Culpepper’s Wente Wine Dinner

by Steven Doyle

What do you get when you crowd a dozen chefs and a winemaker into a kitchen? Something fairly spectacular. Such was the case last week as Culpepper’s Steakhouse in Rockwall hosted Wente Vineyards at their semi-regular wine dinner where we were an invited guest.

The chef list was impressive and included the Good 2 Go taco gals, Colleen O’Hare and jeana Johnson; Ian Nicken’s from Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop; Pete Harrison from Dakota’s; Chad Bowden from Culpepper’s; Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland from Ava; Dan Landsberg from ZaZa and Culpepper’s pastry chef Rachel Jeske.      

The courses were fast and furious, and the wine poured freely as we were entertained that night by Karl Wente himself.

Karl grew up working at Wente Vineyards and he chose to gain experience at other wineries, starting with The Peter Michael Winery in Sonoma. That was followed by a stint at Brown Brothers winery in northern Victoria, Australia, where Karl gained southern hemisphere experience before returning home to Wente Vineyards.

Today, Karl is responsible for all winemaking at Wente Vineyards. And, thanks to the efforts of the previous generations, he enjoys the benefits of state-of-the-art winemaking facilities and nearly 3,000 acres of vineyard in two premier coastal appellations. “We have a family legacy of innovation and accomplishment,” he says. “It’s a heritage that I’m honored to be a part of.”

Here are the courses and pairings.

Romaine Soup with Sardine Crouton made by O’Hare and Johnson, paired with 2010 Murrieta’s Well The Whip.

Sous Vide Sa Scallop, sweet corn souffle, white asparagus and a wild mushroom ragout by Ian Nickens and paired with a 2009 Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay.

Veals sweetebreads, turnip puree, mciro cinnatro salad, and a veal demi by Pete harrison and paired with a 2008 Wente Reliz Creek Pinot Noir.

Pan seared foie gras with a Merlot stewed cherry and a black truffle and vanilla bean beurre blanc by Chad Bowden and paired with a 2009 Wente Sandstone Merlot.

Pan roasted pheasant breast and Ballontine, sunchokes, Brussel leaves and a black garlic puree by nathan Tate and paired with a 2008 Murrieta’s Well The Spur.

Grilled dry aged prime strip and an ancho pork belly and shitake tamale with a Voges bacon mole by Dan Landsberg paired with a 2005 Nth Degree Syrah.

Butterscotch creme brulee tart by Rachel Jeske paired with a 2008 Wente Late Harvest Riesling.


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