As the first official wine dinner at Del Frisco’s with the new Wine Director Jennifer Jaco, we were eager to not only witness the sommelier in action but meet her guest host for the evening, Andy Peay. Peay himself hadn’t spent much time in Texas over the past several years so this was a particular boon for not only Jaco, but her guests.
Jaco worked the room with her typical aplomb and signature grin. You could get the sense that she was extremely pleased to be in the room that night. The sommelier has a nice Dallas following and the room filled quickly.
As part of the small faction of invited media, we were all seated at the table with the winemaker, Andy Peay. Peay is a tall man man’s who discussed not only his wine, but the finer points of cooking whole hogs and which woods he uses at his annual barbecue at his vineyard located at the extreme northwestern corner of Sonoma County just four miles from the Pacific Ocean.
Although Peay possessed this bold exterior, his thoughts on wine were more polished and refined. When describing his Syrah’s he humbly used expressions such as graceful and fresh, even though the very nature of his juice were typically described with words like pepper, olive, meat, animal and acid. But that is just a Syrah.
Peay suggests that the Syrah is much better suited for a slab of beef than any cabernet could ever aspire. Those heavy reds can dull the senses with their rich alcohol content and cancel out any flavor notes from your meal itself. This is the winemakers self imposed mission in life.
The meal was introduced chef David Holben who just days before sat with Jaco for a tasting to pair the dinner. This is not typical with most wine dinners. Generally a somm will pass flavor profiles and the chef will generate a menu based on those notes. The process used by Holben made for a much greater definition of the wines.
This dinner was much more than we would typically find. Each course was paired with not one but two wines. Peay said he would typically offer an old and young wine and allow guest to decipher which they preferred.
At each course they would choose their favorites from either a like vintage such as the 2009 Peay Estate Chardonnay or the 2009 Hirsch Chardonnay grown on different soil with a varied root stock and produced a much different wine, as expected. This was not only entertaining, but showed us the difference terroir could make.
With our beef course we were offered both the 2009 Les Titans Estate Syrah and the 2002 Estate Syrah and were blown away. In the older wine the fruit had mellowed but still had a pronounced spiciness that was eager to meet our plate of beef. On the converse, the younger 2009 Les Titans was far more masculine and pronounced. It was vivacious, spirited and in need of wrangling.
The Peay wines are fabulous and a near rare breed. The case count is low, but the price point for these wines is palatable.