Ben Sandstrom, East Coast Brand Manager for Bespoke Collection
Ben Sandstrom, East Coast Brand Manager for Bespoke Collection

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #d47a54;”] W ine dinners are always special events especially at Calverts. Great food, great wine, great conversation. When two of the evenings guests said “You have to try this wine, you will want to write songs and poetry after tasting it.” I did and I agree. But if I start writing the poems it inspires I’ll never finish this.

The wine was Blackbird Vineyards Arise. A California blend of Mertlot (53%), Cabernet Franc (25%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (22%). “Its a right bank Bordeaux style” said Ben Sandstrom, East Coast Brand Manager for Bespoke Collection. This and other wines from Blackbird earned winemaker Aaron Potts a Winemaker of the Year honor by Food and Wine Magazine.

Five courses and five great wines all from the Bespoke Collection which is now an expanded brand with Recuerdo of Argentina joining Blackbird Vineyards of Napa. The Recuerdo wines featured for the evening are all from the first vintage produced by the new winery.

After the meet and greet featuring Ca’ Furian Prosecco, the Blackbird Arriviste was welcomed with the first course. A nice dry Rosé that paired beautifully with the Squash Ravioli.

The second course introduced the Recuerdo label for the evening. A bright crisp Torrentes from La Rioja, which Sandstrom says is a site specific wine that represents this Argentinian grape.

Ben Sandstrom speaking between courses
Ben Sandstrom speaking between courses

The third course featured a wonderful Duck Salad Frisee that was nicely paired with the Recuerdo Malbec. This high altitude wine from the Uco Valley has some interesting mineral notes to it. “A denser, more impressive wine that uses both minerality and more fruit to produce a great tier 2 wine” said Sandstrom.

This is the first wine I’ve ever had that has on first taste an interesting sandy, gritty in part of the mouth. It was quite surprising and not there on second taste. A very nice wine that has a price point of $23 but can be found at Ninth Street Wine for $17.99. A great food wine at a great price.

The fourth course was the Blackbird Arise mentioned before. What an extraordinary wine. With a price point of $50 this wine is also available at Ninth Street for a great price of $41. If you are looking to add a moderately priced wine to your wine list for special occasions you should add this wine. Great by itself or with a meal, which in this case was braised lamb shanks.

For the last bite they presented the flagship wine of Blackbird, Illustration Proprietary Red. Less than 800 cases of this vintage was produced. It spent 21 months in French Oak barrels – 75% new, 25% seasoned. At a $125 point this isn’t an every day drinking wine but when you can enjoy it, like the guests this evening, you know why Blackbird and their winemakers are so highly rated.

Once again Craig Calvert and his staff produced an extraordinary meal. If you want to experience a great wine dinner then Calverts is the place. Many thanks to the great staff who know how to treat their guests.

If you are traveling to Napa you should check out another venture of Bespoke, Ma(i)sonary, their “living gallery”  where guests can “appreciate art and furnishes that encompass a variety of works from 16th century European craftsmen to contemporary artists and designers, all while savoring limited production boutique wines.”

Where: Calvert’s Restaurant, 475 Highland Ave., Augusta, GA 30909 (706) 738-4514
When: Thursday, Oct. 25 2012. 6:30 PM
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Here are the courses and their wines:

Ca’ Furian Prosecco NV (Veneto, Italy )
Light hors d’oeuvres which included baked figs.

Course 1
Blackbird Arriviste Rosé 2011 (Napa, California)
Paired with: : Squash Ravioli with Walnut Brown Butter

Tasting Notes: The 2011 Arriviste is an alluring, salmon red-colored rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. On the nose, strawberry and iris aromas meld with notes of orange zest. The wine displays enticing flavors of red cherry and blueberry on the mid-palate, carrying a clean, bright acidity on to the lingering finish. The 2011 Napa Valley harvest was challenging due to much rainfall, but allowed for the grapes to be picked at lower alcohol levels than in the past, producing this spectacular rosé.”–From their Website
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc

Course 2
Recuerdo Torrontes 2010 (Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina)
Paired with: Coquille St. Jacques

Tasting Notes: The emblematic white wine of Argentina, the 2010 Recuerdo Torrontés is cultivated in the Argentine province of La Rioja. The quality of this region results in extremely aromatic varieties. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve its fruit intensity and lively aromatics. Light in color, Torrontés has a citrus perfume with a pronounced floral essence. Peaches, Asian fruits, and hints of lemons explode on the palate. Well balanced, with a crisp finish, this white wine pairs well with a variety of lighter fare and will surely impress your Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier-loving friends!From their Website



Course 3
Recuerdo Malbec 2010 (Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina)
Paired with: Duck Salad Frisee

Tasting Notes:Synonymous with the red wine of Argentina, the 2010 Recuerdo Malbec is cultivated in the Uco Valley, which is situated on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza. A rich violet hue, the 2010 Malbec opens with an alluring nose of lush red fruit, ripe plums, earth, and blackberries. The palate offers spicy, savory notes, robust tannins, and an intense mouthfeel that seamlessly rounds out the finish. This wine
pairs well with a variety of heavier fare and will offer a daily respite for lovers of Cabernet Sauvignon and other full-bodied red wines.–From their Website
85% Malbec – 8% Cabernet Franc – 5% Merlot – 2% Syrah

Course 4
Blackbird Arise 2009 (Napa, California)
Paired with: Braised Lamb Shanks in Tomato Sauce

Tasting Notes:The 2009 Arise reveals an arresting perfume of cherry, blackberry, fig, and cedar. Aged in French Oak barrels for 21 months, the chewy mid-palate presents enticing flavors of plum and spice within structured layers of red fruit. Blackbird’s 2009 vintage wines showcase grapes farmed with an ideal hang time, offering wines with bright flavors, balanced sugars, and acidity. Drinking well upon release, Arise will age beautifully with time in the cellar.— Winemaker, Aaron Pott



Course 5
Blackbird Illustration Proprietary Red 2009(California)
Paired with: Chocolate Cheesecake topped with Salted Caramel Sauce

Tasting Notes:“The 2009 Illustration demonstrates elegant notes of cherry and toffee with long, luscious floral aromas. The well balanced mid-palate offers great density and abundant flavors of coffee and stone fruit. The finish is persistent in length with sophisticated tannins leading to a smooth mouth feel. Drinking well upon release, Illustration will age beautifully with time in the cellar. Blackbird’s 2009 vintage wines showcase grapes farmed with an ideal hang time, offering wines with bright flavors, balanced sugars, and acidity.”— Winemaker, Aaron Pott
81% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon


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