full house at Calvert’s wine dinner roared its approval Wednesday night when asked how they liked the Hearst Ranch wines they had with a superb dinner. Both the food and the wine exceeded expectations.
Winemaker Jeremy Leffert and his wife Melissa were on hand to talk about the wine and Hearst Ranch.
Diners tasted the Glacier Ridge Chardonnay, Three Sisters Cuvee White, Three Sisters Cuvee Red, Bunkhouse Cabernet Sauvignon, Lone Tree Cabernet Franc. All the wines are named for buildings or land features on the Hearst Ranch. They also had a sparkling wine to start the evening and a sparkling Rose with dessert. As usual, the wine and food matched perfectly, each bringing out the best qualities in the other.
The ranch north of Santa Barbara has been in the Hearst family since William Randolph Hearst’s father George bought it in 1865. Steve Hearst and Jim Saunders became partners in the winery after Saunders purchased a tour of the Hearst Ranch at a charity event. Saunders and his wife Debi bought a 90-acre ranch and started planting grapevines in 1993, primarily Syrah, Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Tempranillo. In 1995 Hearst Ranch planted vineyards, mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2006 Petit Verdot and Malbec were added.
The winery produces about 15,000 bottles a year in 12 bottlings plus a Late Harvest Zinfandel. All the wines are unfiltered.
Where: Calvert’s Restaurant, 475 Highland Ave., Augusta, GA 30909 (706) 738-4514
When: Wednesday, August 22, 2012. 6:30 PM
Cost: $65pp INCLUDING tax and tip. Reservations are required at 706-724-1442
Here is the food and wine lineup:
Light hors d’oeuvres and NV Vega Barcelona Brut Reserve
Tasting notes: This was a light and elegant sparkling wine with a clean, refreshing taste. A great way to start the evening.
Seared Salmon & Scallops with summer vegetables with Hearst Ranch Three Sisters Cuvee White, Paso Robles 2009.
Tasting notes: This beautiful Rhone-style blend was a perfect match for the fish course. It’s refreshing and bright, with peach and nectarine flavors. The blend is 40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Marsanne, 20% Rousanne. The 2010 vintage uses Viognier in place of the Grenache Blanc. Jeremy said, “I really love white Burgundy, but white Rhone is my favorite.” Paso Robles has become well known for producing great Rhone-style wines.
Shrimp & Lobster Tomato Bisque with Hearst Ranch Glacier Ridge Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands 2009.
Tasting notes: The Chardonnay started off with a pleasantly sharp, lean taste, full of apples, citrus and minerals. It softened when paired with the bisque and became even better. It had a very nice roasted corn aroma to go with citrus and peach aromas. Most of the wine is fermented in stainless steel (85%), while 15% spends time in oak. (The 2010 vintage saw only 10% of the wine in oak.) There is no malolactic fermentation. The wine gets a nice, fat flavor from stirring the lees. This was another spectacular food and wine pairing.
Boston Bibb & Fuji Apple Salad with a creamy vinaigrette, with Hearst Rance Three Sisters Cuvee Red, Paso Robles 2009.
Tasting notes: The wine opens with a beautiful strawberry aroma, and the taste is full of strawberry and cherry. The Rhone-style blend is 50% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre. Jeremy said he uses whole berries of the Grenache and Mourvedre when fermentation starts.
Grilled Pork Sirloin with a Cherry/Almond Couscous paired with Hearst Ranch Lone Tree Cabernet Franc, Paso Robles 2007.
Tasting notes: Both the food and the wine of this course were spectacular. The pork was juicy, tender and made even better by the cherry sauce. The Cabernet Franc was the perfect wine, with raspberry and chocolate flavors. The wine had good acidity and balance, but the food pairing made it even more well-rounded. Hearst blends in 7% Petit Verdot to give the wine a longer finish. Wonderful flavors rolled around your mouth as you went from the wine to the pork and back to the wine again.
Tournedos Henri IV with Parmesan Tomato & Roasted Potatoes paird with Hearst Ranch Bunkhouse Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles 2009.
Tasting notes: The lush, rich Cab has layers of flavor that unfolded in the glass and played off the tender beef. There were flavors of blackberry, plum, tobacco and cocoa with a hint of spice. The tannins are smooth and mellow.
Vanilla Custard Filled Cream Puff with a Chocolate-Mocha Sauce paired with NV Chameroy Rose.
Tasting notes: The Chameroy was a beautiful pink sparkling wine that made a nice finishing touch by itself, but with the decadent cream puff, the evening ended on a sky-high note.