb paired with JR’s 2007 Pinot Noir. The pinot is bold and powerful with lush fruit and spiciness. The wine is held in oak casks for two years and holds up beautifully to lamb dish.
We also enjoyed a (huge) cheese course with a selection of Camembert, Vermont Cheddar and Danish Blue. The 2010 Rogues Blend was one of our favorites and married well with the strong cheeses. With only 70 cases of this wine in existence, we were particularly happy to be able to sample the wine that evening.
For dessert we were served a 2009 Lovers Lane Vineyard Petite Syrah that marries very well with chocolate.
There will be more chances to sample these very well crafted wines at future dinners, but stop into one of restaurants offering Oak Cliff Cellars or check the many varieties at Veritas on Henderson. There are substantial discount for their wine club members, so check that out on the Oak Cliff Cellars website.